Warning: This post may contain sentiment   2 comments

I have been dreading this day for at least a week now. I decided that it was going to be an awful day and so I feared its arrival and withdrew myself from the people around me.  Today marks 22 years since Brent and I were married.

It turns out that I woke up just fine.  I didn’t break down crying like I thought I would.  I woke up smiling and felt a peace and reassurance that I am right where I’m supposed to be.

It’s a confusing day and time, still, and I think that is where my fear came from. I had this incredibly awesome and yet extremely difficult life with Brent.  Through our trials and experiences together, we were able to build a relationship that most people dream of.  We were close, loved each other fiercely and supported each other through everything.  When he died, I knew for sure I would never love anyone that deeply again.  And then I met Rob.  And yes, everything changed.  I love him just as fiercely, just as deeply and I still don’t know how that happened.  We haven’t been through very much together, but somehow the culmination of our life experiences resulted in an immediate connection of love, trust and understanding.  So now what? Do I forget about the life and love I had for Brent in order to make room for the life I want to have with Rob and the love I feel for him?  I never worried about it, until this last week.  All of a sudden, this anniversary date was causing me to take leave of my senses and I panicked.  I thought I had to choose, and it was tearing me up inside.

Part of my struggle is not knowing how to refer to Brent.  Is he my first husband? My former husband? My previous husband? My other husband?  I have no idea.  For today, I’ve landed on previous…so bear with me.

When I woke up so peaceful this morning and didn’t feel like spending the day in my bed feeling sorry for myself, I made a new plan and in the end, I had a beautiful morning.  I had a nice chat with my fabulous new husband, sent him off to work and went shopping.  Don’t worry.  The irony of buying deodorant for my new husband and flowers for my previous husband didn’t escape me…but that’s exactly what I did.  I bought myself some juice and donuts and headed for the cemetery for a small celebration of this special day.  After all, a family was created this day.  A beautiful one, filled with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known.  I sat in my car and waited for the sprinklers to finish their job before I lugged my chair out to Brent’s grave site.  While I waited, I decided to play the song we danced to at our wedding reception.  Because Brent served his mission in Hawaii, we had chosen a Hawaiian song called Love and Honesty as our mantra for the life we would live.  As I heard the familiar words on my radio, I cried grateful tears that we were able to become like the people in the song.  It was an affirmation to me that the life we had together was not wasted.

As the sprinklers died down, I took my chair, a dozen roses and a bag of Swedish Fish and settled in for some much needed quiet time.  I contemplated the life I once had and the life I now live and realized that there isn’t very much that is the same. I have been married to two completely different men and as I stopped to think about, I felt grateful for their differences.  Their differences make me appreciate each of them and I love that I don’t ever feel the need compare them.  What I realized sitting there, though, was that the ways that they are similar are so precious to me.  I am loved.  This I know with all of my heart. And it’s a beautiful feeling.  I hope everyone gets the chance to feel as loved as I do.  Now, I’m not saying that everything was perfect with Brent or that everything is perfect now with Rob…what I am saying is that I know without a doubt that I am loved.  And that’s enough.  And more importantly, each of them loves their Heavenly Father and that strength, that faith carries us through whatever has come, whatever is, and whatever is coming next.  I see now that Brent has been the Northern Star that led me to Rob and I’m so grateful he did

I’ve struggled since Brent died.  It’s been a roller coaster and there have been things I’ve been proud of and things I would change if I could.  But somehow, sitting in the cemetery this morning, I reconciled myself with my Savior.  I felt like me…not the old me of course.  She’s not gone, but definitely transformed.  Today, I finally feel like Mindy Judd.  Someone new; yet shaped by perfect storms, precious memories and increased faith.  Someone designed exactly for this life that I’m living now.  Rest assured…the peace I felt brought me to a movie quote.  In Forrest Gump, after the storm when Lieutenant Dan takes his swim, Forrest says “He never actually said so, but I think he made his peace with God.” And I did.

I love my life.  I’m so blessed to be married to such an amazing husband!  He doesn’t let me hide and challenges me to become who I am meant to become.  He makes me laugh so hard I cry…and when I cry he makes me laugh.  He is my best friend and I could not have made a better decision than to marry him and be his wife.  And he fills my gas tank for me…

I love being the mom of ten kids, and not just because it’s fun to watch people’s face when I say that.  All of our kids are incredible human beings and I feel blessed to be part of their lives.

In the song that Brent and I danced to at our wedding, there is a beautiful verse where the artist is speaking in the beautiful Hawaiian language.  For 22 years, I’ve heard the song and never knew what the lyrics meant…I just always thought they were pretty to listen to.  But today, I felt inspired to look them up.  You’ll see why:

A Gift For The Descendants

The Stories of Yesterday’s Flowers

Let’s Always Hold Close

Our Ancestors, Who Are

A Sweet Smelling Lei For Us

Like A Misty Cloud Around The Mountain

Their Love Surrounds Us Forever

 

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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Posted June 4, 2016 by mindyshurtleff in Uncategorized

Pardon My Dust   3 comments

My local grocery store is undergoing some renovations.  There are signs posted everywhere that say “Pardon Our Dust” and “Open During Construction.”  This has been mildly inconvenient for me as I’ve watched the store shift and change and move things around.  There are things I like, things I am indifferent to, and things I don’t care for at all.  For example, the produce section is much easier to navigate now.  It seems that they have managed to set it up in a way that makes a little more room and I like the way I can get around much easier.  They have spent a great deal of effort on the healthy food section and I’ve noticed that there is a much bigger selection now.  I’ll pick up a few things here and there, but I’m not a crazy health food nut; so it’s nice but not particularly life changing for me.  My least favorite thing is the bread aisle.  It used to be conveniently located near the lunch meat section, holding a prominent and easily accessible place on the end row.  Now, it’s in the middle of the store, which is just silly.  It doesn’t make any sense to me and now I have to spend an extra 18 seconds walking five aisles over to where they’ve moved the bread.  I can get irritated about it all, but at the end of the day, it’s only mildly inconvenient so I don’t spend energy worrying much about it.  The most intriguing part of this renovation process is that for weeks there has been a giant section of the store that has been separated off by giant floor to ceiling tarps so that you can’t see what’s going on in there.  My mind has run through all sorts of scenarios about what could be back there from an in-store health clinic, to an ice cream parlor, to a legalized marijuana growing center…I mean, who knows!?!?  It could be anything!!

What does this have to do with me?  Well…I realize that I, too, am undergoing some construction.  This process of losing Brent has proven to be more of a complete tear down and remodel than a simple “spruce up”, let me just admit that right off the bat.  There are some things that I like about the “new” me, some things I’m indifferent to, and some things that I don’t care for at all.  For example, I am getting really good at taking better care of myself.  I don’t let myself get put on the back burner as easily as I did before, and if I do now it is done intentionally rather than because I’ve completely forgotten myself.  I’m becoming a better housekeeper…which I don’t care too much about…but I notice that I’m a little more particular about how the house is.  Probably because I have more free time on my hands.  My kids hate it because they’ve had to clean out all of their closets, drawers and even under their beds.  It’s like I’m torturing them.  My least favorite thing is that my emotions are still a little unpredictable.  I tend to cry when I don’t want to…or can’t cry when it’s appropriate to.  It’s a funny thing.  Again, only mildly inconvenient but I am looking forward to the day when I can get a better grip on using the “corresponding face for the corresponding emotion.” (Yes this is a movie quote…I guess some things will never change!)

Like the grocery store, the most intriguing part are the mysterious changes that are still ongoing that I know nothing about.  Who knows what will continue to shift and grow and change me into who God needs me to be?!?  This section behind the tarps is taking the most time and even I don’t know what’s coming, but I know that I’m anxious to see what’s in store for me next.  In the meantime, if I check out for a few days, or in the middle of a conversation, just please “pardon my dust.”  I’m simply undergoing some major renovations.  The good news is that most days I’m “open during construction”…still here, still cruising along and fully functioning; even if it’s a little more inconvenient to those around me.  If it really bothers any of you, remind me to give you a free coupon to a great conversation once I’m up and running again 😉

Posted August 10, 2015 by mindyshurtleff in Uncategorized

Write blog post…check!   1 comment

I was going to stop procrastinating years ago, but I put that off for a while.  Now, for real, I’m stopping today.

I’m a list person.  Brent used to tease me about my extensive “to do” lists and about writing things down that were already done just so that I could cross them off.  I crave the sense of accomplishment that comes from running my pen through something I’ve written down on a list!!  But today as I’m sitting at my desk, I realize that I have a main list and embedded in that list is a reference to another list which goes into more detail.  On that detailed list is a reference to yet another list with even further detail.  And, yes, from these three lists is born yet another “Daily List” which I work from each day.  I have a disease.  I probably need extensive counseling.  Or just window cleaner.

See, I keep my lists on the computer because re-writing them every week once some things get scratched off is such a nuisance, but several things transfer from list to list for long periods of time.  This morning I noticed something that has been on my list for about 10 years.  No I’m not kidding.  Years ago, we had some work done on our house because of a leak near a window.  The workers who came taped off the window to do the repair and left a tape residue on my window.  Soon after, I wrote on my list that I needed to clean off the residue.  (Don’t laugh at me!) I think I procrastinated doing it because Brent’s job included getting scratches out of windows.  I would hear him talk about how sometimes cleaners would scratch the windows with razor blades and mess them up.  So, in my mind…Brent should have gotten the residue off of the window so that I didn’t damage it.  (That was excuse #1).  Then, it got to the point that we just kept the blinds closed and so I didn’t notice it.  (Excuse #2).  Then I couldn’t find a razor blade nearby…and the garage was so messy that I didn’t want to go search for one – even though I cleaned the garage out months ago.  (Excuse #3).  And really, who knows how long it will take now that the tape has been stuck there for so many years.  It probably won’t even come off and I’ll have to block out an hour of time to work on it so I can do it carefully and who has an hour to clean a window?? (Excuse #4).

I meet with clients all the time who put things off and I coach them through it.  “What’s stopping you?” “What are you waiting for?” “When will it ever be the perfect time?” I’m a great coach for OTHER people!!  So this morning, I found a razor blade and some window cleaner and I set to work on my window.  Three minutes and 42 seconds later I was finished.  TEN YEARS I WAITED TO DO SOMETHING THAT TOOK ME LESS THAN FOUR MINUTES TO DO!!  I’m confident I spent more time transferring that item from list to list, highlighting it and pondering the details and methods of getting it done.  What a waste!

There will always be excuses for NOT doing something!  Those are easy to come up with.  Just find one good reason to DO what is on your “list” right now.  The perfect time will not just present itself.  It is something that you create.  What are you putting off?  An apology you need to make.  A friend you need to reach out to.  A trip you need to plan.  A window that needs cleaned…  Stop putting it off.  Nike was right…Just do it.  I anticipate my list getting much shorter and much less complicated from now on.  “Write blog post” – check!

Posted June 7, 2015 by mindyshurtleff in Uncategorized

31,536,000 seconds   3 comments

One year = 12 months = 52 weeks = 365 days = 8760 hours = 525,600 minutes = 31,536,000 seconds without my sweetheart.

It’s hard to believe that today is the year anniversary of Brent’s passing and yet here it is.  If you had asked me a year ago if I would survive to see this day I would have stared at you speechless and unresponsive; unable to imagine how it would be possible to make it through.  Throughout the year there were even some days when I wasn’t sure if I could make it through the next moment, never mind more than 31 million of them.  And still here I am.

I could list the things that are missing without Brent here, but quite frankly none of you has the kind of time it would take to read the long list of things that are just wrong without him here.  It’s quite extensive.  But when I focus on those things, it makes each moment feel like an hour – time slows and sadness creeps in.  In order to keep myself sane, I try to focus on the new, unexpected blessings that have come from creating a whole new chapter in my life.  One of the greatest blessings I have noticed so far is that I’m becoming more brave.  By brave, I mean that I touched an actual starfish at an aquarium a couple of weeks ago (it felt like a rock) and went on Splash Mountain at Disneyland yesterday (oh my goodness…so high off the ground).  I even ate lobster bisque the other day (I have to admit it was quite tasty).  For anyone who knows me well, you understand the magnitude of what I have accomplished 🙂  These are all things I had the opportunity to do before, but passed because I was afraid.  It sounds silly now that I put it in writing, but it’s huge for me.  I see myself becoming someone new.  I am less willing to let these moments pass by without trying something different to see who I really am and what I really like.  Now let’s not get crazy – I won’t be wrestling crocodiles or swimming with sharks anytime soon (sorry to disappoint you – you know who you are!), but I find it harder and harder each day to make excuses not to live.  Life is becoming more than just getting from one day to the next.  It’s an adventure and I’m less afraid to take big leaps and see what happens.

As both the next year without Brent and the actual New Year begins, I will not be making a list of New Year’s resolutions like I normally do.  They are usually filled with things that are sometimes meaningful but don’t really have anything to do with who I am as a person.  The truth is that I can make a resolution to lose 50 lbs. and this does not make me skinny.  But if I resolve to become healthier…so much more happens for me physically, emotionally and spiritually.  So this year, I will be making a list of New Year’s Becomings.  For example, I will become even more brave.  I will become more compassionate.  I will become a better listener.  I will become a more attentive friend. The common thread of these becomings is that once they are accomplished, these are all things that cannot be undone easily and certainly not by anyone but me.  I decide.  I make my path.  The only one stopping me is me…and I’m done standing in my own way.

As my friend Rob often says “I think 2015 is my year.”  I’m going to make this my year…another 31,536,000 moments without Brent…but I will make sure that each moment will be breathtaking.  Each moment will define me.  Each moment will bring me closer to becoming the person I am meant to become.  Won’t it be fun to see what happens next??  Happy New Year!

Posted December 28, 2014 by mindyshurtleff in Uncategorized

#jellyjar   3 comments

Let me just start this post by saying how much I love and miss my husband.  And then admit something…it’s hard to be alone.  For example, I crave conversation at the end of the day to just process events, ideas and feelings that Brent was so good about doing with me.  I am lucky enough to have found friends who meet those needs and I don’t know what I would do without them.  I am truly blessed.  It bothers me that I’m so girly about some stuff, but I am.  I’m not mechanically inclined or particularly physically strong and so there are still times when the washing machine breaks (thank you Brendon and Jay), or the smoke detector (thank you Jason) and I find myself looking to the men in my life to bail me out.  In those moments of immediate need, however, I get frustrated that I’m alone…like when I have to make lunch for the kids.

This morning, I was making sandwiches for the kids’ lunches.  They usually all have a peanut butter and honey sandwich.  I can do that, no problem.  But this morning, Colter wanted peach jelly.  It seemed like a reasonable request so I lovingly spread peanut butter on slices of bread and reached for the peach jelly.  In all confidence, I tried to turn the lid, but it wouldn’t budge.  I grabbed the rubber jar opener from the drawer and for what seemed like several minutes struggled to open the stinkin’ thing!!  I couldn’t get it.  My kids and I are pretty open with each other so we’ve talked about me dating and they’ve discussed openly their feelings about potentially having a step dad someday.  (Don’t worry Carlton…not any time soon!!)  So I felt comfortable enough that in my frustration I looked at my boys and said “It’s times like these I wish I had a husband!”  With pity in his eyes, Colter walked over to try to help me open the jar and Brigham in all his helpfulness looked at me and said “#jellyjar.”  I couldn’t stop laughing!  To top it off, Colter said “Mom, please don’t marry someone just to open the jelly jars!!”  There was something so innocent and silly about what they said and how they said it that it brought my whole world into perspective!

There are some things I can’t do on my own.  But that’s not exclusive to widows.  No one is an island and we all need help and support from others in our lives.  But what this current life is teaching me is that there is so much that I CAN do on my own that I never thought I could.  So we have a new tag line in our house.  Whenever you hear us say “#jellyjar” it means that we just did something that we thought we couldn’t do. This season will bring so much joy…and also some hard days for our family.  I wonder every day how I will survive the holidays without Brent.  But don’t be surprised if December 26th you hear me saying “#jellyjar” – because this morning as I reached again for the peach jelly and with all my might turned the lid open – I learned yet again that I can do hard things.

Posted November 26, 2014 by mindyshurtleff in Uncategorized

Running in diamonds   2 comments

I hate to run.  My friend Megan said that I would eventually grow to love it and I guess it takes longer than nine months because I don’t love it yet.  However, I feel stronger now that I’ve been running and all my clothes fit better…so I run.  I trained for all of these months to run in a 5K race, which I did just a few weeks ago.  That was fun, but it wasn’t because of the running.  It was a “color run” so it was awesome to have an excuse to get really dirty as an adult 🙂  Plus, my son Brendon came with me and we had a blast together!  I mentioned to him that my goal was to run the entire 5K without stopping so he told me “If you stop to walk, I’m gonna go all ‘boot camp’ on you so you better run!”  It felt great to accomplish that goal and I am participating in two more 5K runs in the next few months.  So I guess I’m a runner now and I decided this week that I have to find a way to enjoy my run more fully.  On a whim, I pulled out my grandmother’s diamond earrings and wore them running.  I grinned from ear to ear for the entire 2.5 miles!!!  What changed?  Nothing really…except my attitude.  No one could see the diamonds, but I knew they were there and somehow I just felt better.

There are lots of things that each of us experience each day that we don’t want to do, but we do it because on some level we get benefit from it.  I coach with lots of people who are just trying to survive different stages of their lives or just “get through it”.  Look – it didn’t work for Adam Sandler in the movie “Click” and it isn’t going to work for us. I guess I’m tired of just surviving…I want to enjoy my life – even if it’s hard!  That’s the message I want to send to my kids, too.

What I don’t often say out loud, but I think is obvious for most people, is that I didn’t want to be a widow…like ever.  Believe me when I say it is sugar coating it to say that it stinks.  I miss Brent with every fiber of my being and I get really angry about having to do this life on my own.  After all, we worked hard to build this great life together and now everything is backwards and upside down.  Don’t worry, when the kids are naughty I still look up to the heavens and say “that’s your son” or “that’s your daughter”, but it’s exhausting to be the bottom line all the time.  On a dark day a while back, I found a quote that I printed out and hung in my bedroom.  It reads: “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

As hard as it was to face, I realized that my choice is to get up and see what life can still offer or sit in bed and let that be the life I live.  And let’s face it – there’s no chocolate in my bedroom…

So, I put on my diamond earrings and I run.

I’ll be finding joy in each day.  From now on, just don’t be surprised if you see me wearing my diamonds while I’m folding laundry, or doing dishes, or grocery shopping and most especially while I’m running.

Posted November 12, 2014 by mindyshurtleff in Uncategorized

Recalculating…   11 comments

Last week in Sunday School the teacher was talking about a scripture…one that I don’t honestly remember because he made a reference to how we are guided by GPS systems and my mind wandered.  We start out on a journey with a particular destination in mind and a preferred route for getting there.  We plug in all of the information to the GPS system, pack our bags and head out confident that we will reach that destination guided by the subtle reminders to “turn left” or “turn right” or “continue on”.  It’s only when we come upon a detour that the system needs to reevaluate where we are at and how we can get from this new location to our chosen destination.

In the past eight months since Brent’s passing, I feel like I am constantly hearing my internal GPS system say “recalculating”.  It’s not a bad thing, but my system hasn’t quite decided on a particular route so each day I feel as though I’m “recalculating.”  I’ve gone from a married person to someone who felt brave enough to try dating – “recalculating.”  Went on a really bad date and wondered if I would ever do that again – “recalculating.”  I’ve been on a few good dates and I’ve made some of the greatest friends who have become incredibly important to me in a short period of time – “recalculating.”  I still love my job as a life coach and there has been a demand for me to write and hold a marriage class in addition to the parenting classes I teach – “recalculating.”  You get the idea…

Every day is different.  I mark a successful day by the fact that I get out of bed.  That’s it.  Everything I do after that makes me feel like I am conquering the world – even if it’s just folding the socks.  I see that the kids are doing about the same.  They get out of bed and they try their hardest to recalculate their own route.  We have a hard and fast rule in this house that if a kiddo is having a rough day at school where they miss their dad, or they can’t focus or they’re crying, they get to come home and go to lunch with mom.  They’ve each done that maybe twice and we feel spiritually and emotionally fed each time we get that one on one time together.  What I do know is that not one of us is really perfectly sure of what route to take next.  What felt right yesterday isn’t always what feels right today and our minds are continually “recalculating.”  I don’t mean it to sound daunting either – it’s actually kind of interesting.  Some of the greatest conversations about possibility have gone on in this household in the last few months.  The realization that most anything is possible for each one of us keeps us investigating each route discovering what we most want next out of life.  We are also guided by the knowledge that every day is a gift, each moment is precious and that things can change at any time.

In a nutshell – the Shurtleff’s are doing okay.  We are on a journey that has a chosen destination to see Brent again in the life after this one.  How are we going to get there?  We have no clue.   But we’re okay with that.  We get out of bed each day (of course as I’m writing this I’m still in my pajamas!!) and we keep moving.  The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but that’s not the road we are taking.  We are going to stop and see some scenic sites.  We are going to get a flat tire now and then and we’ll figure that out.  There will be construction on our way but we’ll find our way around.  Every once in a while the road might be closed but we packed a lunch so we’ll be fine.  We’re adventurers on a faith journey that we never wanted but we would never give back what we’ve learned.  And now that I’m writing again, maybe I’ll finally finish and publish my book…”recalculating” 🙂

Posted August 29, 2014 by mindyshurtleff in Uncategorized