A Broken Understanding

Last weekend, our little family among millions accomplished something grand.

It’s actually so monumental to us as a family that I imagine that the universe celebrated along with us at the very moment that it happened maybe even with the creation of a new star out there somewhere in the galaxy. The residue from broken egos gathered like magnetized dust particles and came together in agreement. At that moment, a new and positive energy was created, and it’s unfolding with great purpose. While our accomplishment may seem like no feat at all to others, it’s life changing for us individually and as a family.

Simply put…

Bill and Kim have learned how to work together, not just as a father and daughter, but as musicians. I want to say that they put their egos aside, but that’s not actually what happened. What really happened is that their egos chronically, like a long-term illness, collided day after day and year after year, and it wasn’t a pretty father-daughter dance. In fact, as in many parent–child relationships, it isn’t pretty. And that’s okay because from our experience, imperfection can result in something even greater than we had imagined. Bill and Kim didn’t put their egos aside. Instead, with broken egos front and center, they decided to finally, and truly, work together.

Getting to that moment wasn’t easy…

Last summer, Bill and Kim had talked about working together as musicians, and at one point in time it appeared that they had come to an agreement regarding the direction that they were headed with Kim’s music career. It seemed that they had teamed up and were well on their way to forming a working band. However, for us, it couldn’t be that easy. And in all reality, they were not practicing together. They’d talk about it, but they just didn’t seem to be able to sit down and practice together for very long before getting into some disagreement. Last week, Bill learned that Kim was not in agreement with him regarding the creation of music, lyrics and copyright. They were at a crossroad. It looked like the time had come that Bill would no longer be a part of Kim’s musical journey, and we sadly thought that maybe he never was a part of her journey. Bill and I talked about the possibility that maybe the accumulation of music gear, guitar lessons, healed blisters and melted ice-packs were a false reality that we had created for ourselves as parents, and if so, how unfair to Kim.

Had We been lying to ourselves?

After careful deliberation, we got to the point that we told Kim, “It’s your career. You are in charge of it. You do what is right for you. You know what you are doing. We will still support you, but we can’t move forward with mom and dad as direct partners. You’ll figure it out.” And then this awful dark feeling enveloped our little family, and our smiles dissipated as if they never existed before. Sadness filled my heart, and emptiness. I wondered if I was desperately clinging to Kim all these years later after her last suicide attempt by way of music, and I wondered if Bill was doing the same. The following day, we didn’t talk to one another. Rather, we existed together.

And then…

that same day, moment by moment lapsed…and without really thinking about it…and somehow with all the motherly confidence that I had ever gathered before, particle by particle, I walked outside to the patio where Bill and Kim were. Bill was standing there playing guitar, and Kim was seated at the patio table. I looked at each of them and said, “We have to make this work for you Kim, and for you Bill, and for Jaden, and for me.” I then walked back inside the house. That was it. That was all I had, and I like to believe that it was enough.

Later that evening, Kim shared with Bill and I that she had received an email from a potential client who wanted to know if she could perform at an upcoming event. Bill and I hesitated to get involved with her decision making process and told her that it was up to her to decide how to respond and move forward with this new and exciting opportunity. She then asked Bill for his help. She said, “Dad, I need help with equipment and sound checks. And I need a guitarist.” Nothing more needed to be said. Bill and Kim started to talk to one another again, and they started to truly practice together, and they’ve been working together ever since. We move forward with renewed respect for one another, and we continue to support one another’s definition of self: Kim – singer/songwriter, Bill – guitarist, Stacy – writer, and Jaden – busy being three…1 little family among millions doing it differently…

You can find Kim here: https://www.kimking.us/

~ Stacy (1 Mom)

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How 1 Family Struck a Chord

Hello world!

Stacy’s Flutterings is back! I took a hiatus from the blog because, in all honesty, I thought the blog had run its course. That was then. This is now, and this 1 mom is back. It hasn’t run its course. Rather, it has just begun. I want to share what we have been up to as a family because what we are doing is so different than the norm, and I’m extremely proud of that fact. And what brings it all together is our unconditional love for one another and music, yes music!

If you are just now joining us…

I started the blog back in August of 2011. That year, for me and my family, was a time of healing. We had experienced the near fatal suicide attempt of my daughter Kim, and we were learning how to cope with the ramifications of that. We were also learning how to support her on her journey to wellness. Also, about a year prior to her last suicide attempt, she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder so we were busy learning how best to support her during this time as well. She likes to say that I was her voice at a time when she struggled the most with her illness. Fast forward to today, and she is doing remarkably well. I’m thrilled, and thankful, as her mother, to say that she has her voice back in more ways than one. She has always been known as our songbird, and once again she is singing too and pursuing her dream of becoming an established singer/songwriter.

Now that I’ve shared a little about how the blog started…

I’d like to share with you why I stopped blogging back in 2016. I felt that my daughter was doing so well that it was detrimental for me continue the blog. I was worried that I was somehow defining her with the use of the blog. I also felt that it was time for my girl to fly as an independent young woman. I didn’t want to stunt her growth as an individual. My thinking was that the blog had served its purpose, and the last blog post that I wrote, titled “An Open Letter to My Adult Child, Now a Mother Herself, Who Still Lives at Home,” marked the end of Stacy’s Flutterings as I knew it. No longer did this beautiful young woman need her mom to speak for her. I set my daughter free. This was an extremely significant time in my life too because after finding her after her last suicide attempt, that ended with her on life support, I clung to her because I feared that I could lose her, literally. It took a lot of healing to get to the place that I was the day that I wrote what I thought would be the last blog post. What I didn’t know was that the last blog post wasn’t the last.

What is different now is that…

it’s not just 1 mom writing, it’s 1 mom and 1 daughter. Kim has decided to join me, and I couldn’t be happier! We are 1 multigenerational family making it work, and music really is at the heart of what we are doing. Don’t get me wrong, mental illness still is a part of our story, but we’ve learned, and continue learning, how to cope individually and as a family with the challenges that accompany mental illness. Mental illness does not define us. We define us. And what’s really cool is that Bill, my husband and Kim’s dad, has joined Kim on her singing journey as her guitarist! I took the picture above last week while they were loading the Jeep with equipment for a gig Kim had that evening. She was actually teasing Bill and pretended she was helping him load the Jeep, when in all reality, he loaded the Jeep! I’m excited to share that he’ll start performing with her at her next gig!

The blog has a new look and vibe as we begin this next chapter…

and we hope that you will follow us as we chronicle our unique family story that involves mental illness, mental wellness, awareness, support, the ups, the downs and ultimately, phenomenal music by Kim and 1 cool dad!

~ Stacy (1 Mom)

A Time to Sing: Coping with Mental Illness

About two years ago our beautiful daughter Kim, who is our songbird, almost lost her life when she attempted suicide.  Miraculously, she survived.  Once she got her strength back she started the process of finding a healthier mental health balance.  Of course there are a multitude of ways in which a person can cope with the challenges of a mental illness, but I want to share with you one of Kim’s methods of coping.  I actually like to think of it as an extension of her desire to sing.

To give you a little background, Kim grew up dreaming of becoming a singer.  Throughout the years she sang in school plays and talent shows.  She competed in American Idol tryouts around the country.  She auditioned in states such as Florida, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.  She was a member of her high-school Chamber Choir.  She was also a member of several musical groups such as Encore, Madrigals and Show Choir.  Additionally, she performed freshman year through senior year in the February Frolics annual talent show.  She also played a part in the musical “Beauty and the Beast.”  She participated in a televised singing contest in St. Louis.  In addition to singing she wrote music and poetry.  We have very fond memories of her singing with her family and friends.  She recorded a  few songs and even uploaded them to YouTube.  She had plans to start a band, and then…the unthinkable happened…

By the time she was 19 years old mental illness had made its grand entrance into her life as well as ours in the form of bipolar disorder.  Then on May 21st, 2010 at 7:20 am our songbird temporarily ceased to sing after a second suicide attempt.  And with a humble and graciously thankful heart I share with you that she is once again singing.  This time she sings not only with her voice but through her creativity as well.  And she desires to now use her voice to help erase the stigma of mental illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “Coping Strategies for Bipolar Disorder” brochure, “Leading a balanced lifestyle can help make living with bipolar disorder more manageable” (14).  Furthermore, NAMI suggests that one way a person can lead a healthy lifestyle is to get involved in something like a hobby (15).  That is just what Kim has done.  She has found that creating jewelry is a great way for her to cope!  Of course there are other ways that she copes, but making jewelry is now one of her favorite hobbies and methods of coping with the challenges of living with bipolar disorder.

While it is a constant balancing act – Kim has found a healthier mental health balance and recently has started to sing again.  In fact, about a month ago while sitting in my office writing I heard from a nearby room Mandy Moore singing, “Only Hope” from the movie “A Walk to Remember” or so I thought.  As I listened to the soft, soothing voice sing, “There’s a song that’s inside of my soul…
it’s the one that I’ve tried to write over and over again…I’m awake in the infinite cold…but you sing to me over and over and over again…so I lay my head back down…and I lift my hands…and pray to be only yours…I pray to be only yours…I know now you’re my only hope…”  I soon realized it was Kim!  I sat in my office and soaked up her voice – relishing in the fact that she is singing again!  How blessed and thankful we are that our songbird once again sings.  Months before she couldn’t put pen to paper because her thoughts came so fast.  Now, she is singing and writing again.  And she is creating beautiful jewelry.

Regarding Kim’s jewelry, in an attempt to help erase the stigma of mental illness she has created a butterfly necklace that she wants to share with anyone who wants to help her spread the word that mental illness is just that, an illness.  It is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of.  I have included a picture of “Kim’s Erase the Stigma Butterfly” necklace above.  She is selling the necklace for $15.00.  She is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Karla Smith Foundation who supports families and loved ones affected by mental illness and suicide.  If you are interested in purchasing a necklace you can contact me by clicking on the “contact” button above for additional details.  I don’t usually attempt to sell anything on the blog, but as I advocate for my daughter I thought that helping her launch her product and idea would be a great way to support her.  We hope that soon her jewelry line will be on Etsy as well.  Until then…

From tragedy comes growth.  With time, treatment and support a beautiful songbird sings again…

Growing stronger…

~~~~~~~~~~

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.).  Coping strategies for bipolar disorder.  Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/Bipolar1/Coping_Strategies_for_Bipolar_Disorder.htm

Reframe

It was a little over a year ago that my counselor encouraged me to re-frame my experience regarding finding my daughter after her second attempt.  You see I was feeling very guilty about what had happened.  I was questioning myself.  “What if I would have done this or that?”  What a difference a year makes!  At first, I didn’t get it.  I couldn’t imagine thinking about the experience in a different light.  Let me say, I feel totally different today.  A year ago I  honestly did not know what to do.  While my beautiful daughter was home recuperating I  fell and broke my wrist, injured my shoulder and had bronchitis on top of all of that.  I found myself spiraling into depression.  What was I to do?  My husband, son and youngest daughter all returned to work, and I went on family leave to assist Kim with her recovery.    A few months went by, and I was not doing well.  I found myself staying close to Kim for fear of another attempt.  My husband Bill creatively and out of total love, adoration and support got me back up on my feet.  Reluctantly, I went with him on a trip out of state.  I had the most difficult time removing myself from Kim.

When we returned from our trip I felt a little stronger, and I actually returned to work the end of July.  Something clicked for me.  I started going to the YMCA and began to lose weight.  In addition to losing the weight, I noticed that I was feeling better and more optimistic.  In relation, I believe, to my increasing positive outlook Kim returned to college and completed her CNA program.  I admire her strength and determination.  What a phenomenal and beautiful person she is!  It’s been a little over a year, and I have lost over 30 pounds.  I have completed my first year of graduate school in a clinical counseling program.  I have become an active volunteer and most importantly I have regained my strength, and I have become a voice and an advocate for those with mental illness.  Additionally, I hope that I have become a healthy source of strength for my loved ones.  I rejoin Bill, Paul, Kim and Katlin in walking this journey together.  May we never give up!  I think I can finally say to my counselor, “Re-frame successful!”

Cowboy’s Song

I was blessed with the opportunity to volunteer as a lead in the catering tent from July 31st to August 7th in Ottawa, Kansas with Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  Along side me was my husband Bill who volunteered in the catering tent and then quickly moved on to helping build Gina and Allen Hill’s new home.

Reflecting back on our week in Ottawa, Kansas with Extreme Makeover Home  Edition I recall meeting the most phenomenal people, and making lifelong friends with people from around the world such as China and Canada as well as different areas of the United States.  Many freely opened up and shared with me their personal journey with mental illness.  As the walls of the Hill’s home went up it was as if we all knew we were in an environment where we could openly and safely share our losses, near losses and challenges that we face each and every day.

One such remarkable person I met August 4th while I was working in the catering tent was Cowboy.  He shared with me that he had experienced traumatic brain injury.  In addition, he discussed his suicide attempts and subsequent recovery.  Here was this man who had endured so many challenges mentally and physically who wanted to selflessly help build the Hill’s home.  He continued to show up on site throughout the build.  Saturday, August 6th I was out on a semi-truck helping volunteers unload cases of water when a person ran over and said there was a gentleman in the catering tent asking for Stacy.  She said he would only talk to Stacy so I went to the tent wondering who it might be.  There was Cowboy sitting at a table with his friend who also has traumatic brain injury.  Cowboy had driven over 400 miles that day round-trip from a family reunion back to the build site so that he could do some more volunteer work.  He handed me handwritten lyrics of a song and proceeded to sing, very softly, “If We’d All Say a Prayer.”  This is a song dear to Cowboy’s heart because his father would sing it at family reunions over the years.  In addition to giving me the lyrics he gave me paperwork about brain injury.

The Hill’s new home stands as an extraordinary representation of the awareness surrounding mental illness that occurred that week in Ottawa, Kansas and will continue to occur when Extreme Makeover Home Edition Kansas airs in the fall.