I’m Glad I’m Here

Every birthday I reflect on the previous year: what have I learned, what has changed, where I want to be, etc.  Turning 40 this year is no different except I’ve been thinking about the whole 40 years.  Where was I mentally and emotionally for the other big birthday.  To be honest, I’m lucky to have hit 40.

Two months to the day prior to my 17th birthday, my brother took his life.  I know I’ve mentioned it several times but if you’re new here, you can read about it here: https://changingliz.com/2013/11/13/sean  It was life changing and I still feel the ripples today, the good and the bad.

It was an excruciating time and I wanted to die. I felt so alone because the only people who understood was my family who was falling apart in their own right too.  I didn’t want to talk to them because I didn’t want to upset them.  It was hard to talk to my friends because they didn’t understand and I imagine they didn’t know what to say.  At one point, I admitted I was suicidal and was essentially kicked out of school and had to see a psychiatrist before I could return.

Thankfully I was sent an angel, my high school guidance counselor.  I trusted her and she was my savior.  We met pretty regularly and she always had my back.  Little did I know that she was going through a difficult time as she lost her mother not too long before we met.  But she made sure I didn’t go down a rabbit hole and pushed me to keep going.

Eventually, it was time to get my drivers license and I couldn’t care less.  I didn’t want to do anything that was exciting to everyone our age.  I even got a great part in the local community theater play singing an iconic song from Godspell but quit because I just couldn’t do it.   I wasn’t anything amazing but I felt I lost my voice.

My senior year was better because I was too busy to think too much.  Visiting college campuses, prepping for SATs, and college applications were my focus.  Thankfully (and I think with major help from my guidance counselor) I got into my #1 choice.

My freshman year at college was amazing.  I met lifelong friends, became president of my dorm and almost failed out because I was having too much fun.  But one thing that really sticks out for me was the second anniversary of Sean’s death.  It was my first away from home and I was dreading it.  I decided to tell my friends about Sean.  And in turn, they took me out bowling to keep me busy.  I will never forget their kindness during that time.

Every anniversary and every birthday is hard.  But the big 4-0 has been a reflective time remembering where I was and where I am today.  Without those people in my life, I may not have made it.  I want anyone out there reading this to know that you are not alone.  Life can be damn hard.  So hard that you may not want to be here anymore but I promise it gets better.  It will never be easy because there will be other obstacles along the way but it sure is awesome.

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Don’t Lose Faith

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I was secretly on a mission for the last 11 months and I am sad to report that I have failed.  My goal was to meet a hot and super rich guy to marry and travel with and never work again.

I have put my goal aside (for now 😉 ) and found a new job!  I’m pretty excited because it’s something new but nervous AF hoping I do a good job.  I do feel good about it because they have already set up a Welcome Liz Lunch (I love lunching!) whereas my last employer threw me in a cube and my boss didn’t talk to me for six months.

With that said, I came across a blog I never posted when I was down in the dumps.  I had made a list of goals that I have mostly accomplished:

  1. Stop the negativity – work in progress
  2. Do what makes me happy – my favorite one!
  3. Walk everyday – eh, working on that
  4. Love myself – work in progress

I have made a lot of changes since I made this list and feel really good. I probably haven’t felt this good for an extended period of time in years.  I am not perfect and I will stumble but I am conscious of what I need to do to stay on track.

My time “off” has been time well spent.  I have helped others which fills my heart and others have helped me.  In down times we learn who our friends our and I certainly did.  My friends have really stuck by me and when I was a raging bitch or in a dark place; they certainly made it known and balanced me.  THANK YOU!

My parents have been my safety net and I am incredibly lucky to have them.  Despite disagreements I know they have my best interest at heart.  ❤

Lastly, like the quote about says, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.  Don’t lose faith.”  It’s easy to be positive when things are going right for me at the moment, but I learned how to have faith in myself.  No one can ever bring you down unless you let them.  This was a hard lesson for me because it meant I had to be mentally strong and block out the bullshit.  I built that faith in myself by knowing I was better than what anyone says or thinks.  I had faith that I am a hard worker and would figure out a way if I didn’t find a job.  There is always a way…

“Brooklyn” & Opportunity

brooklyn

I recently saw the movie “Brooklyn”,  based on the book by Colm Toibin, about a young woman who travels from Ireland to America seeking opportunity.  I immediately thought of my great grandma, Mary Healy, who left her home in Riverstown in County Sligo, in 1907 and arrived five days later at Ellis Island.

At the young age of 11, Mary accompanied her aunt Bridget in search a better life but mostly the unknown.  Unknown because there weren’t televisions, iPhones, computers and barely a telephone.  I can’t imagine the hope and fear they must have had similar to Eilis (pronounced Alish) in “Brooklyn”.

Eilis arrived at Ellis Island around 1950 all alone with no family or friends except for a Priest.  He helped her get a job, a home with other Irish immigrants and eventually an education.

I don’t know if my great-grandmother had a plan laid out like Eilis but most importantly, she survived.  Mary found a home in Newark, NJ, eventually met my great-grandfather (O’Hare), started a family and had six children.

Great Grandma Mary & I She lived to be 97 and passed in 1993.

Great Grandma Mary & I
She lived to be 97 and passed in 1993.

My grandmother is now 95 and had a family of her own, one son who died shortly after birth and three daughters; one of which is my mother.  I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m telling this story!

First, let me say that I think the evolution of my family is amazing.  I think I get my fire from my great-grandmother and grandmother; smart, witty, wise cracking and family above all else.  That’s where I come from.

Second, you reading this are a relative of an immigrant.  If you don’t already know your story, find out.  You might be amazed.

Lastly, the world we live in today is a scary place and very different from 1907 and 1950.  ISIS and other terrorist groups are threatening our freedoms.  As an American, we are the land of the free and home of the brave which will never change but I’m very conflicted on the topic of refugees.

We have our own citizens that are sick, dying, homeless and without food.  Syria is a place of terror and poverty beyond our imagination yet I fear for our own safety of terrorist.  I don’t have an answer, but if we didn’t have immigrants then you or I wouldn’t be here.

 

 

In Our Hearts

Today marks 20 years since the death of my brother.  The amount of time that has gone by is shocking.  I am sharing this to provide comfort to those suffering a loss:

In Our Hearts

We thought of you with love today.

But that was nothing new.

We thought about you yesterday.

And days before that too.

We think of you in silence.

We often speak your name.

Now all we have is memories.

And your picture in a frame.

Your memory is our keepsake.

With which we’ll never part.

God has you in his keeping.

We have you in our heart.

liz sean

An Ode to The Feehery’s

Family Quote

When I was about two, my mother met a wonderful man from a large Irish Catholic family.  They married shortly thereafter and I suddenly had about 20 new cousins and 12 aunts and uncles.

Not being blood related is not a factor in this family.  They welcomed my brother and I from the beginning.  I can vividly remember Christmas parties at Aunt Joanne and Uncle Pat’s house with all the cousins, I was in my Aunt Jane’s wedding, summers in Stone Harbor with Uncle Jef and Aunt Kathy, playing at Aunt Marie and Uncle Mike’s house, Aunt Eileen holding my family together when my brother died and New Year’s parties at Aunt Chris and Uncle Joe’s house.  And then there’s the countless weddings…

Last night I attended a wedding for my cousin Alicia.  It was a beautiful day and the family gathered to celebrate the special event. My cousins are mostly in Pennsylvania but some are now in other places like Virginia, California, Colorado and Minnesota so it’s not easy to see them often but they were there (some in spirit).  Seeing my cousins is like that friend you’ve known for years and even though you don’t see each other that often, you pick up right where you left off.

Looking back on the conversations I had last night with many of my cousins, aunts and uncles, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude.  Each of them are such special and loving people who want the best for me and each other.

Over the years this family has seen a lot of tragedies and lately, thank God, a lot of triumphs.  I just wanted to give a special message to the Feehery family and let them all know how much they mean to me.  It’s not very often you have special relationships with family who truly come together in good times and in bad.  Mom Mom and Pop Pop would be proud.

Change of Scenery

change of scenery

I have a friend at work who I confide in about my work and life challenges.  Every few weeks she tells me that I need a change of scenery.  It seems like a simple suggestion but then my brain goes into overdrive…

A change of scenery could mean two things: changing jobs or moving away.  The moving away part seems to cross my mind more often lately but that’s a major change that I don’t know I’m willing to make.  I have my family and friends in the tri-state area that I couldn’t live without.

Sure, I make friends everywhere I go, but moving states away?  Is a big move like that worth leaving those important people behind?  The thought of that brings on anxiety and fear but could it be worth it in the long run?

I need to hear from people who have made big changes like this.  Was it worth it?  Were you so terrified of that change but laughed at it later on?  Was it a huge mistake?  I need your help because this girl needs a change!

 

2015 Improvements

New Year 2015

I don’t know about you but I hate setting a New Year’s Resolution!  I have always felt that we don’t need the end of the year to reflect on the past and make changes in the future because it can be done everyday.  However, I will indulge you with my thoughts on how I want to improve in 2015….

Saying Yes

Saying yes to things outside of your comfort zone can be scary and rewarding.  I’m going to take more chances in hopes for larger rewards.

Saying No

Saying no to things you don’t want to do just makes you unhappy.  Don’t get me wrong, there are obligations we don’t want to do but they are the right thing.  I’m going to say no to things and be ok with my decision.

Taking Care of my Body

Being a healthier person is important for our overall happiness.  I’m not perfect and put on a couple of pounds this Holiday Season but as long I am conscious of what I need to feel good that is ok for me.

Slowing Down and Being More Thoughtful

A few times this year I have been faced with many work challenges and changes.  In an effort to prove that I can handle it all, I had compromised my responsiblity to be strategic.  This year I will be slowing down, thinking clearly about the down stream effects and best solutions.

Cooking More

I am a good cook and rarely do it because it’s easier to just pick up food for one!  I am going to make a bigger effort to cook new things at a reasonable price and in a healthy way.

So, in my last post of the year, I encourage you to look back on the last year.  Applaud yourself fo your accomplishments, recognize your failures, pick yourself up and move into the new year in a positive way.  Who knows, changing ourselves could yield bigger changes around us.

Happy New Year to you!