Friday, November 20, 2015

miss me? I miss you...


I hope this little post finds y'all well. I have missed being here in this space. I really have. You guys are like family and it has been too long since our last visit. 

Things here in Lenaburgland are busy. We are all exhausted but it's a good exhausted. All three of us have new jobs and we are still figuring out our new rhythm as a family of three. I have done much better making sure everyone is fed and laundry is done. 

Don't look too closely at my house though. You might be able to write in my dust. I recently watched too huge dust bunnies duke it out for ownership of a prime corner in the living room. It was an EPIC battle and yet I was not really motivated to get the duster out. Housewife fail. 

Yes, housecleaning is on the list. It will get done. Eventually. Maybe. Someday. 

Anyhoo, I am loving my job. LOVING it! I recently conquered the copy machine like a boss! That is after it had spewed single-sided copies instead of double-sided copies, copies that should have been vertical but were horizontal and all kinds of other madness. Three days in...we came to a detante. It is finally cooperating and I am enjoying this time of peace. Relationships with office equipment are difficult to maintain but I am working on it. 

One day at a time. 

I am also enjoying this thing called a "lunch hour". I have never had one of those before. The concept is that you stop working and actually sit down and eat lunch, without interruption. Have you ever heard of such insanity? Me either. It's kind of cool I gotta say. 

My co-workers are awesome, my boss is pretty chill and I get to wear make-up and dress nicely everyday. It's like I am an actual grown-up. I smile at people, give comfort when needed and spend time with the Lord all day long. I don't know what I did to deserve such a gift but I am incredibly thankful for it. 

If I am being honest though, I would trade it all for my Courtney back. Golly it's quiet without her. Unfortunately for me that's not how God wished to write this chapter of my story. I could not have imagined all that has happened in the last year. God has been so generous, so very generous. I am humbled every day at how He loves me. 

Many of you have inquired privately as to how we are doing as we approach Courtney's first anniversary. We are doing OK. There are times when each of us has a "moment" or twelve and we work our way through it. 

I miss her. I do. Next weekend we will decorate the house for Christmas, just as we have done for the last twenty-seven years. It's our tradition. The one thing we do that is not so liturgically correct. We decided this past summer that we would be home for Christmas. We wanted to be here in the house where our daughter took her last breath. It seems fitting to us to honor our girl this way as we head toward December 27, 2015. 

I will have Courtney's tree set up in my office, since I spend so much time there now. We will have our family tree here at the house as we do every year. I don't know how we will each navigate these coming weeks. We grieve so differently. I do know there will be lots of hugs, laughter and story telling. 

Courtney would not want it any other way. She is with us everyday, urging us forward, even though she cannot be with us here anymore. I think of the day we will get to see her again and my heart just leaps for joy. Death no longer holds it's sting. I look forward to that day. May God allow me that great privilege in His time.

How are you doing? What's happening in your life? Can't wait to hear all about it. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015


In four hours this handsome son of mine turns 26! 

Where oh where did the time go? 

I remember that cold November night in Brunswick, Maine. It was the first snow of the season that year and my boy took his sweet time arriving, 36 hours of labor and two hours of pushing before he finally decided to cooperate. 

He has not changed much since. LOL! He does things in his own time and is as stubborn as the day us long. Just like his Daddy. When he sets his mind to something, he will not give up until it is conquered. 

Jonathan Douglas, your Daddy and I are honored that God chose us for you and you for us. I know this past year has been very tough but you have shown such fortitude and perseverance working your way through your grief for your sister. You were the very best big brother she could have ever asked for. You loved and protected her from the very beginning until the very end. 

Oh how she loved you in return. All those smiles while you read to her, the snuggles on the sofa and the always moving legs trying to trip you up when you would walk by. She was a sneaky little pickle for sure. 

You are an incredibly kind, loving, faith-filled and hilariously funny young man. 

Happy Birthday Son! 

I love you to the moon and back! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

what to do when a friend is going through a hard time...

Friendship is a sacred thing to me. I have been blessed to be surrounded by some pretty awesome girlfriends in my lifetime. It amazes me at God's generosity in this area of my life. I am and have been so incredibly blessed. 

A good friendship takes work on both sides. As you develop and change as a person, so do your friendships. There are ups and downs, each of you stretching and growing within the bounds of that friendship. 

Time changes people. Time changes friendships and that's OK. It is part of life. Some friendships are meant to take place within a time or season. God brings them to you as you need each other and then you each move on. 

Recently, several of my friends have gone through struggles. You name it, many have faced it. As their friend, I have a specific role to play when they are in the middle of a battle. 

#1- Pray for them 
I have a prayer journal and inside the front cover I have my girlfriends names listed. I pray for them every day. When trouble hits, I hit my knees and ratchet up the prayer heat. This is always my first step of support. 

#2 - Listen
When the calls come and they need to vent. Listen. Meet them where they are and just listen. Don't take on their worry or anger, just listen and pray to the holy spirit to give you the right word of support. A listening friend is a true gift. 

#3 - Be There 
I mean show up at the house with flowers, an encouraging note, dinner or just give them a hug, but physically be there. Words are one thing,but to show up is the sign of a true friend. You have shown them with your actions, how much they mean to you. 

#4 - Don't try to "fix" it
Not your circus. Not your monkeys. 
When your friend is struggling be there to pray, listen and support but unless they ask you for it, hush it and don't try to fix things. This is their issue to work through and you are there to help support them as they figure things out. 

#5 - What is shared between girlfriends, stays between girlfriends 
No gossip. No sharing (only with your spouse). Keep it to yourself. Trust is key is any relationship but especially when someone is in distress. So pray, listen, be there and keep your mouth shut. Once that trust is broken, you can try and rebuild the friendship, but it will never be the same. 

These five things have really helped me over the last three decades to maintain some wonderful friendships. What have you done to build and maintain your friendships? Please share in the comments. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

new is nothing to fear...

Everywhere I look these days, the terrain is new and unfamiliar. New job, new beginnings, new lessons, even a new way of looking at the world. 

Courtney has been in heaven for 10 and a half months now and there is nothing in my world that has remained the same. Jerry has a new job, Jonathan has a new job and so do I. No more yoga pants for Mama. There are new schedules to adjust to, new diet, new exercise plan, new goals to make and a new future to plan. 

The fog of grief continues to lift and life is moving forward. It has made me really think about what's important in my day. It has clarified my priorities and removed quite a bit if bulk from what I thought I needed to do to what I can actually get done. 

One of the greatest lessons Courtney's life taught me was that every day is a new beginning. Every day brings new hope and new opportunities. 

I am so grateful for that re-set. As I learn and stretch myself daily in my new job, I rely on the grace and mercy that the Cross has made available to me. 

Oh, how I need it. 

Such an imperfect human I am, filled with pride and at times a serious lack of humility. Boy does that complicate things. I realized I needed to up my prayer game in a big way to make it through these adjustments or I was going to fall on my butt and it was not going to be pretty. 

Before my daily prayer was "Lord, let my daughter live another day." Now my daily prayer is "Lord allow me to honor you this day and be the face of Christ to someone in need."

I know I have been called to this new job for a reason and I know my daughter had a BIG something to do with it. It is new and scary and at times downright intimidating but somehow I have peace in my heart that calms me and says "one step at a time Mary". 

I see my daughters smiling face in my minds eye and know she is with me as I help those put in my path. I know it is because of her that this new life is even possible. My sweet Courtney taught me patience, perseverance, fortitude, faith and courage. She taught me to be brave and to dream the impossible. She taught to serve with joy. 

It's all new, but that is no reason to be afraid of what the future holds for me. He is making all things new, refining and rebuilding our family. God provided every single day my daughter took a breath this side of heaven and He has continued to do so every day since. 

New is not a bad thing. New is an exciting thing. New is nothing to fear. New is to be embraced.

Carpe Diem my friends, 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

what i wore ~ working girl...

It has been quite the week. 

I said goodbye to my two little four year old companions and entered the land of full-time working girl. 

Phew. I did it. I became an actual grown-up with an office and a desk calendar. Who knew it was possible? 

"Not I," said Mary "not I."

This week's What I Wore includes several outfits from my week. I tried to wear things that brought me confidence as  I enter this whole new world. I didn't take photos everyday because overwhelmed with adulting thy name is Mary. I have not quite figured out how to get a photo before I leave for work because my guys are already gone for the day.  Then the thought of taking one in my bedroom mirror with the disaster that is my bedroom behind me for the world to see was not an option this week. A girl has to maintain a little mystery here and there. 

All of these photos were taken between 6-8 pm. Some of them were taken in front of my day care shelves filled with disorganized toys and a few were taken in the front yard. So if my hair or makeup looks a bit off, just know it was fixed/applied ten hours earlier. 

#1 was my last day with my little wonders, so casual was the name of the game. Long sleeve navy tee and jeans from Nordi's, orange flats and striped sweater from Macy's. All these pieces were in my closet. 

#2 Both pieces are new. Yes, I said new. Jerry took me on a little shopping trip one afternoon to celebrate my new position. I was in desperate need of some dress pants and a few tops that fit into the "business casual" box. Both pieces are from Dress Barn. They were having a wicked sale and the whole outfit was less than $50. Score!!

#3 These are also two new pieces from the same shopping trip. The green top with lace sleeves is from Land's End and the black slacks were from Dress Barn. Both on sale, both can be worn with other things. The shoes and accessories are older. 

The key to making a business wardrobe work is to select pieces that are interchangable. Think of it in terms of a capsule wardrobe. Basic colors, staple pieces and then let your accessories do their job with creating different looks. 

One very big part of my job is to co-ordinate funerals. This means being appropriately dressed for both the meetings and the Mass. Black is most appropriate and as you can imagine I did not have a lot in my wardrobe. I am a fan of color but with new responsibilities come new wardrobe requirements. 

Enter #4. Basic black with a lace panel down the front. It is appropriate for work and for a night out with my guy. Again, watch for those sales. This number is from Dress Barn and was under $40 and is machine washable. My kind of awesome. 

So there you have it. My working girl wardrobe week one. I am looking forward to the challenge of my new job as well as actually wearing real clothing for the first time in a few decades day after day. 

Happy Sunday Y'all, 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

31 days to whole ~ days 29, 30 and 31 ~ forward is the only way to go...

We have come to the end of my little 31 Days to Whole food and writing experiment. I will say that it was easier than I though it would be when it comes to the actual food part. Yes, I did want to roll myself in potato chips from time to time but overall it wasn't too bad. It truly is mind over matter. 

I put my mind to it and I was 90% successful. It really helped that I lost weight in the process thereby opening up half of my closet for me to wear once again. Having some choices in my wardrobe is a HUGE motivator for me these days. 

The harder part was working my way through my emotions. Grief is tough to navigate from time to time. It can trigger emotional overeating in the blink of an eye. I had to work to understanding what my triggers were and how to make  my way through them without stuffing them down with ice cream or whatever else I could find in the house. 

I look at food differently now. I know that I can make better choices and not allow the devil to whisper in my ear and tell me I am not enough and that I should just give up and give into the grief and the emotions that come right along with it. 

This journey of grief will be a life long one. Just because my Courtney has physically left this life, it doesn't mean that our relationship can so easily be set aside. I loved her from the moment I knew of her existence and that love continues to grow even though she is now in heaven with the Lord. 

Throughout these 31 days so many unexpected things have happened. I have felt Courtney's strong presence with me throughout this process. It's almost as if she was standing on the sidelines, cheering me on. It's amazing to me to know that my daughter now stands outside of time. She is with me always, just on the other side of the veil. 

That deep desire to hold her in my arms one more time no longer weighs upon me as heavily as it once did. I know that Our Blessed Mother will hold her until I can again one day. That is if she can catch my girl as I am sure she is running and dancing as she goes about doing the work of the Lord. 

I did not expect to take on a new challenge so soon after Courtney's death. But when God asks you to jump and trust Him to catch you, then you jump. He has allowed me to fail in the past, so that I can lean on Him more, so that I can take the next step in our relationship, deepening that intimacy and trust between us. 

Today is the Feast of ALL Saints. This is when we Catholics, call upon and ask ALL holy men and women who have gone before us to pray with us as we continue this walk of life. My Courtney is now a part of the Communion of Saints. How awesome is that! 

Tomorrow is the Feast of ALL Souls, honoring those who have died, specifically praying for those souls who have no one to pray for them. Once again Courtney is front and center in our lives. She suffered greatly on this earth and many a night I would pray as I held her, that all her suffering would aid those who needed it. I can only imagine what good those prayers combined with her sufferings obtained for the kingdom of God. 

Jerry and I will go to our daughters grave and lay flowers. We will attend Mass in her honor and we will celebrate who she was and now who she is in the Lord. We honor our daughter in death as we did in her life. With dignity, grace and love. 

It is no coincidence that the 31 Days to Whole experiment ended and the three days of Hallowmas begin. How awesome is God's timing? I didn't even think about it when I first started. But then I didn't have to. God already had it planned out for me. 

I start my new job on Tuesday. Tomorrow I have my two little four year olds for our last day together. It will be hard to say goodbye to our time together. They have played a huge roll in my healing after Courtney's death.  To have the laughter of a child in this house again was such a blessing to me and to Jerry. I will hold them close to my heart for as long as I live. My two angels who brought such joy. Thank you Miss Emma and Miss Lily. I love you like my own and I will miss you both so much. 

Onward my friends. Forward is the only way to go. Doing the work God has called me to and praying that I get it right. Say a pray that the transition to full-time work goes well for me and for Jerry. It's going to require a level of flexibility that has not been needed in quite a few months.

St. Courtney, Pray 4 Us!


See you soon, 

31 days to whole ~ what i wore ~ pattern mixing...

Happy Sunday Y'all. 

First I just wanted to say thank you for all the love and support for me and my family as we begin a new adventure. Jerry and I were blown away by all the emails, Facebook messages and even flowers that were sent to celebrate my new job. I promise you I will not leave you hear all alone. I have gotten further clarification on what I am able to do here in this space now that I am working. 

One of the things I should be able to continue is the What I Wore posts. I know Y'all love these and I am happy they can be continued. I love encouraging women to embrace their bodies, no matter what size or shape. We are ALL made in the image and likeness of Our Lord. Our bodies do amazing things like bring forth life and once here work hard to sustain it. 

We are made to be the hands and feet of the Lord. We need to care for the Temple of the Holy Spirit God has provided for our specific care. This 31 Days to Whole experiment has taught me many lessons in regards to treating my body with respect. I will have another post up tonight explaining what I have learned. 

Right now let's discuss pattern mixing shall we? I love color. I love pattern. If I didn't look like a tablecloth, I would be wearing plaid everyday, I love it that much. Pattern mixing is a fun way to extend your wardrobe. Everything I am wearing has been in my closet for over a year. I don't think I have every put these pieces together before. 

One of the key points of pattern mixing is to chose one color that is in each piece. I chose royal blue for today. My secondary color was black. I went into my closet and pulled out clothes that contained those colors. Then I just started putting outfits together on my bed. I knew I would be wearing black shoes, but I do have a pair of royal blue pumps for the next time I put together another outfit in the color hue. 

Another concept of pattern mixing is to give the eye a break. You want to look put together not like a clown who is color blind. So editing your look is key. This is one reason why I lay it out on my bed first. I want to make sure that I am not trying to hard to make something work together and I always ask my husband for his opinion because I know that if I have pushed the color/pattern limit, he will tell me right away. 

Today I paired some Lane Bryant palazzo pants with a Jones New York keyhole tank. I added on a black and white Lucky Laso jacket with a soft graphic print and fab zipper details. My earring are from BabubleBar, and my shoes are I.N.C. from Macy's. The clutch was a gift. Simple makeup with a little more eye definition completes the look. It's comfy and a little edgy for me. 

Yesterday, Jerry and I had the opportunity to meet up with some old Navy friends who were in town with their family for a high school football game. Their son was playing one of our local Catholic High teams, so we took the opportunity to spend the afternoon together watching the game and catching up. 

I wore rolled up jeans and a "golden" sweater as my sweet four-year old friend Miss Lily would say. I paired it with neutral flats, a fall floral scarf and drop earrings. Comfy but stylish I think. It worked for me. 

What a beautiful day for some football. A breeze in the air, cool but not cold with the leaves just bragging with all their brilliant colors on display. Then there was the company. Such an absolute delight. Thanks Tom and susan for hosting us. Navy friends are life long friends. 

What did you wear to Mass today? Share your outfits and ideas in the com box. 

Have a great week, 

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