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Thank You 2016


As 2016 comes to an end, I am anxiously waiting to tear the page off of the calendar to embark on the new challenges, chances and adventures that most hope a new year will bring. Because 2016 has been rough.

 So rough.  

I started the year with the loss of a dear friend to suicide and ended it in with the loss of one of my closest friends in this entire world (juvenile statement – perhaps? Shut up! Stop judging!) to an incurable and very rare cancer, so yes, I can say with confidence that 2016 has been a rough and crappy year. 

With all the life crap that has happened between these two defining moments of 2016 I learned some very valuable lessons:

 Take control of your life: 

·         Don’t like your job – go find a new one.

·         Bored with life’s mundane groundhogs day routine? Sign up for an art class, take yoga, go for a damn walk.

·         Hard times financially? Pick up extra gigs; you have a skill set – use it.

·         Want to lose weight? Eat right and exercise.

Step up, step up to the plate that is your life and take control of whatever you need to take control of and make your life worth living. 

 Respect and love yourself:

·   Take care of yourself.  Make yourself the priority.

Not much to say about this one – this is about that oxygen mask theory of self care – put on your oxygen mask before you can put it on for anyone else.

 Be transparent:

·         Husband, wife, partner, friend hurt you or let you down? Let them know respectfully or let that shit go.

·         Feel them emotions- all of them, don’t bury the sadness, the anger, the love, the joy.  Feel it all.

There is no room in life to lie to yourself or others. The truth will always catch up to you.  I am seeing with my own two eyes how the guilt associated with the lies that someone has told themselves and those they claim they loved eat away at them and it’s ugly.  Someone once told me that guilt is a useless emotion unless you have something to be guilty about.  Ain’t that the truth.

 Keep your mouth shut:

·     There is a time to talk and there is a time to shut up.  

I learned this one very late in 2016.  I said too many things in 2016.  Shame on me, but moving on.

 Just Show up:

·   If you EVER question whether to reach out to someone during their darkest days,  during the hard times, don’t …  don’t question it one bit – SHOW UP – call, text, drop off a note at their house, anything.  The person you are reaching out to will respond, it may not be immediately but they will respond and when they respond it will because your effort will have meant more than anything to that person during those dark days.

My sister- in-law’s BFF gave me this advice four years ago, and it got put to test this year more than ever. Showing up for my best friend and her family was imperative, and I am so glad I got this advice. Thank you Lileen!

Value yourself:

·    You are WORTH It.  Don’t let anyone devalue your worth. Everything you want in life, YOU DESERVE! You’ll make mistakes but that doesn’t mean that you are not valuable.  Something is clearly wrong with a person for them to want to deliberately be rude, hurtful and mean to another human being, to do this purposely with the intent to devalue is awful and even more pathetic when it is someone they supposedly love.  I am telling you at this very moment – YOU ARE WORTH IT. Believe it, own it, live it!  My favorite quote:  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Ant that’s it. Those are the lessons I learned in 2016.  When life unfolds and the crappy parts are laying at your feet you need to realize how important these life lessons are for survival.

We make life much harder than it really needs to be – we are our own worst enemy.  STOP, collaborate and listen (c’mon I had too!) I lost a lot  of me this year. I let too many factors seep into my soul and destroy a part of me, couple that with losing two friends under the age of 45 and yeah, it messes with you. But I know from experiencing the loss of my father that life moves on. The mourning does not end in a year, two years and I imagine never but if my dad’s death taught me anything it taught me that all the questions I have will be left unanswered.  Trying to find the answers that will never be found is a waste of energy and thus you’ll be wishing your life away.  You need to live through the mourning.

You have choices.  

Make the good choices.

Life moves on.

Move with it.

Live it.

You deserve it.

And as cliché as it sounds I plan on honoring the lives of my friends while living my own. I expect that I will continue to have good, bad and ugly days, and during the rough spots of my journey I fully expect my friends to guide me, they may haunt me as well but they will guide me.

Happy New Year!


Posted in deanna verbouwens, That's Life Tagged with: , , , ,

Death Becomes Me


I’ve been around death for a long time. My parents didn’t shy away from taking my sisters and I to wakes, funerals or burials. Being a part of a very large Italian family, I attended a lot of these ‘events’. I knew what to do at a wake, I understood them, I appreciated them and on some level I liked them. It meant I got to spend time with my family albeit grieving or not, being with my family always made me happy.

Fast forward to the tender age of (yea not giving that up); I have now attended wakes and funerals of the elderly, young, middle-aged, and newborn — of my immediate family to the distant friend and everyone in-between.

And because of this – I thought I got death and grieving.

But I was wrong. It wasn’t until two years, 8 months, 6 days, 13 hours and 51 minutes ago (but who is counting) when my dad died that I finally understood what death is and what grieving is really all about.

Grieving is like ripping out a piece of paper from a notebook, shredding it into tiny little pieces and then being commanded to glue it back together – all those tiny little pieces of paper are my life – trying to glue them back together – is complete fucking nonsense.  Paper is everywhere, glue is sticking to my fingers – and in my hair – it’s a damn mess.  

 It can’t be done and it shouldn’t be done.

Because it’s impossible.   

Death changes a person.  My life will never the same.

I was forever changed after my dad died. A piece of me died with him.

And now, having to say goodbye to Julie.  One of my closest friends. My bestie. My ride-or-die. My soul sister.

I am changed again. Now two chunks of my heart are missing.

Death has become me. 

It is now the references of “before my Dad died” or “when Julie was in the hospital.”

It is the “I gotta tell Dad that he’d laugh … crap dad is dead” (yes that blunt) moments.

It is the listening to all of the saved voice mails from Julie as I sit paralyzed in my driveway.

It’s trying to keep all these memories alive with every story I can possibly tell to my sons.

Death is exhausting. Death is ugly. Death sucks.

And grieving? Grieving is awful.  It’s like a tsunami.  Each wave is a wave of grief that hits me in my chest. Every. Single. Day.  It’s the wave of guilt, a wave of the what’s if’s, the wave of if I said that, done that or the wave of I should have had the hard conversations. It’s the wave of complete desperation and longing for the person that has died.

Death is Death is Death.

Death robs me of my willingness to live.

And because I know what that grief tsunami is – inconsistent and can knock me down whenever the hell it is wants.  

I am now terrified to grieve for Julie.

Grieving leaves me speechless. Renders me useless. It is the screams at my children. Grieving is the irrational anger. It’s not wanting to get out of bed. And the uncontrollable crying as I am driving alone in the car.

Driving alone sucks. That tsunami of grief is always ready and waiting for me when I’m alone in the car.

Grieving can be logical too – what’s the point of being angry? The erratic nonsense? The Debbie downer’s?   

Why do this when at the end of the day, I am at the same place? 

My dad is still not here.  Julie is gone.

Death happened. I can’t change a gosh darn thing. None of this behavior will bring back those I love.

Should I not go through those emotions?

Yes I must. That is what I learned when my dad died – I gotta move through each emotion to get through the other side. And the other side isn’t pretty. It’s actually awful.

But it’s necessary.  The other side is basically the realization that wow I still have to live. I cannot run away from the world. I still have to feed and nurture my kids. I still have to go to work. I still have to go food shopping. I still have to do the laundry.

I still have to live. 

Because the pain never goes away. It may dull from time to time but the pain never dissipates.

Living a life doesn’t mean that I’m not grieving — life just becomes a distraction to the grieving

Life is now a distraction to grieving for the people I love and miss. Terribly miss.  

As I continue to make my way through the insurmountable grief of losing my dad and now my Julie – I understand death and grieving more than ever.

And that sucks.  

Posted in deanna verbouwens, That's Life Tagged with: ,

Top Ten Gifts Every Mom Wants for Christmas



Christmas is literally right around the corner. Like we are still trying to digest the turkey, the ‘Big Book of Toys’ has slammed down on my doorstep and my boys are circling things like I am a Rockefeller. Lists are being made and my email is exploding with deals after deals faster than I can text “Holy crap, did you see that glistening ass on Kim Kardashian?”

Oy vey.

The rush to find the best, coolest and most amazing gifts for my loved ones has started, game on!

But what about us? Moms, do you browse magazines – circling new things you want? Maybe some fancy new running gear? Maybe that shiny new tennis bracelet? Are you cutting out pictures of those fabulous black sleek new boots? I ask do you actually make a list of what you want for the Christmas?

No? Well, moms let me know if you agree with the list I made for Christmas:

1)  A clean house, on the daily for a full year.

2)   A “No Falling to the Floor as if Bruce Willis Just Shot You Down in Die Hard Zone” when I ask the Little Buggers to do anything. Like put their clothes in the laundry basket that were thrown RIGHT NEXT to laundry basket.

3)   A perpetual supply of sangria (from the sink tap (fruit and all) would be AAAAMAZING!).

4) No moans and groans when I ask my children to take a shower (as if a shower is so difficult, WTF?)

5)   To go out with my friends without having to arrange for babysitting.

6) A family dinner wherein every family member eats every single thing on their plates. #AGirlCanDream.

7)  A “No Farting Territory” in the common areas of the house especially the kitchen, with two boys it gets pretty nasty.

8)  A full night of sleep without interruption. And let me piggy back on that, how about NOT being the “chosen one” and “they” actually let me  sleep later than 7 a.m.!

9)  A laundry fairy for the year – includes folding and putting away!

10)  Peace, Harmony and Good Will for All, in other words for my children to stop effffing fighting for a FULL day.

Cheers! Merry Christmas!




Posted in christmas shopping, deanna, deanna verbouwens, i know this much is true, That's Life, unnatural mother Tagged with: , ,