Sunday, February 26, 2012

When Co-Workers Are Grieving

The Consumerist is a blog that I read regularly. Recently they posted a summary of an article released by UC Berkeley about how to handle co-workers who have dealt with loss. I thought it was a pretty good set of dos and don'ts and the comments were helpful, too. Some people disagreed with the exact advice given but the conversations there are, for the most part, in agreement about two things I've talked about here:

Emotional currency matters: Some people can do things, ask questions and help out in different ways depending on the previous relationship. An acquaintance I hadn't seen or really spoken to in over a year called me every single day I was in the hospital wanting to come over with her baby. The answer was no--and why would you bring a baby to someone who just lost hers?? I'm sure she had good intentions but it felt voyeuristic and invasive. On the other hand, we had friends who did visit every day but they were already friends who I saw or spoke to regularly. A more appropriate thing for the acquaintance might have been to ask about the meal list (and many acquaintances who are now better friends did do that).

Be sensitive: Also known as don't ask rude questions rudely. Occasionally, I know, a rude question to one person is not to another. Personally, I like talking about what happened but I can tell when someone is genuinely concerned about me and is willing to hear that I can't talk about it now and someone who is simply watching the train wreck and wants more gossip.

I don't have what I consider a "real job" as in, I go to an office and work a regular schedule. I'm an itinerant martial arts instructor and I work for Stephan when he needs me to do, well, anything. So most of the people I "work" with are more like friends. Mike, however, has worked at the same place for almost 15 years. His office was incredible while I was in recovery. He got the week I was in the hospital off without it coming out of his sick leave or vacation time and worked from home the following week while I was still in pretty bad shape.

One thing I never would have thought would be special was that several of his coworkers attended Garrett's funeral. One of them is an Orthodox Jew and because the funeral was on a Saturday, he walked. In June. In a suit. Each coworker who attended is someone Mike has a relationship with and we really like so it was such a good feeling to see their faces and hear their words. After the funeral, they (and others) sent us notes, made us meals, and just took care of us in general. It was a relief to know that Mike had support from people who cared about him.

So, Mike's co-workers and caring co-workers everywhere: thank you.

(photo source)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Well, I have the good ol' insomnia tonight. At first I just kind of enjoyed the comfy bed and silence and then I got bored. So at least it's not for sad or "thinking too hard" reasons that I decided to get up, right?

I figure this is as good a time as any to ask something I've been meaning to ask. I want to put up a link thingie on my sidebar. I know a lot of my friends have blogs and so do some of you who found me through different infant loss groups. But not everyone wants their blog to be easily accessed by strangers. So before I do anything, let me know if you want to exchange links. You can either send an email to sharaze (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment with your blog or website address. I do have one request...I'd prefer not to link to anything too explicit. And, I'm not even really talking about language but also photos of children who have passed's just seriously hard for me to look at those types of photos and I've had to click carefully when I visit blogs people link at Faces of Loss or Small Bird Studios.

That being said, I also thought it'd be kind of fun to link to some other sites. After I got out of the hospital, the insomnia was bad. Most of my early posts were written at 2am. I didn't just angst online, though, sometimes I just sat and read funny articles or looked for project ideas. I don't know if any of you are going through that right now (or are just bored, like I am now) but here's some stuff I surf:

Go Fug Yourself
The Hostess Blog...but I have to be careful with this one. I've gotten to where I skip the baby showers and baby birthday parties when they come up in my feed reader.
Hyperbole and a Half which isn't update regularly anymore but the archives are great.
Cracked and the content on this one can be a little crazy so just be selective if you're conservative and stay away completely if you don't like satire or utter foolishness.
D*mn You Autocorrect...okay, this is just awful and I shouldn't even link it because the language is terrible but I cannot tell you how this made me laugh when I was down. I'm a horrible person but now you know. /shame

I can't think of anything else right now other than Wow Insider which would interest maybe, maybe one of you. Are there any other internet time wasters you like to read?

Ah, and I finally gave in and joined Pinterest. I'm still not sure what all the rage is about but I'm sure I will catch on soon enough. So far it just seems like a Kaboodle that caught on better.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Don't call it a comeback?

I had a fantastic weekend.

I spent most of the week pretty under the weather. I had a terrible sinus infection which resulted in my first sinus cocktail shot. IT WAS GLORIOUS. But I couldn't sleep for some reason, even with benedryl. The cough medicine with codeine the doctor gave me was a disaster. I took it on Wednesday night and spent the next 7 or 8 hours twitching like a crazy person, wide awake but so wired that I couldn't actually accomplish anything. It was pretty funny, for real.

So, I was a little worried about this weekend. I planned to attend a seminar with Sensei Richard Price on Tactical Application of Aikido for Law Enforcement. Seminars are notoriously harcore and I also wanted to do well because this weekend is the first time I've really gotten to train with the folks at Midsouth Aikido and the Aikido World Alliance. I wanted to do well for myself and for Stephan, who wasn't able to attend. Plus I just love this kind of thing. Practical application? I'm alllll over that.

I did not leave disappointed. At all. I had an absolutely fantastic time. I've done a law enforcement seminar or two in the past and have always wanted to go to one with an aiki focus. I enjoyed getting to see how the things I've learned over the years work in "real life" and found that even with the new movements, I could pick them up reasonably quickly because of all the principles that are ingrained in my body. And, on a similar note, I also liked seeing how to teach the information quickly and to people who might not have any martial arts background.

And on a more all around fitness note, I am so encouraged. I didn't have to short any techniques, step out of any sessions, or ask people to go easy on me which I think means that...I'm back! I still, of course, have to work on a few technique-y things to get back on track and I do want to get a little more core stability but I'm definitely not working injured anymore.

The video above is from the seminar. I'm at the end for just a moment. They filmed me doing a control and walking the instructor off the mat but didn't show it, awwwwww, too bad! I do wish I had video of myself doing these awesome pinkie controls...SO COOL.

Monday, February 13, 2012

On Returning to Etsy

For a couple of years, I had an Etsy shop called Sew and Scribble. I had to close it while I was in recovery and although I've thought about reopening it, I've been dragging my feet. My friend Christy drew art, I edited it and then we put it on things like labels and notecards. Because most of our items sold to people buying for children, I just...I just don't want to be immersed in that kind of work right now. I have some ridiculously cute stuff so eventually I'll offer some of it but right now, I'm starting a little differently.

When I was first out of the hospital, I went on this huge creating binge. I made shadow boxes, clothes, notecards, all kinds of stuff. I didn't particularly want to make Garrett's birth announcement, though. However, when I looked online for something I liked, there simply wasn't much out there in my price range. Photo-less announcements seemed to only come from fancy stationery shops. And I didn't want to do a photo because his photos are painfully sad and, quite frankly, I found many of the announcements with photos of stillborn babies...difficult to look at. I couldn't imagine sending something like that.

Plus I was just sick of looking up that kind of thing. So, I made my own and sent it to a few close friends and family members who knew what happened. You already know about the Christmas card.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided to list the announcement on my Etsy shop, reopened as Colley Designs. I've got a little website set up which will eventually link up to the Etsy shop. Right now I've only listed the boy announcement.

I made a version for a girl.

And I'll probably do a green neutral one, too. I'll list the pink one tomorrow and then work on the green one. It takes a bit to make a listing on Etsy and, quite frankly, it was a draining experience. Much more so than I expected. Just thinking about someone else sitting down at 1 am, unable to sleep, searching for a way to acknowledge this little life. It breaks my heart.

I have a few other things to list.  I made some notecards for kids. Why this particular one doesn't bother me, I don't know, maybe it doesn't have the happy pictures? I also have some notecards for adults. I might even list some canvas word art I've started dabbling in.

I like the idea of helping people out whether they are grieving or celebrating. I also like that creativity is one of the things that came out of my loss. This is also an opportunity to help out our family. It's only a little bit, but I plan to put all the money I make from my new Etsy listings towards our adoption fees. I'll talk more about that later since this post is getting a little long but, over the next couple of weeks, keep an eye on my shop. There's a widget to the left of the blog and I'll probably mention it from time to time. I'd love to make something for you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

the thing with feathers

I had a completely different post (complete with links!) planned for today but while I was working out at the gym, I realized that today was kind of a big day for several reasons.

The smallest reason is a mini fitness update. I take this class with Mike, partly because it's a good class and partly because he feels better when he can see me work out. And it's time together--time I wiiiiish he'd spend in aikido but since that involves social interaction, that's so not going to happen, haha. Anyway, the class normally uses 3 sets of weights: light, medium and heavy. Today I officially dropped the 8's, my lightest, and did the whole class using 10 and 12 pound weights. Eventually I'd like to make the 12's my medium weights and add 15's to the mix but, really, I could stay here for a long time and be pretty pleased with myself!

Additionally, today we submitted our formal application to Bethany, the agency we are using for our adoption. It took us a couple of weeks to fill it out because, for one, there was a ton of information to gather. References, their addresses, the HIPAA forms, our tax returns, the mortgage balance on the house, how much we have in retirement...and so on. We had to articulate why we want to adopt, what genders and races we are open to adopting and what kind of neighborhood and home we live in. I'll probably share some of that with you in a later post because it was an interesting process.

Much like the day we submitted the preliminary application, submitting the formal application falls on a milestone related to Garrett. Eight months ago today:

Garrett was stillborn 15 hours after we arrived at the hospital. Perfect and just as fuzzy as Autumn was.

I was still touch and go in ICU. They were no longer afraid I was going to die but they were afraid I might lose kidney or liver function and about this time I was just waking up from an emergency surgery where they couldn't tell me if I'd wake up with a uterus or not (I have all my parts and, oddly, the surgery made Autumn's c-section scar less problematic).

The blood transfusions we still going on.

We hadn't told Autumn what happened yet.

The high risk specialist began prepping me to hear that I most likely wouldn't be able to have another baby.

And so much more. It's rather amazing how much has happened since then. Most of us who were together through it all agree that it feels like 1000 years ago and yesterday all at the same time.

I miss Garrett all the time. We all do. But, while we haven't moved on, we are moving forward. Not leaving him behind, but taking him and what we learned through him with us.

Today, Autumn told me she was going to pray for her baby Garrett in Heaven and for her new baby who was coming. And that the 'doption was taking forever. Me, too, little ma'am.

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

~Emily Dickinson

(The photo is of a memorial ring I got Mike last summer. It has all of our initials--and room for more.)