Surreal is a Perfect Word

lessons-learned-from-a-rough-year

When Merriam-Webster announced surreal as the word of the year for 2016, it seemed to fit perfectly. I actually thought it may have been a little too light-hearted because it was nothing short of painful for me.

I’ll be honest and tell you that during the first part of the year, I really thought it was just me. I thought the rest of the world was fine and everyone was happy and enjoying life. Until I started sharing my pain. Continue reading “Surreal is a Perfect Word”

If Nothing Else Has Changed, My Writing Has

the state of our country affected my writing

Reenactment of three conversations that I’ve had in the past two weeks:

“Toni! How’s blogging? What have you been writing about lately?”

“Blogging is great. I’ve taken some time off this fall but other than that, it’s great.”

“Oh wow. What are you writing about now?”

<My initial thought: “Did you just hear me say I took some time off this fall? That means I haven’t been writing.”>

“My last post was in August  – it’s now November, I’m not sure that I’m actually writing about anything now.”

Cue the awkward silence. I haven’t been writing a lot. Writing is my therapy so if I haven’t been writing, it’s like I’ve missed some valuable therapy sessions. Those who are close to me know that something is probably very wrong in my world if I’m not writing, and I haven’t been writing in the past three months.

Because things were very wrong. Continue reading “If Nothing Else Has Changed, My Writing Has”

A Much-Needed Break From a Cruel World

CRUEL world
Welcome to the end of July! Our month was challenging to say the least, but we’ve learned a lot, we’re healing, and believe it or not, we are forgiving those who we need to forgive. Parts of this post have been sponsored and include affiliate links, but rest assured, the story and the opinions are all my own. (I wouldn’t wish some of this stuff on my worst enemy.)

It’s the end of July. I have had no less than three panic attacks this week alone because August is right around the corner. With August comes a lot of stuff. No, let’s change that. August doesn’t really come with a lot of stuff. IT IS PURE MADNESS for our family. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, there’s no way to be nice about, it just is what it is. This year though, we find ourselves entering the month of August after having a really rough July.

Between the acts of violence that occurred throughout our country, our city, and our college, we then had some really rough and emotional moments to tackle as a family. We’ve been moving through the stages of grief and processing the feelings of death, abandonment, unfairness, and uncertainty…daily.  Continue reading “A Much-Needed Break From a Cruel World”

The Grieving Inner Artist

using art to heal grief

This post is part of a series on grief. My family recently lost someone suddenly, and as a result, we we were faced with shock, sadness, and disbelief. It’s my hope that as I process our experiences in grief here on the blog, I’m able to help any of you who may be faced with the loss of a loved one. Click here to access more resources on overcoming grief.  

The month of April has been filled with revelations for me. Many of them relate to love and family and death. For me, an important one relates to my inner artist.

I bet that’s not where you thought this was going, right?

My inner artist has always been an under-appreciated part of my life’s experiences. She’s been neglected. She’s been suppressed. She’s been ignored. She’s been told that she’s only as good as the stick figures she draws. She’s never thought she could create something worthy of hanging on her wall at home. Especially while grieving.

Special thanks to Painting With a Twist in Cedar Hill, TX for partnering with me on this much-needed project!

The day after my aunt died suddenly I was at a lost for words. I threw myself into helping my cousins with funeral preparations and getting my family prepared for travel. My aunt died on a Saturday, and the day after she died was a Sunday. I’m not sure what happens in your part of the world, but here in Texas, not much is happening on Sundays. My family in Mississippi couldn’t make arrangements, we didn’t have deadlines from the printer, and I didn’t know what information would even be needed for my job as the family obituary writer. Sunday left me at a loss for what to do, where to go, and how to process my grief.  Continue reading “The Grieving Inner Artist”

The Best #WaysToSupport in Grief

Click through to read about grief for people and relationships.

Two weeks ago my family suffered a sudden and tremendous loss. My only aunt died while mowing her yard one Saturday morning. That day, phone calls from members of my family, text messages and the simple words, “I love you” took on new meaning. My kids lost a great-aunt who was the epitome of southern hospitality. My mother lost her only sister. My three first cousins lost their mom. The mom that each of them had spoken to the day before, only to realize they would never speak to her again.

From time to time I’ve written about my cousins, because as an only child, they have been everything to me. I wrote a poem for them that was recited at my wedding, I say the term like a badge of honor, and when they hurt, I hurt. All of them. Even though there are hundreds, I believe they all hung the moon. If there is such thing as cousin hierarchy though, my three first cousins sit at the top of the food chain. On sibling day, I celebrate them. My kids refer to them as their uncles and aunts, and since I’m the youngest, there is not a problem in the world that they can’t solve. When I had cancer, we held a conference call to talk about my treatment options and prognosis. I trust them.

Because they hung the moon. And people who hung the moon can do anything.  Continue reading “The Best #WaysToSupport in Grief”