Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November 24: It's good to have "a guy"...


We had a pipe spring a leak under the sink in Ang's vanity yesterday and really SOAK the carpet upstairs yesterday.  After hours of literally blow-drying the sub-flooring and carpet, I got the carpet under control.  I had to shut off the water the the condo to stop the leak in the meantime which meant no showers and each toilet had 1 flush left in it... so make it count! LOL.  This morning, I called my good friend Grant to ask him how to get at the perpetrating pipe, and he eventually recommended "his guy" to me.  Gene, the plumber, called me a few minutes later and we agreed on a time for him to come.  He came, he saw, he fixed the pipe.  Love having "a guy!"  Thanks, Grant!

Met with an old friend for coffee this morning, and Ang and I met another good friend for lunch.  I had two interesting coaching calls today as well.  The first call was my client's last call of the year.  The second was my new client's first call with me!  I love coaching.  It is so humbling that people allow me to get in "under the hood" to help optimize their engine, so to speak.  My mantra is that I see you bigger and better than you see yourself, and I have the power and passion to get you in touch with that image.  I don't mess around either; I call people on their sh*t when no one else will (I know - that sounds so unlike me - HA!).  We need people in our lives to call us on the things we are blind to, otherwise we'll keep repeating the same behaviors that keep us stuck with results we don't want.  Since we are the starring role of our own lives, it is impossible to see ourselves outside of ourselves the way another can.  No matter what, we are always looking at ourselves through our own experience, so we never see exactly what others see.  We can build our ability for self reflection and awareness, but if we really want to break through areas of life that aren't working as well as we'd like, it happens A LOT QUICKER in communication with another!  I am so grateful people trust me to be "the other."

In other news...

We went to dinner tonight at a restaurant that we used to go to with Bella.  Ali asked mommy if we used to go there with Bella and she said yes.  Ali asked where did she used to sit?  Mommy explained she used to sit in a highchair at the end of the table.

I have no memory of that right now.

That was really sad.  I couldn't remember.  Memory is such a gift, since it is the last thread of connection.  If we didn't have memory, pictures and video would be weird because we would wonder who that stranger was with us!  I know, that sounds silly, but really, for me it is the last tether.  Plus, when the brain recalls a vivid memory, the same part of the brain activates as when the experience first happened.  That is fascinating, because to the brain, there is no difference between the experience and the memory of the experience.  That's why it is easy to start feeling the same physical and emotional energy in your body when you vividly recall a past event.

So, I was bummed I couldn't recall that experience.  I wanted to feel Bella through my memory, but my memory failed me, and I couldn't feel the connection in the moment.  I know that I am operating on 1/2 to 1/4 the cognitive capability right now.  In addition, because the grief we are experiencing is so complex, (I feel like it borders on PTSD... spend 99 days in the ICU only to lose your baby girl and tell me you don't experience a little PTSD), I think my brain is 3/4 shut down in order to simply survive.  If it opened itself fully to the brutal pain of the experience, I think it would crash.  Heck, at least once a day, it feels like my brain is literally going to pop.  Angelique gets headaches every night, and we sleep like the dead.

Lastly, there were a couple of comments last night that I need to speak to.  Of course I'd prefer to see my kids grow up.  I think the pitfall is expecting to see them grow up.  Expectation is just resentment waiting to happen.  After all, what if it doesn't happen?  I began grieving the loss of all those 'normal' life experiences with Bella within days of her birth.  I remember walking through IKEA shortly after she was born, and an 18 year old girl was shopping with her parents for stuff for her dorm.  WHACK.  It hit me right then and there that it was likely that I wouldn't get to have that experience with Bella.  I didn't go looking for it, it just hit me like a ton of bricks.  I have been grieving the loss of those experiences the whole way, because I don't think anyone plans on losing their kids.  It just happens to some of us, and not to others.  Like I said, maybe it's a good problem to have that no one is used to infant mortality anymore, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen every day of every week of every year.  My point is to resist that very natural part of nature leads to unnecessary suffering.  The myth of permanence is all-pervasive in our western culture, but not everywhere.  To the degree that we can be committed - but not attached - to anything we hold important... this to me is mastery and the path to minimal suffering.  Again, pain is a signal, but suffering is the story WE MAKE UP about the signal.  We collapse the two every day.  Heck, it's easy to do!  We choose the meaning of every signal or event we face; we are meaning making machines.  So if this is the case, I do my best to not choose to suffer.

If happiness is a choice (meaning free from circumstances), so is suffering.  Most of us live by the rules that happiness and suffering are the result of a set of outside events.  In that model we decide, based on 'reasons', to be happy or to suffer.

What if, just what if, happiness and suffering are truly independent?  Ever met someone who seems happy no matter what they are going through in life?  I have.  Ever met someone who can complain on a dime no matter what they are going through in life?  I have.  This makes me question the validity of the "happiness/suffering is based on circumstances" model, and as a student of philosophy, this is how we come upon new thought, by deconstructing old thought.

Bottom line?  Suffering doesn't contribute anything to me healing or operating in the moment.  It just makes things worse for me.  The practice of choosing happiness causes happiness.  It's just that, however, a practice.  Sometimes I do it well, sometimes I don't.  

It's like faith.  Sometimes I can turn things over to God easily, and sometimes I just wrestle for control of the wheel, as if I am in control at all.  To me, faith is a choice as well.  It is not based on circumstances.  If God is all powerful enough to have created the universe and everything in it, my guess is that he understands things that are far beyond my capacity to understand.  Faith for me is just trusting that God understands more than I can possibly, AND since he is all loving, what occurs like tragedy or injustice has a deeper meaning or opportunity inside it than we can see on the surface.  Inside of this model, things don't have to go the way I want or expect or even hope they should for me to have faith.  I can choose faith in the face of any event, including the death of my child, because my faith is not dependent upon events or circumstances.  If God is willing to give me unconditional love, I'm willing to give him unconditional faith.  Actually, I don't even know if he actually does love unconditionally, who knows?  I can still choose faith no matter what, and again, the bottom line is that in choosing that faith, it helps me operate - to get out of bed every morning, and to turn off my brain at night.  It inspires me to play huge games like raising a million dollars to fins a cure for EB.  To me, faith is a valuable asset that brings out the best in me.

Who or what do you truly choose in your life regardless of circumsatnces?

God night.


  1. First of all I have to say how much I LOVE the picture of Bella tonight!!! Absolutely awesome!! Makes me cry...

    Thank you for your beautiful words tonight. You really made me think...and that is awesome! I'm sorry if anything I said on yesterdays post was upsetting. It's just that when you talk I feel like we are having a conversation and I just said what came to my mind. In NO WAY was I trying to be rude. You just get me thinking...

    I am going to work on my state of mind from now to be happy or sad etc. I do know people who ALWAYS seem so happy regardless of what is going on in their life and I want to be like that. By no means am I sad all of the time but, I'm not happy all of the time and I can let it show. I'm making a conscious decision to exude happiness all of the time. It'll be interesting to see how it affects the people around me like my husband and children. I'm sure it will have a positive affect!! Thanks for the challenge. I'll let you know how its working.

    Lots of Love,
    Amber, Craig, Malorie(2 1/2), and Liam(10 mos.)
    The McLaughlin Family
    Moreno Valley, CA

  2. What an incredibly beautiful picture.

  3. That moment that you have captured in that pic is one of the most beautiful memories we ever get to treasure, the first moments with our newborn child. No one knows what life will bring to the newborn child but there and then you only live in the moment creating the most unique bond. At least, that is how I feel (again of course not trying to tell YOU what YOU feel). Thanks for sharing a picture that brings back the most beautiful feelings in life for me.

    Maybe you will loose some of the memories of Bella due to time but what you never will loose are your feelings for her, how she made you feel when she was still around, what she means to you. And there will always be memories that stand out, that you will always carry with you. It might not be obvious why those particular memories stick with you but they will be beautiful treasures. That's at least how it works for me when I think back about loved ones that have passed away (even though no one of them have been close to me the way my children are).

    Lots of thoughts and care
    Alexandra in Australia

  4. Happy Thanksgiving, Tim, Ang, and Ali,

    I am so thankful for you all and truly thankful for Bella and the life lessons she taught me while she graced our earthly plane. May God continue to bless you and all your family and friends!!

    Love you,

  5. Happy Thanksgiving!! I realize this will be a sad day without Bella, but oh the blessings that sweet baby brought to all of us who "met" her by this blog. Prayers & sweet thoughts are sent to you from NC

  6. Happy Thanksgiving! What an incredibly beautiful picture. This one really makes me cry.


  7. Love the picture of mommy and Bella, LOVE.IT!

    St. Peter, MN

  8. Dear Tim, Ang and Ali: Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you guys have a wonderful day.
    Always thinking of your wonderful family and hoping each day gets a little bit better.
    Love the pictures, as always!!!
    Love and Peace. Love Leah's Nana

  9. Happy Thanksgiving...I give thanks for getting to know "Mary's little brother" and his beautiful family! I am a day late on the aha moment...but today we are having "EB" eggs and I have never seen them before or heard of them until you told your EB egg story...<3 Praying for you all today!! Donna in NJ

  10. Hello-

    I was doing some thinking about memories and loved ones that have passed on. The mind is an amazing thing. One day you may not remember something, but then all of a sudden a smell, a picture or a feeling will put you right back in that moment. Our feelings for our loved ones never go away. I was dating my now husband for about six months when his Dad passed away. It was a difficult time as I am sure you are aware of. However, over the years, the good memories seem to overtake the sad ones most of the time. I think it is okay not to remember every specific moment. You and Ang will most likely continue to remember different things, and over time it will hopefully become a time to share those happy memories without the sadness you carry now.

    My family and I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for giving and sharing so much of yourself everyday.

    God bless.

    Sarah and family
    Chino Hills, Ca

  11. Love the picture of Bella and Mommy! It was even more meaningful having read the book!

    Also love that you all have "a GUY", we too have a guy and he is great for all those plubming needs.


  12. That picture of Bella and Ang is one of my favorites of Bella yet. So beautiful.

    It makes a lot of sense that PTSD symptoms would be cropping up after that hospital experience. I've had some nightmares about my own NICU experiences and Ari was only there for nine days and was overall healthy!

    It really is amazing that you can process thoughts like this and type it all out for us, operating on maybe 1/4 of your usual brain power. I'm sure we will all be totally blown away when the time comes that you are back to full brain power!! ;)

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Today, in Bella's memory, I am more grateful for my healthy child than anything else in this world.


  13. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. One of the things I am grateful for this day is your blog and the thought-provoking comments that you include. Your comments the other day about introspection reminded me that I have slipped in that regard recently. Thank you for the reminder. It was much needed.

  14. Happy Thanksgiving, Rinngold family!!! I'm praying for you on this special day of giving thanks. I loved the video that Tim posted on his Facebook...too cute! I'm thankful you captured it as well!

    Tim, you are such a talented writer! Your writings are making me become a better person. I'm working on chosing to be happy...this is a tough one for me, because sometimes its just easier for me to be, well...grouchy! Thanks for challenging me in my day to day life.

    Ali is such a beautiful little girl. I love the picture at the top of the post!

    The picture of Bella and Ang is priceless! This captures one of life's most precious moments and I'm sure you will treasure it forever.

    As always, thanks for sharing your family with the world!

    Megan from WV

  15. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. You're right, many people expect their children to grow up. It's when you meet someone like Bella, or come close to losing your child that you realize different. Our children are a gift. They can be taken away at any time. I worried thru childhood diseases, them learning how to drive, dating, and then watching my child go off to war, twice. I was lucky. My child came home, but I grieve for the ones that didn't. I 've forgotten the faces of some of those and it makes me sad. I will always have the memories. So will you.
    Love and prayers

  16. On this day that thanks is given...I have so much to be thankful for. More than I could have ever imagined. I am so thankful for Bella and what she has brought into my world and what she has taught me. I am thankful that I came across your blog and have gotten to know you and your family. I am thankful that you are still here writing...still teaching...still opening my eyes. I find that even what some would see as negatives...this year I find reasons to be thankful. Thank you Bella for that.

    Beautiful picture as always. That is a moment that every parent cherishes...being able to finally meet their child and hold them. Thank you for sharing.

    I love my "guy"...we need one with this house. A guy that does that does that does brick that does this and that. I love those guys. I am glad you have one too. There are just "those times" when you end up needing "a guy".

    Sending my love to all and sweet kisses to Ali.

    Denise WI

  17. Really enjoying your photos of Bella! Just spent some time with a very unhappy person who is hell bent on not changing that status. Honestly. I just don't understand it.
    Tim and Ang - I'm thankful to have "met" you through Bella's journey. Blessings on both of you over the holiday season.
    Kim from CA