Ashes #TellYourStory


2018 has been quite the whirlwind of a year, and it’s only June.

The image of ashes keeps coming to mind. That image of something being in existence and then burned by fire until all that is left is ashes. But even in the midst of the ashes there’s always the possibility of something beautiful growing through.

I try to be a very open and transparent person. I want to share my struggles, my successes, my failures, my entire journey.  I want to provide a window through which others who may be feeling the same type of things don’t feel as alone. It’s something that has always been on my heart.

Sharing doesn’t always come easy to me though. I am a very guarded person and have only let a select few into the deepest parts of who I am. But in learning how to open more and more I’ve been able to see the true freedom in sharing.

I haven’t blogged much recently because I haven’t been able to find the words.  This post alone I’ve written and come back to over 23 times as I hit wall after wall and was unable to find the words.

This year has been filled with the highs of two book releases, life in a new home, and family and friends who supported in time of need. It hasn’t been a year that I will look back on as one where all was lost.

But 2018 has also been filled with bitter disappointment, a school bus wreck that I was on with 40 kids and two fellow teachers, the dissolution of a business partner, a fellow educator stealing my work, severe and unexpected back issues, the emotional loss of my father in law, our entire office at school being flooded, and the list goes on.  But hardest of all….

On March 13, 2018 I unexpectedly lost my mother.  I grew up a “mama’s boy” and in a single parent home for most of my life.  My mother went back to college when I was in high school and cleaned houses to make ends-meet.  She was my hero, my foundation, my safety net. She was also my biggest cheerleader (along with my grandmother who passed away a few years ago).  After her passing, I spoke about her story HERE.

The last few months have shaken me to my core.  I’ve never had to lose any family unexpectedly, and losing a parent unexpectedly has almost broken me.  Over the past few months I’ve worked my way through depression, anger, frustration, sadness, and so many more emotions. I had people rally around me in the shock of the moment and surround me with love. And I’ve watched others walk away because my pain has become, at times, all too consuming.

It’s funny how you never really anticipate the way grief will hit you. The quiet moments when you least expect it. The little memories that slip into the most mundane moments.

In so many areas of my life, I am the rock. I hold it together.  And never having to experience grief like this before, I still find myself processing my emotions.

From having to be the one to decide to remove life support, to cleaning out her classroom, to going through her things and organizing the sell of her estate items and home, to getting rid of her car, and so much more, it has seemed that every day is another trudge through reminders that she’s no longer here.

I don’t share this to garner any sympathy. Everyone goes through trials and struggles in their lives, and I don’t for a second believe that mine are any greater than anyone else’s.  I also know I have much to be grateful and thankful for.

I share this to be real, To be open. To be honest.

I’m a master at putting on a brave face. Smiling through the heartache. And it’s not that I avoid the emotions. My car knows well the tears I’ve shed driving to and from work.

This year has felt like so much of what I’ve built of my life has burnt to the ground.  My wife, my family, and my friends have given me strength, and with their love and support, the ashes have not completely blown away. Those burnt embers have remained, giving me the chance to process and to heal. And though I am learning how to handle my grief, I am by no means at a place of healing…yet.

And as I enter the time of year where I spend quite a bit of time traveling and speaking, I’m reminded of how important it is to remain vulnerable in front of others, to openly share my mother’s story, even through tears. To continue to tear down these false images we so often build up of those we respect. To show that hurt and pain and loss are things we all face and that we all handle differently.

From these ashes, I know something beautiful will grow. For even when a forest is devastated by fire, the seedling still finds a way to push through and begin the growth all over again.

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