I’ll Never Sink When You Are With Me

I’ve been begging myself to write about grief, hoping it would somehow bring closure. Yet I can’t wrap my thoughts around the pain well enough to understand or explain. It’s empty, it’s vibrant, it’s breathtaking.

The emotion of grief is so consuming, it completely takes you over. And that’s not necessarily in the form of sorrow or sadness, not always. It will fill you in ways you didn’t expect.

Recognizing the love for a life lost is inexplicable. Your memories wrap their memory in an embrace, and you can almost feel them. Here. It’s calming and chilling. It will make you weak and give you unbelievable strength. It will drive you and stop you in your tracks. It completely absorbs you in every possible way. You grieve for what you’ve lost and yet you celebrate what you had.

I’m not one for letting go. Especially when it’s not on my terms. And as time wages on, the more I’m left longing for what I’ve lost.

Today I Missed My Workout

Christmas morning seems like as good a time as any to reflect. Especially when it’s 6 a.m., you’ve been up for two hours and you’re at your in-laws trying not to wake anyone.

Whole 30

2018 has been a full year. I kicked it off with the Whole 30 program, a diet meant to help you learn more about the foods you eat and how they affect your body. I was proud, and surprised, when I hit the 30-day mark cheat-free and feeling good. As an avid cook, meal prep was something I looked forward to, even if it meant no booze, sugar, carbs and a whole lot of other stuff.

Running

From there, I jumped into training for my second full marathon. Looking back on my training program, I don’t quite remember where I fell off. I know I hit my 18-mile run and missed the 20 miler. But I did a lot on the treadmill, big mistake.

Race day, Memorial weekend, was hot and humid AF. The Top of Michigan Marathon starts in Charlevoix and ends in Harbor Springs, hitting Petoskey along the way. And, unlike the Chicago Marathon, the course is slim. There were maybe 100 marathoners and even fewer supporters along the course.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the race. At the halfway mark, I called it quits. The night before, my CamelBak broke and I wasn’t able to carry enough water to stay hydrated in the heat (water stations were limited and some even ran out of cold water). The humidity made it difficult to breathe and the lack of crowd support killed my motivation. Don’t worry though, I signed up for the 2019 race and plan to kick its ass.

Home

The summer was consumed with our new house. We moved in in April and I literally never wanted to leave. From unpacking to decorating to yardwork, it kept us busy. While we still haven’t finished hanging our decor, we did just furnish the third bedroom.

I’m in love with our home, and I think the rest of the family is, too.

Friends and family

We spent time celebrating some of our closest friends throughout the year. Weddings, babies, engagements, big moves and new homes. Even our niece’s first birthday.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what I’ve lost on here. It’s part of the purpose for my blog—coping, healing and remembering. But 2018 has shown me how lucky I am for what and who I have in my life.

SuperSprint

Training for my first triathlon also kept me busy this summer. Part of the Chicago Triathlon series, the SuperSprint is awesome for first-timers. Event weekend takes place at the end of August and the course is manageable.

Swim, bike, run. That’s the basics of a tri. The atmosphere was electric and the participants were incredible. So much support and inspiration. While not as physically difficult as a marathon, a triathlon is more mentally taxing.

This is another race I’ve already signed up for in 2019. This year, my goal was to finish. Next year, I’m keeping time. My hope is to one day complete a full triathlon. Until then, I’ll be working on my open-water swimming.

Work, work, work

The end of the year has kind of been swept up with work. Professionally, I’ve been given a number of opportunities to grow and advance, all of which I’ve embraced with open arms. For the first time in a few years, I’m not only satisfied at work but excited for the future.

Personally, I’ve been focusing on my beer blog. The focus the past two months has been on social media, but I’m planning for a 2019 relaunch of the blog. Until then, check us out on Instagram: @chibeerclub.

To help expand my reach, network and knowledge, I joined PorchDrinking as a copy editor and social media coordinator. I’ve only been working with the team for a couple of weeks, but it’s been a positive experience so far.

2019 and beyond

I think 2019 will look a lot like this year, only refined. I’ve learned so much and have so many things I want to accomplish next year. More travel. More learning. More growing.

Day 3: Writing Retreat Research

I spent today doing research for my book. This mostly started from working on some of the tasks in “Ready. Set. Novel!” but I’ve since realized it is a necessity for me. My favorite part of writing is digging in and getting the details. It’s not enough for me to have a character respond in a certain way, I want to be able to define why he or she reacted that way.

Here are some of the things I came up with in my research of families across the globe:

  • The “Universal Family” looks different everywhere around the world
    • Think “Modern Family” exemplified
  • Teaching independence is the number one goal of parenting, no matter where you’re from
  • Americans are more likely to have less positive relationships with their families
    • This has a lot to do with the fact that we’re a melting pot of cultures, and the way each culture addresses family is different – thus leading to differences of opinion and difficulties
  • American parents are more concerned with their children’s success and intelligence than parents across the globe
    • We equate money with smarts
  • Culture plays a significant role in dictating what family relationships look like
  • Adult children from countries without federally-funded elder care are more likely to feel responsible for their aging parents well-being
    • This often leads to tension on the relationships between adult children and their parents

Some of this may not be surprising, but I find it informative to our day-to-day interactions. I can definitely see how these different points not only dictate my interactions with my family, but also my future plans of starting a family of my own.

Tomorrow, I look forward to learning more about how we decide which friends are acceptable to introduce into our family, and why sometimes those ending relationships hurt more than anything else.

We’re Goin’ to Better Places

If you’d asked me two years ago where I thought I’d be today, well I honestly wouldn’t have been able to reply. Not for a few days anyways, and even then, my response may have come out in the form of a singed alphabet.

I’ve wanted to write of the events on October 6, 2011, for awhile now, and well I still may not be ready to share all the intimate details, there’s a lot to be said. Many in my family would rather not hear it, as it’s a topic that makes both them and me uncomfortable at times. And, when it is discussed, it’s done so with a sort of sadness, distance and caution.

For those of you who don’t know, which is many, two years ago to this date, I was struck on my bike by a large delivery truck while en route to work. It looked something like this:

(No, it’s not the actual truck.}

So, anyways, I was struck while on my bicycle, riding in a bike lane in downtown Chicago. I flew off of my bike and was then partially run over. I point out partially because had I been flat out run over, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

My first thought was, Today’s going to suck at work. Of course, I did not make it in, and wouldn’t for another 3.5 months.

That’s the end of the accident portion of this post, it’s the easy part to say. The recovery, fear and fight that took place after, that’s where it gets messy. All in all, thanks to this man, I’m here.

Not the best quality, but this is the only photo I have of Dr. Shapiro.

In the last two years, a lot has happened. I went back to my position at the Chicago Tribune in mid-January of 2012, got a promotion seven months later and was laid off by the end of January. Luckily, I snatched up a writing position in February and have since been promoted within a great company. So career wise, I feel pretty good about how far I’ve come, and I’m much better off than I was two years ago.

Friends, friends  have come and gone over this time. One of my closest, who actually held my hand during the quick ambulance trip, and I have gone our separate ways. Which, for a time, was hard to swallow, but I have since come to appreciate the fact that he was there when he was – when needed the most. In a number of other friendships, the bonds were strengthened. Most specifically, this nerd:

Na na na na na.

My family has always been close, so I won’t say that those relationships were tightened at all. Especially when it comes to myself, my mom and my brother – although I think something changed there, I can’t quite put my finger on it.

I’ve heard your life changes when you have a near-death experience, but I don’t think that’s true. Some small things about me have changed, but I’m still the same clumsy goofball I always was. I have less patience for complaints about unwarranted issues and more compassion for others. My spleen was removed, I’ve got scars to carry with me for life and struggle with anxiety in certain situations, but I was always a little neurotic. But still, I’m me, I haven’t really changed.

There’s a part of me that wants to go out, explore and change the world, and maybe some day I will. For now, I’m just living and figuring out the usual issues of a 27-year-old woman.

Paul Allen “Bub” Thompson (1985-2013)

I no longer knew you, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t remember you.

You were born just months after my brother and your sister after me. As children, we’d mimic the adults’ card games on the floor or run circles around the house with squirt guns. I think you were even there the afternoon Joey hopped the fence.

Then, one day, you were gone. I was too young to understand at the time, but later I knew why. I understood you’d left for a better life.

Years later I learned of your sister’s passing. I don’t recall if I mourned, but I remember thinking she was too young. It was tragic and now your story strikes me as the same.

I never knew who you’d become, just that you’d returned. Your accomplishments make me proud, but also strengthen the tragedy. You were so much more than what your parents had been. You were strong and I am proud.

Now, you’re gone and I’ll never have the chance to cross your path. I may never have learned of your success otherwise and that’s a disappointment.

With you, you’ve taken a piece of our family – a family that’s broken and dwindling. We may not have much, but blood is blood and it makes us who we are.

I may not have known you, but I’ll remember you. I hope you’ve found peace.