I got to see Okkervil River preform tonight and it was everything I thought it would be and more. Will is just... amazing. You felt his vibe and energy shoot from the stage into the crowd. Soon as he walked out, I cried. Tears of joy and happiness... tears of sadness.. I felt things that I have never felt in my entire life. This overwhelming peace and gratitude.
Okkervil River and Will Sheff is something I wrote about constantly in my old blog. Losing the writing about them when I deleted was one of my more sad experiences with the loss of my blog. I wish I did not delete the blog in a rush of emotions when my father passed. I would have love to have been able to look back on them today.
So as the posts are gone and if you're not close to me, you won't know my love and history with band...so let's talk about them.
I first discovered their music through an internet friend of mine over ten years. I believe the first time I listened to them was in 2004. I was instantly addicted. I had never heard music that was so unapologetic and raw. It drew you in and forced you to open your mind.
Their music has been here for me during some of the worst times in my life. Growth, change, divorce, death... you name it... I experienced with the help of music therapy through this band.
He writes so beautifuly, honest, and open. You feel what he does. He is an amazing story teller. You can see what is going on in his head as the songs continue to play.
Here are some photos from our night.
I wanted to share the story of my journey from atheist to believer. My mind changed based because of several experiences I had with my father the last week of his life...
My father found out her had terminal Lung Cancer (extensive stage small cell with mets in both lungs, neck lymph nodes, and later found out several in his brain) in late April. In mid May we tried Chemotherapy. Our intentions were not to cure, but to shrink the cancer a bit to allow easier breathing and possibly give him some more time with us. We also could have went with hospice then and there. (The choice to not do hospice then still bothers me. But I had to let him do what he felt was best for him.)
At first things seemed well. He handled the chemo like a boss. Didn't feel too tired.. things seemed great. He was happy and confident he made the right choice. Around day 5, something drastically changed. He got huge blisters all over his legs and feet. It was a rare reaction to the chemo...
As the days passed his blisters were just getting worse and worse which made walking very difficult for him. He got transferred to a rehab center to help him learn to use his walker. Before the Chemo he was able to walk around... but after that first week, he would never be able to walk on his own again.
He was in the rehab center only about a week before we got the terrible news that he had contracted pneumonia. At this point my father had been in the hospital and rehab a combined total of 27 days. He was tired. He refused antibiotics and had me call the hospice.
We called hospice on a Tuesday am. They had everything set up in my home by Wednesday and he came home that evening.
It was really weird because at first, he was almost himself. Granted he needed help walking around, using the bathroom etc..but he had this HUGE burst of life and energy. And all he wanted to do was talk to me. About life, his childhood... my childhood. The circumstances were not the greatest... but I never felt so close to him.
I asked my father several times over this whole thing if he thought we would see each other again and each time he would say no. He told me that if it made me feel better to pray, I should do it... but it meant nothing. Sigh... I still asked. It was like in my mind, even as a non believer, if he could believe, then I knew I could... but it didn't happen.
That Saturday my dad's best friend came in from NYC. They got to spend time together and say some goodbyes. It was almost like my father was waiting for him because that is where things got bad. After my dad's friend left, my dad was in a lot of pain. He just could not get comfortable... and he hardly slept.
The following morning, Sunday he started to not know where he was. He was able to recognize the kids and I, but he thought we were on a boat and heading to an island. He kept telling us we had to be careful because the crew couldn't be trusted. Both my dad and I were on less than 1 hour sleep. It was pretty brutal.
Throughout all this he was still letting me help him walk, eat his meals, and use the bathroom. The hospice suggested a sleeping pill. He took it no problem. My bedroom was next to his... and when he finally went to sleep, so did I...
I remember it was around 12am when I felt really warm. I can not explain it... almost like someone put blankets from the dryer on me. So I sat up, and standing in the hall without his walker or help was my dad. I sprang up, yelled for my husband and literally caught my father before he could fall. My husband helped my dad to the chair and I laid on the floor bawling my eyes out. I felt so guilty for failing because I didn't hear him get up.
At this point my father no longer remembered that he had lung cancer. He didn't understand why he was so weak he could not walk. I asked the hospice nurse and the doctor on call if they thought he would come back to us and that he would remember where he was. They told me with the size of the mets on his brain and the infection, I am lucky he still knows who I am.
The hospice brought me a baby monitor. And my husband, oldest son, and I all took turns sleeping in shifts. At around 7 pm my dad was very upset. (This was Monday night). He told me he would be to the island soon, but he had to figure out the numbers first so we could be safe. I had no idea what any of this meant, but he asked for pen and paper. I gave it to him and he did what looked like some math and wrote out some numbers.
We gave him another sleeping pill, and my son fell asleep in the chair next to him. My husband and I were awake in the room next to him. We had the baby moniter, and were going to try and do sleeping in shifts.. but he (my husband) had what we believed to be a minor case of food poisoning. So I was between helping my dad and helping him as well.
I don't remember the exact time, I want to say it was roughly 2am but I head a strange sound on the moniter. Like someone going through a drawer. I called out to my son, he didnt answer. So I walked to the bedroom and as soon as I got to the doorway, I see my dad take a lighter to his oxygen tube. HUGE rush of flames as I instinctually pulled the plug to his oxygen machine. My husband ran to our son as I went to aide my dad.
Somehow he remembered a stash of cigs and where he hid his lighter. It was his bedroom and I honestly never thought to hide things. He had quit smoking 2 months ago and had been doing great at it. To this day I still blame myself.
He had some burns and the hospice told us that we should call an ambulance despite my father's wishes. When we were in the hospital, he started to forget who I was... or anything that was going on. The ER doctor told me that I could keep him there. That dealing with a dying person with dementia is hard for professional care takers emotionally and that he could not imagine what it was doing to me and my family.. I thanked him, but said I would please like to take my dad home... and a few hours later, I did.
All afternoon I sat with him. He randomly yelled... cursed. Talked more about getting to the island...telling us we were lying, he was never sick. He did not even remember the fire.
He finally fell asleep and I just broke down. I prayed..... for the first time in roughly 15 years
I just kept asking god.. I said whoever is listening... I know his body is destroyed. I know it. And I know that he can not be healed. I know it's his time... I know you have to take him.. But PLEASE...not like this. Please god... whoever is up there. Let his soul say goodbye to us. Please. Let us have him back. Please give us our goodbyes. Please god. I never ask you anything. Please give me this. Even if just a day...
This was Tuesday night.... I fell asleep in bed next to him. First time sleeping since Saturday really... I heard a voice..
"Maggie is Robbie ok.."
(Robbie is my son)
I thought it was my husband, and I started to reply and then the voice said..
"I don't know why I tried to smoke that last cigarate, I am sorry. Please tell me I didn't hurt Robbie..."
It was my dad!!!!
I jumped up and said Robbie is fine! We are all fine. Do you know where you are? He looked at me confused and said I am at home?
He remembered everything! The cancer, the fire, being on hospice etc. He did not remember telling me he was on a boat, or that he was going to an island. And when I showed him the paper with the numbers, he had no idea what they meant.
The next day we even had a laugh over the whole thing. It was incredible. Like his mind never left us. We had an amazing day.. but that evening I started to notice he was getting weaker. He didn't want to eat, and told the nurse he did not want to wear his oxygen mask.
I told my husband... I knew... I knew it was going to be soon. Early Thursday am the hospice nurse told me she didn't think he had more than a few hours left. I put some music on for him. And he told us he loved us all. He told my husband to watch over his daughters, and protect his grandkids. He told Robbie he had many regrets, and there was still so much he wanted to tell me. We told him we loved him dearly and I know he loved me. And that we would all be ok.
Just before 11am he took his last breath in my arms. And I will never forget when they took his body from my home, soon as he was in the car it poured. Pouring rain and thunder.
Next 3 days were a blur.. I didn't leave my bedroom. The hospice came to get everything quickly. I asked not to watch. When I finally did go back down stairs, the first thing I saw was the paper with the numbers on it....and that is where it hit me...
I felt the warm again. Just like the night I woke up and stopped my dad from falling...
Then I thought about how tired I was the night of the fire. But my husband was ill... so we were both awake...
Then I remembered the prayer. My prayers were answered. NO ONE can tell me otherwise. I was told he wouldn't remember me again, but he remembered everything. All of us. He got to say goodbye... and so did we.
I still have no idea if the numbers actually meant anything, but I took pictures to remember. I also often wonder if the island was were his soul was going and the "crew" who was hostile to him were his fears of death.... I hope some day to understand.
But because of this, I try to look for signs everywhere. I have faith that there is a life after this one and that spirits are all around us. Finally working up the courage to write this whole story up is my Father's day gift to my dad. It has taken me two years to do this, but I feel much better after telling it.
This time of year is always very hard for me. My grief is in constant waves. But June will always be the hardest. As memories pop up here on facebook, or people comment old posts (with the purest of intentions)... I have to remind myself that thinking about what I could or could not have done differently.... living in constant regret is only killing my soul slowly. It's not what my father would have wanted for his daughter. It isn't what I want for myself.
I am working on redefining what June means to *me*. It will always be sad... but maybe it doesn't have to be so difficult.
I sent a love and light package to my dear friend back home in Carlisle. Her and I both lost a loved one on the same day and I wanted to help her get through it even though I couldn't be there in person. Such a terrible thing to have in common with someone, but it created an amazing bond.
I talked my best friend into doing my baba Ram Dass's Summer Solstice Meditation Renewal. He has an open mind... but is probably like lol what am I getting myself into!
Finding hope.... looking forward to little things. It's what gets me by.
I put together my first Crystal Grid. I love it so much. I plan on later explaining just what a crystal grid is, what it's used for and why all crystal lovers should add this to their meditation. Also, I pulled these two cards.
Your life is the inspiration. Your soul is the artist. Your external world is the canvas. Better get to creating.
Remember Siddhartha, his journey, and the amount of time he spent in the garden of pleasure with a woman who had much to teach? She always had a new thing to teach--she will always have a new thing to teach--always.
Can anyone imagine that a woman as full and seductive as that is not going to teach something?
Is not going to continue to teach something?
"Our whole spiritual transformation brings us to the point where we realize that in our own being, we are enough." - Ram Dass
Self-care is so much deeper than bubble baths and manicures. It's spiritual, it's mental. Sure those things help, but getting deep into your core... deep inside your soul is where your care needs to begin.
As hinted in my other post, I have started the book "Be Here Now" by the amazing man of love and light himself Baba Ram Dass
As I learn more about myself and my longing for a deeper connection into my soul and spirit, the teachings of Ram Dass just called to me. Taking care of my heart, mind, and soul are top priority in my self-care routine.
This week I picked up some lavender essential oil to help with sleep. I also got some raw amethyst crystals for anxiety.
We have lost part of ourselves previously and we will again someday. Ultimately, we are spiritual beings in physical bodies on Earth. We are here to learn. It’s okay to lose ourselves more than once. Because when we find ourselves again, life is going to be so amazing. It’s going to be worth it living through it as you have known what it’s like to be lost. They always say, “It’s better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all.” I hope that this message reminds you of why you’re still living and contributing to the positivity of humanity today.
Let's start off with.. what IS a vision board? Make-a-vision-board's website says; A vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. Literally, a vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.
A lot of times we see these for long term goals that to take place over the course of years, maybe even a lifetime. For example, your board might be that you would like to become a millionaire. So you would find imagery online or in magazines related to that goal. Whatever is important to you.
For my long term vision board, I am still working the kinks out. I want something a bit more solid once I am sure about my direction. But I still wanted a fun way to pull together some goals and ideas. So I decided to give a digital board a shot. It's really easy and you can do it too.
So for my short term goals, and going digital I used pintrest.com to find pictures of the things I wanted to set for my goals. I had to decide on a really good time frame. For me, my goals are for six months. This means these are the things I want to make happen over the next six months.
You really have to envision yourself not only working on, but living your best life. I say that phrase a lot. Living YOUR best life. This should be based on your own goals. Your own hopes and dreams. YOUR standards. So when making your board, keep that in mind. This is for you, not other people. You don't even have to post your board if you do not want to. Just work on your goals, the things in life that make you happy.
You may not be sure what you would even want to put on yours, so let me dig a little deeper into for you;
-You can share things you want to do! Get a new job, climb a mountain! Whatever pops in your head.
-Places you want to go. You want to travel to Italy? Put it on your board.
-Who you want to be. Maybe your goal is to be a kinder person, or be a better mom.
-Things you want to learn. Maybe a new language. Or how to places you would like to go.
Let's talk about my board's goals. Again, for me, it's 6 month shorter term goals. And they are pretty personal. Yours maybe be nothing like this. But here are mine;
- Continue to declutter and practice minimalism.
- Learn more about different species of houseplants and find the most sustainable for my family's lifestyle.
-Submit some of my work to an art show event.
-Give myself some more self care.
-Read actual books I can hold and turn the pages.
-Plan a beach vacation to a beach I have never been to and GO!
-Work on my yoga posing goals.
-Polish my raw crystals, give them life.
-Meditate more when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
-Study the teachings of Ram Dass, my guru.
I really hope these ideas will be helpful to anyone looking for fun and interesting ways of goal keeping. Keep your board someplace you will see it every day. Make it your facebook profile cover, set it as your phone's background. Let it help you stay on task.
What's going on your board?
Being happy is a full time job. And it's harder for some then others. Please don’t take mine or anyone’s blog (highlight) reel as a sign that someone’s got it all pulled together well. Pulling it together is an up and down job. It ALWAYS will be. One day is never the same as the next. You will have hardship, you will have ease, you will have joy and you will have grief and to escape any of these extremities in the world map of human emotion is to escape a living breathing life. If you’re not feeling all these emotions in your life, you are not alive.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Social media is not real life, it is not the benchmark by which to compare yourself, it is not the barometer by which to measure your achievements against those of others. Everything real is outside of this screen you hold in your hands. Release and go hold someone’s real hand.
ॐ ⏀ ♡ ↟↟↟
I get a little tired of people who assume that just because you have kids, you are automatically completely uncool, and that all your time is spent wiping babies from head to toe, giving spit baths, criticizing their every move, volunteering for PTA, blogging in your spare time, clipping coupons before crock potting a pot roast, ironing the clothes, bleaching the whites, mopping the floors, harvesting your eggs, sewing for your etsy shop, scrapbooking the little things, taking pictures of everything they do, saving for college, reading Dr. Suess, socializing at the bus stop, sweeping the floor, laughing over coffee with your jogging stroller, wearing your birkenstocks and listening to Baby Einstein.
Just because I DO THESE THINGS OCCASIONALLY.
Does not mean for one second that sometimes I don’t just want to be a kick ass girl with streaks in her hair, a ring in her nose, a tattoo on her arm, concert tickets in her purse, vodka in her fridge, a leather mini-skirt in her closet, her best single friends and a standing reservation for Las Vegas once a year with a don’t ask don’t tell policy, and the desire to just once be seen as more than the mother of 5 kids. Sometimes I just want to be seen as a “Maggie”. A “Maggie” with an extremely adorable set of children… (I joke, but sometimes it's hard to over come labels. )
Married + 5 Children
Born in New York
Living in Chicago Land
Italian + Mexican American household
Published Photographer + Artist
Lung Cancer Activist + Advocate
Social Media Enthusiast
Openly in Grief Therapy
Believes in Freedom Of Religion
Studied Animal Science
Sand Cloud Ambassador
Backpacking + Hiking
Crystals + Meditation + Yoga
Writing + Scrapbooking + Blogging
Foodie + Cooking + Banking
Tropical Fish Keeping
Coffee + Coffee Shops
Travel + Road trips
Okkervil River + Good indie bands