living a well tended life... at any age

fated to pretend

I’m feeling rough, I’m feeling raw, I’m in the prime of my life. – Time to Pretend, MGMT

There are years.

And then there are YEARS.

2014?

It was a YEAR.

I often wonder about the culmination of events that take place over the course of a year – how it’s not really the events themselves that shape it, but the timing, circumstances and – most importantly – where YOU are in your life.

And as I look back from January 1st to today, never was this more true than this past year.

In my 50th birthday post I alluded to some big changes that I wanted to make in the coming year – changes that I wished I could have known I had to make years earlier. But I was determined not to dwell on what could have/might have been had I gotten there sooner.

I was excited, looking forward and looking FORWARD.

And then, over the course of twelve short/long months:

Noah was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy, had five seizures, one MRI and seven EEGs. There were four hospital stays too.

Noah broke his arm during a weekend away upstate.

Conor was hospitalized for acute appendicitis – and spent his first night (in the ER) while Noah was spending his last night at a different hospital.

Conor was accepted to his two top colleges (with partial scholarships to both), and left for his first semester away this fall.

Chelsea moved out – into an adorable apartment in New York City, with a girl she’s grown up with.

Chelsea was hired full-time at the company she’s been interning with since she was a junior in high school, and is officially on her way to making her mark in the real world.

Mike and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.

Noah started kindergarten.

So the emotional turbulence? Pretty intense – the highs were SUPER high and the lows – well, I learned that two of the most useless phrases in the English language are “I’m at the end of my rope”, and “I can’t take one more thing”.

Because (especially if you’re a parent) there is no “end” to the rope.

And you’ll take as many more “things” as you are handed. No matter what.

I discovered this full-on during Noah’s five-day stay in the hospital in June. He started the week with three seizures (one at school and two later that day in the hospital). We were told that since traditional meds were not having any impact in reducing the “electrical storm” in his brain, he was going to have to be put on Prednisone. And though we knew this was a possibility (our wonderful doctor had prepared us), we were devastated nonetheless. We were now faced with having our five-year-old on steroids – and dealing with all of the nightmarish side effects that accompanied them. The first two days of the hospital were spent monitoring Noah with an EEG, and the last three administering the initial dose of Prednisone via IV. I would stay with Noah during the day and Mike would take the overnights.

Over the course of that same week I was busy frantically filling out paperwork and making plans to get Chelsea squared away in the apartment she and her friend had just committed to the day before Noah’s hospitalization. I’ll be forever grateful for her friend’s parents – who took over the lion’s share of work so that I could concentrate on Noah. But I still wanted to be available for the planning and shopping and setting up of Chelsea’s first real home.

And over the course of that SAME week Conor was feeling sicker and sicker. By late Thursday night (the night before Noah was due home) I wound up in a (different) hospital ER, where a scan revealed acute appendicitis. This kicked off an 8-day hospital stay, IV antibiotics, a possible abscess (averted, thankfully) and scheduling of surgery. My mom flew up to help, and my dad joined her later on so that we could all attend Conor’s high school graduation AND move Chelsea into her apartment.

We spent the summer battling the toxic behavioral/mood effects of Prednisone, with the help of a heaven-sent camp director/staff and our beloved neurologist. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much over a sustained period of time in my entire life.

But through all of this, I was keenly aware of the resolutions I had made on my birthday – to be the most authentic ME possible (for the first time ever), and to make more mindful and “present” decisions. This awareness was critical to my surviving the year intact, as I truly believe that the emotional toll of the events that took place would have swallowed me whole otherwise. The timing of my making huge personal changes prior to a year where I would need them the most was never lost on me for a minute.

As the year began to wind down, so did much of our life. Conor had his surgery and successfully settled in to college life far away from home. Chelsea is now in the next phase of her life, and we are in that next phase of parenting a grown up person. Noah’s subsequent EEG’s showed positive improvement – thanks to the Prednisone – and gave us the green light to begin weaning him off. And though the violent tendencies are still there, they are more occasional tremors than the constant explosions we experienced in the beginning. The stellar teachers and wonderful staff at our elementary school adore him, and support us in more ways than we could have hoped for.

And as the year began to head towards a close I thought about how I fared through it all, what the course of events meant to me, and how very very differently I handled things overall. And I realized that – as far as magnitude is concerned – there was not a single year in my life that came close to this one. Not marriage, childbirth, divorce or even depression. And it wasn’t so much that I kept getting hit with one event after the next – I’m pretty sure there were years that were similar, or even worse. The difference was my responses to it all – that rather than just flailing and being reactive, I was able to take what was going on at the moment, process it and reflect in a way that I know I had never done before. I felt more like “me” than ever in my entire life, and it was truly emboldening.

Which is how this happened on my 51st birthday:

tattoo1

I had no intention – ever – of getting a tattoo. I wasn’t necessarily opposed to the idea, but never thought that it was something that I would want (or need) to do.

But after this year I felt the want – and need – and envisioned it almost immediately.

The arrow symbolizes the need to be pulled back in order to go forward.

The circle signifies how the year started and ended.

And the open space in the circle is because we’re really never “done”, are we? – and so there needs to be that space to allow for the changes, for the unknowns, for the possibilities.

We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun.

And though it took me almost the whole year to truly own all of the changes I wanted to make, I feel that going into my 52nd year I can begin to build on what I started:

Being really “me”.

Being really mindful.

Taking on more rope.

And more things.

Yeah, it’s overwhelming, but what else can we do?

Peace out 2014 – you sure packed a punch.

32 Comments

  1. Lacy on December 31, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Oh my goodness, I love this post and I love you. What a neat design, too. You know I love some good ink.

    Happy New Year, Sheri!

    xoxo

    • sherisilver on December 31, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks so much Lacy – happy happy to you and your gorgeous family – love you! xo

  2. Meredith on December 31, 2014 at 9:15 am

    love you (and your new ink)!!

    • sherisilver on December 31, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Aw – love you too my friend (Mighty Horseman!) xo

  3. Kathy Radigan on December 31, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Sheri I loved this post and I can relate to so much of it. My daughter’s condition keeps us in a constant state of flux and then having two other children can really stir the pot. I am so glad that all ended up well. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. xo And I turn 50 at the end of 2015 so it’s great to know I can not only survive but thrive!

    • sherisilver on December 31, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you so much Kathy – you are the ICON of thriving and surviving in my book and I so appreciate this note from you of all people – happy new year! xo

  4. Jen on December 31, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I love you Sheri Silver! Here’s to 2015 being less of a roller coaster year. xo

    • sherisilver on December 31, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      Thank you my good friend – for everything. xo

  5. Sandra Harris on December 31, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    What a crazy year! And what an understatement. Wish I had been there during it to give you hugs and help and wish I was there now to do the same.

    We have to talk at some point – the mindfulness and being present is something I’ve been working at too. I come by reactivity honestly and it’s just too tiring a way to live.

    When I think of parenting I think of it as being “their” time. We still have our own goals and dreams of course but it’s their time to grow and shine and experience and our time to help make that happen. Through good and bad. There’s no dialing it in.

    Here’s to 2015 – and we will see each other at least once too!

    • sherisilver on January 1, 2015 at 9:52 am

      Yes – you and I, I think, channel similar stuff – would love to dig in more. xoxo

  6. Jennifer Cullen on December 31, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    You are so genuine, my friend. Sending you lots of love.
    Here’s to a stellar 2015. And “taking on more rope.”

    • sherisilver on January 1, 2015 at 9:51 am

      Thanks YOU. Can’t wait to see you soon. xo

  7. Tanya on December 31, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    As usual, I so appreciate your thoughts in myriad ways! Keep on doing what you do – you’re definitely on the right track. All happiness in 2015.:-)

    • sherisilver on January 1, 2015 at 9:51 am

      Thank you so much Tanya – LOVED seeing you recently and so appreciate your kind words. xo

  8. Leslie on December 31, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    My dear young, old friend & hero!
    Happy, healthy, peaceful 2015. Love you to pieces.

    • sherisilver on January 1, 2015 at 9:50 am

      And where would I be without you? Seriously.

  9. Amy on December 31, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Sheri, can we chat after the new year? I, too, have been contemplating getting a tattoo to commentate the year. I want to get a star to mark each anniversary after my brain surgery.

    • sherisilver on January 1, 2015 at 9:50 am

      Amy of course! Hope your new year is the BEST. xo

  10. Adrienne on December 31, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Amazingly well said, Sheri. The neverending rope portion hit me over the head. Spot on. Love the tatoo and its meaning. Thank you for giving a voice to the challenges of parenting – it definitely reassures others even if circumstances are not the same. And of course, thank you for providing tasty recipes during the whole of it. I’m sticking w my original opinion: rockstar. Happy new year!

    • sherisilver on January 1, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Thanks so much Adrienne – I am SO happy we connected this year; I think the world of you! 🙂

  11. cindy s. on December 31, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    wow, Sheri, just WOW! you continue to inspire and amaze me!

    • sherisilver on January 1, 2015 at 9:48 am

      You’re the best my friend – thank you! xo

  12. Shalagh Hogan on December 31, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    So happy that you are feeling the certainty that whatever happens, you’ll rise to it.That’s exactly what you did and will continue to do. That’s the bonus for 50 somethings.Can I say, Yeah! for the birthday righteousness. (My old bones are tired of carrying around this little girl.)
    And that your children are alive and thriving!!! Huge.
    Happy New Year dear Sheri.
    Love,
    Shalagh

    • sherisilver on January 1, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Shalagh – thank you so so much. Your kindness and support have meant the world to me this year; I hope you know that. Happy happy to you and your family! xo

  13. Jessica on January 1, 2015 at 10:59 am

    I always say that everyone has “stuff.” You really had “STUFF” last year, Sheri. So pleased that you and your family are on track.

    I was just thinking the same thoughts this morning. 2013 was a challenging year for me health-wise so I couldn’t wait until 2014. Then my Mom died in 2014. I am more and more convinced that it is not what happens to you, but how you deal with it. That is my 2015 commitment – to deal with it!

    • sherisilver on January 1, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Jessica thank you so much for this. I was so sorry to hear about your mom; she seemed like an amazing woman and as I was very very close to my grandma I could really relate. And yes, it IS how you deal with it – here’s to DEALING in 2015! 🙂

  14. Deirdre on January 6, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I LOVE this – everything about it. You handled so much and so deserve to be proud of yourself for doing it. For coming out the other end of it better and stronger.

    Funnily enough, last year when I turned 45 I vowed to get myself a tattoo, also on my forearm/inside of my wrist. Just to remind me that first off, I’ve still got it. And secondly, as a way of remembering what’s important. I’ve lost a bit of my momentum a year later, but you’re motivating me to revisit.

    Also, I love that MGMT song. Most of it I can’t relate to (the heroin and models for wives), so thanks for clueing me into the bit that means something!

    xx

    ps – I’m emailing you about our ‘tour de bklyn’

    • sherisilver on January 6, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Love you for this; thank you. And yes, I was fully aware of the “bigger” meaning of the song but it’s one of my favorites too and has such a mood about it – plus those lines have really spoken to me these last couple of years. Can’t WAIT to tour! xo

  15. Peg on January 14, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Oh my… what a year you had. I had some ups and downs that kept me busy, especially in December, which is why I am just now getting around to reading that post.
    All I can say is I’ve never even MET you, but your life has had such a positive effect on me! When you share these events from your life, you give your readers strength and hope.
    Xo

    • sherisilver on January 15, 2015 at 7:33 am

      What can I say to this but “thank you” – I know, it’s hard to believe we’ve never met, right? But notes like this mean the world to me – I hope you know that! xoxo

  16. Catherine Nye on February 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Found your site looking for bird feeders, and this post hit a nail. I don’t know you, but wow, I’m so proud of you!!! Authentic SELF! YES!!! That is truly the best we can be, always.

    Yep, you had quite the year, and you made it through. Successfully, too. Bravo!

    So honored to share LIFE with those who ARE BEING!!

    • sherisilver on February 6, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      Oh my gosh – you MADE my day. Thank you for this. I don’t know you either but am so very appreciative that you took the time to read this post and respond with such a lovely and positive comment. Welcome! 🙂

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