Life Perserver

So I have spent the last 10 days TRYING to blog. When I blog, if I have to think too hard about how to put something I try for a little bit longer but then I toss the idea.

Today I had a conversation with a good friend of mine and BAM…an idea that applies to my life lately was born and it is spilling out of my head.  Let’s hope I can catch it all.

So…the life preserver.  We know it as a personal flotation device designed to assist a wearer in keeping afloat.  As a child you had the floaters that people put on your arms.  You could jump feet first in a pool or lake and you would float.  In a boat I believe it is required for you to have a life jacket in the boat for all occupants in case of emergency where you need to jump ship.  You can stay afloat until someone comes to take you to shore…to safety.  A pool has many of them on display where they can throw them to someone in distress and they can grab them and save their life.

All of those examples are about people being in water.  No I am not ready for swimsuit weather QUITE yet but those examples are that way for a reason.  The Monday after Jay died I went on an anti-depressant to keep me above water.  See…there is that reference to water again, darn it.  You are either going to need to use the restroom, be VERY thirsty or want to go swimming after you read this blog.  My hope is swimming and I’ll explain why.  If you have been on any kind of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant you get asked by your doctor if the medicine is helping during your check-ups.  It wasn’t until I told my doctor that I could “ride the waves” that they knew things were working well.  Enough with the water references already Alyssa.  Tell them what they need to know.

Life is like a body of water.   If you feel trapped by life you might be in a pool where you can see the edges.  Some are content here and that is ok.  Being content is GOOD.  When a life changing event happens you feel like you just got dropped from the sky into a big body of water without a life preserver and asked to make it to the edge.  You cannot see the edges…how the HECK do you keep your energy to get to safety.  Many people go to medication and that is not bad either.  Some need medication for short or long amounts of time.  We are not all made the same.  END of medication rant.  Back to water…

Whether life is in a pool where you can go to the edge and even better yet have a place where you can touch the bottom or a lake/ocean where you cannot see the other side and there are many unknowns of whether a fish just swam by you or what that was, life is a body of water.  The waves can get wicked sometimes and other times you can see straight to the bottom and the water can be completely calm.  The key is your life preserver.  You may be a really good swimmer but have moments where you need an actual flotation device and that is OK.  I believe for me I have a pool but recently I have been playing in the ocean.  I can swim but I’m not a lap swimmer by any means.  I need my life preservers…Aaron…my family…my friends.  I’m getting comfortable in the ocean.  There is a beautiful view and better yet a beach with lots of sand to relax every once awhile.

Moral of my story today…you don’t have to go into the ocean if you don’t want too and my hope is that you are never dropped into the water and expected to swim without your life preservers near.  But make sure you have enough life preservers present in your life.  Keep them in good condition.  Make sure you can see them.  Make sure not to have just one type.  You need all types in life.  And if you take a little time to relax, look out into the ocean, lay on the beach and make sure to get a GREAT tan. 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

First things first.  Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Below is a link to my Valentine’s blog from last year.  Reading it actually made me smile.  I’ve come such a long way.

Valentine’s day…our love

I’m not going to lie.  The last week has had a few ups and downs.  But unlike a year ago, I am not sad and I know why.  Unlike last year I know that I am loved.  Unlike what you think I just said I didn’t mean that I know others love me.  What I mean is that I love me.  I have passion for life and everything that it entails.  Everything about life feels good.

So about this past week. One day I accidentally clicked on the year “2012” in my Facebook account.  Once I did it I instantly thought “OMG…click the back button!”  But instead the thought of “you can handle this” won and I started looking through all of my thoughts in 2012.  I cried…tears fell but to my surprise I also laughed.  Some may be thinking “You laughed?”  Heck yeah I did.  Seriously…with the situation that had just happened, did anyone expect me to make it out of it with even a slight sense of humor?  I sure didn’t, but I did.  Some of my posts were clearly of a tired mom and some of those posts are just funny.  Even back to the day that Jay died.  Once I got there I saw all of the posts and comments people left me.  How can a girl not feel loved?  I mean honestly.  Last year I would have curled into a ball and met you on the other side of what I did a few days later.  Within an hour I was exhausted but I was back and that feels good.

Then there is just the thought of what today is.  The day of love.  The holiday that I never thought would feel weird.  It isn’t weird this year…it is just different.  That doesn’t necessarily feel good but it is OK.

This weekend I have my mom here at the house and that helps ALOT.  Not for me to work through emotions like maybe in the past but it allows me some time to not be stressed about the plan and schedule for the day.  I don’t have to worry about a babysitter or picking Aaron up from daycare.  That stress gone alone will help me just be for the day.  Aaron is happy…a few things get taken care of in the house because my mom is awesome and by Sunday when I have a baby shower at my house for a close friend of mine,  I will have been through yet another holiday and I will feel great.

My Valentine’s message to everyone out there is to let everyone in your life know how important they are to you.  Give those special to you an extra hug or kiss.  Tell them they are important…tell them you love them and continue to do so daily throughout the year.  Why?  Because you may not get next Valentine’s Day to remember to do so.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!



I’m not sure if everyone watches the Big Bang Theory show but if you do you will be able to appreciate the references in this blog.

The other night when I was watching re-runs the episode was on where Amy Farrah Fowler and the girls took Sheldon dancing.  The beginning of the episode starts with how Leonard’s girlfriend was making Sheldon’s life difficult by basically nullifying the “roommate agreement.”  Sheldon goes out with the girls for girls’ night leaving Leonard, the guys and Leonard’s girlfriend at home.  Amy gets drunk, kisses Penny, also kisses Sheldon then throws up after Sheldon gets her home.  The next morning Sheldon and Amy video chat.  Amy looks really hungover but then asked Sheldon what happened the night before.  He fills her in and includes that her advice to “play dirty” with Leonard and his girlfriend paid off.  Amy asks where they go from here since things that happened the night before could definitely alter their friendship.  Sheldon puts it simply by saying, let’s pretend our relationship is like a computer.  Let’s reset it to the point in time when it last worked correctly. 

So where am I going with this?…that is probably what most are asking right now.  Let me explain. 

Wouldn’t it be so easy if we could just hit a “reset” button and take our lives back to the one place where we agreed it worked the best or to a point in time in your life.  Fortunately and unfortunately we are not computers.  But when something happens in our life where we wish for a computer-like reset we end up doing a reset whether we know it or not.  But instead of going “back” to a point in time, the reset is really a redefinition of us. 

I can tell you pretty specific times where this “reset” has happened for me in the last 2 years.  I will go with starting literally with 2/10/2012.  Around this day I had reset myself to being a working mom, preparing for my first Valentine’s with 2 boys sharing my heart.  I remember specifically that Jay made chocolate covered strawberries for me and wrote a note in chocolate on the wax paper “from Aaron” wishing me a Happy Valentine’s Day.  It is in this reset that I felt more love then I ever thought possible.

Another significant “reset” was on May 9th,2012.  Without going into the detail as I have throughout the blog about this day, it is single most significant reset of my life.  One I wish on no one but nonetheless it happened to me.

December of 2012 yet another reset happened.  It is when I let go of A LOT of anger.  I didn’t want to be angry anymore.

May 2013.  This reset was pushing me back to a year prior.  It is the moment I FINALLY began to mourn losing Jay.  I ran on adrenaline for a year.  I finally caved to the overwhelming feeling of what happened a year prior.

September 2013.  It isn’t until now that I realized this is when a reset happened as well.  I started a true redefinition of myself since May 2012.  I was a single-widowed mother, daughter, sister, friend, and co-worker.  None of those fit how I truly wanted to be defined.  I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to feel but I knew how I didn’t want to feel or be defined.

January 1st, 2014.  I consciously decided how I wanted to be defined.  It was simple.  I would be defined as who I was…”Alyssa Taber.”  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  This last reset has been one of the most amazing things I have done in my life.  It makes me laugh looking back to the big bang theory episode where Amy’s advice to Sheldon was to “play dirty”.  For those that watch the show I laugh when I think about how Amy said it to Sheldon.  Sheldon unaware of what she is “really” saying and how she is saying it I think of myself in September and think that something was said or done that caused this reset in motion.  And now watching the episode and knowing that one of the songs I am learning choreography to at my fitness studio I go to is the song by Jason Derulo called “Talk Dirty To Me” made me think about how I “reset” my life.

Capitol IDN – Never Forgotten

The other day I was given the opportunity again to help raise awareness for organ donation at the Iowa State Capitol.  I love an excuse to get dressed up but even more I love the opportunity to talk about organ donation.

It was a very busy day meeting with many different Senators and Representatives.  The whole process of being at the Capitol is really quite exciting.  The architecture is amazing and what was nice about the visit this year is I wasn’t overwhelmed by just being at the Capitol.  I was able to enjoy the company of the Iowa Donor Network employees and the people we met.

I got to meet Joey Gase.  He is a NASCAR Nationwide Series driver.  Iowa Donor Network sponsors him and many other OPOs (Organ Procurement Organizations) throughout the country have started to sponsor him as well.  When I first heard his story, OK let’s be honest for the first many times I heard it, I had to hold back the tears.  He lost his mom at the age of 18 to a sudden brain aneurysm.  He was next of kin and was the one that signed the papers for his mom to be an organ donor.  He is 20 years old and although everyone asked him how old he really was because he looks younger than 20, mentally he is so beyond his years.  I know he had to grow up fast on that day in April of 2011 when his mom died.  His reason for asking Iowa Donor Network to sponsor his race car and why he speaks about organ donation felt like an echo.  He wants to honor his mom and help people understand organ donation and that there are so many misconceptions of organ donation.  In her short time on earth she raised an amazing son and when he spoke I could feel her presence.  It was an honor to be able to meet him and speak with him.

The opportunity to speak and share our story has been an amazing experience.  Last year I was in the presence of a double lung/heart transplant recipient that just 14 months prior was in an ICU hospital bed waiting for someone to save her life as well as a mom whose baby only lived 45 minutes but in those 45 minutes did more than any of us ever will because its parents were selfless and put others needs in front of their grief.  This year I can say Jay was probably pretty jealous.  He was a fan of NASCAR and was adiment about being an organ donor.  To sit next to Joey over lunch was something Jay would have thoroughly enjoyed.

The title of this blog has a phrase that Joey repeated many times during the day.  As part of supporting organ donation, he puts a donors picture on his car to show families their family member is “never forgotten.”  His profound statement went further as he said “It doesn’t just show the family…it shows the nation that donors are never forgotten.”

I will continue to embrace every opportunity to make sure Jay’s life and his legacy of always helping and giving to others is never forgotten.