Building Our Home: A Saga – Part 1

Whose idea was it to build a home in the middle of a pandemic? Oh, that’s right. Ours.

At the time, we were so naïve as to how the pandemic would impact the housing market. All we could see was the cash we were sitting on being in Zane’s nearly-paid-off house.

So we came up with this crazy idea. What if we sold the house, and bought some land, outside the city limits? Then, we could build a shipping container home, a house we created together, the kids would have more room, we’d be in the country – it would be great!

Here’s the thing, land loans are difficult to come by, so we would need the cash from the sale of the house to buy the land.

But where would we stay after that? My now-husband suggested we buy a travel trailer. We could put it on the property and live there during the build. We could be there to see the progress made day-to-day. It would be an adventure! Besides, we’d only be in the RV for 9 months or so….12 max! (Again, so naïve).

And that’s how I tried to look at it – as an adventure. With my dad and stepmom passing just a few months prior, I had a different perspective on life. I wanted to be open to new things. I didn’t want to live in fear of what could go wrong.

So, with high hopes, I agreed. We prepared the house, and soon put in on the market.

In the meantime, and completely unexpectedly, Zane proposed to me!

There we were, newly engaged, with this great, big adventure on the horizon, full of hope and excitement… and it didn’t take long for that to change.

We had multiple offers on the house, and it sold quickly and without any issues.

We moved into our RV on 3/20/2021 and temporarily had the RV in someone’s backyard while we searched for land to buy.

That market was crazy by this point and lots with acreage were few and far between. We put offers in on four lots and were outbid each time!

After about 6 weeks of hunting, we finally had an offer accepted on a 26-acre piece of land. I had a lot of trepidation about it, because about 24 acres of it was wetlands. And because the only uplands on the property were divided by a man-made ditch, we would have to build on top of the wetlands which required additional money and mitigation banks, and it’s a whole thing.

Low and behold, while we were still in our feasibility period on the contract, a 20-acre parcel became available, just two lots down on the same road. This piece of land, had 18 acres of wetlands, separated by a creek, and 2 perfect acres in the front that were suitable for building.

We quickly got out of one contract and into another, and closed on our 20 acre homestead about 10 days later!

Next, we just had to clear the land and find a builder to work with! More to come on that…

2020

When I started this blog in 2020, I had intentions of documenting a six month journey back to me, a journey of finding myself and my happiness. I had planned to talk about our new chickens, our garden, mental health, personal development.

Enter COVID.

Then my dad fell ill and was hospitalized.
Then my stepmom died while my dad was still in the hospital.
Then Dad eventually entered hospice and died six month after my stepmom.

As you can imagine, all my plans and ambitions were derailed.

2020 was the hardest year I’ve ever endured. I ended up using this blog as an outlet for all of the grief and loss I had stored up.

Two years later, I am on a journey of improving my mental and physical health, moving through the grief and depression, losing weight, and adopting a healthier lifestyle.

I’m not sure what this blog will turn into, but I’m excited to be writing again.

A Doer

I’m a thinker. An over-thinker.
A watcher.
A researcher.
A debater.
A someday-er.
A that-could-never-be-me-er.
A chew-on-the-fat-until-there’s-no-flavor-left-er.

I’m not really a doer. 

Sure, I got good grades in school. I keep a good job. I do what is required of me to be a functioning member of society.

But when it comes to the things that matter, my dreams, my aspirations, my goals. I’m not a doer. Not really. 

I’m more of a toe-dipper.
I’m more of a I’ll-try-until-someone-makes-fun-of-me-er.
A until-I’m-told-I’ll-never-succeed-er.
A you-don’t-deserve-it-er.
A so-many-people-have-failed-so-of-course-you-will-too-er.

A doer? I’d really like to be a doer.

I’d like to be an all-in-er.
A fail-until-you-succeed-er.
A screw-what-they-think-er.
A just-watch-me-er.

I….I think it’s time to start writing again.

Losing Dad

I wrote this as I sat at my dad’s bedside on Saturday…

Dad can barely wake now. He doesn’t know I’m in the room with him.

Today is day 7 since he has eaten and he is only getting fluids when he takes his pills. That will stop soon too. This morning my sister could barely get him to take them.

Otherwise, he is asleep, and I am paranoid.

I look over every few minutes to check for breathing, like a new mom would do to her newborn child.

I watch for the rise and fall of his chest. I can see his heart beating through his frail, little chest and I know that will soon stop too.

Dad is still here, but already gone at the same time.

I feel a strange sense of calm and panic all at once. I already miss him.

….Dad passed away just hours later.

Anticipatory Grief

On Saturday, I yelled at my dad. Like, really yelled at him, cursed at him.

I guess grief is unpredictable like that. I’ve read about the stages of grief. What I didn’t know is that they don’t happen in order. My emotions bounce around from feeling anger to feeling numb to feeling devastation.

And we’re all feeling this. I can only imagine how Dad feels. He is having to come to terms with the fact that he doesn’t have a lot of time left. He is still grieving the loss of his wife this past June. He is still grieving over losing his mobility three years ago and everything he enjoys. He finally has the time and the money to do the things he’s always wanted to do, but he doesn’t have the health.

This has taken a huge toll on Dad’s mental health. He is miserable – sad, overwhelmed, feeling helpless. He also doesn’t understand his limitations. He was wheelchair bound before this 6 month stint in the hospital, but now he’s completely bed bound. He wants to go for a boat ride. He wants to go fishing. He wants to go on a road trip. He wants to go on a cruise. He doesn’t understand that we can’t do those things. So, he feels like we are babying him and holding him back. It’s causing frustration on everyone’s part.

I am grieving the impending loss of my dad, my best friend. My older sister is his caretaker and is grieving as well as dealing with the enormous burden of tending to him. My other siblings are grieving too. Tensions get high sometimes and it’s hard on everyone.

My emotions ebb and flow. Sometimes I feel like I’m handling it like a champ, but the last couple weeks have been hard. Sometimes I cry on the 90 minute drive to see my dad on the weekends. This past week at work, I completely lost it, and ending up sobbing in my boss’ office for 30 minutes.

I think I have it together and then one small thing happens, and everything comes tumbling down.

I am not sure how to take care of myself through this. The last 3+ weeks, I have been getting headaches nearly every day and often multiple times a day. Bad headaches. The kind that blur my vision, make me sensitive to light, and make me nauseous. I am going to the doctor today to try to get some answers, but I have a feeling that it’s mostly stress related.

People tell me to get out in nature, exercise, list all the things I’m grateful for, “do the things I enjoy.” The trouble is, I’ve been having a hard time finding things that actually bring me joy anymore. Even things I used to love.

I can’t remember the last time I laughed. Like, really laughed. Tears in the eyes, belly-laughed. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to enjoy things.

Maybe part of me feels guilty for being happy. How could I possibly be happy when my dad is dying? When my stepmom just died? When so many people around me are hurting and suffering? How arrogant of me to feel happiness at a time like this?

But I desperately want some happiness. I desperately want to feel like my old, cheerful self again. I desperately want a sense of normal.

You know the other hard thing about anticipatory grief? We don’t know how long it will last. Does Dad have 2 weeks left? 2 months? 6 months? How long do I have to see him suffer like this?

This is just so hard all around. One thing is for sure, I won’t be coming out of this the same person. I’ll be stronger, no doubt. And I hope, in time, that I can find my happy again.

Directionless

84+ Being Lost Quotes: Light Yourself Up - BayArt


I have always been ambitious. I have been an over-achiever and perfectionist for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been goal-oriented. I’ve always been working toward something – being the first in my family to get a college degree, getting a promotion, becoming debt free, running a business, getting in shape.

In recent years, I had two businesses – I sold makeup online for over 4 years and for about 2 years, I had an online clothing boutique with my sister. And I enjoyed it. Selling makeup especially, got me out of my post-baby funk and forced me to focus more on myself. Through the process of being in direct sales, I discovered the world of personal development and never looked back. About a year and a half ago, I quit both of those things for various reasons. And since then, I haven’t had anything to occupy my time. I haven’t had anything meaningful to work toward. No creative outlet. No goal to accomplish.

I’ve felt a little lost to be honest. And I feel like this lack of direction is affecting my relationships. I’m bored, stir crazy, restless, needy. I’ve been thinking about this for over a year now, waiting for the right business opportunity or hobby to jump out at me, but so far, nothing. The truth is, I have no idea what I want to do. I have no idea what I’m good at.

Today, I got to thinking. What if?

What if I taught a personal development course to women? About personal finance? Self care? Bettering oneself? Work-life balance? Confidence? What if I learned handlettering and sold artwork? What if I became a realtor who offered staging? What if I finally became a life coach? What if I started a lifestyle brand? What if I wrote more frequently in my blog? What if I turned going to the gym into a hobby? What if I picked up yoga? What if I finally joined a bowling league?

Instead of inspiring me, the options feel daunting. And, admittedly, the perfectionist in me is afraid to start something that I might not be good at. So, I do nothing. But I’m not fulfilled. That much is clear.

I’m not even sure where to start.

Life Advice from Dad

I had really thought this blog would be different. I thought I’d write about life at home – the chickens and ducks and dogs. I thought I’d write about family recipes and encouraging messages. I thought I’d write about my weightloss journey and my philosophies on life.

But it seems all I can write about lately is the hard stuff. Loss and death and this shit sandwich of a year.

And maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s just the season of life I’m in.

It’s probably important to document all of this. To have it to look back on.


We recently found out that Dad doesn’t have a lot of time left. The doctors estimate six months or less. Between Dad’s heart and liver, we just don’t know what could happen and when. He also has other complications like breathing issues, and Dad recently signed a DNR. I pray he has more time. I pray when it happens that it’s peaceful. But mostly, I just pray for more time.

Today it was suggested to me to take advantage of the time left with Dad by videoing him as often as possible. Ask him all the questions I can think of. Take as many pictures as we can. Leave nothing left unsaid. And I think that’s a great idea. And I think this blog may be a great place to document all of that.

I’ll start with a conversation I had with Dad this morning. I asked him what life advice he would want to give me before he passes.

“The key to your relationship with Zane is to communicate or it won’t work out. I think you two have good heads on your shoulders and will be just fine.”

“Raise Mia well and love her.”

“Eat better and take care of your body.”

“Live in the moment and do things now, while you can. I regret not doing more of the things I wanted to do.”

He has always been a wonderful father and I am blessed to have him. I am savoring every moment we have.

Serenity

When losing a loved one, I sometimes wonder if it’s better when they go quickly, or when it’s expected.

On one hand, I can only imagine the pain of suddenly losing someone, their being ripped from someone’s life in a moment’s notice. All of the questions that linger afterward. On the other hand, the emotional whiplash of slowly losing a loved one is so taxing.

I am going through the latter..and it’s awful.

It is almost six months since Dad was sent to the hospital, and it has been a roller coaster of emotions. With Dawn’s death, COVID, homeschooling, job uncertainty, and a new relationship in between, it has almost brought me to my breaking point on several occasions.

After all of Dad’s stints in the hospital, I am fairly well-versed in medical jargon – kreatine, O2, and CO2 levels, congestive heart failure, ST, PT, OT, and a long list of others – but my eyes glazed over and my mind wandered today when they mentioned “palliative care”.

On one hand, I can’t bare the thought of Dad not recovering from this. Dad. MY dad. My Superman. My impermeable hero…. not going to make it? My mind can barely comprehend the words. And on the other hand, it hurts so badly to see him suffer.

Grief is fickle like that, I suppose. Cpmplete and utter despair that your loved one is gone. Relief that they’re no longer suffering. Guilt that you feel relief. Rinse and repeat.

I am not sure what the coming days and weeks hold for my dad. Just when we think we’ve gotten a handle on things, it changes again. We can barely keep up.

I continue to pray. I pray for strength to get through this. I pray for comfort and healing for my dad. I pray for serenity. I pray for this nightmare to be over.

When losing a loved one, I sometimes wonder if it’s better when they go quickly, or when it’s long and drawn out.

On one hand, I can only imagine the pain of suddenly losing someone, their being ripped from someone’s life in a moment’s notice. All of the questions that linger afterward. On the other hand, the emotional whiplash of slowly losing a loved one is so taxing.

I am going through the latter..and it’s awful.

It is almost six months since Dad was sent to the hospital, and it has been a roller coaster of emotions. With Dawn’s death, COVID, homeschooling, job uncertainty, and a new relationship in between, it has almost brought me to my breaking point on several occasions.

After all of Dad and Dawn’s stints in the hospital, I am fairly well-versed in medical jargon – kreatine, O2, and CO2 levels, congestive heart failure, ST, PT, OT, and a long list of others – but my eyes glazed over and my mind wandered today when they mentioned the term “palliative care”.

On one hand, I can’t bare the thought of Dad not recovering from this. Dad. MY dad. My Superman. My impermeable hero…. not going to make it? My mind can barely comprehend. And on the other hand, it hurts to see him suffer.

Grief is fickle like that, I suppose. Cpmplete and utter despair that your loved one is gone. Relief that they’re no longer suffering. Guilt that you feel relief. Rinse and repeat.

I am not sure what the coming days and weeks hold for my dad. Just when we think we’ve gotten a handle on things, it changes again. We can barely keep up.

I continue to pray. I pray for strength to get through this. I pray for comfort and healing for my dad. I pray for serenity. I pray for this nightmare to be over.

The Hard Stuff

I told my therapist this today that I feel like a different person than I was at the beginning of the year. “How could you not be after everything you’ve been through this year?” she said.

Sure, she’s right. But this doesn’t feel like me. I used to feel so optimistic and uplifting. I feel negative. I feel like I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always expecting the worst.

So, when I write in here about the difficult things going on, part of me feels guilty. Part of me feels like I need to put on a brave face, show up for people, act like nothing is wrong. I feel like a Negative Nancy.

And at the same time, this is my life right now. It’s NOT all sunshine and rainbows. Shit is hard right now. Shit is trying. Shit is testing me to my core.

With that being said, I want to get this off my chest.

Dad is “stable.” Stable in a sense of his vitals. But he’s not really getting anywhere. No better, no worse. No closer to getting out of there.

But we’ve noticed another problem lately. One I haven’t talked much about, and one that the facility doesn’t seem concerned about: Dad’s mental state. “Anesthesia fog” they called it. An unofficial diagnosis. A lack of mental clarity caused by the amount of time Dad was on a ventilator and the cocktail of medicines he’s been on for the last 5ish months.

“It will go away eventually,” they say. “This is normal,” they say, completely brushing it off.

Ya know, the first time Dad was hospitalized for a full year, this happened, complete with full on hallucinations. But that was after having BRAIN SURGERY. I mean, that made sense.

But Dad has been off the ventilator for close to 4 months and is still having confusion. Still asking if Dawn passed away. Telling me about a job opportunity he has in Tampa even though he hasn’t job hunted in a few years. Saying that he went out to his car and it wasn’t working when he’s been in the hospital the whole time. Not remembering what day of the week it is. And saddest of all, convinced that he can walk and not understanding why he can’t come home.

I feel so deeply for people who have had loved ones with dimensia or Alzheimer’s. Is this what it’s like? Could Dad have the start of dimensia onset from the repeated trauma to his body?

I hate that I’ve only been talking about the hard stuff here, but sometimes I think it’s the hard stuff we need to be talking about more.