Empathy

Several people I care about deeply are dealing with heart-breaking and painful situations. I can honestly say, I can empathize with most of the situations but that in no way means I know the emotions they are dealing with.

Everyone deals with life and the situations that arise along the way differently.

As a twin, I can attest to this in a way others can’t. Amy and I were born and raised experiencing the same things in life but the way we remember events and responded to them is so different. Neither of us is wrong in how we reacted and remember. We are different people!

My father-in-law was recently diagnosed with Cancer. I love him a lot. He is a great man who raised the man I believe was designed with me in mind. When I was told he is sick.. to say my reaction was not expected is an understatement.

I am talking instant tears.

It instantly took me back 19 years when I was told my daddy was sick.  When I walked into a Sarasota, FL hospital ICU and my daddy handed me a handwritten note that read, “I have AIDS”… my world crumbled. It is a feeling I wouldn’t wish on my most hated enemy. When I heard the word Cancer in relation to Jason’s dad.. all I could think about was Jason feeling that pain.

We don’t know a prognosis yet and I am fully believing he will be fine. I mean, I have no doubt he will recover.

I have a friend who is ill. She is facing surgery and is in pain. This is also something I don’t want my friends to deal with. Unfortunately, like me, this friend is used to pain and illness so she is handling it like a pro but when I talk to her about it, I remember the countless hours I have spent bored and alone in a hospital bed. I can’t not remember it.

It is fascinating to me to watch how other people deal with speed bumps in life. My in-laws and my friend are handling the lemons handed to them recently with grace and determination. It is inspiring.

 

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101 Days left of my 30’s

My 30’s are quickly winding down. I will celebrate my 40th Birthday in just 101 days from today.

I’ve lived a lot in the four decades I’ve been alive. I have learned from painful parts of my life and cling to the happy moments.

There have been several moments in my life when I wasn’t sure I would make it to my 40th birthday so I want to celebrate it..

I am working on a list of things to do before turning 40!

  1. Zipline
  2. Forgive past hurts
  3. Pet an elephant
  4. Lose 40 more pounds
  5. buy a car 
  6. Take my mom on a girls weekend
  7. start writing my book!
  8. Walk two miles
  9. Take my nieces and nephew camping to share my love!
  10. Try new foods
  11. mail cards using snail mail
  12. Learn a new craft
  13. Read a book a week
  14. Blog more often
  15. See a waterfall

 

It’s a list in progress… If you have some ideas, share them with me. If you want to tag along to help me fulfill my list, give me a yell. If you want to celebrate with me, there will be a party October 7, 2017- Mark your calendar!

 

 

The Summer that Changed my Life: Chapter two 

I’ll never forget my thought process when finding a seat in the bus for the journey to Montana.

I was all alone heading to the great unknown. I was terrified and excited all at the same time.

If you’ve been reading my blog, I’ve referenced being told my first day in college that everyone has a story. My professor (now close friend) told us it’s our job as journalist to tell those stories. I made every effort to listen to the stories of anyone willing to talk to me. I hope to someday publish the stories I recorded on that three or four day trip!

From a woman traveling to meet her grand baby for the first time to a man who was recently released from prison, it was fascinating to meet to many different people.

When I wasn’t chatting it up with someone in the bus or in a bus station, I was writing and processing my recent breakup.

At the time, I thought my heart would never recover. I thought he was my big love. The one I would never really recover from (I did. Believe me. I did.).

By the time I got to Montana, I was ready for a whole new adventure to forget. From the moment I stepped off the bus and met the people I was spending the summer surrounded by, I knew I would be a different person when I returned to Tennessee.

It’s like I was in a cocoon when I left Tennessee and I returned a beautiful butterfly….

I loved that summer. I love those people and oh, the stories to be told!

…that’s next. 

The Summer that Changed My Life: Part 1

I am having an inner battle about my 40th Birthday which is October 3. If you know me, you know I am a twin which means I was born a “we” and it took years for me to become Just Jamie.. not Jamie of Jamie and Amy.

That happened during the summer of 2004. I call it the summer that changed my life.

I was awarded an internship with Project Vote Smart which meant I headed to Montana for six weeks that summer.

When I told my boyfriend about the internship, he told me he didn’t want me to take it. He told me if I loved him, I wouldn’t leave him. That was the beginning of Jamie becoming Jamie. I loved him. He was my first love. When he said that to me, I told him if he couldn’t be apart from me for a six week internship, we needed to part ways because the career I wanted meant a lot of moving for several years. We were in his house having this conversation. I remember staying so calm in the house. It was a logical way to look at ending the relationship even though it cut me to the bone.

At the time of my life, I was who my family wanted me to be. I was conformed to the mold I was raised to be.  I worried about keeping up with the Jones’… I never left the house without makeup. I didn’t own a pair of jeans. In fact, I had to buy jeans and hiking boots before heading to Montana.

When I left Cameron’s that night… The last thing I said was, “Will you still take me to the bus to leave for Montana and come to my going away party?”… Of course he said yes.

As soon as I got around the corner, I began sobbing. Sobbing to the point I simply had to pull over because I couldn’t see. One of my best buy friends happened to call… I answered but I couldn’t really talk. He asked where I was and told me to stay put. He literally carried me into my apartment. It was one of the worst nights of my life. Ricky, the friend who rescued me that night, told me he was proud of me for not allowing Cameron to hold me back. He said he had no doubt it would change my life.

He was right.

A week later, Cameron took me to the Grey Hound station to get on a bus to start my four day journey from Manchester, TN to Montana.

That journey was the beginning of myself finding myself.

To be continued…

Hysteria over a TV Show!!?!

SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read if you watch Nashville and are not up to date!

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So… I am not going to lie. Last night’s episode of ‘Nashville’ made me sob. I cried so hard I broke all the blood vessels in my face!

It was the most real death scene I have witnessed on TV- at least for me.

One of the main characters was involved in a car accident. The entire episode was intense but throughout I thought, “she is the heart of the show. She will pull through”…

In the last five minutes of the episode, Rayna (played by Connie Burton) was fighting to live as she two daughters and husband sat on her bed praying for her. The husband told the girls to talk to their mom and instead, they started singing to her in perfect harmony. Dad joined in and through tears they sang as she flat lined.

It was almost more than my heart could take. It was so real and something I have lived.

I vividly remember my sisters and I singing to our Daddy as his time on earth ended. My Momma joined in and as his girls sang to him he moved out of this life. My world shattered. I cried so hard my contacts simply disappeared never to be recovered. I guess I cried them out… The daughters in this death scene reacted in a similar way.

The memories it brought to me caused hysteria.. over a TV show!

You see, it wasn’t just the TV show. It was the memories the death scene brought to my mind. It was reliving the hurt of my own life as I watched the scene on TV.

I find that therapeutic.  Books, movies, TV shows, music… all these creative outlets help me deal with life and the emotions that come along with a life well lived. I don’t cry over my daddy and his death often anymore but the pain of losing him is still there. Watching that scene last night made me remember.

Needless to say, if you watch Nashville… I hope you are recovering from the heart break of last night’s episode. I have a feeling next week will be a kleenex alert episode too.

 

13th Year of Life…

My youngest niece is turning 13 this weekend. I can’t believe the baby of the family will soon be a teenager.

Her milestone birthday is making me reflect on how difficult of an age 13 can be…

Often times, hormones are going insane presenting new feelings and emotions.. at the same time you’re changing from a kid to a teenager. It’s a tough year.

I will certainly never forget the year I turned 13.

We were living in Gatlinburg, TN and I vividly remember receiving my first elephant figurine as a gift. It is pink and still sits on my dresser. That started my collection which has now grown into the hundreds. I own everything from earrings, rings to underwear with elephants!!

We had a 13th birthday party and all our church friends from Chattanooga came to Gatlinburg to celebrate. I was happy there. I loved school and I loved life.

Two months after my birthday… My twin sister and I went to visit our older sister over the holiday break. One night, Beth (older sis) walked into the living room and told us Daddy was in the hospital and we weren’t going back to Gatlinburg to live. She said when school started again after the new year, we would be starting back at a school where she lived.

I remember being so confused. I never remember Momma and Daddy fighting so the idea of them divorcing was pure insanity to me.

We were not told the reason for the divorce at the time. All I knew was Momma moved us back to Cleveland (TN) and my whole life changed forever. I still have no memories of them fighting or even arguing much. (I honestly feel like seeing them fight or even be unhappy around each other would have helped my brain process the life change better).

When I learned the truth about the reason for the divorce in adulthood, I can’t fathom how strong my mother is to never show the hurt and pain my daddy caused her.

She loved him in a way I might argue isn’t healthy… It is who she is though and I wouldn’t change that for anything. I only wish she would learn to love herself as much as she loves other people (but I digress).

The way I’ve been told the story of what led up to the divorce is this…

Daddy became very ill at work and ended up being taken to the hospital. Of course, Momma was called and went immediately to the hospital. One of his close friends also showed up to check on him.

I am told the doctors wanted to do a HIV test and when Momma asked why, the friend told Mom the doctors were worried because of Daddy’s lifestyle. She was floored!

The friend told Momma to look between the mattress and box springs when she got home that night. When she did, she found love letters to Daddy from a man.

She stayed and took care of him until he was well (and at that point he was still HIV negative) and moved to Cleveland, got a job and filed for divorce… All while dealing with not one, but two, teenagers.

I was confused and Amy was angry. I am sure it was not the best year of any of our lives!!!

We all made it though.. We’ve made it through all the lemons life hands up!  I am an

expert maker of lemonade.

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45 Minutes until my Weekend

I don’t have a normal schedule. It’s just one of the perks of choosing to be an enemy to the American People. (In case you don’t get that reference…)

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I could go on for days about the attack on my profession but if you know me, or any other journalist for that matter, you know how we feel.

Instead, I want to share my excitement about my upcoming weekend!  We don’t have anything special planned really but it is going to be beautiful and warm tomorrow so I want to go for a hike or a walk.. anything to absorb the sunlight.

I hope I have a good foot day tomorrow and this is a possibility. You see, no matter how badly I want to do things like this, sometimes my foot decides what we do on the weekend. It’s just part of living life with RSD.

My mother, who also has chronic pain, is excited to start working again full time. I keep preaching to her about the changes she needs to make to her daily routine. As someone who is in pain all the time, I know first hand how to lie happily in spite of the pain.

On the days I work, I work. I don’t do laundry. I don’t clean the house. I work only and rest to recover from working once I get home.

On my first day off, I rest more so that on my second day off I can accomplish the things I need to accomplish. It is just how I have to live.

When I am not up to it, I tell my friends (and family) no. Yes, I push myself sometimes, but only when I know I can.. Only when I know I have time to recover from it. (Bonnaroo is an example of pushing myself.. but those 4 days with swollen feet are worth the rest of the 361 days of the year).

I don’t think my mother is capable of using the word no…especially when it comes to her children. I wish there was a button I could flip in her brain that would allow her, just occasionally, to put herself and her needs first.

I doubt that will never happen, though… It’s just one of the things that makes my momma so great.

So, if you are reading this… send good vibes my way that I have a good day tomorrow so we can go on that hike my brain and soul so desperately wants and needs.

Have a good one Y’all!