About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Keeping the faith

"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded."--Ralph Waldo Emerson  

There are few moments in life that truly humble me and bring me to tears.  I experienced one of those moments this weekend at my daughter's confirmation.  On Sunday, Briahna stood in front of her confirmation class, the pastor, friends and family to confirm her faith by saying that I am the one who shows her what faith is.  With her voice breaking at times and the microphone shaking in her hand, she said that I have taught her to believe in herself and that I have shown her how to have faith through tough times.  She said that she looks at me to know that everything will be okay and knows that I will always be there for her in life, which is why I am an example of faith.  I felt incredibly humbled at such a declaration.  I didn't quite know what to do so I did what any mother would---cried and reached for some tissue.

Surrounding this beautiful moment, I received snide comments from a PTA mom because I didn't volunteer at the school this year, consoled my son who was cussed out at a lacrosse game by an ego maniac, defended my struggle to start my career over and debated whether or not the house should be put up for sale this summer.  But instead of dwelling on all of that, I hold onto the moment when my daughter--the 13 almost 14 year old drama queen--said out loud in public that I am her example of having faith and being strong.  Hearing those words makes all of the rest fall into perspective.

My children know the journey we have taken.  They know that I used to volunteer often in the past and even home schooled when I needed to do what was best for my family.  Ben knows that I have his back with lacrosse coaches and that I choose my battles rather than go into full-out war mode at every incident.  They know that circumstances have changed over the years, but I'm doing the best I can.  And that's all I ask from them--that they do the best they can despite what life throws their way.  

Faith is often hard, as is hope.  But I have discovered that life is much better believing not only in a Higher Power, but in having faith in yourself to survive whatever comes your way.  With faith comes hope for a better tomorrow.  We need both to get through each day.

I have faith that my daughter will surpass and outshine me in her life.  I often look at both of my kids in awe for what they have come through and how genuinely kind they are as human beings.  Maybe my career isn't as stellar yet as I'd hoped it would have been or perhaps my bank account has taken a beating this past year, but I have succeeded.  There is no doubt that I have succeeded.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Looking over my shoulder

Five years ago next week--the 29th--my life was forever split into before and after.  Someone recently asked if I had changed much from the person I used to be before that moment when I found Sean dead in my bedroom.  The answer is yes.  

Five years ago today I was a wife on vacation with her husband and two children in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.  Smiles came often and easily.  Sean and I walked the beach while the kids ran in front of us weaving in and out of the waves.  We snorkeled and laughed.  We were a foursome...five years ago today.
Five years ago today we battled sunburn, played in the surf and shopped for trinkets.  Sean and I talked about his plans for expanding his business.  Promises were made.  I had optimism and hope in my heart...five years ago today.
Five years ago today my children had a father that they loved like a hero.  They were still innocent to the horrors of the world.  They had never been touched by tragedy, death or sorrow.  
The kids and I were unaware of how our world and ideals were about to shatter in only a matter of days from when these pictures were taken.  Five years ago today we were simply a family of four on vacation in the Mexican sun.  

May 29, 2005 changed us all forever. Until that moment, I hadn't ever tried to bring my husband back to life with CPR while the kids screamed for their daddy over my shoulder.  Until that day, none of us had felt betrayed and abandoned by people--not just Sean--who we had trusted to ride out the rough times with us.  That day rocked our foundation. And, yes, we were forever split into before and after.  

The kids have grown and adapted without their father, but they are more serious and anxious than most.  Old souls, they've been called.  Regardless, they are athletic and happy and smart.  I wear the word widow without flinching.  I don't smile as often as I used to, but I do.  There are days when I think I am forever stained with sadness, yet I still manage to enjoy the simple things.  I don't trust easily, but my heart is still open.  Maybe I'm darker on the inside, but my faith has deepened.  I now take nothing for granted--not a person, not a moment, not a feeling, not a chance--take nothing for granted.  
And when I look over my shoulder I see how far we have come and how strong we are as a family.  It's been a rocky 5 years full of more sadness and change than I ever expected or knew to be possible.  We're still standing, though, now a family of three.

Anniversary dates like the one approaching bring a myriad of emotions to the surface:  longing, wistfulness, regret, pain, anger, and gratitude.  I'm not sure there is a time limit for how many years a person misses a loved one.  I think I will always miss Sean from time-to-time.  He is always a thought away.  But when I look over my shoulder, I recognize how far I have come year to year in moving away from the pain.  I once feared that moving on meant forgetting, but now I see it for what it is:  inevitable evolution of life.  We're still alive.  The kids have huge mile-marker moments ahead and I alone will be there as witness.  And that's okay now.  I have made peace with being a tight little feisty family of three.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Addicted to ranting

The song 'Addicted to Love' keeps going through my mind lately as I hear about one celebrity after another going into sex rehab.  Yes, I think people can be addicted to sex.  I think people can be addicted to anything. What I don't believe in is using an addiction as an excuse for bad behavior.

Thanks to Tiger and Jesse cheaters across the world now have sex addiction as an excuse for infidelity.  Screw that.  True addicts need help; there's no question about that.  If either of these two is being authentic, which I doubt, then I hope they recover with intense therapy.  What bothers me is that these high profile 'addicts' are using the word lightly.  They behave badly and toss the word addiction out as an excuse.

I have nothing but compassion for those who struggle with addiction.  I was married to an addict.  Sean battled alcoholism our entire marriage on top of being bi-polar.  I saw first hand the battle involved with someone who truly wanted to break free of addiction.  It isn't a pretty sight.  And it wasn't a pretty life.  But I never allowed him to use his addiction as an excuse for being an ass.

When I see celebrities tossing the word addict around in an effort to gain sympathy for bad judgment, I am skeptical.  When Tiger needed to spend over $100,000 to remodel his suite at the rehab center, a red flag went up.  When Jesse James abruptly left sex rehab because Sandra wouldn't take his call, that also screamed, "I'm here because my PR guys thought it would look good" rather than "I need help no matter what the cost."  Is that what someone does when they truly need help or want help with an addiction?   Granted, I'm not a celebrity with a celebrity bank account; but I have been around addiction long enough to be skeptical at that behavior.

When a guy is an ass, he's an ass.  A cheater is a cheater.  A liar is a liar.  Let's just call it like it is regardless of the fame or the money.

What are our children learning when they see high profile people behaving badly and getting away with it?  Not just children, but people in general think this is a 'way out' of a sticky situation. Just slap a label on it, cry, cross your fingers and hope people let you off the hook.

Addiction is a serious problem people face.  It is not an excuse.  It is not a word to be thrown around to try to save your reputation.  Some people are addicted to sex--no question.  Then again, there are some people who simply like to use their fame to have sex with anyone because it boosts their egos.  By trivializing it with the latest celebrity rehab fad, we are encouraging people who are not ill to exploit a serious problem for their own benefit.  That's wrong.

(And, by the way, this is an editorial. If you don't like it, don't read it.  I have nothing but compassion for true addicts of any kind.  In a comment to this post earlier tonight, I was accused of being co-dependent for standing by my husband during his struggle to remain sober (which he did for years at a time).  I did not encourage any addictive behavior with Sean.  Did I try to protect him? Yes, while he was in rehab I covered for his where-abouts to protect our family's privacy.  I fought like hell along side him on his quest for sobriety because I took my vows 'in sickness and in health' seriously.  He ended up committing suicide because (I feel) he was simply worn out by the struggle and that is a tragedy I relive every day of my life. And none of that was my fault--not his addiction and not his death.  Any comments to the contrary say more about you than me. Peace.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kiss the sky

As I prepare for my daughter's confirmation and her transition to high school, I see all the pieces of my life take shape like a flickering slide show behind me.  Laughing with high school friends, falling in love for the first time, pulling all-nighters in college, traipsing through Europe, partying in my 20s, getting married, buying my first house, having babies, sending the kids off for their first days of school, scattering my husband's ashes to the wind, attending grief camps/counseling for the kids, home schooling my daughter for 2 years, arguing with my kids over stupid stuff, watching kids' school plays, evolving adult friendships, traveling, starting life over at 40 and now watching my kids grow into their independence. It all makes me sigh.  

"'Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button, boys,
So cradle your head in your hands,
And breathe... just breathe,"
Lyrics from Anna Nalick's song "Breathe (2AM)"

When I held my daughter in my arms the day she was born, I looked at her little face and her little eyes and promised I would give her a great life. I promised my little girl that we would be the best of friends, that I would always do my best and that I would protect her.  I don't think I lived up to those promises.  Life intervened with tragedy and stresses I had never imagined.  I did the best I could at the time, but I stumbled more than I hurdled. 

"There's a light at each end of this tunnel,
You shout 'cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
And these mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
If you only try turning around."
More lyrics from "Breathe (2AM)"

I've made many mistakes, there's no denying that.  As this slide show continues, I see moments when I could have had a cooler head, when I could have been more loving, when I could have tried harder.  But I've also kicked ass when I needed to and picked myself up more often than not.  

"2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to"
More lyrics from "Breathe (2AM)"

I stand alone watching the kids becoming adults and wish I had a life partner to share it all with.  I wish Sean were around to see his little girl and little boy becoming the cool people they are.  But he's not.  I alone am witness to their triumphs and their sorrows.  And the fact is that I don't like the last few slides in this show of mine.  I see loss upon loss.  Loss of my husband, loss of friends I had cherished, loss of my innate trust in others, loss of myself. But even though I watch this show and flinch every now and then; the truth is that I have found inner strength, found a deeper faith and found a higher purpose.

"Yeah we walk through the doors, so accusing their eyes
Like they have any right at all to criticize,
Hypocrites. You're all here for the very same reason"
More lyrics from "Breathe (2AM)"

I am ready for the new phase where I write my own rules, where I take the lead, where I rewrite my expectations and where I step out from the shadows to say, "hey, world, I'm back and I'm ready to rock."  I am ready to let go and watch the kids fly.  It's time for me to stretch my own wings. It's been awhile since I soared.  And maybe while I'm flying around up there, I'll be able to make good on those promises I made to the kids so long ago.  I hope and I hope and I hope.  And at the end of the day, hope is all that matters.  

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rejecting normal

Confession:  I am an obsessive eavesdropper.  I am able to pinpoint my hearing in the noisiest of places when I pick up on something interesting.  Eavesdropping is fun and often educational.  I like to call it a hobby so it sounds less creepy.

The other day I was in a cafe in Evergreen where a local artist talked animatedly with another woman.  As I loitered over a muffin choice, I honed my superior skills to pick up a bit of their conversation.  She told her companion that the key to being a successful artist--writer, sculptor, actor, painter, etc.---was to reject all of society's rules as to what is possible. With an elaborate slash of her hands through the air, she said, "just plain out disagree with anyone who tells you that what you want is impossible, just reject them then and there."

Her words rang true and spoke to my heart.  To be an artist--to break free of any kind of stereotype or limitation--a person needs to scream 'NO' to the world's ideas of normal and 'YES' to possibility.  How many times have I heard someone tell me that what I wanted was impossible?  How many times have I had someone roll their eyes or sigh when I speak of my dreams?  Too many to count.

People in general get bogged down by the ideas of normal and appropriate that keep us thinking inside a box or make us feel we are on a leash.  Smash out of the box, toss aside the leash and question the definitions of those words.

What is normal and appropriate and who told you to believe that?  Does that definition work for you or does it create frustration in your daily life?  Are those definitions still true for you today?  Personally, what I believed to be normal and appropriate is vastly different today then it was a decade ago.  And what is normal and appropriate for me is not the same for most.

Normal is a boring word, isn't it?  Say it out loud.  It even sounds boring.  Why would any of us want to be defined by boredom?

When we make a conscious choice to disagree with the phantom 'they' who set 'limits' on how to live our lives, we open up a door to vast possibility.   Freedom is the ability to choose our thoughts and our actions.  I embrace my freedom to write, eavesdrop, ignore the phone, cry, yell, waste time, play with my dogs, exercise, call a friend, work, redecorate my home and do what is right for me in each moment.

I reject limitations.  I scream "NO" to anyone who tries to hold me back.  I say "YES" to all the possibilities rolling my way.