The Year of the Widow; Taking Back My Power

Because my world was rocked so early into the new year, it kind of segmented 2019 in my mind. This year is the year of being a widow, less a couple weeks. It would have been so easy to retreat, to stay home and avoid situations where I had to interact with people, or may encounter something that might make me emotional. I quickly realized that that was not a healthy approach and would not help in my healing in any way. Secluding myself would only allow me to dwell and get more sad, but putting myself out there forced me to dig deep and find strength I never knew I had. And almost every time, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. My mind would make me think I couldn’t handle it or that it would be too hard.

So, I set a goal for myself early this year to run in as many states as possible. Well, it was kind of unintentional at first. The initial few months were difficult to find my footing and any sort of routine. I am very active and normally work out daily, but I was completely doubled over in shock and pain for the first few weeks.

As the weather broke a little and I felt more solid, I hit the ground running (get it?!). Running in Florida in early March gave me the idea to keep myself going. To continue to get out there and live life. I am extremely active and adventurous, and I didn’t want the death of my husband to make me retreat. And I began to realize that not only was exercising good for my body, but it was incredibly helpful at keeping me feeling good mentally. It was my therapy.

I so clearly remember doing our taxes in February and just feeling so sad and HEAVY. I got home and told me sister I needed to run, so I did. And when I got back, that heaviness I felt was significantly lighter. The sadness was still there, but I realized that endorphins are an honest and true thing. And that is medicine in itself.

I still want to enjoy and experience life, so I continued to say yes. I continued to work out and run when I could, experiencing new towns and states I was unfamiliar with. So as of today, my 2019 state run count looks like this:

New Hampshire

Massachusetts

Florida

Maine

Rhode Island

Connecticut

Pennsylvania

Tennessee

So on the surface, this looks like a running challenge. But it really became more than that. To continue to experience life. To connect with nature and cultures different than what I am used to. To run with people I love (or barely know!) and get sweaty and uncomfortable. To visit new cities and meet new people. To look fear and the unknown in the face and to prove that I am strong. I am not afraid of what the future holds.

My life won’t stop because Marcus died. I did not die with him. There is still so much to experience, and so much good to be found.

So… how many states can I add before the year is out? And who wants to run with me?!

tank / shorts / sports bra / sneakers /headphones / stroller

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Compelled to Breathe

(Yes, some pictures are sideways. No, I can’t figure out how to fix it. I have tried all week and lost interest. Just tilt your head sideways and voila!…)

Grieving with three young kids is tough. I have all these emotions and thoughts, but I don’t have the time or opportunity to process them. My kids are still so young at 5, 4, and 2, so demanding is an understatement. In some ways it has been a blessing because it has forced me to grieve slowly and in pieces. I simply have no option to hide away in my bedroom, draw the shades, blast me some sad music and cry the day away. I want to sometimes, but it isn’t an option. I have to be there for my kids. School dropoff and pickup, swim class, cleaning, counseling, bills, making meals and packing lunches. My life can’t stop.

The day after Marcus passed, a wonderful woman told me that Marcus would show himself everywhere. At first I brushed it off because that seems weird, right? I was so wrong. God was EVERYWHERE. One day I will share an actual list because it was so incredible, and it gave me a reason to smile when the pain was so intense and physical.

So let me tell you a story, and it has a lot of context so bear with me. A few days after Marcus passed, a friend asked if I wanted to go see For King and Country. A client had given her tickets months ago, not realizing the significance of the band for us. So for those who don’t know, that band has been a household staple for our family. My kids can sing every word to Joy, and we even played it at Marcus’ funeral. So YES, of course I want to go! But the concert was in Florida, and we live in New Hampshire. Womp womp. My sister whips out her phone, checks her airline miles, and guess who had enough miles to fly her and I to Florida for FREE?! (Well, not free, she had to pay a $22 transaction fee… also Marcus’ number, but that is part of the whole God-showing-us story!).

Fast forward six weeks after Marcus passed and my sister, her husband, and I (and Scarlett, a last minute addition!) were on an airplane for a basically free trip to the sunshine. We were headed towards the much anticipated “Jesus week,” as I would call it. We were able to stay with Marcus’ best friend and his family and spend a few days just relaxing and enjoying the sun and a break from the schedules. I knew I needed it, but I didn’t know how much! I spent hours reading, praying, pouring over our Job Bible study, and just reflecting. It was so healing. And I am so glad it worked out for Scarlett to come to because girlfriend needed a vacation too! God figured it all out so we had no excuses NOT to go.

The band was playing at Strawberry Festival in Lakeland, which coincidentally was one of Marcus and my first dates back in college. And, we had done this same trip exactly three years ago, which was so random but probably not! I am learning that nothing is really a coincidence. It was absolutely incredible. We were up front and center and I spent most of the concert sobbing while worshiping. It was just so surreal to hear these songs that had become so important to our family come to life, and their performance was amazing!

My sister and I had bought tickets for the Lauren Daigle concert in Boston forever ago, and it all worked out so we landed back in Boston Saturday afternoon, enjoyed walking and eating with some friends in the city, and experience another night of worship. God is just so good.

I am just so thankful. Life is still really hard. When I get overwhelmed and stuck in the sad, God has been so faithful to give me little hugs like this. Well, this wasn’t a little hug…this was one giant embrace! My life is so different than before. I have so many new perspectives, priorities, and worries than I ever did. But God is there and He has been, and I am confident He will continue to be. I am so glad that I was basically forced to make room and to get away. I was compelled to actually breathe, let it all sink in, have a few more teary sob fests with friends, and remember the amazing man my husband was.

This is not the end of my story, it is part of it. I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds.

Also, I should note, there were quite a few parts of this trip that were way more emotional than I realized they would be. I was looking forward to the vacation, and didn’t realize how hard it would be to be in an airport without him. We always traveled together. We traveled so much these past couple years! Also we landed in Tampa, which is where we first met and began our life together. I am giving myself grace and permission to feel these emotions. They come out of nowhere, completely unexpected. But it is ok. None of this was expected. I am grieving and will always be in some way. So I hereby give you permission to acknowledge whatever it is you are going through and respect it. Life is hard, it throws you some curveballs, and we need to adapt and understand what we are feeling. Give each other grace and room to have emotions. Emotions are not a weakness.

Here are a few moments from our trip I want to remember…


On our way to the airport! Scarlett’s first Uber. (She is in a booster! Check out this super cool one my friend let me borrow that can fit in your PURSE. Seriously.
Working diligently on writing her own luggage tag
We found our airplane!
So excited!
Bye winter!
Six mile run to appreciate the fact that my face doesn’t hurt when I run!
Drinking in the vitamin D
The whole group! Adam, Kelsey, Daynet, me, Eric, and Scarlett.
My beauty.
For King and Country!
You can tell how Scarlett felt about the evening… she will appreciate it one day!
Putting on a brave face in spite of how tired she was!
The next day at the Strawberry Festival. SUNSHINE.
Officially wiped out.
Delirious at the airport. She was so exhausted, but I saw my precious girl sparkle again. Worth it.
Flight back home!
I highly recommend this book. Lysa is a gifted writer and has such a painful past, and she still clings to God and draws others to Him! What an inspiration.
Quick change in the airport family bathroom before my aunt picked up Scarlett and our luggage so Kelsey and I could explore Boston with friends! Sometimes you just have to make it work 😆
Met up with some babes to explore the city!
Jess and Kelsey at the Lauren Daigle concert
It’s blurry, but Lauren Daigle was awesome. Such powerful words and incredible voice!
We drove back the next morning in a white out snowstorm! And then got stuck in my driveway. It was worse than it looks, ok?! You can’t tell the angle from here… but my driveway is a bit… challenging. And I was sliding down and couldn’t back out. I am thankful for awesome neighbors to rescue me! Welcome back to the north!

There are more people than I could even list that made this trip possible and I want to thank. My mom and dad for watching the kids. Kelsey and Adam for the flights. Eric and Daynet for the lodging. My aunt Kristen for help with parking and watching Scarlett. And so many more people who made the trip even possible! So thank you. Thank you for giving me time and space away so I could breathe and take it all in and truly process it all. I am so thankful for the many amazing people in my life!

How to Choose a Realtor

To continue on with the home selling series, I thought it would be beneficial to share our realtor experience. I am a realtor myself (contact me here if you have questions!), but we chose for me not to list our own house. At the time I was 8 months pregnant with two toddlers at home, and I was too emotionally invested.

We ended up firing our first realtor. This was our first home, so obviously the first time we’ve sold a home. When choosing a realtor, I thought it would be smart to just hire the most successful realtor in my office.

I was very wrong.

By choosing the most successful realtor, we also chose the busiest realtor. We did not receive the attention that was needed to sell our home. Promises were not kept, or kept in a timely fashion. Photographs and descriptions were not good. She was way overextended, and we realized that very quickly after listing our home. We figured out that basically the only reason she was as successful as she was, was because she had been doing it for so long and not because she was good. Lesson learned! That sounds really harsh, but when you are dealing with selling a large investment such as your home, professionalism and quality of work is key.

We hired another realtor friend after a few months and it made a WORLD of difference. She hired a professional photographer which made our home look a MILLION times better. The description and marketing of the home was on point. And her attention to our home and our needs was much better.  Because of the improved marketing, showings multiplied exponentially. While the increased amount of showings and open houses was tough on me because I had to keep the house clean and prepped and leave, I was more than willing. More showings=more opportunities for a sale!

I am not saying that by choosing a successful realtor you won’t be pleased, I am just saying you should focus on the motivation of your realtor. The second realtor we chose had only been in the industry for three years, so while she didn’t have as much knowledge as the first realtor, she made up for it in raw determination. Ask around for recommendations to see who had good experiences with their agent. You can learn more from someone else’s experience than an interview with an agent.

You also want to choose a realtor that you feel comfortable with. In this day and age, communication is key. I loved that I could text my realtor and have a quick response. I felt like a valued client, but also that she cared about me personally. I recommend before you hire someone, test out your communication with them. Call/text them at random times. Make sure you vibe well with them before you hire them so you know you are a good fit.

Lastly, be clear about your expectations. What is important to you? Sell price? Timeframe? Visibility? Do you not want a lot of people through your home? Let your realtor know. If their marketing plan isn’t what you were expecting, then maybe you should interview someone else. It is better to take your time hiring someone then to hire and then regret it. Learn from my mistake!

If you have any other realtor or home-related questions, please let me know!

Check out my other posts in my home selling series:

Selling Your Home When You Have Young Children

Prepping for a Showing When You Have Young Children

What to do with Young Children During Showings

 

What to do with Young Children During Showings

Congratulations! You put your home on the market and have successfully prepped for a showing. But, now what do you do with yourself and the kids? Here are some tried and true ideas for what to do during a showing!

Play dates: I tried to schedule playdates around showings so the kids would be entertained outside of the house. We had a fun activity to pass the time during the showing, and we could spend some time with friends.

Park (during summer/nice days)

Chick fil A/indoor playplace (rainy/cold days)

Library

Errands (Grocery shopping, post office, etc.) Although let’s be honest, this one is less than ideal. Errands with three (young) kids is inviting a disaster…

Car Movie Theater: the biggest hesitancy to do things with my kids is the sheer frustration of the bucking/unbuckling and jackets, hats, (times 3!) in the colder months. Something that worked well with minimal effort was to keep the kids buckled in and put a movie on the iPad/phone/device. The big kids are occupied and I bought myself a few minutes of relative quietness. I would just need to entertain the baby!

Hope this helps fuel some ideas for what to do during a showing! Do you have any suggestions of what worked for you? Share below!

Life Lately

To put it simply, life has been a bit overwhelming. I took an unintentional but much needed break from blogging and IG and all that. Here is one of the main reasons why…

We moved!


But back to chronological order. Scarlett had her first visit to the ER a few weeks ago. The kids were being a little wild and despite my attempts to calm them down, it finally ended up with someone getting hurt. Scarlett smashed her face into a glass vase and ended up getting two stitches. She was so tough! My angel of a friend watched the two younger kids and I was beyond grateful. The ER had a crazy wait before we even got to see a doctor! She was so calm and didn’t even cry during the procedure. “No crying, just tears.” She said.
Right when we got admitted. Even with a sliced lip she’s the cutest!


Watching these girls bond is the best thing in the world!


We were then hit with the plague. Eloise got it first, but Levi got it the worst. The poor thing was down for the count for a loooong time. Then Scarlett got it, then Eloise again. December was a tough health month!

Poor Levi. He was so bad off for a few days! I didn’t mind the cuddles though.

We took a short day and a half trip to New Hampshire to go to Marcus’ work party and to check out some houses. I had everything packed, but somehow the suitcase didn’t end up in the car. So after we got to my parent’s house we went and saw a few houses, then ran to TJ Maxx and the grocery store for party clothes and diapers. Nothing like forcing you to be a little more flexible, right?

So on Christmas Eve we decided to put an offer on one of the houses. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t meant to be.  Apparently someone as crazy as us submitted an offer on Christmas Eve too? We ducked out of a bidding war. No point in overspending on a home.

We had such a wonderful Christmas! We stayed home with the exception of my run with my sister. There is nothing like relaxing and enjoying the day with your kids.

Marcus and Eloise when she had round 2 of the cold on Christmas Day. A man and his baby=cutest ever.


Eloise turned seven months old! She is now crawling, pulling up, and moving more than I have the energy for. She’s obsessed with the cats and will scream at them. We love her so!


Our friends from Florida came up for a week and we showed them what winter in New England is all about! We took a 24 hour trip to NH so they could experience snow.


Eloise is still unsure about it.


While at my mom’s house I discovered this gem. I’m the baby on the left: Eloise is the spitting image of me as a baby!


We made a trip to NYC on the train the next day. Because we are crazy like that. But we had a great time!  We didn’t get to bed until after midnight that night. It was  totally worth it!

Somehow Eloise slept the entire time on the train. One less baby to chase=thankful!

The kids and I at dinner. As crazy as life is with three kids three and under, it is totally worth it!

Date night with my sister and brother in law and our friends! Went to a new restaurant in New Haven called Olives and Oil. So good!


I am trying to take more individual pictures of my kids. It’s so tough to when they are all so young! Can you even stand how cute they are?!

This girl. So sweet. So caring.

How handsome is he? And so smart. So silly.

Marcus’ grandfather’s health had declined. Marcus went to Maryland Sunday night and was able to spend the last days with him before he passed. He was a great man!

Packing, crawler edition.

How to pack a house when your kids are young: screen time FTW.

The big day finally arrived! I’m still in denial we moved out. We will miss our first home!


And that’s been the past month. So now we are settling into my parent’s house and waiting (im)patiently for homes to come on the market. Levi has figured out how to get out of his crib, so we are now battling the escapee toddler syndrome. Please, oh please send advice my way. How did you get past this stage? All the tactics we used with Scarlett have been futile. Help!