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.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

When Kind Words Are Spoken

This year instead of exchanging gifts, my girlfriends and I decided to adopt a family for Christmas. Once everyone was on board with this idea I called Project Help.

Project Help is a local organization that helps families with school aged children. A family that receives help is encouraged to give back through community service. I was introduced to this organization quite a few years ago when we were contacted by a friend whose family had received help and he asked TJ to put a crew together to frame a new building for Project Help and to please set the trusses on the building.....all for free of course. For those that don't know, TJ & I owned a crane service for 11 years and before that TJ was a framing superintendent for a local construction company. TJ, of course, was more than willing to help out.  He made phone calls and within 48 hours had a crew willing to do the work.  The day of the build we showed up with a full framing crew and one of our cranes.  TJ ran the crew and set the trusses.  In a matter of hours the building was up and dried in. The director was thrilled with the work that was done in such a short amount of time.

When I called Project Help last week I was told they had already adopted all their families out for Christmas. I was thrilled that all were taken care of but disappointed we did not have a family to adopt. I asked if there was another way we could help and was told they really needed hams and gifts for teenagers. It seems many do toy drives to help out but teens tend to be a forgotten group at Christmas. I had no idea what to buy for teens and she told me they prefer gift cards so they can pick out their own clothes. I was given names of several stores where teens like to shop.  I called the girls and it was unanimous.....hams and gift cards. We got together on a Sunday and were able to purchase 8 hams and over $400 in gift cards, most in $25 increments. After shopping we went for a nice lunch. Everyone was happy with what we did and agreed that next year we would do the same thing.

During one of my conversations with the lady at Project Help I mentioned that my husband had helped frame and set the trusses on the building they are in. She said, "Are you Sandy with Apache Crane!" I informed her that yes I was and she proceeded to sing the praises of TJ, even remembering his name. She told me how grateful she was for his help and all the guys he brought with him to work. She remembered how he smiled the whole time he was there working and actually seemed happy to be working for free on a Saturday. As she went on and on about that day and what a wonderful and generous man TJ was my eyes were filling with tears. I knew she didn't know that he had died and hearing her speak so highly of him was simply heartwarming. She ended by asking me "How is he doing?". I paused. I had a huge lump in my throat. I told her that he passed away 2 years ago. She gave her condolences and I changed the subject.

Listening to her talk about TJ was the best Christmas gift for me.  He only crossed paths with this woman one day and yet he left a lasting impression. Many friends will tell TJ stories and speak highly of him, but hearing her words about a brief encounter with him was the most precious gift ever.

So many of us tend to get caught up in the gift giving of Christmas and forget what truly matters.  This year, be kinder to one another and talk fondly of those we have lost and will not grace our holiday tables. Sometimes a kind word spoken can be the most wonderful gift of all.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Life Gets In The Way

Sometimes life just gets in the way of things. In my case it got in the way of my blogging. I have missed reading blogs and obviously I haven't written any in over a month. So, here is what has been happening over the last month.
  • My brother and his wife visited for a week in the beginning of November.  They, along with my sister and I drove to Tucson to spread my Mom's ashes (she passed July 28, 2010).  Mom always had a fascination with the Saguaro cactus we have in Arizona and years ago requested that her ashes be spread in the Saguaro National Park.
My brother Mark, my sister Alberta and my sister in-law Sandra

We spread Mom's ashes at the base of these two cacti

  • Just like last year I hosted Thanksgiving at my house for my friends.  We had a wonderful day and as usual the food was fantastic.
  • Through all this I have been working on the house again....finally. I have painted some walls and am in the process of refinishing my first piece of furniture. I plan to post some house pictures at a later date.
  • I have always been one of those people who put up their Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend.  I primarily do it that weekend because it is a long weekend and I have the time.  On Saturday after Thanksgiving I began getting my Christmas stuff out of the storage shed.  I have a HUGE artificial Christmas tree and as I was dragging it toward the house I slipped and fell. I caught myself stiff armed and I felt the pain shoot through my arm.  I thought I had just over extended my elbow and it made the rest of the day fairly painful to put up the holiday decorations. On Monday I found out I had a hairline wonder it hurt so darn bad! I chose not to have it cast and I am just being careful while it heals. As of today it has been over a week and it is still slightly swollen, I have limited mobility in my elbow and the pain keeps me awake at night.  It is getting better though.
  • I have a huge owl living in my yard. While he is a wonderful sight to see. I am concerned for Tater Tot. I think he just might be small enough that the owl is watching him as a potential meal. I now make sure I am outside at all times with Tater Tot. I caught this photo of him a couple of weeks ago. Please click on it to enlarge so you can better see him,
Watch out Tater! You are being watched!

And lastly, just to give you a smile, I want to share a very odd picture my sister took of Tater Tot while she was staying with me.  I know it is just the angle of the photo but when I see it I have to laugh and I hope you all get a chuckle out of it also!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Double Infinity

Tuesday, October 25th was the 2nd anniversary of TJ's death. I have been waiting for that particular day for some time as I had made plans a while back for what I wanted to do.  Since his death I have memorialized him many times by donating to different cancer charities in his name. That is something I will probably continue to do, but with less frequency.  I am a firm believer in charity and recently have found some other charities I would like to support. I don't want the rest of my life to be about cancer and what it took from me.

I decided to do something for me on Tuesday. It ensures that TJ will forever be with me. It also shows that I am alive and I intend to live the rest of my life to the fullest.

Double Infinity

The black infinity symbol has TJ's ashes mixed with it and being black symbolizes death and the end of his life, although I will love him and carry him in my heart for infinity.

The lavender infinity is for me. It symbolizes growth, my life and my future.

I chose my wrist so when things get tough, as I know they will, I can put my wrist across my heart and know TJ is with me.

If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Years Ago Today

Wow! Just. Wow. I can hardly believe it has been 2 years since TJ died. There are times when it seems like just yesterday, but mostly it seems like my life with TJ is so far, far in the past.  Yes, I think of him often. He didn't deserve the hand he was dealt. He was too young to lose his life to cancer. He was a good man and deserved to live a long and healthy life.  I miss him.  I will miss him every day for the rest of my life.

The fact is though....I am not the one who died and I needed to continue on and have a happy life.  It took me a while to reach that point without a doubt.  I always believed it, but I wasn't living it. I had a lot happen in my life after he died.  I couldn't afford our home on my own so I had to move, I had to put one of our dogs down, my Mom died, I was in a horrible truck accident, and the hardest thing was that I had to put his dog, Shiner, down. Yes, it has been a tough 2 years, but in my opinion I have kicked ass!

I told people in the beginning, "It is all about me now!" No more compromising, I do what I want to do, with whom I want to do it.  I have embraced being single.  I love it! I do date, but I keep them at a distance.  I have been seeing a guy since July and we have an agreement that we only see each other every other week. Sometimes even that is too much for me. I like the freedom that being single brings with it. I am truly enjoying working on projects around my house on the weekends. I even impress myself with what I am able to accomplish on my own.

When I bought my house I got one with a pool.  TJ never wanted a pool. I also now have a fireplace that I love. TJ & I didn't have a fireplace in our home. I put pink in my bedroom and master bath. Something TJ would never have tolerated.  Most recently, I put a RED vanity top in my master bath. I have always loved and wanted a red top but TJ always put his foot down.

So, today, I am celebrating and not bemoaning that TJ has been gone 2 years.  I am celebrating ME. I am celebrating that I can do this and I can do it well. I am celebrating how far I have come and my new plans for the future.  I do have a future. A future full of life and love. I am not just living, I am thriving!

Am I tooting my own horn? Hell yes I am! My life changed dramatically and forever when I lost TJ.  It is not always puppies and ice cream but it is pretty darn good. Even when it isn't good, I have learned to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.  Storms always pass, and when they do the sun comes out. Sometimes there is even a rainbow after the storm.

It's not the strongest that survive, nor the most's the one most adaptable to change. ~ Darwin

I have spoken with a friend, fellow widow and blogger about how I feel about the anniversary of TJ's death and this is what she had to say .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I think I have turned a corner in adjusting to my "new normal". This might have happened in part due to the fact that I am finally feeling significantly less pain from my accident.  I also think time has a lot to do with it. Frankly, I am not sure exactly what the trigger was and at this point I don't care. What I do know is that I am happy and for now that is all that matters.

In the beginning, I felt powerless to let go of the the life TJ and I shared. I felt as though I needed to carry it with me forever. I let it dictate my daily life, at least on some level. By doing this I was stuck and as I have said before, I am tired of being stuck and it is time for me to let go and be free again. I know this isn't as easy as it sounds but it is a choice I have to make for myself.

I was overwhelmed with options for my future and I have weeded many of them out. I found I was reading too much into the future, yet still dwelling on the past. I will never have what I had with TJ; the good and the bad. I am capable though, of having a beautiful day today and a beautiful tomorrow. To me, this means letting go of who I have been and do something differently.

There is no such thing as "normal" and there is not a specific way I "should" be or anything I am "supposed" to do.  It is up to me to determine what will make my life meaningful and joyful.  I have to walk the path that is right for me.  Most importantly I believe I have discovered that path. At this point it is more like an unmaintained trail but I know it will lead me to something great and wonderful.

"No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again." ~ Buddha

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stop And Smell The Roses

Even though the title is cliche and many of us hear it from time to time, I am going to guess that the majority of us don't actually do it. I know I don't or at least I haven't in the past.

Last week I took Thursday and Friday off work to get some home improvement projects done around the house and clean out and organize my garage.  On my way home from work on Wednesday I stopped and got all the materials I would need for the weekend so I wouldn't have to take the time to drive to town for anything.  Once home I made a list of all the projects I wanted to complete and divided them into 3 days; planning to rest on Sunday.  I packed the majority of the projects into Thursday and Friday.  My plan was to work 12 to 16 hour days on both of those days and then have a light day on Saturday.

By Saturday morning I was completely exhausted.  I had managed to stick to my schedule by working feverishly.  While I somewhat enjoyed accomplishing things it was mostly about sticking to my schedule.  The first thing on my list for Saturday morning was to repair the goat pen fence.  As I was drinking coffee I was getting worked up knowing this was a time consuming project, but one that really needed to get done.  I was cursing the fact that it was going to take up so much of my morning.

As I was sitting uncomfortably on rocks, surrounded by goat poo and chasing the girls away from my tools I looked up and realized the sun had just popped over the top of the Superstition Mountains.  What a beautiful sight, I thought to myself. I paused for a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of the mountain that made me fall in love with Arizona back in the early 80's. I smiled. I remembered how much TJ loved those mountains also. I smiled again. I went back to fixing fence.  A bit later I heard some rustling coming from the wash that runs through my property. It was a group of coyotes.  I paused as they passed a mere 15 feet from me, looking at me warily.  I then watched them wander off into the desert. I smiled again. It wasn't long before a covey of quail ran by cooing ever so softly and then a very small rabbit hopped up and just stared at me. I once again paused and focused on his deep eyes and his soft fur.  Before I knew it I was done fixing fence. One more time I paused and looked around me.  I thought about how lucky I am to live where I live. I thought about how grateful I am and how many things I have to be grateful for. I said out loud "I have a pretty damn good life!"

Yes, it took me longer to fix the fence than I had anticipated, but it was worth it.  Down the road I won't remember that I fixed the fence in my self imposed time frame. I will remember the sun coming over the Superstitions, the coyotes and the other wildlife that stopped by.  The rest of my Saturday was better for it.

"Every day brings a choice: to practice stress or to practice peace." ~ Joan Borysenko

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Two Worlds Collide

I have never been a total girly girl.  Yes, I do get my nails done every other week and I get pedicures in the summer.  I can hardly pass on a smokin' hot pair of spike heels and is my favorite place to shop.

But I am also comfortable in an old pair of blue jeans, boots, a flannel shirt and hanging out by a campfire in the middle of nowhere.  I love taking care of my mules, goats and dogs. I am not afraid to tackle just about any home improvement project on my own.  I have made more than my fair share of mistakes, but I always get it done....eventually.

As most of you are aware, the home I purchased after TJ died was a repossession and it wasn't in the best of shape. I have been working on it for over a year now, although I did take about 6 months off because I was just tired of it and my attitude was getting bad.  But, as of last weekend I think I got my "remodeling mojo" back! I have a rejuvenated sense of  "I can do this and I can do it well"!  I am even looking forward to tackling the yard.  I have been looking at it for quite a while now and finally have a plan.  The expense will be minimal since I intend to do it myself, but the payoff will be huge when it is done.  I have 1.5 acres with lots of trees.  Yards with large mature trees are not all that common in Arizona and why I bought a house with trees I will never know.  The trees had me intimidated at first, but no longer, I am slowly whipping them into shape.

I thought today I would share with you two of my purchases the last couple of weeks.  It truly is "two worlds colliding".

Yesterday I stopped at Home Depot on my way home from work. Which, in my opinion, that store rivals Victoria's Secret, just on a different level. I bought this and I could not be more excited about my purchase! Also, they were running a 12 months same as cash if I put it on my Home Depot credit card. I love doing that just because credit card companies stick it to consumers so frequently that I enjoy using their money for a change.

6 gallon, 150 psi air compressor
18 Ga. Narrow Crown Stapler
1-3/8" Brad Nailer
16 Ga. 1" - 2 1/2" Finish Nailer

A few weeks ago I stopped into a store after my nail appointment and saw these shoes on clearance.  Strappy with a name written all over it! Love them!

Sometimes two worlds do collide out of necessity.  I am happy in both and would not want to spend 100% of my time in either.  We all need variety in our lives.

“Not on one strand are all life's jewels strung.” ~ William Morris

Monday, September 19, 2011

Self Doubt

As I begin to think about and write down my goals and plans for my future, as I promised myself for my birthday, I am finding that I doubt myself.  This is new to me as I never doubted myself in the past.  I may not have always made the right decisions, but the decisions I made were not without conviction.  That has all changed now. I find that as I think of future plans and goals I wonder if I can really achieve them.  I know now why I have been stuck at this fork in the road for almost 2 years.  I am paralyzed because of self doubt.

I doubt my knowledge.  Do I really know enough to let go of my past?  Can I make good choices now that I am so afraid of what the future might hold?  Are my instincts what they used to be? I don't know the answer to these questions and that is why I am still here. Still standing at the fork in the road, still stagnant, and doubtful as to which route to take.  I find it easier to not choose at all.  In my heart I know that there is no such thing as a "wrong" choice.  At this point the only "wrong" choice I can make is no choice at all.

Somewhere inside of me is the will to choose a path.  I know I can and I know I will.  I may not know the answers today, but they are within me.  All I need to do is step back, look at my life objectively and take that single bold step in the direction of my future.  I will no longer give power to my self doubt.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Labor Day Party

Because of the accident I have barely used my pool all summer.  It is just too uncomfortable for me to be on a raft or any of my pool furniture. So, before summer slipped away I decided I better have a pool party with a few friends.  I made a few calls and we decided on Sunday the 4th.  It turned out to be a beautiful day with a high of only 107.  We had been having a few weeks of very hot weather so 107 was a welcome change for us.

Tater Tot has become obsessed with the waterfall. If it isn't on when he goes outside he will stand on it and bark at me!

Since he really enjoys his time outside it is good that he has a place to cool off.

"The girls" hanging out and gossiping sharing recipes.

Dave chose to hang at the other end of the pool to get away from the girls I think.

 It was Annie's birthday so we celebrated with an Oreo ice cream cake.

Medical Update:  My physical therapy is now once a week and my doctor's office has taken it over.  I am hoping that this makes the healing process go faster.  My doctor prescribed for me some pain relieving cream made by a compounding pharmacy out of Alabama.  OMG! This stuff is absolutely amazing! While talking to my doctor about it yesterday he commented that it was the first time he had seen me smile since June. I realize the cream is not healing, it is simply a pain reliever, but to have greatly reduced pain for a few hours is huge to me right now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jury Duty

Yesterday I was summoned for Jury Duty.  While, I wasn't thrilled to be going, I took the day off work to perform my civic duty.  Turned out there were approximately 50 to 60 of us there.  I found that to be an unusually large number.  After a brief orientation we were all directed to an upstairs courtroom wherein was the Judge, Prosecutor, Defense Lawyer and the Defendant.  The Defendant was a fairly young man and just above his collared shirt I could see he had some sort of tattoo on his neck.  I am not against tattoos, I just think on your neck is a little extreme and, yes, in my preconceived notion, indicates trouble. The Judge read the synopsis of the case.  It was a murder case.  This young man was accused of murdering another man.

My mind began to wonder.  How old was the man he allegedly murdered?  Was the murder victim married?  Is there as widow hoping and praying for some sort of justice? Although, I know justice will not stop her pain or the grief she is feeling.  Did the victim leave behind children? Did the victim have siblings who are now grieving the loss of their brother?  Are the victims parents still alive and if so, how awful for them to have to bury their son.

I then looked at the Defendant and thought how could you? Did you not realize the pain and grief you would inflict on so many people? What about the daughter that won't have her father to give her away at her wedding or the elderly parent who won't have their son to help them as they age? What about the sibling who will forever be changed by the death of their brother.  The widow.  I couldn't get the thought of another widow, forever changed, and struggling to once again gain just a pebble of normalcy to her life.  I was disgusted by the sight of him there in dress slacks, dress shirt and tie; a style of clothing I was sure he had never worn in his life.

My thoughts were interrupted by the Judge saying they had preselected 27 jurors, and of those 16 would be hearing the case.  He began calling names and one by one they were directed to the juror box to be seated.  "Juror #4, Sandra Webb."  Oh hell!  They obviously don't know what has been going through my head.  I had already convicted this "kid". I was already sympathetic to the victim's family. Rather, the family that I had created in my head.

I must say that I believe in our justice system.  I believe everyone deserves a fair trial by a jury of their peers.  It pains me when I hear of people wrongly accused and convicted only to, years later, be found not guilty.  Although, I felt like I was not his peer nor was I in a place to be fair and without bias in this case. When the judge questioned me I explained to him my physical therapy schedule and there was no way I could be to court on time on my therapy days.  I was dismissed.  I was pleased I did not have to explain the thoughts in my head in order to be dismissed.

While I have no doubt that everyone brings their own baggage to a trial, I do wonder how many can actually be impartial and take only the evidence presented into account. Could you set aside your first impressions and your life experiences to be completely impartial?

Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How Are You? Are You Doing OK?

I hear those questions daily, actually many times a day it seems.  I don't hear them in the usual small talk, passing conversation way.  When I hear them there is pity in the voices. Sometimes it is with genuine concern and I appreciate that.  It is the ones that ask with pity and really don't want to know that bother me. It is when they ask because they feel it is the right thing to say, but after asking either move on to something else very quickly or mentally shrink away hoping I say nothing more than "I am fine".

In order to protect my friends and family I always answer, "I am fine".  It is easier for me and easier for them.  It is not a lie every time I answer that way, sometimes I am "fine".  If I am not fine I generally don't want to talk about why.  If I don't talk about my problems it is much safer for me.  By not talking I don't reveal my vulnerabilities and it keeps people at a distance, it keeps them from getting too close to me.  I do have a selected few friends that I confide in and I value their friendship deeply.

I am really a very private person.  This doesn't mean I am not social.  I love getting together with my friends. I spend a large part of my day socializing on twitter. I enjoy my Wednesday dinner out with the girls and as much as I hate to admit it, I love hearing the gossip. I am not a gossiper myself, but I am a listener. I can listen to people talk for hours. I will join in the conversation, but my preference is listening.  If one truly listens to people talk you will learn many things about that person.

I think this is what attracts me to blogging.  I can put my thoughts, feelings, ideas out for everyone to see without having to discuss it.  I get positive feedback through comments here or on Twitter and I am sure there have been some who come to visit and click off because they don't like what I have to say and I am good with that.  If we all agreed what a boring place this world would be.

So next time you ask me how I am doing and my answer is "Fine" I may or may not be telling the truth. Often times the true answer can be found in my blog or my twitter timeline.  With me, instead of listening closely you just might need to read between the lines.  The answer is here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

RIP Shiner

Late Friday night after not eating his dinner Shiner became very ill.  This was somewhat common for him and at first I wasn't concerned.  I watched him for a bit and got him to eat a scrambled egg, which usually helped.  This time it didn't help and he got worse.  Around 9:00 p.m. I decided to take him to the 24 hour emergency vet.  The moment I got him out of the truck at the vet's office he had a Grand Mal seizure.  I ran into the vet office and screamed for help, immediately there were 4 people at my truck and they quickly scooped Shiner up and ran him into an exam room.  I stayed out front to fill out paperwork.  They gave him medication to stop the seizure and a muscle relaxer.  The vet suggested blood work and that he stay overnight in the event of another seizure.  I agreed, but my concern was that once I left I would not see him alive again.  I said my goodbyes to him just in case and headed home knowing that he was in good hands in the event of more seizures.

I had not been home for 30 minutes when the vet called. She had the result of his blood work.  I really don't remember exactly what she said because as she was explaining his ailment I was quickly coming to the realization that I would be putting him down.  It wasn't diabetes but it did have something to do with his blood sugar, pancreas and his brain.  His blood sugar drops so low, so quickly that it affects his brain and causes seizures.  In order to stop the seizures he would have to be fed every hour around the clock and even then he might still have seizures.  With his history of being a picky eater and just not caring much about food I knew that was impossible.  Not to mention the fact that I could NEVER be away from him for more than an hour, or sleep for more than an hour at a time at night. I stopped her before she finished the explanation and said "So, I really should just put him down?" she said, "That would be the humane thing to do". I got back in my truck and headed back to the vet.

I knew losing Shiner was going to be hard on me.  He was TJ's first dog, other than family dogs, and they were inseparable.  TJ took him to work with him every day and during TJ's illness Shiner barely left his side.  He was even by TJ's side when he passed.  Every time I looked at Shiner I saw a little bit of TJ in him.  It was like losing TJ all over again.

I would be remiss if I didn't thank my twitter friend and fellow widow, Boo, for being there with me (in spirit at least).  She may be in the UK, but I felt as though she was right there with me the whole time.

For those that aren't familiar with the breed, Shiner was an Australian Cattle Dog, also called Queensland Heeler. They are very popular in the western United States. They are generally either Red Heelers or Blue Heelers, but Shiner was what they called Tri-Color, which is very unique. TJ did such a great job of training him we could take him anywhere. He got to go in restaurants, bars, hardware stores and various other places. Very rarely did we go out of town without Shiner.

Once, when TJ had gone on our roof to repair something Shiner literally climbed a ladder to be up there with him.  I had turned my back and didn't see it, but I did hear TJ yelling, "Sandy! Why the hell is Shiner up here with me!?"  Getting him down proved to be quite difficult as he was scared.  I sure wish I would have seen him climb that ladder.

 Rest In Peace Shiner.  I will miss you more than anyone knows.

No louder shrieks to pitying heaven are cast, when husbands or lap-dogs breathe their last. ~ Alexander Pope

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Living Alone

Often people ask me if I am OK living alone.  This surprises me, as I really don't think about it much until I am asked the question.  I have always been one that enjoyed my alone time.  In the past I would look forward to TJ going away on a hunting trip without me.  Sure, I missed him as I was used to him being around, but the time away from each other was good for the both of us. So, my answer is always, "Yes, I love it".

I enjoy doing things on my schedule.  I get to do what I want to do, with whom I want to do it with and when I want to do it.  I no longer have to "compromise".  Compromise is what good relationships are made of and while I didn't mind it with TJ, I sure don't miss it.  I tell people, "it is all about me now".  I say yes to the things I want to do and no to those things I do not want to do.  Other than those first few months after TJ's passing I don't feel lonely.  I miss TJ, yes, but I would not say I am lonely.  I have a very strong network of friends and there is always something to do should I choose.

I enjoy planning weekends to just stay home and do chores and/or projects around the house. To complete a project on my own is very rewarding and affirming that yes, I can make it without TJ. It is also on those weekends that I am able to really plan my future and set goals for myself. TJ & I pretty much had our life planned out, but now, I have to go in a different direction. I admit that I really do not have my new direction figured out completely yet, but when I am alone is when I can brainstorm different ideas.

About a year ago I started frequenting a small neighborhood coffee shop.  Often stopping there on my way to work or on a Saturday morning early.  In the winter it is filled with retired men waiting for their women who are next door at Curves.  I tend to be very chatty with strangers (not sure if that is good or bad) and have developed a few friendships with some of the regulars in there.  They know about TJ, my Mom, my dogs and just miscellaneous stuff in my life.  I share my dating adventures with them and they share dating adventures with me from their younger years.  This is my little place.  I have yet to take any of my friends there and don't plan to in the near future.  It is a separate part of my life that I enjoy immensly and I know not everyone would understand the friendships that I have developed there. So, even if I wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning missing TJ and not wanting to be alone, I have a place to go.

Society tends to look at someone alone as pitiful.  I couldn't disagree more!  Alone is a choice.  It is one of the many options we have about how we live our daily lives.  I am sure there are many Mothers out there who would love to have the opportunity to get up on a Saturday morning and go to a coffee shop alone like I do.  Alone does not equal lonely.  If you are comfortable being alone then you are able to be comfortable with other people.

So yes, I really do love living alone....especially when I want to run the vacuum at 3:00 in the morning!

If you are struggling with being alone or even if you are like me and enjoy it, watch this video. It is very well said.


I have to admit that I have been struggling since the accident.  For the first month I had a constant, pounding headache, I could barely turn my head and the pain in my neck and back was excruciating.  It was all I could do to get to work, physical therapy and take care of my animals.  I didn't feel like blogging or reading blogs.  I could not even think about turning on my computer when I got home.  I just wanted to lie flat and close my eyes.  My attitude was bad and I tended to get angry very easily.

I was spiraling into an abyss of negative coping behaviors.  I knew this, yet I could not seem to stop the descent.  I was reacting with anger and lashing out at those I was closest too.  I even lashed out at my physician.  I blamed myself for the accident; I should have seen the car coming and been able to avoid the whole incident.  I felt myself slowly slipping back into the deep depression I experienced after TJ passed.  I even had feelings of dejection and wondering if I should really just give up on moving forward.  Maybe it would be easier to just stop trying to get my life back on track altogether.

The thing that happened that finally got me turned around and headed back in the right direction, albeit slower than I would like, was when I lashed out at my Physician.  I spewed utter drivel upon him, I knew I was being unreasonable, yet I continued.  When I finally stopped he suggested I see a psychiatrist for my anger management issues.  What?! I hurt, I have a headache, I have a perfectly good reason to be angry.  My husband died, I had to move, my Mother died, I wrecked my truck....give me a freakin' break!  My anger is justified and "NO" I will not be seeing a psychiatrist for anger management issues.

While I did not see a psychiatrist I did do some serious introspection the next few days.  I realized that this high frustration level was not going to solve a darn thing and if anything it was making things worse.  I really needed to focus on what I could do to speed up the healing process. I do have a choice in this. I can lie down and focus on self-victimization or I can get up and view this as another obstacle to overcome.  Life is a journey and it is the obstacles that stop me from reaching my goals, but if I keep overcoming these obstacles I will eventually reach each and every one of my goals.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. ~ Viktor Frankl

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just Stuff....

First of all I want to apologize to those who have blogs that I normally read on a regular basis.  I have been very sore from the accident and have just not felt like blogging or reading blogs.  I will be back as a regular reader soon.

As an accident update, I am now in physical therapy 3 times a week.  I believe it is helping a bit and the intensity of my headache is declining. Between work and physical therapy I seem to have a busy schedule.

Below are a few pictures I was going to post before the accident. (Click on the pictures to enlarge)

 Tater Tot wants to be just like Shiner when he grows up.

 A few of "the girls" at our fondue party.

 A couple of "the men" at the fondue party.

 Tater Tot and one of his many toys.

 This is an Ironwood tree in my yard that is just beautiful when it is in bloom in the spring!

 The best purchase I have made in a long time, a poolside bed, but the dogs think I bought it for them!

 Memorial Day party I had at the house with friends.

Friends hanging out and visiting by the pool on Memorial Day.

I really have not done much of anything since the accident.  I am taking it easy and trying to heal.  I did have friends over for the 4th but didn't even take pictures.  I was lucky to make it through the evening.

I have been jotting down blog ideas so watch out when I feel better!

Thanks to everyone who has called, text, tweeted and emailed to check on me. I appreciate the thoughts.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Other Shoe Dropped!

Remember about a month back when I did a post called "Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop"? happened....the other shoe has dropped and let me tell you...It. Dropped. HARD!!

Thursday afternoon on my way home from work I was hit broadside by a red light runner.  I estimate he was going between 50 and 60 MPH when he hit me.  I drive drove a GMC 1500HD 4WD with oversized wheels and tires and a 6" lift.  It is a rather large truck.  The vehicle that hit me was a little car of some type.  The impact was so hard that not only did it spin my truck, it rolled my truck 2 full times.  My boss put 2 full rolls into perspective for me by saying that after the initial hit, I felt 8 additional hits!  My body is telling me that it felt all 9 hits.  I am extremely sore and spent the weekend just miserable.  I did not go to the hospital, but because of lingering pain and a continuous headache I believe I will be seeing my doctor.  When my truck came to a stop all I was concerned with was getting home to feed my animals.

I have posted some pictures I took of my truck when I went to the tow yard to retrieve my personal belongings.  When I see the pictures I am grateful that I was able to walk away.  I am grateful that I didn't have one of my dogs with me.  I am grateful I didn't have a passenger.  I am grateful for the two young men who stopped to make sure I was OK.

There was a point on Thursday evening, that I curled up in a chair and just cried.  I cried because I was scared of the thought of what could have happened.  I cried because I was really missing TJ to just take control and fix it all for me and I cried for my truck.  I loved that truck and TJ was so happy for me when I bought it.  It was not a practical truck, but it was what I had always wanted.  TJ and I were at a point in our life where he encouraged me to buy it even though it wasn't practical.  He told me I deserved it.

Was it the hand of God that protected me? Did TJ have his arms wrapped around me protecting me from harm? Was it just plain ole' dumb luck?  I don't know what it was, but I am grateful to not have serious injuries.


You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have ~ Unknown

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wedding Anniversay

TJ and I were together for 16 years, but we were only married for the last 5 months of his life.  I never saw a reason for us to marry.  We were committed to each other and a piece of paper wasn't going to make a difference.  But, when we were faced with his mortality all that changed.  TJ in no way wanted his family to be able to take anything from me.  He knew his family, including his kids, would be a problem and he wanted to ensure that they could not touch a thing we had spent so many years working for.  He had wanted to marry for years and I didn't, but when he said to me, "Please marry me before I die." I just could not say no any longer.

Our friends put together a beautiful wedding for us at a friend's house with the Superstition Mountains in the background and provided all the food, table decorations and a wedding cake.  My brother paid for the minister and my sister paid for a photographer.  Since TJ wasn't working and going through cancer treatments we were broke, but thanks to our friends and my family we were able to have a wedding we were proud of.  We were married on May 30, 2009.

This is a link to the wedding video our photographer put together for us:

Neither TJ nor I are religious so we opted for a non traditional "minister" as well as a non traditional ceremony.  Most importatly, we did not want to say "until death do we part".  We already knew that was going to happen.

Happy Anniversary TJ.  I will always love you and will forever carry you in my heart.

Wedding Ceremony:

On behalf of Sandy and TJ, I'd like to welcome you all and thank you for being here to share in this happy occasion.

A wedding ceremony is an outward form. To be true, it must be a symbol of something inner and real: a sacred personal union which nature might mirror, a church can solemnize, or a state may declare legal for some, but which only love can create and mutual loyalty fulfill.

To last, a marriage should be a consecration of each person to the other, and of both to the wider community of which they are a part. Because TJ and Sandy feel a great closeness and respect for all of you here, they chose each of you to witness their vows today. Marriage is an intensely personal act, but, in order for the couple's marriage to gain strength to last throughout the years, their union must be supported by their greater society of family and friends.

In this spirit, Sandy and TJ ask all of you now: do you support their marriage and accept the new partner into your life as family and a friend of your own?

Guests: We do.

Thank you all. Now, TJ and Sandy, marriage is a serious and lifelong commitment. The vows you make today should not be made lightly or without forethought. Are you prepared to enter into this solemn covenant?

Sandy and TJ: We are.

Minister: The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote of marriage extensively in his letters. His words fit here:

For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.

Marriage naturally combines the strengths and wills of two people so that, together they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness -- a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner.

Love is an opportunity for the individual to ripen, to become something in yourself, to become world, to become world in yourself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on a person, something that chooses you and you are blessed by being a part of it.


TJ and Sandy, as you exchange vows today; you are declaring your intent to live together in love for all your days. With this in mind,

I take you Sandy to be my wife, lover and best friend and these things I promise to you:

I will be faithful to you and honest with you,

I will respect, trust, help and care for you,

I will share my life with you

I will share with you everything that is to come throughout the rest of our lives together.

I take you TJ to be my husband, lover and best friend and these things I promise to you:

I will be faithful to you and honest with you

I will respect, trust, help and care for you

I will share my life with you

I will share with you everything that is to come throughout the rest of our lives together.

As Sandy and TJ have exchanged vows, they are not only joining together as partners, but also creating a new family, of which they will be the heart.


May I have the rings? These rings are circles, unbroken, just as your love is unbroken and complete for each other. May the love between you grow and strengthen through all the years it would take to travel around your rings and come to their ends.

TJ: With this ring, I give you the promise that from this day forward you shall never walk alone. My heart will be your shelter; my arms will be your home. We will walk together through life as partners and best friends.
Sandy: With this ring, I give you the promise that from this day forward you shall never walk alone. My heart will be your shelter; my arms will be your home. We will walk together through life as partners and best friends.

Sandy and TJ, having witnessed your vows for marriage, and by the authority vested in me, I announce with great joy that you are husband and wife.
You may kiss your bride.
Apache Marriage Blessing:

Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for each other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth for the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before. Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your life together. And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Moving Forward or Letting Go

I had a conversation late last night with a widower friend of mine on twitter.  We started out by talking about the insomnia that so many of us have, but it quickly turned to a discussion of moving on.  What he said to me has stuck in my head and I wanted to share.  I have chosen to keep him anomyous as I do not know if he would want me to reveal his identity.  His series of tweets was as follows:

It changed for me, when I changed my thinking from the "moving forward" to the ability "letting go".  I know it sounds strange, but inside of me I always had a dislike for "moving forward". It was like betrayal for me. Then I realized, that I was afraid to let her go, because I thought I would loose her. I was so wrong, because one never looses the loved one in memories and heart. That started the change.

All day I thought about the difference between moving forward and letting go.  I, like my friend, am afraid to let TJ go.  He was a part of my life for 16 years and I am not willing to let him go.  Moving forward though, to me, means leaving TJ behind.  I can't do that either, he will always be in my heart.  So, instead of always thinking I need to move forward/on I am going to try to change my thinking to letting go.

I feel I need to make room in my life for the new and let go of the old.  I believe that if I stay open to new experiences and relationships I have much to gain after my loss.  Happiness turned to sadness, but sadness will turn to happiness again. Every day I become more and more optimistic about my future and I can't let what has happened in the past close my mind to the possibilities of the new.  I will not move forward, leaving TJ behind, instead, I will try to begin to let go of the past and carry him with me, in my heart, as I experience the many good things that are still to come in my life.

Letting go isn't the end of the world; it is the beginning of a new life. ~ Unknown

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bloggers, Win a Scholarship to Camp Widow!

In August, Camp Widow, the premier event for connecting widows and widowers, will be held for the THIRD YEAR. Please visit the website for location, list of speakers and workshops, registration, and Frequently Asked Questions. This is the only event run by a non profit organization BY widowed people and it's an exceptional weekend of support, new friends, and the freedom to "come as you are" -- where EVERYONE "gets it." The event is inclusive (men, women, LGBT, all ages, all parenting statuses) with content and social events to meet all needs and interests.

I strongly encourage widowed folks to attend. To make it easier, I am helping to fund this blogging contest, along with a group of friends.

Widowed Bloggers -- win a ticket to Camp Widow!

Write a post sharing WHY you want to attend Camp Widow 2011. Notify us that you posted by leaving a comment on this post (below) to make sure we see it (you can also send us a note.)

Camp Widow is a exceptional weekend for widowed people of all ages. We will choose one (possibly two) bloggers to receive a PARTIAL scholarship that covers Camp registration and some incidental expenses. NO ACTUAL CAMPING IS INVOLVED. Learn more about this event, which is in its third year, at

How do I enter?

Please write and publish a blog post telling the world WHY you wish to attend. You can include topics such as how you expect to benefit, or share about some of the widowed people you've already met. You do not need to demonstrate financial need though if you wish to write a separate note discussing your financial circumstances, you may do so.

Who is eligible to compete?

Widows and widowers of all ages who started blogging before 4/1/11 and who are interested in attending Camp Widow 2011. Please note: you should be prepared to pay for and arrange your travel to and from, and your lodging in San Diego. (We can help you find a roommate to reduce costs). If our generous donors can pay more, they will, but please don't apply unless you are prepared to make the trip (including arranging child care, taking time off work, etc.).

Summary and dates

You must publish your blog post AND notify us by midnight EST, Tuesday, May 31.

We will notify the winner(s) within 2 weeks.

Camp Widow will be held August 12 to 14. Details are at

Winner(s) MUST arrange and purchase their own travel and hotel reservations. Scholarship covers Camp Widow registration fee plus some incidentals.

Questions? Want to help fund this scholarship? We want to hear from you.

(Disclosure: This competition is hosted, managed, and funded by an independent group of widowed bloggers. We're not being compensated for creating this competition and those judging entries are not eligible to win.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop

TJ died 7 months after his diagnosis.  My Mother died 9 months after TJ.  It has now been about 10 months since losing my Mother and I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I knew I had these feelings in the back of my mind but I didn't realize how strong they were until last week.

My sister is retired and spends her summers back home in Indiana and her winters out here in Arizona.  I enjoy it because we get to spend time together during the winter.  My sister is 12 years older than me, and between her and my brother they are the only family I have left.  I find it hard to believe that at the age of 45 I find myself at that point in my life that more of those that I love are dead than alive.  I thought I would be elderly before reaching this point.

One evening last week I was at home playing with the dogs when my cell rang.  The number showed up on the screen, but did not have a name associated with it.  When I saw the area code my heart sank, it was an Indiana area code.  I just knew it was one of my sister's friends calling to tell me my sister was sick or injured.  I ran the dates in my head...TJ only lived 7 months after his diagnosis, Mom died 9 months later and it has been 10 months since Mom.  Yes, it is time for my world to fall apart again.  I sat with the phone in my hand just staring at it.  I could not answer it.  I thought that if I let it go to voicemail the bad news would be easier to handle.  I was completely paralyzed, fixated on the area code.  I then thought, what if they don't leave a message because it is too horrible to hear by voicemail. The fear of the person not leaving a message hit me like a semi truck.  I immediately answered the phone.



"It's Judy"

I knew it was bad for sure.  Judy has been a family friend for years and is the kind of person to speak up and volunteer to call me and let me know what has happened to my sister.  I could feel the lump developing in my throat.  The tears were beginning to form in my eyes.  I was not sure I was even going to be able to speak. The fear had gripped me like the claws of a vulture snatching its latest victim.  Judy then said to me:

"How do I heat up these tamales?"

"Excuse me?!!??!!?"

"How do I heat up these tamales? I don't want to ruin them."

I know my voice cracked as I was explaining how to heat up frozen tamales.  An intense feeling of relief washed over my entire body.  The vulture had released his hold on me, the lump in my throat was beginning to diminish and the tears were receding.

Looking back on this, I laugh that I got that worked up over tamales, but I also wonder when this feeling of impending doom is going to leave me.  Will it ever leave me?  Will the passage of time reduce the intensity?  A widow friend of mine posted a blog about this same feeling a few months ago.  You can read her blog here.  Meanwhile, I will be right here waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I have accepted fear as a part of life - specifically the fear of change.... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says:  turn back.  ~Erica Jong

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Isn't There A Cookbook For Life?

If you cook then, like me, you probably have a plethora of cookbooks.  I have 3 cookbooks that are my "go to" books for recipes.  It is those books that I turn to when I am searching for an old family recipe or just want to make some good ole' comfort food like Mom used to make.  The first one I turn to is the book my Mom put together for me with all of her recipes in it.  Most things she made out of her head so some of the recipes are a little sketchy.  Unlike my sister, I cook a lot so I too just know those things that Mom left out.  My sister doesn't, hence why she cooked a pumpkin pie for 4 hours this past year at Thanksgiving.  Pumpkin pies are baked at a high temperature first and then turned down for the remainder of the cooking time.  Evidently Mom left this part out!
The second cookbook I turn to is the one my Mom's sister made for her children and grandchildren.  After much whining (well, not that much) I received one also.  My Aunt Dorothy was a wonderful cook just like my Mom, but they did make some different things.  My Mom didn't make candy, mostly because she was horrible at it, but Aunt Dorothy made some wonderful candy.  Her divinity was to die for and to this day I have failed at divinity every time I have tried to make it.  That non-candy making blood was passed on to me I guess.  My cousin, Leslie, put this book together and it is a work of art without a doubt.  The cabin on the front was built by Uncle Roy.  He was a great carpenter.

(click photo to enlarge)
When all else fails I turn to an old Betty Crocker book that my Mom gave me.  It is worn and tattered, but still has great recipes.

I always have somewhere to turn for just the right recipe for the occasion to make a wonderful meal to be proud of.

It would be so much easier if they made a cookbook for life with recipes telling us exactly what to do.  Maybe I could have found the recipe to cure TJ's cancer in that book.  If not, then maybe I could find the recipe to expedite the grief process.  Throughout my life I have had so many problems that possibly could have been better dealt with had I been able to find the perfect recipe.

But, as many cooks know...It is the recipes you create yourself that are the best.

The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star. ~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Taking Things For Granted

Every morning when I wake, I put together a mental list of things I am grateful for.  I will admit that some days it is very difficult to come up with even one thing I am grateful for.  Those are the days that I have to ask myself, "is it really that bad Sandy?" My answer is usually, "No, not really, but it will be if you don't get your ass in gear and get to work!"  Probably not what you expected, but it is really what I say to myself sometimes on those days.  So, while I may not come up with something to be grateful for at the moment I am trying to, I do eventually think of something.

I find that on a daily basis we all tend to take so many things for granted.  We let grief, work problems, relationship problems, or money problems overshadow all the good things in our lives.  We focus too much on our daily to do list and anticipating problems we might encounter during our day.  Seriously, who wakes up in the morning and thinks about all the things that could possibly go right during the day?  I know I don't, and I suspect most of you reading this don't either.  If you do, then please let me know as I would love for some of that positive mojo to rub off on me!

Some of the little things we take for granted might be: you can get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other (many can't), you have a job (many don't right now), you have a reliable vehicle to get you to your job or maybe you live close to a bus line, the sun is shining, your computer is working and there is not an IT guy on his way to your home, your spouse / significant other / family / friends are healthy (this is a huge one in my book!).  I could go on and on and I am sure you all could add many things to the list.

I think the most important thing to be grateful for is:  There is somebody, somewhere, that loves you and is there to support you no matter what the day ahead brings.  So, pick up the phone or send a card or email them or text them or Facebook them or tweet them and let them know that they are one of the special people in your life.

There are a lot of things that go right on a day to day basis.  Try to focus on those things instead of what might go wrong and maybe we will all begin to have better days and have an attitude of gratitude.

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.  ~ Cynthia Ozick

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Journey

I saw this posted on a fellow widow's blog and just had to steal it to post here.  I relate it to widowhood but I believe it can be about numerous things or even life in general sometimes.  I do not know who the author is otherwise they would be given full credit.  There is not a doubt in my mind that as you read this you will relate it to some point in your life.  You may not relate it as grief, but I think life in general is a series of peak and valleys.  Certain times those peaks are more extreme and the valleys deeper.

"Before we go through a loss like this, we assume that grief is like falling into a deep hole. We think we will start climbing a ladder and as we get closer to the top things start getting brighter and brighter and we keep feeling better and better until we finally step out into the sunshine where the birds are singing and beautiful music is playing and our grief is over and we are then officially “over it”. 

Instead, I have found it is like being plunked down into the middle of a mountain range. We start on the top, with the breathtaking view, when life is wonderful. We are just walking along, basking in the sun and the beautiful scenery when suddenly we fall off a cliff. Now we are lying in a deep, deep valley: bruised, confused, hurt, scared, and lonely. We soon realize that there is no easy way out, no rescue in sight. The only way out is to do it ourselves. So we start working our way up the mountainside, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, and often stumbling. It is very hard, very discouraging, and very exhausting work. Finally we reach the top and see the sun again for a while. Maybe the top will be flat and we’ll get to spend a little time up there enjoying it, or maybe it is very steep and as soon as we get there we have to start back down the other side into the next valley again. 

The one thing we notice is that there are mountains as far as the eye can see. Somehow, we have to make our way through them if we are ever to get out. That thought can be overwhelming and cause us to give up for a while. But eventually we realize once again that the only way out is to keep going, so we start again: down one mountain and up the next. And sometimes on the journey, after a particularly hard stretch, we think, “I’m so glad I finally made it through that.” And then we stop and look around and realize that we’ve been here before! All this work and we’ve gone in a circle and we’re going to have to do it all again! And sometimes as we are climbing, we look up to see if we are getting any closer to the top, and we see a boulder heading our way. If we are fortunate, we manage to avoid it. But usually we can’t, and it hits us head on and sends us tumbling back down to the bottom. 

Sometimes when we are in the deepest part of the valley, we just sit, exhausted. And we might notice some things around us that we never saw before: flowers and animals and a gentle breeze in the cool of the valley. There is a world down in the valley that we never even knew existed, and there is beauty in it. And sometimes at night, when all is quiet, we can hear the others who are in the valley weeping. And it is then that we realize that we are not alone, that others are making this journey too. And we realize that we share an understanding of the journey and of the world of the valley that most others don’t. And it gives us strength to start the climb all over again. 

Sometimes as we are climbing the mountain, a helicopter may come by with some of our friends in it. Seeing us struggling up the mountain, they shout encouraging things like, “I know just what you’re going through; I went on a hike once.” And “at least you have other children to get you through this”  And “You are so strong; I know I couldn’t make this climb.” Or they ask, “When will you finally get over these mountains and be yourself again?” And we try to tell them about the journey and the world of the valley, but the sound of the helicopter drowns us out and they can’t hear us. They throw down some food to give us energy, and it does, but some of it just pelts us on the head and makes the climb even harder. And then they leave, and we breathe a sigh of relief that we can get back to our climb in peace. 

As we make this journey, we start to notice that we are becoming a little bit stronger. When we get to the rough patches we now see that we are shaken but don’t always fall. We find that sometimes we can walk upright now, instead of just crawling. And sometimes we can see a rough spot ahead and manage to find a better way around it. And once in a while we crest a mountain and see that the top is very flat and very beautiful, and we get to spend quite a while resting and recovering on the top before starting down again. And we notice that we are getting closer to the edge of the mountains; they seem to be getting a little smaller. The mountains are not as tall, and the valleys are not as low or as wide. In fact, we can now see the foothills, and it gives us hope. 

And throughout this journey, we see the others who are traveling it as well, sometimes at a distance, and sometimes up close. And we encourage each other to keep going and to watch out for certain things. We talk about the journey and the world of the valley. Finally, someone else who understands! And we cry together when it is just too hard. And sometimes, we catch a glimpse of someone who has made it to the foothills. And we are so excited for them, and we become even more determined to keep going because someday, we too, will make it to the foothills. 

So my point is this: everyone starts on a different mountain. No two journeys are the same. Some people spend a lot of time in the valley at first, and some have more time on top of the mountain. But we will all be both on the mountains and in the valleys. And we will all someday make it to the foothills. I promise."

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. ~ Shantideva