Tuesday, November 27, 2012

pick up lines

last month i posted about it being ok to ask me stuff. stuff related to Jarronn, his death, and my life after his death. i set up the formspring box below, and i'm glad to report that i've gotten some pretty interesting anonymous questions. some of the questions were expected, others were surprising. either way, i'll answer all of the questions here, across various posts.

there just so happened to be two questions related to the topic of pick up lines. yes, pick up lines. and given the repeated appearance of this topic, i figured this would be a good place to start.

so here were the questions:

question #1: Have you ever used your widow status in a "pick-up" line or attempt to gain some advantage with men folk?

question #2: If a man began his approach with "say girl" would your response be positive or negative?

clearly the second submission was crafted to make me laugh. and did. it. ever! while i'm sure "say girl" has seen some traction somewhere before, i'll just say this: i strongly advise any man reading this to opt for a less generic and more polished line when approaching the opposite sex. godspeed.

now back to the first question. not knowing the tone or identity of the person who submitted this question makes it a bit hard to interpret. i'm not sure if it was written seriously, as a joke, or perhaps a mix of the two. in any case, the question is worthy of a response and is quite amusing on two fronts.

first, the notion that i have an arsenal of pick up lines at my disposal and would work one into the repertoire to get in good with a guy tickles me so. let me just say, i'm far from being that skilled.

second, the idea that telling a guy i'm a widow would make me more attractive has largely been far from my experience. far more typical has been that while conversing with a guy, i somehow manage to mention that i'm widowed (maybe because he asks if i've been married or why my middle name is 'moreland' on facebook). dropping this bomb is typically followed by a look that seems to communicate the guy is mentally calculating how many paces it would take to make it to the closest exit ("i think if i hit a good stride, i could be out of here in 8 steps or less.") if that wasn't the case, there was typically some other equally awkward interaction that took place.

in many ways, i can't blame people. i'm sure the idea of dating a widowed person seems messy. there could be emotional baggage to deal with. a fear of being compared to someone else. questions of that person's capacity to love again. navigating the vulnerability that comes with relationships can be tough enough without adding an extra level of insecurity. and in some cases, i'm sure guys who've met me have wanted to make sure they didn't offend me in any way, which i can also appreciate.

so for the ladies out there who may, in fact, have some good game and have considered whether or not widowhood might help them step things up to the next level -- i can say with almost perfect certainty that any of your other tactics will work far better than the widow card. :-)


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

you can ask

in all the moments since Jarronn died, the most common question i've probably been asked is, "how are you doing?"

my answer to that question has often depended on the day, the nature of my relationship with the person asking, and the amount of time i thought the person asking had to listen.

but i also get questions about how to support friends who are grieving, what my life looks like as a widow, relationship stuff, and how i view my loss. 

a couple of conversations with different people, along with emails/messages sent my way, make me realize that people often want to ask me questions, but aren't always quite sure what's appropriate. there's not a lot that's off limits in my mind -- i might not be the most forthcoming person when it comes to sharing personal information or thoughts, but when asked about my life, i think i tend to be pretty open. especially if i feel it might help someone or cause someone to not feel so alone in whatever it is they're experiencing.

anyway, this is all a long set-up to let you all know i placed a formspring box on my blog. if you look on the right column, and scroll down, it's beneath the list of "popular posts." the idea is that anyone is welcome to ask me random, anonymous questions, and i will do my best to answer those questions here.

like the box says, "ask me anything."

Monday, September 24, 2012

a good place

yesterday, as i spoke to my mom on the phone, we took some time to go over our plans for the next few months. we tend to do this a lot, going over when she'll be in jamaica. when we've got family get-togethers to attend. when we're traveling together. when people are coming to visit.

my mom mentioned that the holiday season would be here soon. and unlike a lot of families that look to long-standing traditions to dictate how their holiday plans take shape, our plans are discussed and decided--and typically different--every year.

the process of making our holiday plans hasn't been my favorite thing in the past few years. in approaching the holidays after Jarronn passed, i couldn't commit myself to traveling anywhere, knowing it required more energy than i had. and i certainly couldn't see myself being the kind of dinner guest that people looked forward to hosting, or that i wanted to be.

so my family was very accommodating. and in most cases, they came to me. my mom would leave me alone when my responses to her inquiries about what i wanted to do usually included "nothing" or "sit on a couch somewhere." she tempered her excitement around the holidays. she adjusted as i adjusted to the world around me.

yesterday, as my mom listed our options for thanksgiving, she noted that some might be too much of a strain, given the distance i'd have to travel and schedule adjustments i'd need to make. but i quickly acknowledged that all of our plans for the last three years have been determined by what i felt like doing. i told her i was happy to go along with whatever she wanted to do.

her response...

"you're in a good place, huh"

i repeated it, "i'm in a good place?" asking her to clarify if that was a question or a statement.

i expected the former. she clarified it as a statement.

we went on to talk about what being in a good place meant, and how being in this so-called good place had opened me up to all kinds of goodness.

i've typically pushed back on anyone making an assessment on my well-being since Jarronn died, cautious that people often say someone is "better" out of their own desire to see that person better, and not necessarily based on the actual circumstances. certainly not based on what goes on behind closed doors and what that person might be going through moment to moment. in all of my efforts to communicate my well-being and many blessings since my loss, i've tried not to diminish the very real struggles of the grieving process.

but my mom knows me like no other, and i fully accepted her evaluation. i think i'd even be ok accepting it from others too. a good place certainly doesn't mean "over it." i'm not sure i could even really describe what it means if asked to. but i know "a good place" sounds accurate. and feels right.

a quick assertion. a short conversation. but a much appreciated moment. it's kind of like walking down a long road with your head down, and finally looking up, looking back, and seeing just how far you've traveled.

kind of surprising, maybe a little perplexing. but really satisfying. really good.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

arrogance

that might not actually be the word for it, but that's the word that comes to mind.

i've got this heightened awareness for hearing people speak about their lives in presumptive ways.

i mean, i get it.

unless you've lived through the experience of having your life turned upside down, it's probably hard to imagine it ever happening. it's hard to imagine the plans you have for your life not coming to fruition. especially when so many other things in life have seemed to go "according to schedule."

i'm somewhat of a believer in self-fulfilling prophesy. in setting one's mind to something and expecting it to happen. in identifying the desires of your heart and expressing them to God (and the universe He controls), and falling in line with what will come.

i also know that life can't be lived without a certain measure of planning and expectations. without them, things would come to a standstill.

but i know that control, for the most part, is an illusion. few things are givens or constants.

so i'm a bit turned off whenever i hear someone talk about the future with complete certainty. about what will happen when they marry their spouse who has yet to be identified. about what will happen when they finish their degree. about what will happen five years down the road. about when they'll have their first, second, and third child. all are wonderful and important things to hope for. but none of those things come with guarantees.

and i guess if i'm honest, that confidence seems like arrogance. and that arrogance gets under my skin.

when i hear people talk in presumptive ways, i want to put my hands on their shoulders, and shake them. or i want to interrupt them and ask, "how can you be so sure?" and both of these responses are completely inappropriate, so i refrain from saying anything. instead, i smile faintly.

perhaps part of me isn't mad at their assumptions as much as i'm mad God will allow them to live with their assumptions (a luxury i didn't receive).

and all of this may very easily boil down to my personal fears. perhaps living with more assuredness would have changed the outcome of my circumstances. but that seems somewhat hard to believe. the fact is, i'm more confident than ever that i'm not promised anything. that life can change in an instant. and i now strive to live in a way in which i'm open to what may come.

either way, when i witness it, i pray for the people who are captured by it. i pray their illusion doesn't come crashing down. i pray they continue to experience the kind of lives where things are planned and things go according to schedule. the kind of life i thought i used to have.


now listen, you who say, “today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. what is your life? you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. instead, you ought to say, “if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. - james 4:13-15

Monday, July 30, 2012

three years

today is three years since Jarronn passed away. in many ways, the time has flown. i’ve been a lot of places. accomplished a lot of goals. built relationships with some amazing people. in other ways, it’s gone by so slowly. as though i’ve been waiting for time to pass, checking the clock every so often to see how long i’ve maintained.

milestones like these confuse me. on one hand, having a hard, round number to reference seems like it should mean something. that three years after something, i should be far away enough for it to hurt a little less. far away enough for me to have fully embraced my new normal. far away enough for people to not feel so uncomfortable when it comes up in conversation. far away enough to have perhaps even uncovered some life lessons.

and for the most part, all of that is true.

on the other hand, the number seems meaningless. there are still moments of intense missing, of hard sobs, of deep questioning. i can say that those moments have gotten further and further apart. but i’m often caught off guard by how much still prompts me to think of Jarronn in the course of any given day. not just on anniversary dates.

and yet, today is hard. in fact, the days leading up to today have been hard. i have a lot to do, and i'm not sure how it will get done, because there's a pain shifting between my head, neck, and shoulders, mainly due to tension caused by holding back tears and a concerted effort to space out my sniffles, so people around me won’t suspect anything.

in general, i’m at a loss for what to say, though i thought it important to say something today.

in general, i want people to know that while today is hard, i still have hope. to be honest, i’m a little surprised by how much hope i still need, even after three years.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

running

late last year, i made a conscious decision to start working out more regularly. exercising was something i did consistently before Jarronn died, and i knew that 2+ years was way too long to have gone without physical activity. my body was showing me signs as well -- all those pounds lost during days when i couldn't eat back in 2009 had slowly made their way back to my love handles and other undesirable places. a good sign of a recovered appetite, yes. but bad news when it came to wanting to wear everything in my closet.

so i had to get going.

i started running. not with the goal of completing any major races (although being prepared for the wrtc 5k was a good bonus). but i just wanted to work myself up to a place where i knew i could run 3-4 miles consistently, whenever i felt like it.

the thing about running is that most people who know me will tell you i'm not too fond of it. i'm all for running as part of sports activity. but just running to run? that has never gotten me excited. all the stuff about clearing your mind, it being addictive, and the great reward at the end....ummm, not really feeling it.

i had several friends recommend i listen to music while i ran. this seemed like a good idea, in theory. i love music. it often motivates me as i work. seems like it might motivate me to run as well.

but the truth is, it's a horrible idea.

in running more, i learned that listening to music while running just isn't for me. why? because with every song that plays, i anticipate the ending and how the ending equates to time passed. with every song that ends, i create a tally, figuring that if say four songs have played, i've probably been running for about 14 minutes. which means i have somewhere around 20 more to go. which means i'm not even halfway done! and my mind starts imagining those next 20 minutes. the sweat, the potential cramp, the fatigue. the experience soon becomes pretty miserable. even songs i've always loved suddenly seem way too long and unbearable. ("do you really need to sing the chorus a third time?!")

but when running without music, things are much better. without music, i listen to the sound of my breath. of my living. i don't focus so much on how much further i need to go. i just put one foot in front of the other. and keep going.

kind of like taking it one day at a time.

not anticipating how much longer you have to endure something. not asking if you're through the first quarter or halfway point? not imposing your own impressions of how long something should take. just moving. breathing. step. by. step.

because sometimes, the anticipation of when it will all be over makes the process much, much worse. anticipating the potential for hardship down the road and prematurely trying to prepare can make you want to slow your pace or quit before even getting there. better to just focus on the task at hand -- the next step. and those steps do add up into minutes and miles and moments and milestones.

do i now say i like running?

ummm, nope!

but i do like what it's taught me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

donate life!

this past sunday was the race to donate life 5k, which i'm happy to report was a big success. more than 800 runners and walkers made their way to occoquan, va to support the washington regional transplant community (wrtc) and to remember loved ones who were organ donors and celebrate loved ones who received those donors' gifts of life.

i was joined by 18 family members and dear friends in honoring Jarronn's memory and legacy at sunday's race. i was extremely blessed by the support, and extremely proud of all of the runners and walkers. that course had some serious hills, y'all! and it was hot! but everyone finished and looked pretty good in the process. check out more photos below.


i had committed to run the entire 5k, and i'm glad i can say i stuck to my promise (those who know me well know how much i can loathe running). there were definitely moments facing the crazy hill and blazing sun that i considered slowing to walk. but i would quickly hear Jarronn's voice saying, "c'mon boo. you can't be a quitter." and then i pictured him giving 110% during his intramural flag football games on sundays and pickup beach volleyball games during our honeymoon (the second thought made me laugh, because really, those dudes were so serious, while the wives stuck to reading under cabanas).

as one of the larger teams at the race, i was overjoyed to see people who had been touched by Jarronn's life in various ways. his mother. his little brother. his mother-in-law. my cousins who trekked down from nj to participate. his best college friends and their three-year-old daughter who will grow up hearing about the uncle Jarronn she never got to meet. my closest girl friends. and even those friends who really only know Jarronn through what they've heard from me.

there were also those friends and family who couldn't be there physically but made generous donations to the wrtc in Jarronn's honor. in total, our team of runners, walkers, and donors contributed $990 to an awesome cause.

perhaps even more special than the money raised is the fact that running this race in Jarronn's honor somehow helps to keep him alive. there were parts that were a bit emotional for me. posting his photo on the wall of remembrance. seeing photos of, and messages to, other donors. some older people. some infants. and knowing that everyone from our team was united there by the life of an amazing person who is no longer here. but i'm really happy we did. and i hope we do it again next year.

i'm extremely grateful to following people for their support:

avril. caroline. dad. derek & rasheida. femi. gbolahan. karla. kevin & julie. kwaku. marc and brandy. marck & ludgina. mary. momma etelle. mom. nikki. noelle. pops. theo. tianna. tiffany. tish. tramaine. tracy.






 everybody say "Jarronn!!"


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

in Jarronn's honor: Race to Donate 5K

if you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may recall me writing about my experience with the washington regional transplant community (wrtc). Jarronn was an organ and tissue donor, and after he died, knowing that his body gave "life" to other people was a bit of a comfort. in addition, the WRTC was a big support to me after his death and does the same for hundreds of other donor families. they assign a special representative to every family and send regular letters and pieces of literature related to managing loss and host various support groups. i kept a lot of their literature around the house for inspiration and comfort.

wrtc hosts an annual Race to Donate Life 5K, and i've created a team for anyone who wants to participate -- both as a way to honor Jarronn and to support a worthy cause.

participants in the 5K can choose to walk or run. i'm planning to run, because Jron always pushed me when it came to exercising. i'd love for you to be there! everyone is welcome to participate (really, i mean that), whether you knew Jarronn, me, or just happen to keep up with me here.

below are some of the key details:
  • when: sunday, June 10, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
 race day packet pickup/registration begins at 7:30 a.m.
  • where: occoquan town hall (16 miles south of capital beltway) - 
314 mill street, 
historic occoquan, va 22125 
(take I-95 to exit 160.  merge onto VA-123 N/gordon blvd toward Occoquan/Lake Ridge.)
  • cost: $30/adult, $5/child before june 8. after june 8, cost is $35/adult, $10/child
i created a team under the name 'Team Jarronn.' to register, use the link below!

register here

some have already asked how they can support this effort if they're unable to attend on june 10. one of the biggest ways is to become an organ donor if you aren't one already. currently, there are more than 114,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, desperately awaiting a life-saving organ. every day 18 people die because there aren't enough organs available. you can register as an organ, eye and tissue donor whenever obtaining or renewing your driver's license or do it online today by clicking here.

you can also build more awareness about organ donation by taking advantage of a newly launched feature on facebook. zuckerberg seems pretty pumped (as much as he can be) about this effort.

hope you can join us on June 10!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

alright

"everything will be alright" is not the same as "everything will stay the same."
      - seth godin (a blogger i tend to not be able to get enough of)

i wish these two phrases could be guaranteed in the same breath. but, alas, they typically can't. that can be hard to grasp, and it might take some real intention and work on our parts to come to grips with it. because when we get comfortable with a state, we tend to have a hard time imagining how something different could, in fact, also be alright.

what's nice about the first part of the phrase is that it comes with a bit more assuredness. everything really will be alright if we open ourselves to it.

but that "stay the same" concept is pretty tricky and pretty impossible. things change. things keep moving forward around us, whether we like it or not. people change their minds, change their addresses, and even change from earthly beings into something we can't fully understand.

it's different. it's hard.

but again...

everything. will. be. alright.

Monday, March 19, 2012

change is

change is the only constant.

sometimes that's good. sometimes it's just a fact.

sometimes it's sad. especially when something you cared about, that felt familiar and consistent, isn't or can't be anything more than a memory on which you reflect.

wondering how or why it changed. measuring the distance between the past and the current reality.

but my mom is a wise woman, and i'll reflect on one of her phrases:
live the moment fully, love it joyfully, leave it gratefully... 
- jennifer tomlinson moreland


Thursday, March 8, 2012

direction

i've never been the type to have a five- or ten-year plan. perhaps a bit when it came to those typical lifetime aspirations, like buy a house around this age, get married around such and such age, and start popping out kids no later than that age. i've also had aspirations for different things. a particular job, a professional degree, a certain level of income.

but for the most part, i've never been one of those highly focused people who has this model life or profession they're striving toward. i've never really felt like i had one major passion that i wanted to pursue. i've never identified this thing i'm destined to do.

experiencing significant loss in 2009 didn't make the situation any better. any small sense of goals i had lost their luster, and all those lifetime aspirations i mentioned earlier really seemed to be thrown out the window. more so than ever before, i began to just float. and like the title of my blog says, it was more important to just take things one day at a time.

even in my floating, i managed to take on and achieve some big things. a master's degree. a freelancing career. travel. a whole lot of paper work. new relationships. a move. and yet, in the last few months i've felt more and more of an urge to identify some kind of direction for myself. not to say that i'm lost. i have a good sense of God, life, and self. but i could use some more direction. maybe it's the fact that i'm getting closer to 30. or i'm being too hard on myself. or maybe i've gotten to the point where grief no longer consumes so much of my energy.

whatever the cause, i'm feeling the need to run toward something.

"if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. he will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings." - henry david thoreau

Friday, March 2, 2012

happy 32nd

happy birthday Jarronn.

yesterday was his 32nd birthday, and i did my best to honor him.

i got out of bed. (i'm told this shouldn't be underestimated).
i ran three miles. (he was big on working out and getting me to do the same).
i went to the hairdresser. (he fully supported personal pampering and probably thought i should have indulged even more).
i went to woodend sanctuary, the spot where we got married. also the spot where his family and i planted a holly bush in his honor.
i shed a few tears, mainly in thinking about how many people out there miss Jarronn. i tend to feel the weight of that on days like these.
i took in the sun.
i took my time.





it was beautiful here in d.c. yesterday, which made the time at woodend really nice. after the wedding, people who attended joked about how during the ceremony, the deer seemed to emerge from the fields on cue. and after about 30 minutes there yesterday, they did the same. this seems special, but when i thought about it, the deer live there. so really, i should expect to see them by now. still -- it's always a pleasant surprise, and i appreciated the reason to smile.

feel free to get your national geographic on and watch as these four-legged friends try to scope out who i am and go back and forth between "she's interesting." and "i don't care." and then "but maybe i do."

video


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

moneyball

so this past sunday was oscar night, and while one movie came away empty-handed in all of its nominated categories, it still has a special place in my heart.

moneyball.

the baseball movie, with brad pitt. based on the true story of the oakland a's and their general manager's attempt to "change the game."

getting to australia was no short trip. (six hours from dc to san francisco and another 14 hours from san francisco to sydney). so i got to watch a lot of movies. moneyball happened to be shown on two legs of my trip. and i watched it twice. not just out of boredom, but because i really liked it.

at one point in the movie, billy beane (brad pitt) is with his daughter, and she plays him a song on her guitar. she has a beautiful voice, and it's a wonderful portrayal of a sweet moment between an encouraging, loving father and a talented, but unsure daughter (in fact, the look on brad pitt's face during minute 1:37-1:42 really gets me).

the movie introduced me to the song, which is performed by an artist named lenka. and the lyrics made me love the song, which does a great job capturing a lot of what i often feel.

here's a clip from the movie....



i'm just a little bit caught in the middle
life is a maze, and love is a riddle
i don't know where to go

can't do it alone, i've tried
and i don't know why

i am just a little girl lost in the moment
i'm so scared, but i don't show it
i can't figure it out
it's bringing me down, i know
i've got to let it go
and just enjoy the show

Monday, February 27, 2012

new experiences

though it may not seem like it, i'm still here.

it's certainly been awhile, and it seems that whenever a lengthy time has passed since my last post, i feel like the post that brings me back should be pretty significant. but i've realized that kind of thinking tends to keep me away. so i've made up my mind that even if it's not that exciting, or if it sounds like the same sad tune, i'm going get things out here. after all, writing here has helped me make it to this point -- a place i think is considerably good -- and i don't want to stop my progress now.

so what has been going on in the last few months?

i've been working hard at my business (something i haven't talked much about here, but i will in the future).

i took an amazing trip to australiaaaa (say it in your best oprah winfrey voice, please). with need for only one window seat. my two weeks there were wonderful for lots of reasons. for the beautiful views. for the chances to meet new people. for the new experience of traveling on my own. for the books i got to read (johnathan livingston seagull, by richard bach. the help, by kathryn stockett. me talk pretty one day, by david sedaris. and mere christianity, by c.s. lewis). for the time i was afforded to reflect and process.

i learned lots of things about myself and life in those two weeks. things i'll likely share here. the first that comes to mind and that i'll share today...new experiences help you move forward.

i've known this for awhile actually. but taking on the new experience of traveling half-way around the world by myself definitely reinforced the lesson. when we experience loss, we want to hold onto the past. that's natural, and it makes sense. but living through past experiences can never fully compare to living a fully present life. when i lost Jarronn, a lot of things crumbled. a sense of identify. a sense of security. dreams for the future. if i'd spent the last 2.5 years only reliving my experiences with Jarronn, i'd be stuck in the same place, reflecting on what i don't have and can't get back. thankfully, i've been able to create new amazing experiences and memories that i reflect on with just as much appreciation.

people often comment on how i'm always going somewhere, or always staying busy. i find these kinds of comments amusing, because i don't think people understand how much it's out of necessity. the need to move forward and look forward to living.