Everyday Joy

I’m super excited to announce the release of a new kindle book I have been working on, Everyday Joy.

I’m thankful to be part of an amazing group of writers who came together to complete this book, under the guidance of fabulous editor Donna Kozik.  For starters, I just love the title and theme of JOY!  I was lacking in joy, especially after my daughter Lydia passed away and never thought I would be able to find it again, nor did I think I deserved to feel joy.  However, as years passed, perspective has changed and finding joy in the little things in life has been such a precious gift to me.

Everyday joy is hearing the deep giggles of a baby, embracing chaos, being mesmerized by the colors of the vibrant summer blooms and captivating sunsets. It brews happiness from within. A friendly smile, silly antics from a pet, a kind gesture from a co-worker all bring that emotional fulfillment many of us crave. But life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

Life can get heavy, unbearable and messy. However, when we intentionally focus on something positive it can reveal a new landscape, allowing us to open our hearts and minds to the beautiful aspects of life we have been missing, stirring up that misplaced joy.

With nearly 100 contributors, this is an uplifting book packed full of valuable insight and perspective of all different kinds. Perfect for when your soul needs a boost, it will absolutely inspire you to search for that everyday joy in your own life. A heart touching gift for everyone on sale for .99 today only!  Grab your copy or gift it to someone who could use a little encouragement.

Remember,  “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.” (Psalm 126:5).

Where do you find everyday joy?

On the journey with you,

~Daphne

 

 

 

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One Amazing Thing You Can Do to Heal a Broken Heart

After my daughter died, you could say the world ended. It was that simple. My life had come to the lowest point ever imagined. I was surrounded by complete darkness.There was no purpose, no meaning left, so why continue living?   She was only five. Suddenly, nothing mattered anymore.  I had failed. Failed to protect my most prized possession. Failed horribly as a mother.  I was at the bottom of the food chain.  My future had been destroyed, or so I believed.

And now, for the rest of my life, I will be a grieving mother. A frightening thought and a tough pill to swallow.

Over the last ten years, I have gained wisdom far beyond my years. I was forced to grow up before my time, facing my fears and tragedies head on.  Diving deep into my faith was the only answer. No one could help me or give me the magic potion to fix this pain, despite my longing to do so.  My eyes were opened to a whole new world that I never knew existed. I was desperate to fast forward through this horrifying heartbreak.

What You Should Know About Grief

Grief.  It was real and so very debilitating in the first few years, causing physical ailments and poor self-worth. Yet as time went on, it presented me with an incredible sense of humility and oddly, breathed new life into me.

I was different.  Different than before the accident happened and ever so different than my friends whom I had known for years.  I now attended support group meetings for bereaved parents, a foreign land, however, I found comfort knowing that these mothers understood what I was going through. We gained our strength together by sharing our stories and our children, both the happy and the sad, the good and the bad. They had been there.  They got it. They appeared so strong but were also weak like me.  And for the first time, I felt a tiny shimmer of hope igniting inside me.

This is where things began to change.

It had been eighteen months since my daughter Lydia had passed away and I was asked to join the board of my local chapter of The Compassionate Friends. Exploring ways to encourage and support our members, every week I saw new hurting parents join our table, revealing their own loss and heartbreak.  Little did I know, this is where my heart would remain for the next five years.

It ignited in me an unyielding passion to serve others, and soon I found myself hosting birthday parties for underprivileged children, feeding the homeless under the bridge and volunteering at church. It was amazing.

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I hadn’t really volunteered much before except at my children’s school, and in college at the fire department. What I didn’t know is that volunteering not only produces a positive impact on others, but it impacts you, by transforming your heart and mind.  Any type of volunteering when you are giving of yourself and your time, helping others and your community, can’t help sow seeds of love and kindness.

One Amazing Thing You Can Do to Heal a Broken Heart

Here are a few ways that volunteering helped heal my broken heart and can help you too.

Volunteering helped me take my mind off my own circumstances. Grief is sneaky, it likes to haunt you and keep you feeling down and hopeless.  However, volunteering kept me occupied and made my heart empathize with others going through life challenges, realizing we are all in this together.   All the while, it quietly boosted my confidence and stirred up joy that was buried in my heart.

Volunteering gives perspective. When we are in the deep throes of hurt and sorrow, we feel like we have experienced the end of the world.  When in all reality, life could always be worse. Not to diminish the pain and tragedy we all go through, however, seeing the struggles of others, makes one understand that everyone suffers in life, some more than others and makes you thankful for what you do have.

Volunteering makes you focus on what really matters in life. It can help you view life in an eternal perspective, reaching far beyond this life on earth and help you see where and how you can make a difference.  It provides you a sense of your purpose. You are living and doing to make others feel loved. To let them know they matter.  From helping feed the homeless to impromptu conversations at the hospital with strangers or in the grocery line, there are others who could use a little hope and encouragement. And you are placed in their path for a reason.  Live in awareness and don’t miss an opportunity to be a blessing to others.

Volunteering unites people.  We are all unique individuals, emotional beings with tender hearts. It’s important for us to emotionally connect with others and let them know they are not alone.  Forming new friendships also helps boost your own moral and aids in depleting that feeling of loneliness accompanied by grief.  Giving back makes you feel part of something bigger than you.

Volunteering humbles you. It has made me tremendously grateful. Volunteering showed me the things in life I had taken for granted while offering me understanding and presented me with a renewed compassion for others. Serving others also provides an opportunity for self-reflection and meaning.  With this, I learned to appreciate each new day and all the gifts I had been given in life, realizing that I was not more important that anyone else in life.  That we are all equal.

Volunteering is a rewarding venture that provides fulfillment like nothing else.  It gives you an internal change. A transformation of the heart.  Giving back fills a void and satisfies that deep hunger for life that is hidden inside us.

 

Thank you to HavingTime for publishing my writing.

 

Wishes and Would Have’s For My Daughter On Her Birthday In Heaven

I let out a big sigh and pulled the covers over my head, just wishing they would go back to sleep.  You see it was 6:10 AM, no school or work and I was exhausted.  Not to mention, I’m not a fan of being woke up in the early morning.  Nothing makes one smile more than screaming, arguing children before the sun comes up!  J    Thoughts ran through my mind, complaints to be honest, of me being grumpy wanting my energetic kids to quiet down so I could catch a few more minutes of sleep under the warm covers.  I wanted to yell “be quiet, or go back to bed.”

Instead, I was inaudibly reminded of what a blessing it was that my children were here.   Feeling selfish, I stayed silent and rose to the occasion, forcing my crankiness to take a backseat.  You see today is Lydia’s 14th birthday and I am engulfed in a whirlwind of emotions, mostly wishing she was here to celebrate.

www.grievinggumdrops.com

It’s been 8 years, 4 months, & 11 days…..since I last saw her, held her hand, and kissed her soft forehead.

Looking back, so unfathomable and hard to believe that so much time has passed.  Moments and milestones missed.  Yet, an abundance of blessings have been bestowed upon me as well. From desires, to regret, to do-overs and wishes, my mind tries to make sense of them all.

 For now, here are my thoughts and wishes today…

To be able to celebrate with you, would be my first wish. To smother you with balloons, delicious cake, see your adorable smile, your mischievous glances and determined mindset, would be the honor of my life.

Every day and especially today, I am filled with wishes and wonder as I think about the years that have passed. I wish I could experience with you all the fun and trials that the teenage years bring. School, boys, sleepovers, and endless activities.

I wish I could teach you, laugh with you, and show you the world.

I wish it wasn’t massively painful to see your friends growing up, reaching milestones that you will never achieve. I look with envy as an outsider to a world I used to know. Doing so plunges me into a world of emotional wonder and lets not sugar coat it, isolated daily heartbreak.

As I imagine you with long strawberry blond hair, I wonder if you would still be determined to wear it just how you like. Would we share clothes? Would we like the same kind of music? Would you spend hours in your room?

I wonder…

Would you still wear headbands, or would that be too “childish?” Would you wear lipstick, makeup, and have your ears pierced?

Would you still love your little brother to pieces and take great delight in teasing him?  (I’m pretty sure this would still be the case!)

 

www.grievinggumdrops.com

Would you still have that infectious personality, lighting up a room when you walked in, confident and proudly dressed in mismatched clothes?

Would you have sleepovers, still be sassy yet loveable and wear your heart on your sleeve?

Would we still argue over the television remote? Would you still love to read? Still love to sing and dance? Or would you be using your creative mind to make more magnificent art work?

Would you still want to be a fighter fighter (fire fighter) and a chocolate shopper (work at a coffee stand)?

My heart will never completely heal and the tears I cry are loaded with unending love as they slowly fall down my face and onto my shirt. You will always be my girl, my first child who made me a mother.

I will carry you with me forever.

Instead of me teaching you what life is all about, my sweet child you have taught me.

If I could do it over again…

I would have lingered while reading your bedtime story, taking my time carefully articulating the words on each page, spent more time snuggled with you on your pink princess pillow, and let you keep the disgusting boogers on your wall above your headboard.

I would have played endless hours of dress up with you, dolling up in fancy jewelry, high heels and dresses and hot pink lipstick.

I would have watched your silly TV shows more, played limitless games of candy land and hopscotch, and spent hours drawing on the patio with colorful chalk until the sun went down.

www.grievinggumdrops.com

I would have laughed instead of getting angry when you called your great grandma to tell her your parents were arguing because daddy took mommy’s debit card away.

I would have paid closer attention to you when you were telling stories of the tooth fairy and giggled a little more when you called me your evil stepmother after watching Cinderella and was told to go to bed.

I would have spent hours making the perfect snowman and sledding down the street, and not come in just because I didn’t want to play anymore.

I would have stayed in that movie theatre longer, watching Kung Fu Panda with you observing your every move, listening to you loudly crunch popcorn, smiling as you laughed out loud, if I would have known it would be our last.

I would have taken you to the coffee shops for hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls every morning, even after you would mock me in the backseat of the car with your sunglass and sassy attitude.

I would have laughed more when you overflowed the toilet creating a swampy lake in the downstairs bathroom, and the time you “cleaned up” the dogs mess by putting newspaper over it and then I stepped on it, causing it to squish out the sides of my bare feet.

I would have listened more intently when you talked about God and attempted to lure me to church when I didn’t feel like going.

I would have made more cookies with you, messing up the kitchen and decorating it with scattered cookie cutters, covering the counters with flour and frosting.

I remember the last time you got your haircut, several inches gone revealed a new you. Your little sprinkle of freckles adorned the bridge of your nose, and your blue eyes twinkled in the light. I remember how you tried to convince me to cut my hair off too and I said no. Now I wish I had.

As a little girl, I always wanted to have a daughter, someone to navigate this life with side by side, being a parent and a friend. I used to imagine what our life would be like going shopping together, cooking, getting our nails done and sharing experiences as well as the cherished ups and downs of life.

I will never forget the last time you painted my nails, bright pink with baby blue sparkly dots on them. The two jars of polish still sit on my bathroom counter, as a reminder. I’m sad to say, I have not painted my fingernails since then. It may sound strange or crazy, but that last memory together, is so preciously sacred that it is something I want to keep just between us. I can still say after eight years, that “The last person to paint my fingernails was Lydia.” And that is something to treasure.

 www.grievinggumdrops.com

You have shown me what it means to love so deeply that it can literally break your heart. If I would have known these times would have been our last, I would have spent more time making memories and savoring every minute. I would have realized that moments matter. Memories matter.

Nonetheless, I have learned to navigate and carry this heavy cloak of sorrow.   I am left with an empty place in the depths of my soul, one that cannot be touched.  It remains a void that will never be filled.  Until the day we are reunited again, I will forever be wondering, waiting, yet living in the moment and treasuring every day, seeking the beauty each sunrise brings, all the while keeping you alive in my heart.

Happy heavenly birthday sweet Lydia. I love you.

wonder