Hanging up my cape

ImageWhat do you do when almost everything about your life changes within a couple months? You live through it.

Some days you feel like a zombie. Others, you feel like an over-emotional lunatic. Sometimes you’re angry all day. And sometimes, you feel clear-headed, grateful for all that you have, serene, despite how crazy things are. But no matter what, you just keep going. Because if you stop, you may never get up again.

This post is me continuing on. It’s been six months since I blogged. But I have a good reason. Or 20. The in-a-nutshell, whirlwind version: my husband was offered a relocation package to Charlotte, N.C., we spent the summer preparing, we moved in August, his grandmother passed away in mid-August, we went back to Connecticut for a few days, we fell into a lot of sudden responsibilities (my husband is the executor of her will), we came back to Charlotte, his mother passed away in early September, we went back to Connecticut for a week, and now we’re back in Charlotte. Throw into that mix my working full-time remotely while trying to find a new job, getting settled in a new place – oh and thinking about trying to get pregnant.

I’m mentally exhausted. Grieving. Shell-shocked. Excited. Freaking overwhelmed. But I’m still going.

Last week, I was beating myself up a little for not being my typical 100 percent self. I struggled to focus on work. I only made it to the gym once. I hadn’t blogged in six months. The refrigerator needed to be cleaned. The to-do list hadn’t been touched in a few days. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Then, on Friday, I went to a local marketing agency for an informational interview. And as I heard myself talking about my many accomplishments, I was reminded of how hard I’ve worked to get where I am today. Talking to a friend later, she commented on how much I’d already settled into Charlotte and how, of everyone she knows, she would be the least concerned about me moving anywhere and finding my place.

They were little, but much-needed, reminders that I’m tough – that, no matter what, I’ll be okay. If that means having an off day or an off week, then that’s what I need.

As of yesterday, I’ve decided to go against my nature. Rather than try to be an overachieving Superwoman, I’m going to listen to myself. If I need a run to clear my head, I’m lacing up my sneakers. If I’m feeling run-down, I’m grabbing a pillow and blanket. If my head is spinning, I’m going to empty it into my journal.

Today, I had an Orange is the New Black mini-marathon (If you haven’t yet, check it out. Seriously awesome). I’m about to pick up my long-forgotten book and dig into it again. Every inch of my body feels confused and twitchy, because it’s not used to this type of relaxation. But my brain is telling me this is what I need. Sorry, refrigerator. You’ll have to wait another day.

A eulogy for The Mima

I’m exhausted. Not physically. I’ve been sleeping 10 hours a night, with three-hour naps during the day. I’m depleted mentally.

My grandmother passed away earlier this week. Three weeks ago, she felt fine. She was out, doing what she did best – shopping.  Two weeks ago, she became very ill and went to the hospital, where she learned she had stage IV lymphoma throughout her body. We figured we had six months with her. Six days later, she was placed into hospice. She passed away exactly a week later, this past Monday.

After reeling from the news of her cancer, I went into “get things done” mode, juggling a demanding workload at the office and 2.5-hour drives to visit her. This week, it caught up with me. Combined with family drama (her husband can’t figure out how to get along with our family – or really anyone for that matter), the past month has been mentally taxing, to say the least.

I feel lost, disconnected from my life. Not like myself at all.  In an attempt to feel like me again, I’m heading to the gym tonight to run and clear my head. I also want to share this about my grandmother. I guess it’s my form of a eulogy:

My grandmother, my Mima, The Mima, as she insisted she be called, was a complex woman. She loved to have fun, to laugh and to spend time with her family. Photos of her eight grandchildren and one great grandchild filled every free surface of her living room. She loved being around people and was a volunteer at her local senior center. Country music played throughout her home and in her car. She was sassy. She swore like a sailor, roller skated around her neighborhood and wore some of the loudest outfits I’ve ever seen. When I went to visit her one summer, she told the sales clerks I was her daughter. I think one time, she even claimed I was her sister.

So it may be surprising to know that she went through much of her life unhappy. She struggled with anxiety and depression and avoided tough decisions and confrontation. She could hold a grudge like no one else. She could be critical and judgmental. She needed someone to take care of her – always – even if it meant marrying someone she didn’t love the second time around. She filled the void with alcohol early in her life, then shopping. Drama followed her everywhere, even after her passing.

All these strengths and flaws made her an amazing person – someone who lit up the room when she entered and demanded attention. I see so much of her – both the good and bad – in myself. Even the little things.

As she slipped into her coma last week, with her finger resting in the ridge of her chin, my mother and aunt both commented, “I do the same thing when I’m thinking.”

I laughed out of recognition. I do that, too.

That’s when I realized that the best way to honor her is to continue embracing those good characteristics of hers that are now mine so that she can live on. The rest doesn’t matter. I hope others who knew her will do the same.