The Gentle Autumn Rain

It’s been almost 3 years since I lost my second child.

He was there for awhile and suddenly he wasn’t there anymore. I tell you, there is no greater pain for a mother than the pain of losing her own child. Whether it was caused by death, or simply by a separation.

It was one of the lowest times of my life and I found it very hard to accept the fact that I lost my unborn baby and also the fact that I cannot give birth to another child. The excruciating pain that I had to endure physically could not match the emptiness that I felt in my womb after he’s gone. Everything was just so plain dark.

In the midst of my darkest hours, I tried to seek strength by reaching out to the other mothers who happened to have the similar experience with me. It really helped me, so much more than I expected. The realisation that I was not the only one who had to go through this nightmare made me stop feeling sorry for myself. So I got up, exhale and move on. I still feel a pinch of pain in my stomach every time I remember my baby, but I can say that it is not destructive any longer, because now I can remember him with gratitude. I thank him for ever lightened up my days. He is forever in my heart, just as much as I keep my first son in this same heart of mine. And I thank God for ever gave me the opportunity to go through a very tough lesson about how to accept and appreciate life.

 

This poem I read, as I let my Kai go…

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

The Passage

My grandma never smiled in the photo. She always looked hesitant, as if she hated to be photographed. Me, on the other hand, always look happy, almost in every photo. It’s not that my grandma actually hated it, nor I really enjoyed it, it’s just the most comfortable pose for us, when someone took our picture. Just like an automatic response. 

This photo was taken on 1976 or 1977. I’m sure it was taken in front of our house in Solo, Central Java, where our family lived for about 7 years. I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. Funny looking hair, especially that bangs. Geez.. 

  
My grandma was everything to me. She raised me, taught me, took care of me. She was the most loving person I have ever known. I followed her wherever she went, as a child. Grandma knew that I couldn’t be separated from her. I was her jewel. She was my idol, someone that made me feel most secure. We were like two peas in a pod.

When my grandma died in 1997, a piece of me died, too. I was lost. It took me years to recover completely from the grieving. The loss was unbearable. Although I tried to pretend that I was over her, but the grief was there for years. Until one day, my baby was born and he filled my heart with an unfamiliar joy. The kind of joy that lightened the dark space in my heart, which was taken by my sadness. I knew then, it was time for me to let her go.

I still love my grandma, of course. But now I only want to remember her loving kindness, not the memory of her last breath. 

I wish my boy had a chance to know my grandma, his great-grandma. He would have loved her too. 

“Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to live. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love.” -Author Unknown.

The Growl of Those Wolves

One of my favorite quotes is “Throw me to the wolves and I’ll come back leading the pack.”  I don’t know the author, I found it in Pinterest years ago. It became one of the most effective self-peptalk to me ever since. It just keeps me going when I feel down.

However, I have been discouraged by life lately. You know that good things happen as often as bad things. That’s life. I deal with it. To me sometimes it seems like bad things came more often, that’s why for the past few years I’ve been training my brain to focus on the silver lining in every cloud, simply because I need all my energy to live. Negative thoughts only weakened me. However, still, in particular days, like recently, I get frightened.

Last week, a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 2. The doctor suggested her to remove both of her breasts; double mastectomy. As an addition, the doctor also found some small harmless tumors in her womb, which potentially become a threat for her in the future, because of her type of cancer. So the doctor also suggest her to remove her ovary and womb altogether, if the series of radiation doesn’t show a positive progress.

When I heard that news, I just couldn’t think of any positive thing about the situation. She is my best friend and I don’t want her to die, nor to lose her breasts and all her reproductive system. We have been friends since 2010 and we were always there for each other. Our happy and sad moments flashed before my eyes and suddenly I felt like I’ve been drawn to the deep dark water where all those memories and optimism sink along with me.

It took me days to pull myself together and be able to think of anything that can be helpful for my friend. I should not think about death and loss. They should not frighten me. This is not the time to have imagination. She needs me to be strong for her. I need to be there for her. Most importantly, she needs someone who can share positive energy and vibes.

So yeah.. In the next few days, I need to build my positive energy to be shared with my friend, as she is scheduled for the mastectomy this weekend. Then after that, she will have to go through a series of radiation. I know she is frightened more than I am and feels discouraged more than I do. Right now, she doesn’t need any motivational speech from anybody, she needs the real action to help her tackle those wolves, so that one day, she can return leading the pack.

Tous les jours

Having a long holiday without any solid holiday plan was a disaster. Not to mention all the left over works that I had to finish during the holiday. It was not because I procrastinated; in my defence, it was because some people procrastinated so I had to do all these works.

I wish I could say this to them: “The lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.”

But hey, that’s the beauty of working with secondary school students. I tried to be positive about it. I didn’t have plan to go anywhere after all, and I also need to get my mind off something that is always difficult for me to “chew”, so I knew that I have to find a way to have a good time during my holiday. Therefore, even though I stayed in town for the whole 3 weeks of holiday, plus had to do some “homework”, I managed to discover few interesting things that have lightened up my days, the things that I might not be able to find or do in my regular weekdays. Just in case you need some inspirations, hereby I share what I discovered and experienced during my holiday:

  1. I worked in my favourite cafes (also found the new ones) while listening to my favourite songs, almost everyday. I did the “cafe-hopping” day by day. Instagram helped me a lot by giving me recommendations.
  2. I started to exercise again. I am trying to commit to rebounding exercise. So far so good. Although it’s not in my new year resolution list (I don’t have any. This year I just do what I have to do), I know that I have to lose weight due to my scoliosis condition. My bones just cannot handle too much body weight, so yeah.. I need to get thinner. Hopefully my mini trampoline would help me reach my ideal weight. Besides, it’s fun to do and joint-friendly. Some benefits of rebounding (http://empoweredsustenance.com/benefits-of-rebounding/): full body detox, fun weight loss, higher bone density, cellulite reduction.
  3. I watched some incredible movies:
    • If you like a great love story, you should watch “The Danish Girl”, starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0810819/ : “A fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.” Hats off!
    • La Vie En Rose. A biography of the “Little Sparrow”, Édith Piaf (1915-1963), one of the most influential singers of France. Marion Cottilard played as Edith so beautifully. If you haven’t heard the song, then perhaps it’s time for you to listen to this wonderful song. La Vie En Rose always gives me goose bumps when I hear it. Check out her videos in Youtube, there are tons of them. I also like her other songs: Non, Je ne regrette rien and Hymne a l’amour.
  4. I am so glad I found these videos of a highly talented young girl in Youtube. Angelina Jordan, a nine year old girl from Norway, who has an old soul. Her voice is so magical, it tickled a strange nerve in my brain that makes me cry every time I heard her sing! She sings old jazz songs like What A Wonderful World, At Last, Fly Me To The Moon, What A Difference A Day Make, Summertime, etc. Check out her performance in Youtube while she was singing Gloomy Sunday on her first public audition on “Norway’s Got Talent”. You’ll agree with me! Her appearance is so unique, she sings barefoot, wears white dress, long dark hair, no make up, “haunting” eyes. This little angel definitely brings back the good old jazz.
  5. I found that greek yoghurt is very delicious. I just can’t get enough of it. It’s so thick and creamy. Oh and it’s healthy too 🙂 You may not believe a healthy food can taste that good. If I could, I would consume greek yoghurt everyday. I still have 2 packs in my refrigerator, I save it for my last day of holiday. I would enjoy it while it last.

Now that I am at the end of my holiday, I realise that I actually enjoyed my time very much. And you know what they said, the time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.

 

Kick-off

2016.

Isn’t it great to wake up in the morning, knowing that another year had passed and you’re not in the same place you were on the first day 0f 2015?

Experiences taught me a lot. During 2015, I have gone through so many things that I had never imagined to have. I’ve been given the opportunity to travel to Switzerland, Netherlands and Belgium and met fabulous people. I went there all by myself, I discovered the ridiculously beautiful old cities as much as I discovered myself. I managed to find my own way to the place where I’m supposed to be. I can’t thank my boss enough for giving me the chance to have this trip. Yes, it was a work related trip, but I saw it as a soul finding trip. I was richer when I got home; richer with every new memory and knowledge inside my head and with hundreds of new photographs inside my phone.

2015 also gave me new scars. Unexpected situation that turned out to be a disaster. Friends became strangers. Humiliation, disappointments, sickness. Dreams got scattered. But on the other hand, I also received love, help, trust and respect from people around me.

So, for me 2016 will be just like all the other years. Life still happens. Lessons will be learned. Changes will be made. Heart will be broken. But when I get to pass another year alive, safe and sound, what else should I expect?  I am all grateful for I am at least one step closer to become a better version of myself.

Life is where “what if?” runs away with “why not?”

Morning coffee, 07.15 AM.

It is interesting to put the definition of life that way. I have been living my life asking myself those burning questions, the “what ifs”. If I could turn back the time and start all over gain, I think I already had the list for it. Some of them are the things that I want to redo better but there are more things that I want to undo. However, I don’t want to live in regrets. Mistakes are supposed to make us smarter and stronger. Some mistakes would leave ugly scars, yes it’s true. But those scars are the marks of our survival. They are the proof that our wound was healed and we are just fine now.

So if I should live my life with the “what ifs”, I would definitely glue that question with the “why nots”. Because I am not scared of making mistakes anymore. Because I believe that my scars are the proof that I am stronger than whatever tried to kill me. Because I know that life is short and I have a big bucket list to fulfil. Because I trust the universe to provide me the strength to move on. And because maybe, I am not just a queen of wishful thinking 🙂

Amuse to Muse

When life goes south and you’re feeling crappy, there is one thing you should do in order to keep going: do something to lift up your mood.

Life is a constant struggle, but we’re all warriors and warriors don’t give up on life. We will fight until our last breath, won’t we?

So just in case you need a mood lifter but have no idea what to do, hereby I share the top 10 list of things and activities in my personal “amusement park”, the introverts way:

  1. Coffee or jasmine tea. Work best in many occasions.
  2. A long walk: self reflection time.
  3. Writing a journal or a blog post. Writing is indeed therapeutic for me.
  4. Art and craft. I love making clay dolls and paper quilling. It is true that crafting reduces anxiety and depression.
  5. Muay thai training. Angry at someone? Punching, kicking, elbowing a sand sack work like magic. Release all that negative energy in a hardcore way without doing something that you might regret later.
  6. Meeting old friends. I have a small circle of friends who have been my besties since more than two decades ago. We don’t meet often, but once we do, it feels so fulfilling.
  7. 1920’s music. Three words for it: awesome, awesome and awesome. Yes, I’m talking about Glenn Miller, Ruth Etting, Duke Ellington, Boswell Sisters and many more. It’s so calming and liberating at the same time. As someone who grew up in the 90’s, sometimes I think I was born in a wrong era.
  8. Old TV series: Friends, Will and Grace and of course, Sex and The City. Can’t get enough of them.
  9. Hiking. Well, I only hike occasionally. But it is one of my own grounding techniques actually. I find clarity by getting in touch with the nature. The trees, the lakes, the rivers, the leaves, the grass.. they tone my overwhelming feelings down.
  10. Instagram. Oh I am a sucker for phone-photography. I take pictures wherever I go then post it in my IG. Somehow, taking and editing photos reduced my anxiety and when someone likes my photo or even feature it in their hub, it feels like a positive reinforcement to keep creating something better even when things get worse. My IG account is @ingrid_jo, by the way. Please feel free to visit 🙂