When The World Shifts.

There are moments in life where the world shifts and you can feel the change.  The moment my daughter was born, the very instant I held her in my arms I felt the shift.  I stopped being me and became so much more; I became a mother.  I became her mother.  My eyes would never view anything in this life the same way again.

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, my daughter was only 6 months old. The world shifted again but this time the change was uneasy, a bit terrifying.  I was anxious with this shift, not sure my heart could love another child the way I loved my girl. 

I was scared I wouldn’t know how to share my love with another baby, “What if I can’t love him the same?  What kind of mother would I be then?” 

My son, my beautiful boy was born and my heart shifted in a way that put all my fears to rest.  I loved him.  Oh, how I loved that little blue-eyed baby boy.  Somehow the heart knows how to adjust, it finds a way to hold infinite amounts of love in a finite space.  The heart is beautiful like that.

As my son grew, my heart—that same heart that surprised me with its capacity to love—was telling me that something wasn’t quite right.  Something’s not right with my son.  There’s something different, something’s not okay.  I could hear my heart whispering to me, I could feel the gentle nudges.  As time went on the nudges turned into a forceful shove.  My world wasn’t shifting, it was turning, faster and faster with each unmet milestone that was passed by. 

I grew closer to my baby boy, our souls were connecting in a way I will never be able to put into words. As our world spun further and further out of control, his soul grabbed ahold of mine and together we had all the balance we needed. He spoke to me through this bond, telling me everything I needed to know without ever saying a word.
— Crissy Dixon

The day I took my son to the hospital to have a tube placed and found out he couldn’t swallow without aspirating, I remember thinking to myself that nothing would ever be the same.  I very distinctly remember feeling the shift. 

Before that moment I was just a worried mother.  I was just a mother with a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right.  I was just a mother who thought something could be wrong but held onto the hope that it was my heart that was mistaken, I was mistaken.   As I stood there by my son’s hospital bed and absorbed the information the doctors were giving me, everything changed.  I changed. 

For a brief moment I felt my world completely stop and I somehow transformed.  Something inside of me died and a new person emerged.  I was no longer just a mother with a feeling.  I was a mother with a purpose: I was going to fight for my son. 

I fought like hell.  Oh, I fought for my little blue-eyed boy with everything I had in me.  My mother’s soul was invincible, I felt.  There was nothing I wouldn’t give or anything I wouldn’t do to protect my son, my soul mate.  But it was never enough.  It never seemed like I could give enough or do enough.  The harder I fought, the more I tried, it seemed like the world would just spin faster and faster out of control. 

I couldn’t grab hold of anything, there was nothing within my reach that would stop this from happening.  I was losing him, slowly.  I felt that in my heart and in my gut.  He was going to die and I knew it.  I knew it and I couldn’t stop it. 

Why couldn’t I just stop it??  A mother is supposed to be able to save her son!

Holding my son as he passed from this life to the next, the world shifted yet again.  My baby boy took his last breath in my arms and I felt his soul release.  Of course I could feel it, his soul was directly connected to mine and I could physically feel the separation, my soul had to let go.  He died and I had to let go.  I had no other choice, he left me and I couldn’t hold on no matter how hard I tried. 

 

In that moment my world wasn’t just shifted, it was completely shattered.  Air escaped my lungs and I haven’t quite found a way to get it back in yet.  I’m walking around in a world I don’t recognize, trying to figure out how to pick up the shattered pieces.  It’s still shifting, my world.  But with each shift the broken pieces get more and more mixed up and I’m desperately trying to not to get myself lost in the wreckage. 

Sometimes I find myself taking paths I shouldn’t or I even stop moving completely, frozen with fear while I try to remember how to breathe.  If I close my eyes and focus on nothing else besides my soul, I can feel his somewhere out there too.  There’s a giant scar where his has been ripped from mine but I can still feel it.  The wounds are still raw but I am still here living, breathing. 

There are moments in life that shape who you are, define you.  The world shifts and you shift with it.  You change because you have to, everything around you is changing and you change too.  The trick is keeping track of your soul, because that’s the only way to keep from losing who you are.

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I Did Not Choose This Journey.

Since my son died almost 15 months ago, I’ve been on a journey.  I didn’t choose this journey.  It began because the Life Path I was on came to an abrupt halt, forcing me to abandon everything familiar and comfortable and find a new route.  A solo route, of sorts. 

You see, my son was my constant companion, the surest compass I’ve ever known.  His life and everything surrounding it may have been full of chaos and unanswered questions, but I was never surer of my purpose as a human being than when I was caring for my beautiful boy.  Every day I was needed and my energy and efforts were specific and direct.  I was caring for my child, in essence keeping him alive.  He could not survive without my constant care, and I was blessed beyond measure to be able to provide that for him as long as I did.  Every morning he awoke to face another day was a humbling experience for me, his mother.  He was leading me through this life, silently guiding me without ever saying a word.  He needed me, yes.   But oh, how I needed him!

The moment he slipped away, although still in my arms, I could feel the change.  My whole world shifted in that moment.  The clarity and sureness of my soul’s purpose suddenly became clouded, like a dense fog slowly rolling in, making it nearly impossible to see. 

I don’t know what to do now, where to go from here….where am I going?  How am I supposed to get there?  How will I find my way?  I don’t even know where I’m going…..what if I don’t want to go??  I walked out the doors of the hospital without my son and my new journey began.  But I had just been stripped of my compass!  What was I supposed to do? 

It felt as if someone had blindfolded me, spun me around in circles and then shoved me out the door and said, “there’s Life….go and live it.  Good luck, you’re on your own!” 

So now I’m here.  I’ve been on a trek…this journey that was forced upon me, I’ve been trying to figure it out, to find my way.  It took me several months to even gather the courage to open my eyes and attempt to peek through the fog.  The air is so thick it sometimes still threatens to suffocate me.  I’m trying to adjust to so many changes… it’s been hard. 

Moving forward into unchartered territory has been somewhat petrifying. Some days I’m still not sure if I’ve even moved at all. I look around me and wonder if I’m in the right place….where am I supposed to be?
— Crissy Dixon

 I’m not lost.  No, I know exactly where I came from and how I got here.  The roads that led me to where I am today have been well-traveled and paved with more Love and Beauty than I know how to describe.  But Pain and Anguish were always traveling not too far behind me.  I knew they were there, could see their reflection in the rear-view mirror. 

As time went on I could feel the gap closing, the distance getting shorter and shorter between us.  I tried to speed up, oh how I tried to lose them!  But like a car running on empty, it wasn't long before I had to pull over and accept the fact that I couldn't go any further.  I had to leave the car behind and start on this new journey on my own. 

It’s terrifying, most days.  Too scared to walk, I began by crawling.  Some days, even that wasn't possible.  Some days, the best I could do was curl up in a ball and wait for another day to pass, for Strength to come and find me and urge me along. 

All along the way I never lost sight of Hope.  I knew that Hope was always somewhere ahead of me, clearing a path for me for when I was ready. 

Today, there are days where I can walk swiftly, powerfully putting one foot in front of the other while I take in the beautiful view around me.  On these days I am amazed at the wonder and possibility that could be lying around each bend in the road. 

On these days I feel my son, my compass, guiding me like he did when he was here in my arms.  I need these days to get me through the rest.  I need these days to help sustain me when I’m in a ball on the floor crying out for everything that once was. 

I can handle crawling blindly through the fog because I know Hope and Strength are out there just beyond my sight, I can still feel them.  I can still feel him, my son.  He is still my compass after all, and I need him now more than ever because really, my journey has just begun.

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She Took A Deep Breath & Let It Go.

My twin girls are 4 and my son is almost 2 years old. November 2013 was the epic Disney animated movie release of yes, you guessed it Frozen. Now thanks to Disney if you have children that are ages…say 2 through I don’t know 10. Who am I kidding it doesn't matter what age you are, most of us are now what I call “Frozenholics”. We might finally be on the downward slope of all things Frozen everywhere but let’s be for real for a minute. You loved the song “Let It Go”. Every time I hear the phrase let it go I can’t help to think of the song.

This post, however is not about the movie Frozen, nor the song. It goes much deeper.

The definition for “let go” on urbandictionary.com states,

“To let your frustrations, anger, etc. go and not let it stress you out like it has been doing.  Letting go means you don't have to stress over whatever you're letting go anymore. The feelings tied with what you're letting go may still hold a place in your heart, but it is better to let whatever it is go and get on with your life than to let it hold you down and depressed.”

Almost exactly a month ago now I was on the 2015 BTG Soul Cruise. It was nothing short of magical. I have such a love and appreciation for the 9 other woman I met, cried, laughed, dreamed, shared, hugged, and fellow-shipped with will be something I will always carry in my heart.

We have heart wrenching workshops that made me ponder and search my very soul for answers.

My favorite and hardest workshop was the day we went to Catalina Island. We could not of asked for a more perfect day with perfect sunny warm weather. As we gathered as a group on the beach, Ashley shared some more of who she was and her story and explained how we all have something that we are holding on to. Adoption related or not, that is weighing us down. That doesn’t need to be with us anymore. Guilt, shame, anger, sadness, hurt, or pain caused by others or our own doing. Our job is to learn from those experiences and life lessons, take what we need from them and then to let all the other garbage go.

She handed us all a sheet of parchment paper and an empty glass bottle with a phrase attached to it that read- she took a deep breath & let it go. For me, it was one of the most simply profound and powerful words I have ever read.

 

Our next task was to go off by ourselves and think about something that we needed to let go of. Write it on the sheet of parchment. Roll it up and put it into the glass bottle.

I chose an event associated with my adoption story that took place in the delivery room 6 ½ years ago. I let this hurt and anger stay with me for so long I couldn’t see how weighed down I had become bitter about it and you know what, I bet the person I am angry with doesn’t even have a clue about it.

Lastly, we were to take our bottle and throw it into the sea or bury it there on the shore. To mentally and physically let the garbage from our experience go and not let it affect us anymore. Walking along the shore there was a stone wall.... 

I found a small square hole where I tucked my bottle. I took a deep breath, let it go and walked away and I didn’t look back.
— Jori Reid

It was one of the most awesome experiences I have ever been a part of. I got to witness these other brave women cast their garbage into the sea and become better people for it.

Now don’t get me wrong, it was a lot easier said than done to let go of those feelings from that experience that was so long ago, but when I talk about it, it feels like it was just yesterday. It takes a conscientious effort to let go but let me tell you my dear friends it is so worth it. A great and wise man that I look up to said this about my experience-  don’t you know holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Well I have never looked at it that way before but he was absolutely right.

So I today I challenge you to think about an experience in your life that you can let go of. Learn what you need to learn from it and let the rest be history as they say.  Maybe there is someone you can make amends with and forgive. Maybe you need to forgive yourself. Whatever it may be feel it out, write it down.

Then take a deep breath and just let it go. You will be so much happier. I promise. I know I am. 

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You can follow JORI on her personal BLOG HERE.

I Will Keep Trying.

So, I want to start out by saying how humbled and excited (and nervous!) I am to be writing for the BTG family!  When Ashley asked me to contribute monthly to her amazing blog, I think I said eeek!! about 9 different times before I said yes.  I am honored that she asked me, and I’ll try my best to not make her regret it.

I guess I should start off by trying to introduce myself a little.  I’ve narrowed it down to 4 main things you need to know right off the bat:

1.       I love my kids.

2.       I love Pearl Jam.

3.       I love penguins.

4.       I am addicted to tootsie rolls.

Clearly, these are all very important things……but the first one on the list is by far the most important to me.  I am a mom, a single mom to two beautiful kids, Aubrey and Connor.

My children are my heart; they are my world, my everything.  Eleven months ago, my world was shattered.

I am a mom of two, but I can only hold one of them in my arms. On December 23, 2013, my beautiful blue-eyed boy died from an undiagnosed degenerative brain disease. He had just turned 6 years old.

Let me back up a little bit….

In 2006, Aubrey {my sweet girl} was born.  She changed my world forever---she gave me the gift of being a mother, something I never knew I so desperately wanted to be until I became one.  She’s my BFF and I am so grateful for her.  Then, just 16 months later……her baby brother was born!  Connor was born “seemingly normal” but my mother’s heart told me something wasn't right.   At around 3 and a half months old, it became clear that I was right.  Connor refused to eat anything and was losing weight so we took him in to the hospital to get a feeding tube placed.  It was there that they performed a swallow study that showed that my sweet boy was aspirating---everything he was swallowing was going into his lungs.  He was strictly tube-fed from that day forward.   And then the real search for answers started….my sweet baby boy had every test known to man done, never resulting in anything but “normal”.  Every test essentially came back normal, except that his MRIs showed his brain was atrophying (shrinking).  I took my beautiful boy to the MAYO clinic, and to New York to one of the top neurologists in the nation for diseases of the basal ganglia (the part of his brain that was atrophying most), but we never received any clear answers.  He was labeled as having “a neuro-degenerative disease, coupled with an unspecified movement disorder”.  Vague, right?  The frustration of not knowing could become maddening if I let it……so I tried not to let it.  I tried to just be.  I tried to just love more and worry less.  I really tried.  But I never stopped fighting, or searching.  I never stopped trying.

He was beautiful.  He was perfect.  He was my soul mate and I miss him so much.

My days and nights were spent caring for my sweet boy’s every need.  He required suctioning, through his mouth and nose, approximately every 20-30 minutes during the day, and every hour to two at the most at night.  He couldn't sit up, hold his head up, or go to the bathroom on his own (yay for liquid glycerin suppositories!).  My sweet boy never walked, talked, or even formed a real smile, but oh how his eyes could speak to me!  He could tell me more with one quiet glance than he could have with any amount of words.  Holding him in my arms, I was truly holding a little piece of heaven.  He is the closest thing to heaven I will ever experience here on earth, and oh how I miss that.

Which brings me back to today----the present.  Today, I miss my son.  Today, I struggle to remember how to breathe.

There are days when I truly don’t know if I can do it----I don’t know if I’ll be able to breathe without my sweet baby boy……11 months without him seems like so much longer.  But I’m still here…..and I’m still trying.  Every day I am trying to move forward in a world that is missing part of my soul.  I’m trying to move forward when all I want to do is go back!!  I have my sweet girl and we are doing it together---together we are still living and loving and trying our best.  We laugh together, cry together and remember our sweet boy together.  She misses her little brother, “her Connie”.

I miss my perfect little soul mate.  We are still here.  We are still trying.  We are still breathing.  That’s all we can do.

This year has been the most painful year of my entire life, but I am so grateful.  I am beyond grateful for the 6 beautiful years I had with my son. 

Taking care of him was my greatest privilege and I’m so lucky I was chosen to be his mom. My daughter gave me the precious gift of being a mother, and my son gave me the gift of being a better human being. He taught me more about life and love in 6 short years than I could have learned in a million lifetimes.

I am so blessed.  I am blessed with a family that loves and supports me, and with friends that are like family.  I see so much love and beauty around me----despite all the pain and sadness I feel----there’s so much beauty in this life that I can’t help but be grateful.  I am grateful I can keep trying, no matter how hard it seems.  I am grateful for HOPE and FAITH and LOVE, and for light that shines through on my darkest of days.  I am grateful I’m still here……I’ll keep trying. 

That’s all I can do.

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