Just Ask the Axis

 “Anger he smiles towering in shiny metallic purple armor

Queen Jealousy, envy waits behind him

Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground

Blue are the life-giving waters taken for granted

They quietly understand

The once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready

But wonder why the fight is on…”

The lyrics to Jimi Hendrix’s famous song “Bold as Love” have been on repeat in my mind for about a week now. If you’ve never heard it, (and you are doing yourself a great disservice to not expose yourself to it), it personifies colors as different characters. It very descriptively paints this picture of the full spectrum of human emotions. Not only is the song great, but it has reminded me how prevalent colors are to us in our everyday life.  Colors have meant a lot to me as of late, and I have a strong belief that colors can influence your life.

Have you ever considered how great a role that colors play for you? If you sit back and really think about it, colors are involved in almost every aspect of our lives.

Making a House a Home

A room can literally be transformed with a coat of paint. Currently the house we are living in was painted in mostly tans, and my husband and I are just not loving it. So across the room from where I am currently typing in my kitchen there are three paint swatches of different greys we put on the wall to decide which one will work throughout the entire house. Even just the small paint strokes of grey against the existing tan are drastically different, and we feel it will brighten up our home while staying neutral.

Unfortunately, picking the perfect paint color doesn’t always happen. In our old home, we decided to repaint our master bathroom, and for whatever reason I thought a dark brown would work. After we painted it and put everything back up, I realized that painting the walls dark brown in a room where we do number twos was maybe not such a good idea. In fact, it was downright hilarious! In the end, we decided it was the “poop brown” bathroom and we called it that until we moved out. At least we could laugh about it.

Signature Color

Ever notice how a specific color can make you feel more confident? Or how when you are in particular moods you tend to wear colors pertaining to them? I know that I personally tend to gravitate towards certain colors in my wardrobe. Generally I like black, grey, neutral, and darker colors. I have very few pieces that are super bright because that’s just not usually my style (unless it’s a swimsuit). These colors tend to give me more confidence, and I generally feel the most comfortable in.

We associate certain colors for specific events or people. Brides traditionally wear a white wedding dress, inmates generally wear orange jumpsuits, and one in mourning usually wears black to a funeral. For my mother’s funeral I considered not wearing black, but my heart was just so broken and sad that black was the only solution. I did though, paint my nails a beautiful raspberry pink which I know my mom would have loved so it seemed fitting.

Colors are involved in every aspect of fashion. Can you imagine how unimpressive our clothes would be without all the beautiful colors?  We color our fabrics to make our clothes, and shoes come in all colors of the rainbow. There’s accessories like coats, bags, belts, and hats. We color our hair, we paint our nails, there’s blush, and bronzer, fake tanner, lipstick, and eyeshadow. I could go on, but you get the point.

In truth, it would be a whole lot easier to shop if everything came in one color, but what fun would that be?

Color Me Happy

Colors also have emotional ties to them. We can associate colors with memories, or people. Yellow for instance, was my mom’s favorite color. At her funeral we went rogue and got a gorgeous casket spray in yellow roses and other various yellow flowers in season. The florist said she had never made one before in yellow, but loved the idea. It turned out wonderfully, and looked just gorgeous on top of Mom’s casket at the cemetery. It was such a rainy and cold day in February so this bright light of sunny yellow in the midst of all of it was a tender mercy.

I can also vividly remember my dad’s blue Buick that he had when I was young. Not only was the exterior blue, but the interior was as well and it was plushy. Anytime I hear Buick it makes me think of that car.

There was a really good friend of ours in Philadelphia named Nancy Sowa. Some of you reading this have fond memories of her like I do. She was very loud, very funny, and loved those she cared for fiercely. I remember once when I was about nine years old I told her that I always knew she was in church on Sundays because I could hear her singing from the back of the chapel. I didn’t mean it to be rude, (although she did belt her little heart out), and she didn’t take it that way at all. In fact, she told me she was “tickled pink” by it. So, now should Nancy every arise in conversation or should I think of her,  I always associate her with the color pink.

Isn’t it funny how even just looking at a color can spark a memory?

Bold As Love

The past seven months have been a bit of a roller coaster for me. I wrote in a previous post here about my battle with anxiety. Through many prayers, therapy, medication, and good friends I can lean on I have been able to manage it, although some days are still a struggle. The past few weeks have been incredibly emotional and hard for me. Therapy, although extremely beneficial for me, has uncovered so many layers of myself that I have never dealt with. So, handling the emotions that are uncovered are at times pretty painful, and working through them is hard. Also the fact that its the holidays, and it makes me ache for my mom so much does not help.

I was at a place last week where I had so much inner turmoil from a particularly hard subject which we uncovered at therapy, (which I won’t be disclosing), that I didn’t even realize I was holding onto and was causing me so much pain. Those floodgates were opened and it had me feeling panicked and I was spiraling down into a bad place. I found myself backed into a  corner and not sure where to go. Cue fate.

This fall my oldest child Calvin played in a youth tackle football league, and through that team I was able to meet these two amazing parents, Cy and Julie, who’s son was also on the team. Not only are they just the coolest people, but I feel like we were meant to meet. I am a firm believer that people are put into your life right when you need them, and in this case, this couple definitely was. Julie, in particular. I had asked her advice about getting some help for my sister who is struggling after her volatile marriage and divorce, and came to learn that Julie is an energy healer. I was so intrigued that I set an appointment for myself too.

I am still fairly new to energy healing but I love the ideas behind it. It’s basically having to do with your chakras, which there are 7 main ones, and they are all associated with colors and different parts of your body. The Crown Chakra, on the crown of your head is purple, and is associated with your divine connection, as well as the central nervous system and deep brain functions. The Third Eye Chakra, in the center of your forehead, is blue, and it associated with your intuition, your sinuses, eyes, ears, and outer brain functions. The Throat Chakra, in the center of your throat, is turquoise, and is associated with expression and communication, your neck, jaw, teeth, gums, mouth, throat and thyroid. The Heart Chakra, located along your spine next to your heart, is green and is associated with love and compassion, your heart, lungs, upper torso, shoulders, arms, and hands. The Solar Plexus Chakra, located along your spine, is yellow and is associated with your willpower and ambition, your liver, pancreas, gallbladder, stomach, and spleen. The Sacral Chakra, located in your hips and genetalia, is orange and is associated with intimacy, creativity, desires, and sexuality. Finally, the Root Chakra, located at the base of your spine, is red and is associated with survival, safety, security, and fear.

During our session, Julie was able to assess what was going on with my chakras and help balance them. I was actually pretty nervous going there, and called Jess in Julie’s driveway on the verge of a panic attack. But I sucked it up and went in despite feeling this way, and Julie was super sweet and made me feel safe. I can say that when we were done, I felt so much relief. My burdens and panic were literally lifted away from me and I truly felt balanced and refreshed. All weekend I had the color purple with me, which I now know is associated with my Crown Chakra, and it comforted me to know that it was strengthened by my energy healing.

Even our inner selves can be associated with colors and it can alter our state of mind and emotions. After my energy healing this weekend I am wholly convinced of that.

Even if you think colors have no effect on you, I guarantee if you take a good look at your life you’d be surprised how much they really do. Life is much more beautiful in color!

May we all be more willing and open to let our true colors shine through.

“…all of these emotions of mine keep holding me from

Giving my life to a rainbow like you” – Jimi Hendrix “Bold As Love”

 

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

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Portuguese Dirty Bathroom Floors

As I sat in the bathroom stall with unbearable pain stabbing at my stomach, I knew that I was about to be extremely ill. We had literally just sat down at a table outside of the nice French Restaurant in Sintra, Portugal and were looking over the menu when I suddenly was overcome by “that” feeling of oncoming sickness. You all know the one – the oh-so-lovely  “number 2” kind. I bolted for the restroom, and there I sat on the toilet with my head in my hands to try and stop my head from spinning. Sweat was pouring down my face and neck making me even more uncomfortable. I had my coat on and another two layers underneath it since it had gotten chilly as the sun went down, and those layers were all just sealing in all the juices.

I badly wanted to take off my coat to help relieve me from some of the heat, but I didn’t want it to come into contact with the dirty floor in the bathroom. Granted, it was a nicer restaurant, so it was cleaner than most places but it was still a public bathroom in the middle of Portugal. I was determined to release these demons, and be on my merry way. Unfortunately for me, my body had other plans. All I’m gonna say is  it was a good thing that no one else was in the bathroom because once the floodgates opened, it was ghastly. Had it not been me, I would have been laughing, because it sounded like a professional sound board of flatulence and diarrheal explosions used in a movie. It was really bad. So bad in fact, that I  started to get really dizzy and quickly recognized that I was going to pass out. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and even though I could barely see what I was typing I managed to text my sister:

“Help”

Finally succumbing to the fact that I was indeed fainting, I figured it would be better to lay down myself than fall down. Feeling so awful to the point that I just didn’t care anymore about the aforementioned dirty floor, I plunged from the toilet head first. I did however, manage to place my hat on the floor so my face was not in direct contact. It was there, in all my post-diarrhea glory with my pants still down, that I finally blacked out.

Within moments my sister dramatically flung the door of the bathroom open, (I imagine her kicking it open with her fists in the air). She told me later she thought my text message meant I was being kidnapped, (I mean, obviously if I was being abducted I would be able to text), and she was fully prepared to fight off whoever it was. I was brought back to consciousness by her pounding on the bathroom stall door. I was able to lift my arm and unlock it, and she knelt down by me to assess the situation.

After telling her what happened she ran to fetch Jess. When the two of them returned, he knelt by my side and the first sweet thing that came out of his mouth was:

“Why are you so sweaty?!”

Had I not been incapacitated I would have busted up laughing. This whole situation was crappy – pun intended – but it was hilarious. The bathroom smelt horrendous from the ungodly things that had just come out of me. I was aware I was extremely sweaty – I had a river flowing from my neck to my backside- but I can only imagine what I looked like to everyone else. I was not only riding on the hot mess express, I was the conductor. Toot toot!

Along with Aly and Jess came a waitress, who was super freaked out and wanted to call an ambulance. I was mortified. First of all, my pants were STILL down around my ankles so, first order of business was to get those suckers back up. I was so glad they would come back up! You know after you go swimming and if your legs are a little wet it’s impossible to get clothes on? It was kind of like that. Secondly, I would be damned if I had to get in an ambulance because of a little diarrhea! What would they have done anyway, wipe my butt and give me some tums? Nope. That absolutely was not happening.

After drinking some water and sitting up for a few minutes – still on the bathroom floor mind you – I assured the waitress that I would be alright, and we headed back to our Airbnb which was thankfully about five minutes away. Once there, I stripped all my clothes off and put them in a plastic bag to be washed at our next stop, showered and went straight to bed. I was so relieved to be laying on a soft bed and not a dirty bathroom floor.

What would a European vacation be without an epic diarrhea story, right? Well, I would prefer it not to be me who was sick, but I took one for the team. My husband Jess, sister Aly, and myself traveled to Spain and Portugal for two weeks this past October. It was a dream trip that we planned for about a year, and even as we got on the plane to leave it didn’t seem real. The thing about traveling, especially with long trips like this one, is that nothing will ever quite go as planned. That’s just a given!  The mishaps and adventures along the way are what make a trip so memorable. Kind of like the hilarious example below where Jess and i could not nail this jumping photo!

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Besides this little diarrhea debacle, our trip was amazing, and I cannot wait to post more about it! I took SO many photos so get ready!

 

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Five Minutes

Five minutes doesn’t seem like a long time. Or does it? To a woman, saying she will be ready in five minutes really means about an hour or so (and we are sorry not sorry about it!) To a kid, five minutes in time-out can feel like a life sentence, but if it’s five more minutes to play then it’s not nearly long enoughIt’s funny how time can be so insignificant at times and monumental at others.

A Glimpse of What Could Have Been

When my youngest son Memphis was born he was a seemingly healthy baby weighing in at 9 lbs 6 oz, (he was a whopper!). I hate hospitals so was overjoyed when they told me we could leave the next morning. Unfortunately, that next morning Memphis failed his heart test. They initially told me to not worry, (yeah right. Me WORRY? Never.), sometimes it happens, and they would immediately run another heart test. Much to my dismay, a while later they told me he once again failed it, and would require an echocardiogram. I was starting to get nervous, and joined the heart specialist over the course of an hour as they did a full ultrasound of my newborn son’s heart. That hour seemed to stretch out forever. Memphis was quite uncomfortable and was tired of being poked and prodded and was crying uncontrollably. The nurse kept giving him little syringes full of sugar water but it would only make him happy for a few minutes and he would start yowling again. I wanted so badly to hold him but was not able to. I kept wishing and hoping for the ultrasound to be over, but time would not yield to my pleas. Soon enough though, my baby was once again in my arms. The doctors told me that there was nothing wrong with his heart, which was great news, but he had started to labor in his breathing and was turning blue. Before I knew it, they were whisking my baby off to the NICU to be monitored, and four hours later, they determined he was born with pneumonia. We were so thankful that he had something that would be easily fixed, but so heartbroken to leave our baby in the NICU for a week. One of the worst feelings ever was leaving the hospital with no baby. I was heavily sedated to even be able to do so.

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For the next 8 days I went back to the hospital as many times a day as I could to be with my sweet baby. When I was at home I was constantly pumping and also bringing as much bottled breast milk with me as I could for Memphis. I had never visited a NICU before so it was all very foreign to me. Every time one enters, they must first go through a washing station that consisted of large metal sinks. Above each sink was a digital timer which when you pushed the foot pedal underneath would start at five minutes and countdown. That was how long you were required to scrub your hands before being able to enter.

Five minutes never felt so long in my entire life. Those red digital numbers seemed to go slower and slower as if mocking me. I would go through this process so many times a day and by the time I was even able to come back to the hospital I was aching so badly to see Memphis that those five minutes were torture.

I’ll be honest, I did some very deep soul searching during those five minute scrubs. It forced me to stand still and painfully revisit the events that had occurred with our family and our brand new baby. The importance of minutes and just how valuable and precious they are became very clear to me. Jess and I for a frightening time thought we were going to lose our son, and it’s a feeling I won’t ever forget. We were lucky enough to be able to still have him, and it helped me to start appreciating every moment I had with all of my children, and all of my family for that matter.

Frozen in Time

Not two days ago I was vacuuming out my minivan at the local car wash. As I was picking up garbage I looked inside the pocket on the backside of the driver seat and saw the back of a Kodak photo. I pulled it out and to my surprise it was a snapshot of my parents that I don’t think I have ever seen before. The weirdest thing is I have no idea how this photo came to be in my van, but I know I was meant to see it when I did.

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Instantly, I was taken back in time. Judging by the outfits, I would say this was from the early 90’s. This was before my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 1997. She was so beautiful in this picture, and so happy. The cancer changed her physically and emotionally over her 18 year battle. She was never really the same person.

I found myself wishing so badly to go back in time to this. I would even take five minutes with her before she got sick, and taken some mental pictures of her when she was her healthy self because those fragile memories that I have of her are fading. I mean, we had no way to know what was going to happen, but when she was diagnosed the cancer forced us all to take a step back and treasure the moments we had left.

Time Lost

Cancer is a thief. It steals time. It made the years that were supposed to be my mom’s best painful 24 hours a day. She fought to stay alive, and she fought hard. My mother was an extremely stubborn woman, and she refused to die until she was good and ready.  Initially when she was diagnosed in 1997, she was terminal with stage 4 multiple myeloma (bone marrow) cancer. For almost an entire year she stayed in a hospital. The doctors did not expect her to live, but she surprised them all and did. She told us that she was determined to see Aly and I graduate high school. She entered her first of several remissions in 2000, which lasted until after we graduated and went to our freshman year of college.

She then told us she was determined to see all her children married. My brother was married in 2001, I was married in 2005, and my sister was married in 2013. Despite have her second bone marrow transplant and nearly dying in 2008, Mom lived to see all her children married like she said. She was so stubborn, that woman.  It’s one of the things I loved most about her.

Her health dramatically decreased from 2013-2015. In October of 2014 they told us once again that she was terminal. But after 18 years of the constant pain, and the long list of health issues that arose from the chemo treatments, radiation, and cancer itself, Mom decided she would stop treatments. None of us could blame her at that point, but that does not mean it wasn’t heartbreaking knowing the end was near.

On Tuesday February 17, 2015 around 6:00 PM we gathered around a hospital bed where she lay dying. They had turned off her pace maker and we were watching the monitors as her heart rate and breathing were slowing. My sister Aly, my brother Rob and I were all by the bedside. My sister whispered :

“Mom, it’s okay to go now.”

My brother and I both chimed in too saying it was okay, and in a few moments she was gone.

Her time on this earth was shortened, but she held on as stubbornly as she could to get every last moment she could with her family.

Time Found

Time is a funny thing. Some days we constantly check our clocks just wishing for the day to speed up, and other days we feel like the days are dragging on. Time is best spent doing things we love, and with the people we love. For those loved ones we have lost, we can find them in those moments of happiness because they do not want us to sit around and be sad missing them. They want us living and enjoying every moment.

One thing is for sure, on those days where I catch myself wishing for time to speed up I have to stop and remember how precious every moment is. Be it an hour, a month, ten years, or five minutes.

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette