2017

Beam of Light – Bailey D.

Bailey D.

I am a twenty something, “freshly wed” living in Northern Colorado. I love animals, cooking, being in nature, and have a natural talent for procrastination;)

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Life can sometimes, actually quite often, make me feel like a crazy person. I struggle with stress, insecurity, FOMO (fear of missing out), doubt, and a general sense of failing to do it all “right.” From time to time, I stumble upon a  “love note moment” that gently brings my spiraling mind back to the grounding truth.  Seeing a rosebud blooming in the midst of its own leaves changing color. Watching massive flocks of geese head south in the crisp winter air, so confident in their natural sense of direction. My extremely moody cat choosing to curl up in the crook of my knees and purr as I drift off to sleep. A beautiful piece of latte art that makes my coffee an experience rather than just a means to an end. The sense of awareness that accompanies such plain and simple moments, makes them extraordinary in their own light. And then it becomes a little easier to see myself as less “lacking” and a touch more extraordinary in my own light.

 

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway. I’m accepting submissions through December 31st. 

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Beam of Light – Mike H.

Because men can give light too. This one comes from my father-in-law. He’s a big fan of the double chin selfie. I’m lucky and honored to be a part of this story.

Mike H. 

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My Giving Light is a daughter-in-law who completed my family. I thought it was perfect until she came along. I was so wrong. It is more than perfect now. She has taught me to see the good things in our lives all around us.

My son…who makes me proud as he finds his way in this world.

My business partner/boss shows me how to laugh at ourselves everyday!

Feeling good after being in pain for awhile.

Fresh snow at Christmas in Colorado.

A wife who everyday shows me the true meaning of love and understanding.

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway. I’m accepting submissions through December 31st. 

Beam of Light – Cathy H.

I’m so excited to share this beam of light from one of my favorite ladies Cathy. I always appreciate her ability to craft and create with excellence.

Cathy H. 

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My name is Cathy and I live in Lafayette, Colorado. I work with children with special needs in a public school.

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Cathy has previously contributed to 52 Beautiful Things here.

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway. I’m accepting submissions through December 31st. 

On This Side of Heaven

I haven’t seen her in probably ten years. Facebook keeps me updated on the good stuff, although most recently, she has been bravely sharing updates from her family. Tough stuff. The agonizing process of saying good-bye.

Her family sits tonight, holding hands, because her dad just died.

I don’t know the intimate details and I don’t know how they are feeling – although I can take a gut-wrenching guess. Her dad died.

It just feels like shit.

I lit a candle for them tonight and send love and light because sometimes that’s what feels best.  Flames flicker burning brightly across the darkness.

Sometimes it just feels like there is so much darkness.

I had coffee with a dear friend this afternoon who is doing amazing work with refugees in Bangladesh. A crisis. It’s a crisis of magnificent proportion over there. She writes about her perspective training volunteers and bravely engaging in things most of us prefer to ignore. Her career has been in development work, traveling with students and caring hearts – people eager to make a difference in third world countries. She is used to seeing poverty on a global scale, yet nothing prepared her for the suffering she saw in that place.

I asked how the weight of this work is affecting her faith over a five dollar chai. She responded with many wise words, but this sentence struck me. Jenny, forgive me as I’m going to paraphrase.

She said, ” In the midst of all this suffering, I’ve come to realize, not all healing will be done on this side of heaven.”

The wisest thing anyone has said to me about grief, about suffering, about the mysterious questions we yell at God in our pain.

So much darkness, and yet so much hope. It’s a pendulum, I’ve learned, as I’ve leaned into my own suffering. Sometimes we go deep, deep into the darkness and sit there and scratch and ache and hurt.

Time passes and we can start to swing back to the other side. Hope that in heaven these so heavy pains will be healed.

We breath again, and see speckles of light in the shadows. Friends hold your hands and stroke your hair and invite you into fresh air if only for a brief, glinting moment. And you realize that somethings will never return to the way they once were.

I remember the moment I realized that other people were simply living their lives on March 18, 2016 – the day my dad died. The day life as I knew it stopped.

It was a year and a half later when I was reading Lauren Graham’s book Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between). Those famous actors and crew filmed the last episode of the Gilmore Girls revival the day my dad died. I was crying and staring and stopping and shocked while they filmed the last episode of my favorite t.v. show. They were living in joy, accomplishment, celebration, and success. I hadn’t even stopped to consider that other people were just doing their thing when all of my things came crumbling down.

And this afternoon, I was drinking chai and shopping and driving home while my friend’s dad died. That’s how it works on this side of heaven. While you are feeling joy, others are suffering. While you suffer, others feel joy.

Even more reason for us to be gentle in this great big ol’ world.

Oh, how I wonder what it looks like on the other side.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

 

If you’re feeling joy, light, and brightness I invite you to share your good. Send me a brief description of the good in your world, and I’ll share it here. Details on the Give Light Giveaway can be found here.

If you’re suffering, know that there is grace in the darkness, and a hand to be held. We see you. We light a candle for you. We share our light.

Nope. Not this year.

Thursday – A Rushed Morning

7:05 am

Katie’s phone buzzes.  Olive pounces on me as I reach from my comfy flannel sheets to read the message.

Dylan: Can you bring me my jacket?

Type type type.

Katie: Sure – do you need it this morning?

No response.

We’re up late. Rush out of bed.

8:02 am

Katie puts cushions in bathroom so the dog won’t eat them, shuts all doors, unplugs curling iron, grabs jacket and says a silent prayer that Olive won’t chomp on the unlit Christmas tree while away. Drive to Dylan’s work.

8:17 am

Katie’s phone buzzes.

Dylan: No – I don’t need it this morning. Just for later tonight.

Said coat sat on my drivers seat as I waited for a stop light to stamp out a reply.

8:18 am

Katie pulls into Dylan’s work parking lot.

Type Type Type

Katie: I’m in the parking lot. I have your coat.

Dylan came out to greet me, walking up to the driver side door. He said thanks, and then repeated he didn’t really need the coat until later that night.

Katie swallowed down emotion and said out loud, “Ok, I’m feeling frustrated.”

And then Katie promptly started crying.

In the parking lot, Dylan came round and sat in the car as Katie shed some tears, holding her hand.


I wept about how pissed I am at my dog for peeing in our house all the time. I wept about feeling like schedules need managing and tasks need completing, and dishwashers need unloading and like I need help. That’s what I told Dylan.

What I didn’t tell Dylan –

At 7:40 am I also got an email from The Dinner Party. This group hosts grief tables for 20 and 30 somethings who have experienced significant loss all around the country.  I’ve been on the waiting list since October. Waiting to get placed in a group of people who get it. Just how total suck-fest this thing called grief can be.

I’ve got lots of supportive people in my life, yet I still crave connection with people my age who can say, ‘yup – me too – I’ve lost someone big and their them-sized hole will never be filled.’

As I read the email, I think I stopped breathing a bit. The Dinner Partiers might have a spot for me soon. I hate that I can belong to this club. She ended her note, “I hope you’re finding ways to take care this holiday season.”

So there I was, in the parking lot, crying tears and blurring my mascara and trying not to calculate how late to work I would be. Sure, I was pissed at my dog and helping people get their needs met. More though, I was pissed that I’m not sure I have been taking care of myself this month as others have so wisely recommended.

We got through Thanksgiving with grace and smiles this year. We decorated for Christmas and I was doing just fine. And then I opened that gracious, hope-giving email, and I sank right into the hard truth that my dad isn’t with us this Christmas.

Damnit.

Worse, too, that I haven’t been giving myself space to expect the slide backwards. Because who want’s to expect that?

I wiped off my face and drove to work, finished out another week and started asking myself – how can I take better care of myself this Christmas season? A beautiful reminder that sometimes even strangers can nudge us towards the self-care we didn’t know we needed.

I’ve found freeing answers in unexpected spaces. The beauty in saying, “Nope, not this year.”

For example. This season I can’t bring myself to make Christmas cookies. I bought the ingredients to make peppermint shortbread for Dad and then I just couldn’t stop thinking – well where would I bring them?we don’t have a graveI certainly can’t eat them myself. And why would I give them away. They are Dad’s.

And Mom and I were going to make gingerbread snowflakes like always but really I just wanted to send my Christmas Cards instead. Our time got eaten up as the grief gremlin gnawed on my heart. Sneaking cookies from tins in the morning reminds me of him and so I just can’t do it. Not this year. The weight of grief has pressed pause on our cookie tradition. The red snowman tins shall remain empty til next year.

Today, as we Christmas shopped I bought a Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Cake Mix  . We came home after a lovely afternoon out downtown and I whipped up the batter in ten minutes. After thirty minutes my house smelled lovely. I cut a warm square that looked  beautiful my white plate, gummy ginger crystals still melted from the oven. I ate a piece while watching The Santa Clause and got choked up as Santa calls Charlie Sport. Dad always called me Sport too. More feelings of Damnit. Let’s put that word in caps shall we? D-A-M-N-I-T. Let’s YELL it at the mirror!

So this is what taking care of myself looks like. Saying no to tradition because tradition hurts like hell. Finding substitutes that make life easier – like cake mix. Asking for help with Olive and holding hands. Reading my Advent devotional and remembering Jesus is coming – bringing light and banishing darkness.

And saying hello to my grief gremlin friend as she waves her candy cane Christmas wand from my heart pocket. She’s here this season too.

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P.S. – I told Dylan all of this before I shared here. He’s in the know. You can be too.

P.P.S. – The Give Light Giveaway is still going on. Send me your entry soon!

We Didn’t Get the Baby – Guest Post From Becca

When Becca sent me an email asking to share her story I was touched. She told me she wanted to write about a different kind of loss – infertility. I thanked her for her honesty and for the way she chooses to look for beauty while moving towards acceptance. Thank you, Becca, for desiring to create connection, awareness, and strength for women experiencing infertility.

Here are her thoughts.

Author: Becca 

Her Website: Post IVF World

Her Mantra: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

To see the beautiful things in every day life is a very positive thing to do, although, sometimes I do find it hard. This is why I was so exited to do a post for Katie, not only will it (hopefully) be a good addition to her blog, it will also make me write about the positives I have found through my journey.  I experience really bad anxiety, mostly due to the lack of control I feel I have had over my life thus far. As a result I do have a tendency to overlook the positives.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Becca. I went through the Menopause at 15 and this has made life a little different for me. I have chosen to be open about my diagnosis with friends and family, where we talk about the way this change has effected me, us as a family, and my friendship group openly and honestly.

I consciously made the decision to speak about my experience in an attempt to make the process easier for everyone. I learned early on it isn’t just me going through the turmoil that can follow an infertility diagnosis at such a young age. My Mum, Dad, sister and wider family are still impacted too!

This openness has worked well for the most part, but sometimes I just don’t want to talk about this loss. My choice to remain quiet can be hard to explain to my support network.

I am not going to say that my journey has been all positive just because we are talking about ‘beautiful things’. My journey hasn’t been rosy all the time and I don’t want to paint an untrue picture of what it can be like to find out you are infertile, especially at such an early age.  If I am honest though, the diagnosis was the easy bit – that was just the beginning.

My partner and I have in recent years, had 3 failed IVF attempts, including 2 pregnancy losses and naturally they were hard times. These losses and the days following are ones which I don’t think I will ever fully recover from. I still think of those babies on a daily basis as ours, a potential future, a future that was taken from us.

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Photo by Claire Nolan on Unsplash

Saying all this though, I have for sure found some beauty in my journey. I have found how strong I am as a person, at times when I really thought life was battling against me. I fought through such gaping voids and I am still here.

IVF and infertility is hard on a couple. I’ve realized my partner and I are lucky in that we have been together since we were teens. It’s in our nature to be open and honest about our thoughts and feelings when it comes to our fertility journey.

I have known my partner, who is now my fiancé, since my school years. We were friends for a long time before we got together and because of that, my infertility was never an issue in our commitment to one another. We never had to have ‘that talk’. He quickly accepted this limitation it was just a part of me. We knew from day one of our relationship that it may be difficult to get pregnant and even then it was no sure thing.

Like any couple we have had bad times. We both dealt with IVF and the losses differently. We fought with each other, we shouted, we cried a lot.  We also had other things going on in life –  family loss and a failing business were surrounding us all at the same time as IVF. We struggled to keep our heads above water. Somehow, we managed.

It was touch and go many a time but our extended families were amazing with us. Sometimes we needed their support more than anything. Some days we didn’t want to see anyone at all and they took it all in their stride. What a beautiful gift it was that these members of our family let us take the lead and not pressuring us to ‘recover’ any sooner than we were able to!

Now, at age 28, I am proud to say we are moving forward. After finding out I was infertile at 15, being on an IVF waiting list for 7 years, and 3 and a half years of failure after failure, it makes me happy to be able to say things are better for us now. Today, we are a year out from the day we decided to end IVF. We didn’t get the baby we have always wanted but somewhere through the journey I think we both realized that it is first and foremost each other that matters. We are concentrating on that as much as possible!

My blog ‘www.postivfworld.wordpress.com‘ focuses on our lives after IVF, not dwelling on the past, but talking of the way things are now. This loss still lingers. I still struggle with my mental health issues.

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Yet, I’ve found new things that we live for like our new puppy Hector.

 

My blog has been an amazing solace for me, something that I can control, that is mine, that I can make what I want of it! The people I have met and the communities I am now part of as a result of this loss are way beyond anything I ever imagined. I wish I had found out about them years ago, a couple in particular are the Daisy Network (concentrates mostly on early menopause) and The Fertility Network UK who cover a much broader spectrum of infertility. I urge anyone who is struggling with infertility to get involved with some of these powerful organizations as it really does help one sort through the complex emotions associated with this reality. I am happy to direct you to the right places depending on your diagnosis or concerns!

So there it is, my story. A somewhat shortened version, but everyone has their own story, and everything is relative. I choose not to moan about what I have been through, nor am I here to make light of infertility and pregnancy loss.  I hope to raise awareness of infertility and direct people who may have similar experiences towards resources. I hope to reassure people that life can get better. Acceptance takes time, and recovery needs to be at your own pace, but rest assured, you are not alone!

 

Becca can be found on her blog 

Beam of Light – Melody S.

True life confessions? Melody babysat me when I was little. She was my absolute favorite nanny and I remember when she took us to see Wizard of Oz in the movie theater. I cried the night she left us to go to Texas A & M. That was eighteen years ago.  I was thrilled to reconnect with her when she moved back to Northern Colorado with her own little family this year. Boom.
Melody S. 

IMG_20171211_130458.jpgThere is magic in the mundane, you just need the right lens to see it.  Most people, I’d hazard to guess, just see a pile of laundry that desperately needs to be folded in this photograph.  Today I see the magic.  I’ve been given the gifts of a husband and children: this laundry reveals I have been entrusted with the care of other’s hearts.  I’ve been given a home with electricity and running water, hot water even: this laundry reveals my basic needs are provided for.  I can physically perform all the tasks required to complete laundry: I’ve been given the gifts of health and strength.  The laundry is never done: I’ve been given a gift that keeps on giving, as long as I have the eyes to see it.

Melody Shaddix lives in Northern Colorado.  She loves Jesus, cold weather, family and friends, baking and perhaps not surprisingly, laundry.
She has also been featured on 52 Beautiful Things here.

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway. I’m accepting submissions until December 31st.