Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dear Craft Companies

To Whom It May Concern:

Allow me to share with you my frustrations at not finding craft products that speak to me.

I am over 40, single and childless. I'm not swimming in dough but I do have some discretionary income. And I'm pretty creative and crafty. But the products just don't address who I am. 

Feminine? Yes. But I'm not into all florals. Glitter? OH PLEASE! That's for 8-year-olds. Fabrics with prints of Parisian cafes and the Eiffel Tower are..... no. I like shabby chic but it just isn't me. My favorite shoes aren't Louboutin and Choo, but more on the lines of New Balance and Dansko or even Docs. I love tee shirts and jeans but I'm not all red-white-and-blue and country chic. Note: denim isn't just for the yee-haw crowd. I love bright colors but I don't want neon, I don't want sparkly, and I don't want polka dotted everything! I do not always want faux paisley. I sure as hell don't want chevron ..... and zebra prints and leopard spots? Oh no, no no, especially when combined with marabou feathers. STOP IT! I'm so over all this! Who decided that this is what women wanted and needed and we are this style?

I want something that speaks to the girl who loves attending both rock concerts and Broadway shows. To the girl who loves flowy Boho scarves and skirts -- and tartans and plaids -- alongside her tees and jeans. To the one who isn't a sports mom, who doesn't have a froo-froo pet, who maybe has a tattoo or piercing other than her ears. To the girl who is a sports fan and who isn't there because of her man, but because she loves the game. To the girl who knows who she is -- and it's none of the things being marketed to us.

What I really want is something that speaks less to the girl we were back then, and more to the woman we have become. To the one who has persevered and overcome things in the way that countless others have: with style and grace and a reserve she never imagined she had. I want real and authentic. I want Stratocasters next to the daisy prints. I want stylish and confident, secure in knowing who I am at this point in my life.

I want a line of embellishments that reflect my likes, my needs. And I'll happily help you out for a small consulting fee. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Year of Firsts

Yesterday marked 50 weeks to the day. In exactly two weeks from today, it will be one year since Mom left us. This Wednesday is the one-year anniversary of her final trip to the ER. Everyone told me about the "year of firsts" -- all the big events that are suddenly missing a person.

Last year, we had less than 24 hours until we hit the first of those firsts.  Mom died the day before Dad's birthday. A week before my brother's birthday. Three weeks before Easter 2016. Those firsts came along so rapidly that we didn't have time to process them. Then came Mother's Day, which is a day I would just as soon forget for the remainder of my days. And on and on it went.......

The first six months were horrible. I grieved Mom so much. Then on that anniversary weekend, she sent me a sign, a siren call really: it was time to let go as I'd promised, as I'd wanted her to do and be free. She was telling me that she couldn't be free as long as I clung tightly.

My birthday came and went. I missed Mom giving me a card and saying "I'm sorry it's not more...." As if I were still five years old and expecting a couple of dollars tucked in there. It was a rather wistful day.

Thanksgiving came and went. Then we lost Maddox. Losing Mom hurt, losing Maddox cut hard and sharp. Christmas came and we were okay until Dad choked up during grace. We made it through New Year's and all the bowl games.

And now comes the anniversaries we never wanted to "celebrate" ......
Another friend in the one-parent-left club mentioned that for her, the second year was the worst. The first was bad but you expected to come upon these things ...... But in that second year you're somehow supposed to be over it. As if you ever are.

The hard days for me will be Feb. 27 -- the day the doctors told us to start considering all our options -- and March 4, Mom's last full day, when I spent hours in silence with her at Hospice and sang to her. March 9 will be the anniversary of her funeral, and that day too may be hard.

What this year has taught me is that life is short and fragile, that you had best tell those you love that you love them. You have to follow your bliss and enjoy every moment, because you are not promised even one additional second. Do what makes your heart sing and soar. And love. Don't put tags or labels on it, just love unconditionally, as you are loved. Love large, love often, but love wisely all the same. And fear not.

As my family has unpacked Mom's passing and her life, we are saddened by how much and how often she was guided by fear. I usually am not the type to allow fear to rule my choices, but now I'm even less inclined to do so. I will not allow fear to make my choices for me.

And in doing so, I will honor my mother.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

When Adulting Sucks

Today marks 48 weeks since Mom passed. And come Monday, we McClellans will gather again to say goodbye to yet another member.

Dad's oldest sister, my Aunt Joyce, passed on Wednesday, February 1. Another one to pass at age 78. There have been way too many people I know recently and throughout my life who died at that age, and it's kind of freaky, to be honest.

So since 2009, we have lost Uncle Clyde, Uncle Bill, Aunt Harvalene, Uncle Jack, Mom, Aunt Glendel, and now Aunt Joyce. Two siblings and their spouses, plus three more of the in-laws. And counting my Uncle Bob's first wife, two other cousins lost a parent as well. Eight family members gone in as many years -- but four of them in less than two calendar years.

There are five left..... Uncle Bobby, Uncle Donnie, Aunt Peggy, Daddy, and Uncle Harry. There are two spouses left: Aunt Peggy "Red" and Aunt Betty. Bobby will be 81 next month. Harry just turned 71 last summer. Daddy will be 73 next month. I knew the day would come when my childhood and the people in it would be gone. God knows I went to enough funerals as a child and teen (and continuing...) that I have a pretty decent grasp on death and dying. But it never gets easier.....

In fact, as I get older, it gets harder. It's a slap in the face to my own sense of immortality. I know, I know, I didn't really ever believe I was immortal -- when you lose a classmate at age 14, it really steals that whole idea from you. But I've been trying to slow down time since I was 18. In my head I still think I'm in my late 20 or early 30s at worst. I've been to high school class reunions and number 30 is upcoming this year. But it's impossible, is it not? So my oldest cousin just turned 60 - I'm still a baby, right? The mirror tells me a different story and I know it.

There's a special irony in battling wrinkles while you're still battling acne -- or that you're still battling acne when wrinkles are supposed to be your biggest skincare issue at this age. When you're coloring your hair not to look spectacular but to hide the silvers and greys and making sure that you're covering the mousiness. When you're caught in that space of trying to look the young person you know that you still are, but not trying to look as if you're desperately clinging to a long-gone youth. Subtly covering the gray is great, but using "Loretta Lynn Bootblack" is another story.

Adulting sucks at times, and saying goodbye to loved ones is among the suckier parts of being an adult. With that, I look back on the fond memories of my family and my childhood, and plan to say a sweet farewell to my aunt. She is with her loved ones, and I rejoice that she is free from the confines of a body that did not want to cooperate with all she wanted to do still.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

One Year Ago

I can tell you exactly where I was -- working from home on an ice day. And sitting at the dining room table in yoga pants, a tee-shirt and my well-worn black hoodie, headphones on and blasting "Say Hello 2 Heaven" while I cried buckets.

There were two primary reasons: foremost, January 22 is the anniversary of the passing of two good friends, eight years apart. Last year was the tenth anniversary for one, and coupled with the slew of celebrity deaths that had just happened (David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Glenn Frey), I was a hot mess.

But just as important, the day before, a good friend sat me down to let me know she and other people were worried about me -- seriously worried. I had been snippy and snarly, more so than my usual self. They were worried that all the tumult of 2015 had caught up to me at last -- my own surgery and unexpected delays in full recovery, my brother's emergency surgery and subsequent hospitalizations, my mom's continuing decline, job changes and stresses. She suggested I speak with my doctor and I made plans to do so on the next appointment (the following week).

And I spent time trying to figure out where it all went so crazy wrong.........

I still don't know exactly. I knew then and still know where one key turning point was, but it was already long past those expected trigger places and events. Instead, it was years and years in the making. Years of making do and years of putting off. Years of being strong and going on an empty tank. Years of saving others before I put an oxygen mask on myself.

But the time had come. No more running on empty. I spoke to my doctor and she absolutely agreed that I needed chemical intervention. We started a medical regimen for assistance. And after a year I can honestly say that I do not care at all if I have to take this pill for the rest of my life, as long as I never have to feel the way I did from October 2015 through January 2016.

I planned to not say much about my story. I'm not one to provide ammo to my enemies either. But then I learned that my mom had generalized anxiety disorder -- as did I. My mother absolutely refused to acknowledge any shortcomings, especially mental health issues. That happened to others, not her and certainly not her children (ahem, both of us).

And after she passed, I became more determined not to be silent. I no longer cared what anyone thought. Silence kills. Silence creates shame. My mother truly suffered in silence because she was too concerned with what others would think. I no longer cared. I would not allow others' opinions to have one iota of effect on my healthcare. I would not live in shame and embarrassment over a chemical imbalance.

I do not have a character flaw.
I do not have a weakness in my positivity.
I most certainly do not have a defect in my spirituality.
I have an imbalance in my brain chemistry. It is an illness, just as hypertension or diabetes or gout are illnesses.

My illness affects my brain and my thought processes. My illness sometimes affects my ability to relate well.

My introverted nature and my disease are not mutual by-products of each other.

Yes, my anxiety disorder feeds my depressive episodes at times. At times, the depression feeds the anxieties. It's a horrible cycle and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

But I have help. I have medication. I have good friends. I have awesome music. I have creative outlets (music, jewelry making, writing, photography and others).

And I have hope. When all else has become uncertain, I still have hope.