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I don’t believe that my dad is in heaven

I was born and raised Catholic. Irish Catholic at that. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 10th grade, and then back for 4 years of college. So, I was taught from a young age, if you are good then you go to heaven, if you’re bad you go to hell, and sometimes, you end up in purgatory. I am not a practicing Catholic, and haven’t been for the past 6ish years. Does that mean I forget everything I was taught? No. What it does mean, is that I’m an adult who has formed my own beliefs and views on the world. Does that mean I don’t respect Catholic, or any other religion, teachings and views? NOT AT ALL. I have so much respect for anyone with a deep sense of religion. Honestly, I wish I believed in something that strongly.

When my dad passed, and still to this day, people always feel the need to say things like “Oh, don’t you worry, your dad is in heaven”, “He’s watching down you on”, “He is with your grandparents now”. I respect everyone saying that to me, and that their beliefs are their beliefs. Even if that isn’t something I necessarily believe in, it is comforting to know that someone believes that. However, I don’t appreciate when people question me and judge me when I answer honestly after being asked “You know your dad is in heaven, right?”

Because, honestly, my answer is no. I don’t believe my dad is in heaven. And that doesn’t mean my dad is in hell. If I believed in heaven, then you bet your ass I would think my dad would be there. I’ve been struggling for years to figure out what I believe in and where I stand in terms of religion and the afterlife. Losing my dad made that struggle even harder. If there is a God, why did he have to take my dad so soon? This is a question that has kept me up many nights since losing him. Yes, everyone dies. It’s the circle of life.It’s part of life. We all live, and we all die. I get that. But, why so soon? Why now? That’s where I had to dig deep and really process everything I was taught growing up Catholic and also question my current struggle of trying to figure out what I believe in.

Here is what I came up with. I don’t know if I necessarily believe in one “god”. I believe that there is definitely something greater out there. Something, someone, or even someones who have our better interest in mind and are there to help guide us. I’m kind of a believer in the “Universe”. The past few years I’ve been trying to guide my head and my heart by my belief that the Universe has my best interest in mind. My head and my heart often challenge each other, but in the end I feel that I am guided to my decision by a pull in the Universe, who knows better than I do what I really need. So far, this has been working out pretty well for me. Yes, life is fucking hard. Yes, there are so many ways it could be better. But, overall, it’s helped me blossom into the cynical, caring, foul-mouthed, funny girl some of you have come to know and love over the years.

So, dad. Where the hell (LOL, get it…. trying to be punny here) is he? Do I think he’s somewhere in a barcalounger with a case of Miller Lite watching the Phillies try to make a comeback and ecstatic that Charlie is back? Sure. I believe that he is somewhere in space and time doing what he loved. That’s the part of my heaven education I keep with me. Do I believe he’s in the sky above the clouds dressed in white? No. Not at all. First of all, he would hate to be dressed in all white. He would spill his beer and drip his food all over it. Do I believe he’s looking down on me? Not exactly. Again, this goes back to the fact that I don’t think he’s above in the clouds. I do believe that he’s with me. After a long couple months, I’m accepting that from his love, he is in me. That I carry on pieces of his legacy, his memory, and his passion in my daily life. I talk to him as if he’s here. I ask for advice. I yell at him for being gone. So, yes. He’s with me. He’s around. I’m still trying to figure out if I think I see him in physical signs in the world, so I’ll get back to you on that. This next sentence could be contradictory, but, whatever I can believe what I want and need to. I do believe he is a guardian “angel” of sorts and is somehow looking out and protecting us.

So, no. I don’t believe my dad is in heaven. I don’t know where he is or what he is. I believe he led an amazing life and left an incredible impact on the world around him and that he will live on in the lives of the people he touched.

I ask that you respect my beliefs as much as I respect yours. I’d love to hear what you believe in, regarding afterlife and in general. Leave a comment, or message me. Let’s grab coffee or a beer and learn from each other.

-J

Please feel free to browse through my blog for other posts, or check out some articles I have written for Thought Catalog here.

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We all float down here…

Over the past 13 years since being officially “diagnosed” with fibromyalgia, I’ve been open to trying pretty much anything for some relief. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about float tank therapy to help with fibro, among many other things, and have been curious about it. So, when a good friend of mine found a Groupon deal for them at Stillpoint Yoga and Float, I was excited, interested and a little nervous.

We finally gave it a try today, and here is my experience!

What is float tank therapy?

Float tank therapy is where you lay in a bathtub-like pool either in your birthday suit or your bathing suit, whichever you feel most comfortable in. (Don’t worry, it’s a 100% private room) You do exactly what it’s called – you literally relax and float in a tub filled with about 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt and water. Think about when you’re in the ocean and buoyant. It’s like that, but super concentrated and powerful. All of the research I’ve done (and now, personal experience) shows that anyone, no matter shape or size, is capable of floating. The water is set to the temperature of your skin, so it’s not supposed to feel hot or cold. It was comfortable, but toward the end it started to feel hot, as if I was in a sauna. It also is said to work best with total sensory deprivation, which definitely made me nervous. I feel like I’m way too anxious to be left alone in total darkness and silence with just my thoughts. But, since the experience is all about you and what you prefer, you have options to have soft lighting or no lighting, and music (spa music or you own) or silence. There are also ear plugs available to help keep sound, and water, out of your ears. Note to self – use the ear plugs next time

Are there any benefits other than fibromyalgia relief?

YES! So many benefits. Here are some of the other benefits listed on the website:

  • Stress relief
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD symptoms
  • Eliminate addictive behaviors
  • Eating disorders
  • Increased energy
  • Alleviate physical pain
  • Headache
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Relieve PMS symptoms
  • Headache relief
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Increase motivation
  • Improve concentration
  • Meditation practice
  • Personal growth
  • Elevate mood

Since there is significant magnesium absorption, it can also help prevent cardiovascular disease and create healthier bones and teeth.

As I was reading this I was checking off almost all of the reasons I’d want to try it. Fibromyalgia? Duh. Anxiety? Yes. Depression? Yes. Increased energy and improved sleep quality? HELL YES.

**I feel like I need to say, that I am clearly not a doctor of expert of any kind, so this is all based off my research. Also, as great as this can be, it’s not a miracle box and to see long term and lasting results, you need to go more than once. Everyone will have different results and with most things in life, nothing is guaranteed.

What are the rooms like?

Don’t let the fact that they are located in a business park throw you off. As soon as you walk in the doors, you are transported into a spa-like atmosphere. It’s clean and beautiful with essential oils diffusing and soft music playing which will instantly make you feel welcome and relaxed. If it is your first float, or first float there, they will give you a full tour to make sure you feel comfortable and ready for your experience.

The float rooms each have their own name and little decorations to make them unique, but the tanks are all the same. You walk in and there is a large bench, shelf, and little amenities to make it personal and comfortable. There’s also a sign with the overall guidelines and tips and a basket with a mirror, ear plugs, makeup remover and petroleum jelly to put on any little cuts or scrapes you have. (Definitely do this recommendation. You really can feel even a paper-cut.)

Before you float, you use the provided shampoo and body wash to get any dirt, deodorant, etc. off of your body so that you don’t contaminate the pool and so that you get the maximum results. After the float, you shower again to get all the salt water off but can bring your own toiletries if you prefer. The shower is right outside the float tank, so it’s so easy to get in and out.

Also in the float tank is a halo pillow you can use to help support your head and neck, which I did end up using. There is also a spray bottle with clean water and a towel, so that if you get salt water on your face or in your eyes, you can easily wipe it off.

How did it go?

I went into this experience with the least amount of expectations possible. Everything I read seemed positive but I didn’t want to give myself false hope.

When I first got in it was a weird feeling. I laid down and took a few minutes to get settled. I started with the light and music on, and ended up turning them off. I wanted to try and go for full sensory deprivation. It took me a long time to feel like I could settle my mind. Like I mentioned before, I am an anxious person and being left alone in silence with just my thoughts went exactly how I expected it to. I was thinking about life in general, this experience, how my friend was doing in her’s, and then anxious that I was too anxious and not enjoying it enough. After a little while more, I felt my body start to relax a bit. My arms, legs and back all felt like the tension was leaving and it was a feeling I haven’t experienced in a LONG time. I had issues getting my neck, head and shoulders to relax but I tried not to focus too much on that. Those areas hold most of my pain and trigger points, so I’m not surprised that I couldn’t really let that go on the first try. I don’t know if I fully fell asleep, but I did catch myself lightly snoring a bit (so attractive, I know) and doing that thing where your arm or leg twitches as you are falling asleep. Research shows that an hour of sleep in a float tank is equivalent to about 6-8 hours of normal sleep. I’d love just a fraction of that.

From an anxiety and mental health perspective I definitely got in some good thinking and soul searching. I left not feeling overwhelmed or anxious, and have an improved outlook on things from the time I spent really thinking about things.

In conclusion

Overall, it went well. If nothing else it was an hour totally unplugged from all outside distractions. It was relaxing (eventually) and I did notice an improvement in my fibromyalgia symptoms. I felt a bit rested, but also tired, as if I spent a whole day in the sun.

I definitely would benefit from doing it again. Next time I will know a bit more what to expect so I won’t be as anxious and will be able to get into the relaxation phase sooner. I also feel like the more you do this, the better the results. I may also do a 90 minute float next time go give myself a little cushion of time in case I am feeling anxious and have trouble settling in again.

If you have any questions or want to try it for yourself (and are in the greater Philadelphia area) definitely check out Stillpoint Yoga and Float. They can answer any questions you have and get you setup with a session. Tell them I sent you!

Week 1: A week of learning

If you read my last post you know that I am starting on a path of healthier living. I went into this knowing that I am not going to be perfect, and that it’s all about learning and putting forth a conscious effort. And, as expected, week 1 was far from perfect.

Saturday I got up and hit the grocery store with my shopping list. I bought everything I needed for my meal plan. When I got home and unloaded everything I realized that I maybe over-planned. Which I did. Luckily, I can roll some of last week’s ingredients into this week.

Next hiccup: waking up Sunday morning with a migraine. Not planned. Not fun. I still managed to prep 2 meals, but due to the migraine I didn’t eat too much.

Here are some of my favorite meals from week 1:

Turkey, pumpkin and swiss chard hash. Recipe called for cubed pumpkin, but all I could find was pureed pumpkin. Still tasted good!
Chicken chili soup. Recipe called for a spoonful of plain yogurt on top, but I liked it better without. Definitely will be great in the winter!
Hands down my favorite of the week. These simple sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts are incredible.

So, am I feeling drastically improved after week 1? The week of decreased pain? Definitely not. I didn’t expect to after just 1 week of a semi-improved diet. I know I wasn’t 100% by-the-book on week 1, but like I said before, I knew I wouldn’t be. I don’t want this to be a quick fix, so I’m not going to be too hard on myself.

This week I have some simpler meals planned. But, ironically, due to another fibro flare-up, I haven’t gotten to the grocery store yet. But, I guess that is part of why I’m doing all this. Trying to not get frustrated and listen to my body and rest it when needed. It’s just as tough mentally as it is physically. I have so many ideas, goals, and things to do, and it’s so hard when my body has other ideas. It’s hard not being “normal” sometimes. It’s hard asking for help. It’s just hard some days.

So, week 2, I’m ready for you. Just as soon as I pull myself off these heating pads…

Happy Sunday friends!

-J

Shit. Is. Happening.

Good Shit. Don’t worry. Exciting, optimistic shit is finally happening.

For the first time in what feels like forever, I am optimistic about my fibromyalgia. Honestly, I never thought I’d get here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all ideas that are causing this optimism, but, it’s optimism nonetheless. Let me tell you why!

The other night I stumbled upon a documentary on Hulu called “Can we cure”. (Surprisingly I watched something that isn’t about true crime and murder.) If you deal with chronic pain of any kind, or are close to someone who deals with it, I highly recommend you watch it. It’s only a few episodes, so you’re not dedicating a ton of time to it. Here’s the overall gist: 2 girls, around my age (31) both dealing with different types of chronic pain, and trying to manage a normal life (work, dating, friends, exercise, etc.). They live in LA, and found a clinic in Boca Raton, FL that specializes in a new treatment for chronic pain. Basically, the treatment is 3 parts: Detox, Laser beams, and Mental Therapy. All necessary. First, they do a cool test to find out what toxins are in your body causing the chronic pain. (IT’S NOT MADE UP. IT’S NOT “JUST FIBROMYALGIA”. THERE IS A CAUSE!). I’m getting ahead of myself here, but I’m now convinced that my pain isn’t just my pain, and there is something in my body breaking me. Once they detox you of the shit, they essentially start zapping you with lasers. Fact: Every minute, 96 million cells in your body die, and 96 million cells regenerate. (Where are my Doctor Who fans?!). So, muscle memory. If you have bad cells, that’s all your body knows. So, bad cells die, bad cells are born. It all makes so much sense. But, with lasers, your cells are being treated and healed as they regenerate, which helps with your pain because you are then creating healthy cells. MIND BLOWN. (The documentary explains this so much better, I swear. Watch it.) Next, you need to get your mind right. When all you know is pain, it’s hard to snap out of it and realize that you can actually feel different. You need to forgive, and move on. Forgive the doctors, the friends, the strangers, everyone who doubted, questioned and belittled your pain. Which is hard. And not easy. Especially for those who have their chronic pain caused by some type of trauma. But necessary for overall healing. By the end of the treatment, the girls were improving drastically.

And let me tell you, I was inspired.

So, what did I do? I looked up the place! Obviously. The place is Carmen Care Laser. Them being in Florida, and me being in Pennsylvania, it’s clearly not the most realistic situation. But I decided to reach out. What could it hurt? I sent an email, just asking about their experience with Fibromyalgia, gave my backstory, and even let me know that I’m in PA and this was more of just a curiosity email so if they had paying business to tend to, please do not waste their time on my questions. Even so, I immediately got an email back, which turned into the best phone call I’ve had in a very long time. Leslie is so nice, caring, real, and informative. We talked about what they do and what I’ve tried. We talked about my medical history and possible toxins that could be causing my pain. She gave me so much advice and insight. As we were talking, my writing came up. This is where things got even more exciting. She gave me one of the the MOST GENEROUS offers I’d ever received. She offered to treat me on their full 21 Day Program FOR FREE. All I had to do was get there, get lodging, pay for some food, and write about it. Is this real life? Unfortunately, she can only offer that until mid-September, because then they are fully booked up again. So, right now, that isn’t in the cards for me. I can’t imagine going into work and suddenly being able to work remote for 3 weeks in Boca Raton. But, she still offered to be a resource for any questions I have and said if I can’t get there now let’s stay in touch and see what the future holds. Hero.

While talking to her, I told her about the 4 week fibromyalgia diet I am embarking on starting tomorrow. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s quitting diets and exercise plans. So, like I said before, I am going into this not as a diet, but as a lifestyle change. I know I am not going to be perfect, and I’m fine with that. I went grocery shopping today and got everything I need for my week 1 menu. This is definitely the most grocery shopping I’ve done in a very long time.

My body will be shocked. Not only will I be eating breakfast, but I’ll be eating 3 healthy meals in a day. Yes, I’m still going to drink coffee. Yes, I’ll still be enjoying a few beers. I’m human. As I’ve proven time and time again, I’m not perfect. I am walking into this with balance and the mindset that small changes will add up over time. (So please don’t @ me with “you’d see more results without coffee and alcohol”). Again, I’m not planning on this being a short-term diet, but a long-term lifestyle change. So, I’m keeping the things I enjoy. Black coffee and craft beer. (And PBR, because, come on… it’s me.)

I keep my beer next to my greens to remind myself of balance. #lifehack

I’m going to be sipping my beer and continuing to make shit happen on this hot-ass Saturday. I’m going to get my mind ready to head into Week 1: Pain Management. Foods all designed to help reduce inflammation. I’ll be tracking what I’m eating, and how I’m feeling. I’ll update the end of week 1 while I prep for week 2! Stay tuned!

Cheers!

-J

LOL I moved inside. I was getting sunbunt, in the shade, within 10 mins. Thank you pale Irish-German skin.

The many trials… and many failures

I don’t have the best track record for sticking with things. Diets, exercise plans, TV shows… I just can’t seem to get my shit together long enough to really see things through. Maybe I haven’t found “the one” in that aspect, which is why. Or maybe it wasn’t working? Or maybe I’m full of excuses and bullshit? (Likely the case). If I’m being honest, I’m shocked that I’ve made it this far with my writing (Hey! Maybe I did finally find my thing!… If only it would solve ALL of my problems!)

Over the years I have tried approximately 69,420 things to cure, maintain, and manage my physical and mental health. A few things have helped, but nothing really gave significant results. Granted, a lot of this is due to me not following through on things (like diet and exercise). But, mainly I’ve had many failed doctors and medications. Since modern day medicine isn’t helping, I decided to start from basics. My diet. I hate the word diet. As long as I can remember, I’ve hated the way I look. I’ve never been happy and comfortable with my weight, so mentally when I tell myself I’m on a “diet”, I immediately just tell myself I’m going to fail. I’m my own worst enemy.

That’s why I’m going into with a different mindset this time.

I’m not going on a “diet”. I’m not doing this for the sole purpose of losing weight to look better in my jeans (although, I won’t be mad if that happens). I’m doing a lifestyle shift. I’m not telling myself I can’t have anything, but I’m going to remind myself that there are some things I probably am better off without. And, the golden rule…. everything in moderation. I’m doing this knowing that my life, my health, and my future depends on making small, conscious, healthier choices.

Not only am I banking on this to increase my physical health, but also my mental health. By eating better, I know mentally I’ll feel sharper and hopefully get rid of some of that “fibro fog”. The book I’m using as a guide even breaks the weeks out:

  • Week 1: Pain Management
  • Week 2: Gaining Energy
  • Week 3: Fighting the Brain Fog
  • Week 4: Promoting Healthy Digestion

My life will benefit greatly from improvements in these 4 areas, so I’m actually excited to give it a shot. Nervous, and terrified, but excited overall. I’ve been to countless doctors and have had so many procedures and tests over the years for these 4 areas, that I don’t only want, but need to make positive changes. I need something to work. I need a miracle. (I need to be my own miracle, really.) I need to prove to myself once and for all that I am capable of generating my own happiness. And, becoming healthy is the place to start.

*Shout-out to my friends recently who have been talking to me about your own journeys with changing your diet for better health (for various reasons) – you guys really inspired me to really tackle this!*

My plan is to start Sunday. I already have my week 1 menu planned, and even made an organized shopping list. I really don’t even know myself right now. If anyone else wants to join in for accountability, let me know! I’d love to share my menu! (There is more per week than I’m doing, but I’m one person so I’m planning more leftovers than the guide calls for).

I know I won’t be 100% with it. And that’s fine. But, I plan to be conscious of what I’m eating and drinking, which is a huge change for me. I’m also going to track what I’m eating, and note any changes in my symptoms.

So, please hold me accountable. Encourage me. Cheer me on. Pray I finally get some sleep.

Thanks for the support!

-J

That time I went to a psychic

I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to share this experience. It is extremely personal and I know some people don’t really believe in this kinda thing. But, I have a few thoughts on that:

  1. I’ve shared so many other personal aspects of my life, so why not add this to the list?
  2. If someone doesn’t believe in this, that is their right and opinion. And it’s my right and opinion to believe it in it and talk about it. I’m a very open minded person. I’ll listen to your beliefs and expect you to listen to mine.

I am relaying this information the best of my memory, as it was told to me. I know that different cards may have different meaning to other people, but this is my experience and my story.

Growing up I was skeptical of psychic readings, and knew nothing about tarot cards. Over the past few years I’ve adapted more of a “I believe in the universe” type mindset, and began to look more into all this. I don’t have a strong religion (although I was born and raised Catholic and spent all but 2 years of my life, including college, in a Catholic school). I have such respect for anyone who has a strong religious belief, and for all religions. Honestly, I wish I had something I believed in like that. I do believe in the power of the universe though. The universe seems to have a bigger plan for me, and knows what I need more than I do. Guiding me down a very windy path, and putting me where I need to be, when I need to be there.

Okay, so. Let’s get to it. My trip to the psychic. The past few months I’ve felt lost. Who am I? What am I? What am I doing? Where should I be? Am I doing okay, or totally f*cked up? I have a lot of questions. It kept popping in my mind to go to a psychic. Why not? Worst case, I lose out on a little bit of time and money, but gain a new, hopefully interesting, experience.

I got a recommendation from a friend, reached out, and setup an appointment for 4th of July to go get a tarot card reading and psychic consultation. I was excited, nervous, and a little scared. Was this going to be fake? Can I trust it? I reached out to her on Instagram, so clearly she has access to sooooooo much about my life, but, she said she didn’t look at it and likes to go into it without knowing any background about me. I know some people think she probably lied and stalked me, but she seemed so genuine, and I trust her, so please don’t ruin this for me. I tried to push all that out of my mind and I went in with clear intentions of some topics I wanted and needed clarity on.

When I got there we chatted a bit, I pet her cat, and we got down to business. She handed me the cards and I began shuffling, and going through my intentions in my mind, and tried to focus and be centered. As I shuffled, a card jumped out and fell on the floor. I kept this card, because clearly I needed it. Then, I chose 10 cards for the reading.

Card 1 (the jumper)

This is the card that jumped out and was meant for me. She explained that this card shows 2 very different versions of me. 2 different people. 2 years ago, I was lost, confused, insecure, and now I am confident, know more of who I am, and what I want. That even though I don’t see it and believe it, I have experienced tremendous personal and professional growth. (A little over 2 years ago I got a new job and blindly moved to Phoenixville….. we were off to a good start)

Card 2: Knight of Wands

This card symbolizes my career and success. It shows I hold all of my success in my hands and I am in control. She said that this will be a great year for my career, and I am going to grow and be very successful. She said she sees me being happy in my current job, but in my future she sees something creative and flexible, where I am my own boss. She said she sees me having a hard time giving up my current career path, but that this is a great stepping stone and learning experience for me. She kept reiterating the creative side. (Ummmm… creative, my writing? OKAY.)

Card 3: Page of Pentacles

This card symbolizes home, and a new feeling that I am experiencing. She asked if I recently moved or was moving. I told her that I moved to Phoenixville a little over 2 years ago, and felt very at home here. She said she feels that I am comfortable here, and have a lot of opportunity for success.

Card 4

I forget the name of this card, but this card symbolizes more success in relationships and connections. More friendships, some more lasting than others, and some professional that can help me reach my goals and dreams. Also, some connections to help make Phoenixville feel even more like home.

Card 5: The Hermit

This card shows that I feel lost, and that “I feel like a giant question mark” I was telling someone that I wanted to do this, and used the phrase “I feel like my life and my soul is a giant question mark right now and I need some guidance. She had absolutely NO WAY of knowing this and now I’m totally freaking out and convinced that I made the right decision. She said that I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I don’t know how to get there. She told me that I have the tools I need to get there, but I need to be patient and confident. (Not my strongest points)

Card 6: Judgement

This card was a little tough. She said recently I have lost some friendships. That people feel I have distanced myself, and have changed. Which is true and has been hard for me to deal with. She said it’s all part of my growth, and that I have nothing I need to be sorry for. That some people are very critical without knowing the real me, and that I do not need those people in my life.

Card 7

This card shows balance. She said I used to not have balance, and over the past few months have been learning and more conscious of finding that. This is for work/life balance, and also for general life. That I’m learning to take care of myself before i can take care of others. That I’m learning to say No to things I don’t need, and Yes to things that challenge me and help me grow.

Card 8: The Fool

This is a card that is about a family member I have been worrying about. That they are okay, but need space. I need to let them know I love them, and am here for them, without being pushy and overbearing. They will be okay, but need to do it on their own time. (I spoke to this person and reminded them how much I love them.)

Card 9: The Moon

Well. We turned this card over, and her face got serious. She said “This card is saying you are grieving. You recently lost someone very close to you. This person feels you aren’t ready for a strong presence in dreams and life, but they love you and are here to guide you. They feel they lost time with you and they regret that. They know there was more you both needed from each other. They are having a hard time dealing with it too.”

Dad. It’s dad. After she finished the reading about the card she asked if I wanted to share who I lost and I told her about how close we were, and how much I love him and miss him. I told her how quickly we lost him. How all I want is a sign from him. If you think I’m crying now, you should have seen me then.

Card 10: Temperance

This card shows a strong male relationship. Someone who feels they can trust me and open up to me. Someone who will be a long term, solid relationship. It will start as a strong friendship, and transition into more. Someone who will take care of me and put as much into the relationship as I do. Someone who will never stop appreciating me.

More on this after card 11……..

Card 11: King of Swords

This card is the same man in card 10. This card shows he used to not know what he wanted in a relationship but now he does. That he used to have his head in the clouds, but now is grounded. He will always worry about finances, but will always be okay.

So, I told her I was no skeptical, because I am VERY single. She said this isn’t someone I’m currently dating. But someone I have met in some aspect of my life, but not sure when/how. It could be someone I said hello to on the street, or someone I was/am friends with. She reiterated that this is going to turn into a solid, long term relationship, but that I need to be open to it.

Whew. I know, this is a lot, but we are almost done. A few more things we talked about:

  • Travel and being by the water and in nature is good for me. I need to do more of that. it makes me feel more connected and grounded.
  • Since I’m finding more balance and focusing on self-care, my health issues will be improving over time.
  • She asked if I write in coffee shops and bars. I do. She told me to keep doing that, because I am meant to make connections in doing so, and that she feels it is very inspiring for me.
  • My aura is all colors. I have no idea what that means, but when I joked that I always feel I have a cold, black heart, she told me I couldn’t be more wrong. I need to educate myself on this.
  • My energy is all over the place and I have a hard time focusing and getting centered. She said I used to be, and that it will help. She suggested yoga.
  • She told me people are drawn to me and want to be around me. That they want my advice. That I have a unique way of communicating that people appreciate and want to hear what I have to say. That people trust me.
  • She told me that I have a wall up between my aura and chakras. I honestly have no idea what that means, but I am going to learn more about that too.
  • She told me that I am great at giving love, but terrible at receiving it. That I have a wall up. She told me that when I meet people (aka possibly the mystery man in cards 10 and 11) I give off a vibe that I am unavailable, and i need to make a conscious effort to change that. She said that I am not confident in myself and I need to start seeing myself the way others see me. She said when someone does show interest in me I put the wall up higher, essentially friendzone them, and that I need to stop doing it. (That is EXACTLY what I do, and I know it’s a problem)

Well, if you made it this far, thank you. It’s been a journey.

Until next time,

-J

Please feel free to browse through my blog for other posts, or check out some articles I have written for Thought Catalog here.

It’s okay to feel lonely.

A lot of times, being lonely has negative connotation. Loneliness is defined as “a feeling of unhappiness about being socially isolated”. Being alone is often looked at as being sad and people usually have pity for you and make you feel worse than you should.

The introvert in me thrives off loneliness sometimes. Sitting at home, alone, in my sweatpants, eating take-out, drinking beer and watching trash TV. I’ve literally cancelled plans to stay home alone. Alone does not necessarily mean lonely to me.

I’ve been single for a few years, and have been living independently, alone, for most of that time. I’ve gone to work and left an empty house, and came home from work and no one was there. (Okay, my cat was, but…) I’ve dated, but haven’t had a constant person, or a serious relationship, in a long time. And that was all by choice. I wanted to know myself. I wanted to create my independence. I wanted to be sure that I could take care of and like myself before inviting someone into my life.

But recently, I felt a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time.

I feel lonely.

Not necessarily that I need a boyfriend. Because I definitely have shown myself that I don’t need a man to succeed. Not that I’m going to settle for the next guy to smile at me. But, I’m at an age where a lot of my friends are in serious relationships and getting married, and it has me realizing that I actually do want that. (Honestly, a terrifying realization.) I see my siblings in their marriages, having their lives, and realizing that as close as we are, they don’t have the time for me that they used to.

There is a piece of me that having a partner will fill. I’m not looking for “my better half”, or anything like that. I’m looking for someone to share my life. To cook dinner, to grab brunch and catch an Eagles game. Someone to be there for the good days, and the not so good days.

Loneliness isn’t making me sad. It’s actually a good feeling. It’s one I haven’t felt in a long time. Loneliness means growth. Acceptance. It means I’m recognizing what is good for me, and what I deserve. It means that I am at a place in my life I haven’t been in a very long time. A place where I am able to fully allow someone in.

Again, this doesn’t mean I’m going to settle for the next guy who talks to me. I’m not desperate. In fact, I’m far from it. I’m trying to enjoy all seasons of my life, and this one of them. (As much as I joke that I hate it, and give up, and am going to just get a few more cats and call it a day.)

I’m going to be so picky. I’m going to date. I’m going to have my heart hurt. But, I’m going to find the right person for me. Not the perfect person, because perfect doesn’t exist. I’m going to be lonely until I find what is best for me.

Being lonely is forcing me back to old habits that I got away from. I’m back to dating myself. I’m trying not to focus on finding someone. I’m going to let someone find me. I’m going by myself to get dinner or a beer. I’m going to go out Sunday for coffee alone, and then to the bar for a beer and to watch the Phillies play. I’m not going to stay at home because no one is around to go with me. I’m not going to wish I had more friends. I have enough friends. They are just busy.

Yes, being lonely does suck. There is no denying that. As much as I am enjoying this time, I’m only human. I see my friends in their relationships. My friends who aren’t hanging out with me because they are with their boyfriends, girlfriends, fiancés or spouses. There’s times I throw myself a little pity party about it. Times I pull up the online dating apps hoping for a match. But, after a brief moment of weakness, I remind myself that I’m a badass woman who doesn’t need a man. I don’t want to meet someone at a time of weakness. I want to meet someone when I am feeling my best and most confident about where I’m at in my life.

Feel lonely, because it mean’s you’re feeling, and that’s what is most important.

-J

Anxiety is a bitch.

This is all based off my personal, f*cked up relationship with myself and my anxiety.

You text someone, and it’s a little too long before you get a text back. You don’t see those 3 little dots pop up showing they are texting you back. Or, worse. You see the dots, and then they stop and disappear. Or, even worse than that…. they left you on Read. (Shout out to Apple for really helping those with anxiety.)

Then the panic sets in. That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach, and the racing thoughts.

“What did I do wrong”. “They aren’t interested in me anymore”. “They are mad at me”. “They found someone better”.

You see them on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, so you know they have their phone… but they aren’t answering your text. Or initiating a text. Or making you the center of their universe.

Speaking of Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. If someone doesn’t like our post or watch our story, that sends us into a spiral. The same type of questions. The same doubt. I recently learned to let go of that. It’s not easy, but it’s freeing. It’s only social media. It’s not that serious. But I found (okay, still am finding) myself getting upset and hurt that key people in my life aren’t “liking” things I post. Even writing this seems so dumb. But, I know it’s not just me. We look to see who watched our story. We check to see all the likes. It’s a weird form of validation that we seem to need, and it’s time to let that go.

You ask someone to hang out, grab dinner, or a drink. They say “Not tonight”. Again. The same panic. They’re over you. Done. This is it.

You get mad at them, they get mad at you, you break up, and your life is over.

But, NONE OF IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

We all do it, making up scenarios in our heads, and always, always going to worst case scenario. Always assuming someone is mad, disinterested, ghosting us, etc.. This goes for all types of relationships – family, friends, dating, co-workers. Even people we don’t know very well, or at all. We make assumptions and we all know what assuming does….

I’m not an expert or professional of any kind, but, from my personal experience I can tell you that your anxiety is a liar.

They didn’t text you back right away? They are probably busy. Sure, it seems like we always have our phones glued to us, but people do have lives and things to do that don’t involve instantly texting back.

They don’t want to hang out tonight? They could be busy, have other plans, or just want a night in, alone. I’m very introverted, and there are plenty of nights I don’t want to go out because I just want to be in by myself. If I feel like that, I’m sure other people do too.

I know that I have probably messed up friendships and possible romantic relationships from doing this. Becoming over clingy to avoid that feeling of distance. Becoming crazy and asking questions and assuming. Letting the made up, f*cked up story in my head get the best, or really worst, of me. It’s such a hard habit to break. From going to making a story in our heads, to taking a step back, and looking at things rationally. I feel like over the past year I’ve come a long way in this. Don’t get me wrong. I still make up the scenarios. But I’m finding that after a little bit of panic I’m able to take a step back, take a deep breath and realize that I’m probably 100% wrong in my worry. And, I usually am. The few times I am right, it’s a different type of feeling. It’s my gut. I need to learn to differentiate between anxiety and my gut, and to only listen to my gut. I am learning and working on looking at things rationally and logically. And, if for some reason someone isn’t happy with me, or interested in me, then that’s okay too. Life has, and will, go on. Worrying and stressing about it won’t help anything.

I told you, anxiety is a bitch. It causes me to over-analyze too many situations, especially relationships. Again, not just dating, but all types of relationships in my life. Some stressed me out more than others. Some were more one sided than others. If any type of relationship is causing that much anxiety, is it really worth it? I’ve learned it’s not and as painful as it is, to let some of those relationships go.

Anxiety is more than the made-up scenarios. It’s constant worry. Constant stress. About EVERYTHING. Relationships, health, money, society, the weather, global warming, the terrible Phillies season, will the Eagles win the Super Bowl again? Stress ends. You complete the task that had you worried, and poof! It’s gone. Anxiety is still there. The task is done, but what about what comes after? You find something new in the situation that causes you to still be concerned about. It’s exhausting.

A few things I’ve found that help when my anxiety is telling me a f*cked up story:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Focus on 3 tangible things you have in your life.
  • Take out a piece of paper, and write out the situation. Seeing it and having to write it will help you realize it’s probably not true.
  • Text a friend. Tell them your crazy situation and they will be able to talk you off the ledge and bring you back to reality.

Don’t listen to your anxiety, listen to your gut.

-J

Image result for anxiety meme

The First Father’s Day

A lot of firsts have been happening the past few months. First, Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first birthday (mine, and his). The first Saint Patrick’s Day (very, very important to the Irish Donnelly’s). Another rough one is coming. The first Father’s Day. (Hey, good timing Tom. Let’s get all of the firsts out right away!)

I’ve been getting ALL of the Father’s Day gift emails and have been getting so angry at them. Dad never wanted or needed anything, so it was so frustrating to try and think of a gift to show my love and appreciation. Now, I wish I had that problem.

We never did anything elaborate or big for Father’s Day. But we always acknowledged and celebrated Dad. He deserved it. Really, he deserved to be celebrated every day, and I hope he knows that. He was the best of the best. Low key celebrations, but just the way he liked it. Wandering around somewhere, good dinner, and a cold beer (or two). He never let us buy him Father’s day dinner. (I tried last year and he took my card out of the waitress’ hand and gave her his card, then told her “Don’t argue with me, you won’t win”…. then looked at me and said the same.)

Here’s what I want you know to know, as I enter my first Father’s Day without my dad:

It’s okay if you talk about your Father’s Day plans. I would. I’m sure I have when someone else was mourning. Your dad is still here, and deserves to be celebrated.

It’s okay if you talk about your dad in general. Again, if he’s here, let’s talk about him. The good, the bad, the annoying. Let’s talk about it all.

Don’t feel bad for me. I know you want to, and yeah, I feel bad for myself. But, if there’s one thing my dad wouldn’t want, is pity. Pity for him, or for us. Yes, we all miss him. We miss him so much. But pity won’t bring him back (I googled it… It won’t. And, if it’s on the internet it must be true.) Yes, I’m probably going to cry, and be angry around Father’s day. But it’s not your fault, or mine, or my dad’s or your dad’s fault. It’s life. and it all happened for a bigger reason that I will probably never understand.

Don’t judge me for how I act around Father’s Day. Like I said, I’ll probably cry. I’ll probably drink. I’ll probably be a bitch. I’ll probably pull away from people one minute and be super clingy the next. WHO KNOWS. (I sure as hell don’t. Gonna be a real crap-shoot, that’s for damn sure.) I’m hoping to celebrate him and honor him in some way. But, no matter what I do, don’t judge me. Hug me and celebrate with me. Sit in silence with me. Let’s have a beer (or two) for dad. He’d want that. I’m going to Atlanta for the Phillies game and come home Father’s day morning. If there is one thing Tom Donnelly loved, it was the Phillies. And he loved when I traveled far and wide to see them. So, divine intervention (if you believe in that kinda thing, I’m still undecided) that this trip is happening that weekend.

So. No pity. Just be there. Let’s talk about all the dads. Hell, I’d love to tell you all about mine.

Happy Father’s day, Dad.

-J

Please feel free to browse through my blog for other posts, or check out some articles I have written for Thought Catalog here.

Time keeps moving

6 months.
26ish weeks.
182.5 days.
4380 hours.
262,800 minutes.

This has been the amount of time that has passed since the saddest and most surreal moment I’ve had to experience in my 31 years.

A little over 6 months ago, dad got sick, and we had to face the terrifying reality that we could (and would) lose him. There’s no “Losing your dad for dummies” book, so I was LOST. What are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to feel? To act?

Numb.

I went with numb, and denial for a while. (This is how I learned firsthand about the “waves of grief” and it’s not fun waves like at the beach, it’s hard, crashing, tidal waves)

Fast forward. We get through the memorial/celebration of life, where I experienced such an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from so many people. Made me realize how important, special, and loved my dad was.

After that day, reality set in. The “new normal” as it’s called. Whatever the f#ck that means. Looking back, hindsight is 20/20 (LOL, with my lazy eye this may be the best vision I’ll ever have). I really have a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” attitude about it all. I could have, and should have, been a better sister. Daughter. Cousin. Niece. Friend. I still should be all of these things. And, I promise, I am doing my absolute best. It may not seem like it, but I swear on anything you believe in, that I am really, really trying. It wasn’t just me who lost my dad. SO many people lost Tom Donnelly that day. His impact, love, and legacy spread far and wide.

I should have visited my mom and siblings more (for obvious reasons). I should have reached out to my cousins to see how they were holding up, since this is the first aunt/uncle we lost. I should have reached out to my aunts and uncles, because they lost their brother. I should have kept in better touch with my friends. They love me, and care about me, and pushing them away isn’t helping. They called my dad “papa donnelly”, they suffered a great loss that day too.

But, I couldn’t. I could barely handle my own well-being. Do I feel selfish? YES. Of course I do. A lot of people look at me as “single Julie with no kids”, so, it appears easy for me to gallivant around and check-in and visit. But, honestly, this is when my single life got the best of me. It was, and still is, so so hard. I don’t have anyone to go home to. (My cat is cool and all, but, she can be a little selfish and a bit of a bitch at times) I don’t have someone at home who can be there for me on the bad days, who knew my dad, who can cook me dinner and give me a hug while I cry. I don’t have any of my siblings or my mom close-by. I am beyond grateful for everyone who was (and is) there for me. Don’t get me wrong, my support system is incredible. But, this whole grief thing is lonely, and hard, and mental health is a bitch.

Okay, let’s catch up here and keep this train moving. 6 month recap of my life: I’ve had ups, and downs. Fair mix of both. My job is going well, I’m maintaining a social life (or pretending I am. When I’m not at home eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching ‘My 600lb life’ or a true crime documentary), and dating (LOL talk about grief). From the outside, I’m doing well. My inner-circle knows the truth. It has been the absolute longest and fastest period of time I’ve ever experienced.

So, let’s talk about remembering dad. I already feel like I am forgetting pieces of him and that is absolutely devastating. I am so happy my mom got her, my sister and I necklaces with a little bit of his ashes in it, for us to wear every day to remember him. (Okay, I know. When my mom first called me about this I was so freaked out, but now I love it).

I also decided to kinda-spontaneously get a tattoo to remember him. I knew I wanted one to remember and honor him. Eventually I decided it would be some form of sports related tattoo. I didn’t really want to get “dad” tattooed in flames on my bicep. (For now, I may get that eventually, you never really know.) Here is the tattoo, and what I wrote about it the day I got it.

This one’s for you, dad. You’ve taught me a lot, but one thing I’m most grateful for is teaching me my love of philly sports. I’ll never forget listening to Phillies games on the back patio, or that painful football season where I made you teach me all the ins and outs. I’m so glad you called me the moment the eagles won the Super Bowl so we could share in that. Thanks for the passion.

One thing I am constantly working on is continuing to make him proud and honor his legacy. I strive everyday to live how he did. Some days I find myself asking WWTD? (What Would Tom Do). I actually am talking with people at Gift of Life, and am looking to volunteer with them and help raise awareness, so more to come on that.

Wow, this got long. If you made it this far, thanks. To recap:

– Grief is not a straight line. It’s not easy, and there isn’t a handbook that I found that really helps (yet… who knows, maybe I’ll write one)

– I can’t go back and change what I did, and didn’t do. I handled, and am continuing to handle, life the best to my ability in the moment.

– No one is perfect. Everyone is going through things. Be patient and understanding.

– I miss dad. A lot.

– Through this terrible time, I found my voice and began writing and opening up, which is incredible and terrifying.

– Life is continuing. Earth keeps spinning. Even when the world feels shattered.

– I learned though all of this that I can overcome hard shit. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. And I’ll continue to do so. My optimism on life is coming back, and life is going to keep going, so I need to enjoy it and make the most of it.

Thanks for reading, and supporting me.

– J