Three years ago today, my book was published and shortly after that I started this blog sharing some of the most emotionally and physically challenging times of my life. Looking back at my archived blog posts, man I went deep. Every word that you read is authentic from my heart. The rawness and pain of life after loss is ever present in many of those posts. And there's also some really encouraging posts as well. I just share the heck out of my heart with my guard down hoping to encourage or inspire anyone that may need it.
Telling our story in my book, then following with this blog that held such deep discussions of life after loss was very healing and necessary for me. I needed to be able to help others for in that would come healing.
And healing came.
I had to persevere...daily.
May, 2012, I began to write for Still Standing Magazine where I was welcomed and loved in a community of some of the most amazing people I have ever met. We all shared two things, love and loss. When you share loss with someone, there's an unspoken bond that will last for a lifetime regardless of where you go because loss is one thing that will never go away, it will never change, it is constant. At SS, I contributed monthly articles that also drove me to new places in healing. I shared some of the most raw places in my heart there. During that time I developed some pretty special relationships and grew to love babies and children I, nor anyone else would ever get to meet. When you can grow to love a baby that can only be shared from inside of a mother's heart, that is pretty amazing. My time there was precious but came to an end for me in November, 2013. It was time for me to rest my heart for a while and live life away from the key board.
In October, 2013, I was inspired to create a hand painted card line in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I started painting cards for those who were missing their little ones. This fulfilled a place in my heart that was so special. I have hundreds of cards that were given / sent to me after Matthew passed away and almost nine years later, I still open the trunk they are in and spread them out and read each one. A card is something tangible that someone can hold on to, and when you lose a child, you need something tangible to hold on to. When I have my "cry days" I always eat cookies with one hand and hold my Kleenex with the other...thus the name of my card line,"Three Cookies and a Kleenex!" Inside each card I sent out, I included a Kleenex. If I delivered a card, I would also deliver cookies with it. This gave to me great joy in my heart and has continued to do so on a daily basis. Many people have followed suit when giving these cards to others and included cookies and a Kleenex! (Big Mama Smile)
As inspiration came, three lines were produced in my card collection. My "Loretta" line that was completely inspired from my beauty shop days. "Loretta" screams about life loudly, wearing big hair, lots of jewelry and she loves Jesus and her girlfriends. (and of course chocolate!) Her name is inspired by my name and my sister Lynette's name because new clients would call our beauty shop and ask for "Loretta" all the time! They would mash our names together forgetting Lori or Lynette!
These are just a few samples of Loretta:
Then there's my "She Whispers" line which was completely inspired by the many hours I have spent at the cemetery looking above at the sky and the trees as I talked to Jesus.
And lastly, I have the "Remind Me" line that is inspirational Bible verses, encouraging words that have helped me through the years. Chances are if I said it to myself to get through a day, it is on a "Remind Me" card.
I also started painting canvases with Loretta as the star. This was such FUN therapy for me and also gave me a chance to bring Loretta to life, on canvas.
Of course, y'all know I had to paint some "Hotty Toddy" ones too, right?
Hours of painting and praying over cards brought even more healing and purpose to my life. I also discovered a huge need to contact my ninth grade art teacher and tell her "Thank You!"
In February, I was offered an opportunity to blog for HottyToddy.com. As an Ole Miss Rebel fan, this was perfect for me and for my family. I surprised my husband with my first article there on Valentine's Day. Indeed, it was special! I began to write and smile at the keyboard instead of cry! It was time to write and smile at the same time. I have written four articles there so far and have had the most fun sharing them and talking about them to our boys. I really never talked about my blogs / articles with them before because of the heavy content and it is so wonderful and refreshing to be able to do so now! I have to shout Hotty Toddy at the end of that because that is what any Rebel fan would do! (Rebel fans, shaking your head up and down, aren't you?)
So here I am, almost nine years after losing Matthew and almost nine years of living with life changing disabilities and I am more grateful today than I have ever been in my life. I am grateful for life, for love and even loss. I am grateful for the experiences, both good and bad, because they have given me such perspective in life. I will be forty years old in July and I welcome the new decade with open arms. I am blessed! Really, really blessed!
If you are new here to my blog or have been a friend for a long while, thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing your hearts with me and for listening to mine. I will blog randomly here about what is on my heart. It will be different, but a good different. From time to time, I will share as I used to, but this new season is about smiles, lots and lots of smiles!
You know, Confucius said "Wherever you go, go with all your heart" and that inspired me so much, not just in where I am going but in how I write, with my whole heart. So wherever you find my words, here on this blog, at StillStanding.com, HottyToddy.com or in my book, you will know those words were written with my whole heart.
My cards are absolutely painted with lots of love and my whole heart too! "Three Cookies and a Kleenex" cards can be purchased at Diamondhead Pharmacy and Gifts.