I’ve spent a lot of time anticipating and worrying about whether or not all the effort of birthing Time Snap Shop will be worth it in the end. I’m writing this because in 2017 I want (need) to embrace and become comfortable. It’s my first time choosing a word the for a year. Thanks, Elise Joy! EMBRACE. That’s it folks, I am going to embrace 2017 as best I can in all aspects. Before I do that, I will share with you something that has long been sitting on my heart. Last night after being inspired by the hit tv show “This is Us,” I decided the only thing I know how to do is be authentic and speak from what my heart is telling me. My original intention was to write a blog about my product development experience and have that be the sole focus. Well, that isn’t happening right now. It may in the future but not today….
2016 has been a year of change and growth. January started when I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with my second child, my first child had minor surgery, and I found my now manufacturing company. Then I birthed my second child, quit a field I loved and had worked in for 12 years, becoming a stay at home of one (then quickly, two). I also finished creating my product, did all the things for this business (patent, trademark, S-Corp, etc.), launched said business, finally told my all my family about my product/business after working on it in secrecy for a year, told everyone I know on the internet about TimeSnapShop and launched it, then moved my 65 year young mother into assisted living, sold her home, moved her stuff and handled all that goes with that. Those were just the big things, along with the day-to-day living and trying to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
I’ve been struggling to figure out where to start this whole blog thing. I’m not a writer, I have no business background. But what I do have experience in is working with the sick and dying. For the past 12 years, I’ve supported and watched people die on a daily basis. I’ve known a lot of special people, special families and special caretakers. I had zero plans of creating a product or a blog. I did wish to become a stay-at-home mom someday but since practicing social work and finding my passion for the dying, I figured I would always practice social work because I enjoyed it and it was meaningful. I’m struggling with the way I will make a greater purpose behind my business. They say social workers are problem solvers and I am realizing that this is deeply ingrained in me. What problem can I solve next?!
I’ve been fearful if I come out with the heavy death and dying perspective on my blog I’d probably not be that successful at blogging. I was told by a few people who blog that it might be too heavy and people want to read uplifting stories. Who wants to read or follow something that is sad? While my first blog post told the story of product development and made it look and sound all pretty. That really isn’t life. Life isn’t picture perfect and I’m for sure not one to pretend it is – witnessing all I have in life. I can’t authentically tell the Time Snap story without sharing the real stuff in my brain that resonates with me daily.
The real stuff is that I want people to know is that this isn’t all about a photo prop. This is about the fact that I’ve watched people’s lives change in moments when they have received the news that their time is limited. Working with all cancers, specifically, Brain Cancer (Glioblastomas) has provided me a perspective that I can’t put into words right now and do it justice. This perspective and everyone I have met has shaped my life and I’m privileged I was someone they let support them at such a critical time in their lives. I am also beyond grateful for all the folks in this world who continue to do this work with the dying. You are special people and I miss doing this work with you. We spend so much effort caring for the young but little I feel is spent talking about how we care for the dying and how those caring for the dying are doing.
From 22 to 34 years old I somehow made sense/coped with caring for the dying on a daily basis. Some of my most favorite people I know are the healthcare professionals that do this on a daily basis. Now that I am away from it I realize how hard it is and was. I worry about them and all that they carry. My old doctor always said that some day we should write a book about what we have witnessed. Perhaps I am missing social work and doing the work that gave such meaning to my life, but right now I am doing the work of caring for my two favorite little people. It’s “lighter” but it’s not easy.
My friends and people I have met have always called me an “old soul.” As a child, I was that kid who was at family gatherings with my 13 cousins/siblings and I was the one sitting next to my blind great grandmother telling her that her mashed potatoes were at 6:00, her brisket was at 9:00 and her bread was at noon. I’ve always loved old people. When I decided to go into social work I knew I wanted to help people. I knew I wanted to work with children. I never imagined that I’d spend the next 12 years focusing on end-of-life care. It’s been a year since I have practiced and the more time I spend away from the dying the more I feel like I reflect on the experiences and the things that I have learned. I have so much stuff and so many special stories about people who I had the privilege of supporting through the most difficult thing in life. Dying. In our culture, we live in a world where we don’t talk about death. I’m crying as my husband is continuing to ask me why I’m crying. I’m crying and I’m laughing right now on the couch because my husband is watching videos of our Christmas with our kids, crying about what I am writing in this blog, but laughing. That’s kind of my life. I’m so grateful for what I have but I’m crying thinking about how fragile life is. It’s something I’ve struggled to make sense of having witnessed so much death but been blessed with so much. It’s like I have this weight on me that is telling me – “Mary, some day you are going to die, you know this. Just be cool and enjoy.” In our culture, we worry, we anticipate and we look forward to events but what are we doing in these daily moments that truly matter the most. The everyday moments.
My hope is that people will use their Time Snap as a cute, quick and easy way to capture life’s important moments so they can get back to the living. It’s our families, it’s our loved ones, it’s those things that are most important to us that bring us joy and we couldn’t live without. I have zero clue what this blog is or will become. I wanted to write about product development and that journey but that is not what my heart is allowing. I’m sure those will come in posts to come but right now I wanted to share that it’s the meaning behind these moments that we are present in and that we easily can capture so we can get back to the living. Perhaps this will be a reminder, myself included, that life is short. Don’t sweat the small stuff and truly, each day is a real gift. One of the first patients who had a significant impact on my life wrote this on her blog. I printed it out and carried it with me through all my jobs. I taped it to my computer and read it daily as a reminder. She was a mother and she died from a blood cancer. So much emotional suffering and she had a heart of gold. She loved her children. Now that I am a mother I see the entire world differently. The love we have for our children is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I just hope I did all those families and mothers justice by supporting them because I truly didn’t understand until I experienced the love myself.
Here is to 2017, here is to doing things we never thought we imagined and here is to embracing all of life, being in the moment. Less anticipating and more being present in the moment.
I’ll leave you with what that mom wrote on her blog: “I hope for everyone here that reads this, to enjoy each day with their loved ones. That time is short.”
Full of Grace,
To my one and only Mary !
Mary, how wonderful and from the heart. You continue to make me proud to call you my daughter. Love always, Dad
You have always been a beacon of light in the darkness.
I am so blown away by your heart, depth and authenticity, Mary. What a privilege it is to be related to you. I have a dear friend with brain cancer and Grama Rose who is 92 and the loss of hope seems to be the most crushing to them. But I’m healthy and it’s hard for them to hear me if I say, “the only peace is loving in this moment.” because they are scared and in pain. So I sit and be with them…it’s all I can think to do. Keep capturing those precious moments Mary…they are so beautiful!
Great post and great message!! I’m proud of you, Mary! Thanks for being so authentic and real. We need more of this in life : )