Archives for category: Life Lessons

Coping with the loss of my dad is probably the biggest Lady Lesson I’ve learned over the past two and a half years. I wrote this story a few months ago when I was having a particularly rough “I miss my daddy” day. It’s lived in my journal since then, glanced over maybe once of twice. Earlier this week, I met a lovely woman who recently lost her father and decided to share it with her.

I want to share it with you.

Thank you for reading.

-Jadey Lady

The Traveler 

By Jade Waters-Burch, Age 25

The Traveler walked every day, headed toward a future certain and clear. All of her life, she has taken this road. Step by step she moved toward her destiny, her companion by her side. She was certain. She was sure. And so she walked.

One day, her companion was taken from her, in an instant, without warning. She was alone, without a plan, without the comfort of his presence. She searched and searched for her companion, desperate for his wisdom, his consolation, his assurance that everything is alright, that nothing had changed.

Her search was in vain. He wasn’t coming back. He was gone. The Traveler wept for his absence. She wept and wept her sea of tears. She wept and wept until she fell asleep, unaware of where she was or what she was doing.

She woke after an eternity to find herself at the bottom of the sea she created. Who knows how long she’d been down there, numbed by her despair. All that was certain was she needed to get out. She couldn’t breathe.

The sea was so dark and suffocating. She didn’t know which way was up. She swam and swam, yet the darkness didn’t fade. How she longed for her companion, her all knowing companion. This never would have happened before he disappeared. What should she do?

Engulfed in darkness, exhausted and sad, the Traveler gave up hope. She stopped swimming and started sinking back to the bottom of the sea. She braced herself for the dark, the cold, the inability to breathe. With one final kick she let go and fell behind.

Just as she did something caught her eye. Light! It was light. Bright, inviting and growing larger! She felt a burst of hope and began to swim towards it, faster and faster! Finally she reached toward the light and felt a breeze. Air! The surface! She hurled herself forward with one final kick and inhaled the most invigorating air she had ever breathed. She was alive again. The chill in her bones began to dissipate as she turned towards the bright light that guided her to safety.

The brightness, with its rays of light and warmth falling on the Traveler, was the Sun. The Sun she had known all of her life. And yet, it was different this day. Today it was wise, comforting. It let her know everything was alright. That nothing had changed.

The Sun was her companion.

He didn’t speak, he didn’t reach out to her, but he did shine light on the shore, which was not far from the Traveler.

Safely on land, the Traveler looked to the sea she called home. It was not large at all, but it was dark and she knew all too well that it was deep. So long as she had her companion, she stayed away from the sea. She didn’t know where to go, but she knew to stay away from there.

The land was barren. Nothing in sight for miles. Where to go? Where is her path? The Traveler grew frustrated as she learned of her companion’s limited accessibility. He couldn’t talk, so she had to make decisions on her own. Sometimes he’d disappear behind the clouds, plunging her into darkness, save for his gift of twinkling stars. In those cold dark moments, she pondered going back to the sea. What’s the point of leaving if my companion leaves me in this new darkness? And every time she turned back, the sun began to rise, bringing its bright warmth upon her.

The Traveler learned that her companion Sun always came back. He always came running when she needed him most. And though he couldn’t hold her or speak, she knew he would always be there for her, day after day until it was her turn to leave. She accepted his new form and cherished every second with him.

One night as she was sleeping, her companion came to her in a dream. He appeared in his true form, familiar and inviting. He said to her “I’m sorry I left you. I didn’t want to. I can’t be there for you the way you want me to, but I will always be here for you the best way I can. I am proud of you. I love you.”

“I will always be here,” he said.

The Traveler ran to him, threw her arms around him and held on as tightly as she could.

“I love you,” she said.

The next morning, the Traveler awoke with a new sense of purpose and direction. She walked confidently, uncertain of exactly where she was headed, but certain she was protected. Her journey began again.

Along the way, she met other travelers. Sometimes they shared their journeys, sometimes they shared companions, sometimes they became each other’s companions. The Traveler learned that there was no certain path, no final destination. Just a journey away from the sea. A journey full of other travelers and companions, walking and walking one day at a time.

As she reached the end of her journey, the Traveler reflected on all the companions she had made. Some were still with her, some had left, but all had made a difference in her along the way. She found her way back to the sea and thought about how far she had come. She smiled and dove in. The sea felt different this day. It was warm and bright. She looked up to her companion Sun and saw his face. “I can’t wait to see you,” he smiled.

The Traveler swam and swam and with one final kick, became the bright light. And from that moment forward she shined down on all of the Travelers still on their journeys.

The End.

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I’ve been away for a few days.  I’ve been thrust into the Maid of Honor spotlight since returning home for my sister’s wedding.  I’ve been going non-stop and today, the one year anniversary of my father’s passing, is the first time I’ve been able to really slow down.

Coming home has been an experience.  Coming home at this time of year has been an experience.  When I got on the plane I had high expectations for a relaxing vacation where I could clear my head and recharge my batteries.  I expected to come home and breathe a sigh of relief.  That changed about three hours into my flight.  As soon as Iron Man 3 shut off, it hit me that I was going home to a place that didn’t really feel like home anymore.  The foundation was there, the same 4 walls, the same city, (most of) the same people, but that essential feeling of ‘home’ was missing.

Lady Lesson #14: Home is a Fluid Concept

I’ve been all jumbled in the head because of this feeling that something’s missing or that everything has changed.  But if I really think about it, my home has been evolving since I was a wee little thing.  Yes, daddy’s death really made it apparent that things were changing, but he’s not the reason it changed.  We’ve gotten new furniture before.  We’ve had sisters move out, move back in and move out before.  We’ve had our favorite stores and restaurants close because Wal-Mart moved in and destroyed the local economy.  Every other time, we’ve adjusted and learned to cope with the new normal.

I’m faced with the new normal every second I breathe in the smog-less Ohio air.  The pain I feel comes from resisting the new reality.  I’ve walked around my house desperately trying to find that feeling of “home”.   I’ll go through my journals from high school to recreate those memories of innocence and irresponsibility.  I’ll put off cleaning my room because, for some reason, I want to recreate the memory of when I never cleaned my room. I’ll sit in my dad’s basement office, covered in spiderwebs to recreate the memories of helping him design logos.

Grasping on to the past just leads to disappointment.  Reading my journals won’t send me back in time.  Leaving my room in shambles a la Jade circa 2001 won’t take away any of my responsibilities.  Sitting in that dirty office that he never even used in recent years won’t bring him back.  The key is to enjoy what exists in the now.

My new normal?  A family full of strong women who are always supportive and willing to play several rounds of ‘Head’s Up!’ at any given moment.  (Download the app in the iTunes store.  Best 99 cents you could spend).  Nice new couches and floors.  A soon to be functioning guest room.  And a guardian angel who is with me when I need him most.

If I can just recognize and accept that home will never be what it was and that what it is now is pretty great in and of itself, I will be much happier.  My anxiety and sadness will disperse and I can breathe with ease.  Home is always changing.  It always has been and it always will be.  Find the comfort in whatever you can.  It’s there if you want it to be.

Daddy, with endless love.

-Jadey Padey

I had a lapse yesterday.  I was having a hamster wheel conversation.  You know, the kind where you talk in circles for 2 hours and never get anywhere.  It gets frustrating, feeling like you’re not being heard or that your feelings are invalid.  You want to be understood, you want validation.  Sometimes you just don’t get it.  Sometimes, you are completely misread and sometimes you are so determined to be heard that you’re closed off to the possibility that the issue lies in you.

Now, I’ve been having a really good week.  I’ve had some breakthroughs, I’ve reached new levels of acceptance, I’ve raised my level of awareness.  I’ve been happy and feeling like I’m on the right track.  I’ve been feeling really strong.  So how is it, that I found myself stressed to the point of tears as a result of a conversation with one of my favorite people in the universe?

Lady Lesson #7: Sometimes you take a few steps back

I think this is one of the most important lessons I’m learning.  Changing habits that have gotten you through 24 years of life is not an easy fix.  You may make the choice to change, but those old habits can kick in and next thing you know, you’re topping off your kiddie pool with tears.  It happens.  It’s not the end of the world!

I tend to think it is.  It’s so easy for me to fall behind and then judge myself.  Harshly.  “I should be better”, “I should know this by now”, “I’ve already learned the lesson, how could I be so stupid to get back to this place?” “I’m never going to change”.  Remember that vicious cycle I talked about?  This is it.

Image*from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now

The key is stopping those thoughts before they start.  “But they just come!” I know they do!  It’s just cruel.  But if you can sear your brain with the belief that sometimes, you take a step backwards and that’s okay, you’ll be able to climb out of that hole easier.  Yesterday, I cried.  When I got off the phone at the end of my conversation, I took a second to breathe it out.  I allowed myself to be upset.  For the first time, I opted out of getting angry with myself for crying.  I then looked at the situation.  I looked at what was said and I asked what could I learn from this, but I did not once judge my reaction.  It was okay, I was okay and I can still move forward with a clearer head.

Taking a step back while you’re learning and changing your habits is going to happen every once in a while.  The only way it’ll hurt you is if you sit there and judge yourself.  Don’t fill your head with reasons why you suck!  You’re awesome.  Forgive yourself.  Eventually, whatever habit you’re changing will become second nature and falling behind won’t even be a blip on your radar.

Like I said, this lesson is so important for me.  I’ve got such a distaste for failure I’ll beat myself up for days if I detect it within myself.  I really need to remind myself that sometimes you fall behind, and it really is okay, just so long as you use it to propel you forward.  Just keep swimming folks!

-Jadey Lady