Saturday, December 11, 2010
I love you all dearly, now don't shed a tear
because I will be spending my Christmas with Jesus this year.
Let me start with apologizing. I don't believe in being political correct this time of year. I like hearing and saying Merry Christmas. If you are very political correct, don't read on. The word Christmas will be mentioned.
Everywhere I look, listen, smell, proof of Christmas is in the air. I used to love this time of year. I would listen to Christmas music, put lights up, make Christmas decorations. But I would never get stressed out, because I wasn't hosting Christmas dinners. I could take the best of Christmas and enjoy it. And I did.
When I was growing up and living with my parents, I would get up early just to turn on the lights on the Christmas tree and let the light shine on the other ornaments. It sparkled like diamonds.
But unfortunately by the playing with the lights would wake up my mother and I would get caught and put back to bed. But it didn't change the way I felt about Christmas. I never saw the stress my mother and all other mothers felt during the month of December. Shopping for food and presents, making the food, cleaning, getting a tree and so on.
For some reason I believed it all just magically appeared. When I moved out and got my own family, we would still have Christmas evening at my parents. When we arrived, I could smell, hear, feel and let us not forget, eat Christmas.
I would take Martin to the Christmas tree and we would play with the lights. It made him laugh. We would sing Christmas songs and enjoy each others company.
However Christmas soon lost its' magic. We no longer sang Christmas songs and it felt like the the only way we communicated was through sarcasm and making fun of each other and I didn't want to participate. But to me Christmas is about family, so knowing how the evening would turn out, I tried to create my own Christmas tradition with Martin. In Denmark the 24th is the "big" day. We would go to my parents late afternoon, so Martin and I had our celebration during the day.
Actually it started way before the 24th.
The first weekend in December we would go down and buy a small tree and we would decorate it. Well, technically I would do the decorating, as Martin couldn't, but he would be watching and his eyes would light up when I put the ornaments on. He got some on his table, he could touch and he loved it. Sometimes he would utter some sounds as if to tell me, that I should move an ornament. We would listen to Christmas music and just have a good time.
During the day on the 24th, I would take him out of his chair and sit with him. I would read Christmas stories and sing Christmas songs. It was clear to me that he recognized some of them. It was my favorite time of the day and I didn't want it to end. But I had to go to my parents house to celebrate Christmas with my family, knowing that nothing could top what had gone on earlier and knowing that at some point in the evening, some would be fighting.
The last few years of Martin's life, we had to move Christmas eve to my sister's house, because I could no longer carry him up to the 3rd floor.
Every Christmas Martin and I had our time together, which I enjoyed. But I must admit, I didn't look forward to the evening.
Christmas 2006 Martin and I stayed home. Martin had a fever and slept all evening. At that point I didn't know it was to be his last Christmas.
Martin died in May of 2007 and Christmas that year was tough to get through. I went out to my sister's house. I don't know if it was for my sake or not, but for some reason, there were no Christmas tree, which made it a little easier, but I kept looking at the space at the dinner table, where his chair used to be. so the real severity of the day didn't really dawn on me until i got back home. It was and felt very empty and I could hardly look at it.
When I came home that night, I just broke down. I have never really understood why there are so many suicides during Christmas. Now I do.
It is all emotions doubles during Christmas. If you are happy, you feel more happy. If you feel lonely, you feel extra lonely during Christmas.
This year is the 4th Christmas without Martin and you might think, that I should have gotten better at handling it by now. I haven't. December has been hard to get through. Even if I don't live in the same country anymore and I have no history with Martin here in the US, I keep thinking when I look at all the lights: Martin would have loved this. Or what should I get him this year?
This Christmas will be very special. Mike and i are going to Denmark this year. We will be staying with my parents and this year, Christmas eve, will be spend at my parents house. My childhood home.
This will be first time I will be there after Martin died and while I look forward to finally having a Danish Christmas, I am also dreading it.
I look forward to being with my family, but the hole in my heart can not be filled. I know he will be there in spirit, but let's face it, that is just not enough.
But even if i will be missing him and my heart is breaking, I will not let it overshadow the joy I do feel about the magic of Christmas.
One thing I have learned. Be grateful for the things you have instead of focusing on the things you don't have.
So I will promise myself, I want to have a very merry Christmas. I know there will be tears of sadness, because Martin is not here to laugh at the lights and that is ok, but he is still loved and missed But who knows, he might just be standing right next to me, when I go and play with the Christmas lights.
I wish you and your family will take a few moments away from the Christmas stress and really allow yourself to feel the joy and magic of Christmas and each other.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
However I am a big fan of being grateful. For years I have been writing in a gratitude journal, and I am sure it has changed my life. Allow me to explain.
Years ago I was at a personal low point in my life. I was bulimic, felt lonely, constantly tired and just tired of life as I knew it. I really couldn't see a way out. I loved my son, but life with him was very challenging.
Someone told me to start a gratitude journal. I must admit that what I thought of that idea I can't really say here, but a lot of %@&*$($^# words were part of my thoughts. However, I trusted this person so I promised to give it a try. I did. I was told to write down 5 things a day, I was grateful for. I would lie if I said it was easy. It wasn't.
But I stuck with it. In the beginning it took me a long time to find 5 things. There were days when I wasn't even grateful for being alive. I may even have said I was grateful for something I probably wasn't, just to get the 5 things a day.
I knew I had to find 5 things, so I started looking for them and writing them down and after a while I started feeling differently. I discovered that it was easier to find the 5 things a day I was grateful for and very soon the number 5 was not enough. I discovered how much I actually had to be grateful for.
Being grateful didn't change the hardship I was facing and lived with, but I changed the way I look at it. Change your thoughts and you change your life.
I truly believe that the energy you send out will come back to you as a boomerang. However just because you change the way to look at life, doesn't mean that everything is now going to be great and we all live happily ever after.
It is easy to focus on what is wrong in life, what we don't have and how big out obstacles are . If we are not careful we loose sight of all the good things we actually do have. We take our family, friends and health for granted. When we go through a disappointment there are two ways to look at it : Nothing good ever happens to me or I should have known that this would happen.
Or the more positive way: When one door closes, I know God is going to open up another door. It is all about perspective and how we choose to see a situation.
We all have thing going on in life, that if we focus on them, they can steal our joy and course us to be mad, angry and upset. However, if we are going to be happy, the foundation is to have a grateful spirit.
Seeds of discouragement can not take root in a grateful heart.
If you are not happy today the quickest way to turn it around is to be more grateful for what you do have, instead of focusing on what you don't have.
Instead of focusing on how far you have to go, turn around and take a look at how far you have come.
If we complain about where we are, we will never get to where we want to be.
I know that sometimes it is difficult to change your perspective. When my son died, I found it difficult to find something positive and I had days where I just wanted to follow him to where he went.
However when I started looking at Martins life as a time line it occurred to me that I only focused on the last day of his life instead of focusing on the almost 17 years he was here on earth and all the lessons he taught me and all the love he gave me and opened up for.
This year I have so many things to be grateful for. I have a nice house to live in. I am married to a wonderful man, who sometimes tests my positive outlook. I am grateful that we got our dog Henry. I could focus on how much he sheds but I focus on the amount of unconditional love he gives and how much joy we have because of him.
I have many good friends here in the US and I live in a very beautiful part of the US.
I finished my book this year and I am very grateful for all the positive feedback. But I must admit that one feedback were more powerful than any other I with gratitude have received.
I come from a family where love and praise was never expressed other than through sarcasm and jokes.
I was very nervous giving my parents my book, because there would be something in it, they didn't know about me and I wasn't sure how they would react. But I didn't let it stop me. I had a message to get out.
I have read through my old journals and one of the red threads were that because I never thought I had my fathers approval, I made some bad choices in life and other times it kept me from doing things, because i never believed in myself.
After Martin died and I moved to the US, our relationship changed. I think we all realized what was important. My father told me that he was very proud of me and what I had written and how I handled my life with Martin. I am 46 and yet it moved me to tears. Even if I had learned to live without his praise, I was surprised how I reacted when I got it. It was so unexpected and yet so wonderful and heartfelt.
Without knowing it, it took away so much self doubt. I believed in myself on another level. I took contact to different places to set up workshops. I contacted a bookstore to get a book signing and I will get my story in the local paper. All because my father said he believed in me. That is certainly something to be grateful for.
This year I will be cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner at home with Mike. I look forward to it. On a light note, I am grateful for the internet and and friends to told me how to make stuffing.
I know there is a lot to be stressed out about this thanks giving. But do yourself a favor. Take a few minutes to write down what you are grateful for.
May all your days be days of thanks giving.
Friday, September 24, 2010
I have been writing for years, but looking back, I am not sure I really put my heart into it. It was mostly to put words to my emotions, which was fine. Besides a part of me believed, that if I finished the book, Martin would die.
After I moved to the US something changed. By then Martin had died and because I couldn't work I needed to fill my time with something. So writing was a good way for me to do that. However it was also quite therapeutic. Wise people say, that you should not do anything drastic the first year after experiencing a death of a loved one. What that meant was, I shouldn't move, shouldn't make big decisions, shouldn't change jobs, shouldn't sign anything, but just give myself time to adjust to my new life without my son. I was grieving his death, but didn't listen to the rest of the advice.
I had met Mike and I moved to the US. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, but adjusting was somewhat challenging.
It helped to write. I had written everything in Danish, but now my life was in the US, so I started over.
I took the chapters I liked the most and translated them. Little by little the book took shape.
While writing Martin felt alive again and memories came floating back, which at times was very emotional and I am sure it wasn't always easy to be Mike.
All the chapters were emotional for me to write, but some chapters were tougher than others. But I do feel they came out the way I wanted. And I am very proud of the finished product.
We all have a story and we have all been through things that make us question who we really are. Martin and what we went through, was mine. I couldn't handle all the emotions and had to find a way to handle them. Unfortunately that way was quite self destructive. I don't like drugs, any kind of drug, so drugs wasn't the answer for me, however my "drug of choice" was food. I found that overeating was a good way for me to keep the emotions at bay. I wanted a fix now and didn't care about long term damage. Which is very similar with all kind of addictions. It is like the motto is: I want what I want and I want it now!
I did the best I could and i didn't feel I had any other way to cope. I didn't know better. But when we know better we do better.
I learned there were other ways of coping. All I needed to do was to change my way of thinking. Change your thoughts and you'll change your life.
All addicts can get helped to be sobered up, however staying sober, can be challenging. So it was for me.
An alcoholic can avoid bars, but a food addict have to eat every day. So I had to learn what I was hungry for.
While I was writing this book, I got very hungry and I had to ask myself why I was hungry and most of the times it wasn't physical hunger, but simply all the emotions surfacing. I was reliving everything I was writing about. But at least now, I was aware of it and I had a choice NOT to eat. But just letting the emotions be there.
While I was writing the book, I felt Martin was alive, so it was very difficult for me to write the chapter about his death. It was like he died all over again.
But I knew I had to do this. This is what I can do to keep his memory alive.
Martin taught me many life lessons. One of them was to enjoy every minute with our loved ones. Always make sure that they are loved and appreciated, never let the sun set on your anger and the most important, forgive the unforgivable. The last one may be more difficult to do. However, as long as you hold a grudge, the other person or incident has a power over you.
In order for me to find the peace I was looking for, I had to forgive the doctor who was responsible for Martin's and my fate.
Forgiving doesn't mean that it was ok, what happened to us, it just meant that the doctor no longer had the power over me. I had to forgive in order to start my healing process and let go of the anger I was living with.
I chose this cover for the book, because what it represents. Butterflies is transformation and I believe I went through a transformation. I also believe that we all come from the same source. I call that source LOVE. However, we have a tendency to forget.
So when I saw this photo of a catarpillar and a butterfly on the same flower ( love) I knew I had the cover that was just right for me. Even if you don't believe in the metaphor, the the picture itself is beautiful. And orange was Martin's favorite color.
A long journey has come to an end and a new is just beginning.
This is my story and I would like to share it with you.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
My beloved Martin.
Today you would have turned 20 years old. I guess you still do, where ever you are.
You are spending your birthday with God, so I know that you are surrounded by love and light.
It has been a while since I have written any blogs. I have been busy writing and finishing the book about our lives together.
You have been such an impact in my life. You were a gift of love. Maybe that is why I name our book a Gift of love.
My arms are empty, however,I often feel your presence. I makes me think of something a clairvoyant once told me. “ Martin will come to you in the shape of a small dog” I feel that. I felt it with Toby and I feel it now with Henry. I think that sometimes, when Henry is in my arms, I am stroking you not him. I like to believe that. That gives me peace.
I hope you are proud of what I am doing with my life after you left.
I put all my heart and soul into the book and I really believe in it. But I would love if you would send some blessings.
I love you and I miss you. Have a wonderful birthday up there in heaven.
Back in January Toby decided that his time here with us, was coming to an end.
It was a very sad time when he died and the house felt very empty.
A few months later we felt ready to once again open our hearts to a dog. We both agreed that it had to be a rescue.
I went on Petfinder.com and found a small dog. He was said to be a Cairn terrier mix and they had named him Ricky. He looked very cute, so we decided to take him. I emailed back and forth with the lady who was supposed to be his foster mom. Ricky was from Tennessee and he would be on the transportation up on a Saturday in April.
Mike and I drove to Rocky Hill where the drop off site was. It was important to me that our dog would choose us.
I must admit that I was nervous. Would he like us and what temperament would he have?
He was introduced to me and started crawling all over me while licking my face. I guess he accepted up.
I went for a walk with him on the leash, just to see how he would act, but he was absolutely fine. We had a new dog.
We drove home and let him in the house, where he got some time to get to know everything.
I sat by my computer and a few minutes later, the dog showed up with one of my socks in his mouth and a wagging tale.
He got his first toy.
We changed his name to Henry. He settled in just fine and he is just the best addition to out little family, we could hope for. He loves sitting on our laps or stand guard on the deck. He is on he lookout for squirrels.
There was something about him, that made me think he wasn’t all terrier. So I had him DNA tested. I was very surprised when the results came back. He is anything but terrier. Not a drop.
He is Maltese, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Norwegian elkhound, Pekingese, Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
He is a som’er dog. Some of this and some of that. But he is all ours and we love him.
Yesterday I wrote part 1 of my New Years resolution about not drinking any alcohol in the month of January. I am still sticking with that, but last night something changed, that made me think or rather rethink that resolution. Maybe I should do more.
When a year comes to an end, it is a good time to think about what that year has done for you or what you did in that year.
Yesterday I watched the dvd, my parents had filmed, while they were here on vacation in October.
I was a little shocked over what I looked like. When it is said that the camera doesn’t lie, it is true.
I couldn’t believe what I had turned in to. I simply didn’t recognize myself. I was embarrassed and ashamed.
I was so out of shape, and had put a lot of weight on. It wasn’t a surprise of course. I haven’t really been very active and just running up the stairs in the house made me short of breath.
My clothes were getting tighter and I really couldn’t give the excuse that I had washed them on too high temperature.
No, this was the result of 2 years of buried emotions and emotional eating.
I took an emotional inventory and I asked myself some questions. Did I live my life to the fullest, did I make the most of this year, if not what would I change?
The answer NO, came very quickly. I did not and had not lived my live to the fullest, but maybe, in a way, I had.
It is the easiest thing in the world to hit yourself over the head and put yourself down, when your life is not what you want it to be.
Yes, I have put on weight, and yes I am out shape, but these are things I can control and do something about. Stop eating too much and start working out.
I could loose the weight and get in to shape in a matter of time.
But if I ask why it had to come to this, the answer is not quite as simple.
If I don’t resolve the underlining issues, that made me overeat, I would just put it all back on just as quickly.
In a perfect world I would be able to afford a personal trainer to work out with, a dietitian to help me with a food plan and a coach/ therapist to work through emotional stuff.
Unfortunately this is not a perfect world and I can’t afford all this, but that is not reason enough for not doing it.
One of the biggest issues is of course, I still grieve the loss of Martin and I have to come to terms with that and no longer keep it down and suppressed.
Another big thing is I now have to figure out who I am. Before I moved here, I was defined by Martin. He was my identity.
I now have to rediscover myself. I love my husband dearly and I love living here, but I have to rebuilt myself. I have a pretty good idea of who I am and what I am supposed to do with my life, but for some reason I haven’t done it yet.
I read somewhere ,that the best thing to do the first year after a death of a child is to do nothing. No big decisions. Don’t move to a new house. don’t change jobs. You are not emotional ready.
Well, I did just that. I moved flat, then I met Mike and fell in love, then I was offered a job, which I didn’t take, because I moved to another country.
I arrived in part of the US I had never been. Didn’t know anybody, couldn’t get a job, couldn’t even get around, because I had no car. I was alone in the house 8 hours a day, while Mike was a work.
No wonder my emotions have been in turmoil.
Food became my friend. I knew it was bad for me, but the short term fix far outlasted the lang term downsides.
That was then and this is now.
I can and more importantly, wont hide no more. I have to strengthen my risk and courage muscles and take that step in to my new life.
I have to take off my overcoat of issues and fat and let the new Anette emerge.
I am sure Martin is sitting looking down at me thinking, that was about time.
I have always said that the best way to honor him is to live the best life I can. So I will.
Soon the old year will come to and end and a new year will begin.
Let that be the synonym for my new life to begin.
As a famous song goes” The best is yet to come”
Well let 2010 be a new beginning. I am ready, I hope, the world is ready for me.
This is the time of year when we, in between shopping, decorating and eating our way through the holiday season, also think about New year resolutions. The more classic among the resolutions are loosing 10 pounds, quit smoking and working out. I know, I make them every year, well not the quit smoking part, but not with the desired result, I might add.
This year, I want to do something different. Apart from working out and loosing 10 pounds, I want to stay away from all alcohol in the month of January.
That may not sound like a lot, but to me it is. I really enjoy a glass of red wine, and there is in principal nothing wrong with that. It is even good for you, the smart people say. That is if you don’t overdo it.
But without thinking about it, I have been overdoing it. Not a lot, but a glass or 3 every night add up.
I have lived here in the US for almost 2 years. When I came over, everything was new and exciting. Being in love and having romantic dinners was even better with a glass of wine.
It wasn’t only in the weekends I would have the wine, but every night.
I didn’t think much of it, because it wasn’t as if I was getting drunk, I was just enjoying the wine and enjoying my new life.
As time past and the new and exiting is overtaken by normal everyday life, the meaning of the wine changed as well.
It was hard being in a new country, away from family and friends and all what I used to know. Here I was the immigrant. I couldn’t find a job, didn’t know too many people, hadn’t really given myself time to grieve and couldn’t really figure out who I was supposed to be.
During the day, food helped me suppress those feelings and at night the wine.
That only works for so long. At some point I have to deal with the issues and not drown them, so I have decided that the month of January will be an alcohol free month. I wish I could make it a food free month, but then that would open up for for a whole other issue.
These two years I have been here I have buried myself. There was too much going on and I couldn’t take care of all my emotions, that lured in the background. Especially the loss of Martin is now surfacing. Both because I give myself permission, but especially because of Christmas.
I admit, that I have been eating and drinking my emotions and now is the time to stop. I have tried many time before, but I simple couldn’t do it.
But by letting January be an alcohol free month, I hope to break the habit of just taking a glass of wine without thinking about it.
On August 9th, Mike and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.
We went to Copenhagen to spend time with my friends and family, I haven’t seen in a long time. It was wonderful to see them again. Most of them couldn’t be at our wedding last year, so we decided to have a church blessing in Martin’s church. That way, they could be part of it and we would have our wedding registered in Denmark.
It was such a lovely day. A few days earlier, we had met with the priest and we had a lovely talk. I have a special bond with her, because she was the one, who was the priest at Martin’s confirmation and she also and buried Martin a few years later.
It was a warm day and even if rain had been in the forecast, it remained dry.
In a Danish church during a wedding ceremony all you have to say is JA, ( yes) and Mike had spend some time practicing the Danish pronunciation. I didn’t want it to sound German.
The day arrived and I was somewhat nervous, if the dress would still fit. I had at that time already been in Denmark for a week, eating more than I normally would. But I could still close the zipper. I couldn’t breathe or sit down, but that was another issue.
I had my hair and makeup done by my hairdresser. Part of me was upset about the fact, she couldn’t do it on the wedding day last year, so it was only appropriate that she should do it now. It was as if it was a very worthy finish to our relationship, that had lasted many many haircuts and coloring.
We arrived at the church and walked up the isle together.
The priest had written the most wonderful and personal speech and I am grateful for my foresight of bringing kleenex. Even if Mike didn’t understand what was said, he did say JA at the right time, in the right way.
I got the transcript of the speech and I later translated it for Mike.
Afterwards we went to Martins grave.
The priest said a few words and I placed the flowers on his grave. It was a moving moment for me.
We went to my parents apartment in the middle of Copenhagen, where we had a very Danish lunch. It was a big buffet with all my favorite things I can’t get in the US. It was such a nice, calm and relaxing afternoon we spend together with my friends an family.
I am so happy we did it that way, even if I changed my clothes after lunch.
There were people there I hadn’t seen for a very long time and people I wished could have been there the year before at the wedding. But this day made up for it.
However it made going back home to the US much harder, for I knew how many wonderful people I left behind.
But this day was truly blessed.