The Grieving Room

Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash

Stepping out of my comfort zone and finally feeling free

I have done three different things this week, all of which have taken me out of my comfort zone a bit, and placed me in a space I had not met before. I will start with the why of it all. Why have I done these things? What am I looking to gain from having done them? How will I move forward now with each of them started and a part of who I am?

When you are a fearful person, everything that falls outside of your line of comfort scares you. The dreams you have festering in your mind continue to fester because you fear every move you need to make in order to make those dreams your reality.

I have lived at least twenty years of my life stuck in constant fear of the unknown, yet the unknown is what I am drawn/connected to. It is where I want to be — where I see myself at my happiest. So, how do I get there if I stay stuck in the same spot — afraid to move? I won’t. And that had to change. It is changing.

So, what did I do — which three things?


Others recognize my strength as a writer — this gives me joy

Late last year, I submitted to a publication called The Short of It, which is hosted by editor Susi Bocks. The premise of the online publication is to publish “exquisite expressions in tiny explosions.” I submitted five micro-poems all the while, thinking, as I am often wont to do, they would not be chosen, and they were.

The editor published the feature for the five poems in the wee hours of Friday, July 29, 2022, and you can find each poem here. I want to share one poem with you, though — one that encompasses all that I have been feeling of late about myself and the world at large.

Pressure

she sits on the sea’s floor
shaped by the world
above it–changed forever.
the workers of ancient
tongues sift through
her words, chanting
their dismissals.
the pressure from centuries
ago labels her again
and again.
is this the chosen path
home or not?

To see these poems of mine hosted via The Short of It amongst many other writers whom I read daily and find comfort in doing so gives me an incredible amount of joy. For a couple of years, I’d ceased submitting to both online and print publications because the number of rejections was mounting, and I did not have the strength to scale that mountain any longer.

Braving it once again allowed me not only to submit to The Short of It, but also to write an essay catered to and about Black Joy regarding country music. I had in mind the publication (via Medium) I want this work to be connected to, so I wrote the essay with the publication’s theme sounding off as I typed each word.

I edited, fine-tuned, and combed through every word at different intervals. The time came to apply to be a writer. I did — again, fearful that I would not be their choice. I received the acceptance email also on Friday, July 29, 2022, and had been advised to submit the draft to the publication for continued review.

If you are a writer on/from Medium reading this, or if you have submitted your work to any viable or indomitable publication, whether online or in print, you know this does not mean the work will be published. This means you are IN. The publication will now work with you to bring your best work to their audience or they could decline every new submission if not tailored to their liking/theme accordingly.

I am hopeful the essay will be published, though, and I am optimistic about its chances. Again, there is joy racing through my bones solely about being accepted as a writer for this publication because I had been so afraid to even apply just two years ago.

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and walked to exactly where I needed to be. And now, the journey is such a freeing one.


When people connect with your writing — they want to build with you

On Friday — yes, there’s a theme here. Do you see it? A fellow writer who is also an entrepreneur, artist, and creative powerhouse, left a comment on a previous TGR newsletter pertinent to my “dream” job and future goals. I read the comment — reached out to her. This morning, we had an hour-plus-long call that can only breed good things from this moment forward.

I am confident in her vision and in what we discussed as a game plan. It is intentional. It is laser-focused on a certain topic. It is exactly what I believe most of us need right now and in the immediate future — especially me. Prayerfully, early next year will produce more great things because of this interaction.

If I had not been writing my heart out — not sharing my difficulties and breakthroughs with grief — I never would have made this connection. If I had not taken a moment to break away from that pesky comfort zone of mine, I would not have sent the email or hopped on the call.

She saw — has seen something in my writing for years that made her want to build with me. There is no phrase — no way of actually describing this feeling that can do it justice.

When you are doing what your heart pushes you to do, the right people see it.


I whisper these accomplishments to the wind, and she hears them

The one thing that shatters my heart, though, about my newfound freedom is the fact that I cannot verbally share this with my cousin and hear her response. But I whisper it into the open air. I bend the ear of the flirting trees. I allow myself to bounce ideas out loud and nod when I feel like she approves — supports them.

I have learned that freedom from fear comes when the comfort zone is squashed. I am learning to guide myself down paths that speak to me and feel safe with more of an open mind. I am learning that although my cousin is no longer here to experience everything with me as I experience these things in real time — she is in my heart tapping at the center of me, at just the right moment.

And every tear that falls doesn’t come from me being sad anymore — they sometimes come with an undeniable air of joy surrounding me at every turn.

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. — Joseph Campbell

Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.

See you next Saturday


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in The Grieving Room newsletter via LinkedIn.

meeting

professional word
left by a fellow artist
could mean something big


Yesterday, I read a comment on a previously published The Grieving Room newsletter that was left by a fellow writer who is also an entrepreneur and visual artist that said, “Adore your ✍🏽 when you are serious about the “dream” publishing gig let’s talk.” Many of you know that I dream of working professionally and full-time as a writer/editor/content creator. This same writer and entrepreneur approached me a few months back, and I hadn’t had the energy to take on anything else that would drain me as it was right after Chrissy had passed.

She expressed her thoughts about the vision she has and I had definitely been a listening ear. The beginnings of it were still bouncing back and forth in her head. However, she stated she would have everything sorted and closer to fruition by late summer or early fall. So, here we are …

We have a call today at 11:00 am. My response to her upon sending a follow-up email to her comment was, “I am interested in a full-time writer/editor/content creator position, and I am extremely serious about this.” Phone numbers were exchanged, call time and date noted, and in less than one hour, I will speak to someone who has been reading my work for years and is interested in helping me help them take their brand to higher heights.

I pray there will be good news. Whatever occurs, though, I will share it with all of you.

Peace and blessings.

The Things I Am Not

And who I am and who I’d like to be

Simple. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I am an open book with a tired spine. I am not an only child — the eldest of seven. I creep beneath the sun’s shadows on cloudy days and savor a subtle breeze as it blows haphazardly in my direction.

Not a smoker. Not a drinker. Not a person who cares if you do or don’t, as long as you aren’t bringing harm to others — do as you please. I won’t sit back and keep my tongue on pause when a situation/action/ordeal rubs me the wrong way.

I am not your best friend’s best thing. Not a visual artist. Not a fan of everyone merging into one another. Where is the ability to be unique — to stand out from the crowd?

The bandwagon is toppling. We need to lighten the load.

I am not a night owl — not a club-hopper, can’t tell you the last time I’ve allowed someone to get within six feet of me if they weren’t family or a close/best friend.

I am not interested in cryptocurrency, bitcoin, sales & marketing. I don’t want to know how many ways I can flip a house.

I could care less about social media. You won’t find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok; hell, I’m barely tolerating LinkedIn, and it’s lightweight entertainment on a good day.

I still listen to my favorite artists on CDs, others on vinyl. I have zero shame in pulling up YouTube to venture down memory lane.

Nope, I’m not addicted to Spotify, Apple Music, or any other app that gives me hundreds of thousands of artists at my beck and call.

I can write until my fingers bleed. I give birth to stories that have spent more than nine months in my brain. I am a healthcare worker leaning towards 20 years in the field.

I am not heterosexual.
I do not lack love.
I cannot stand what this world is becoming.

I am not in a relationship — don’t want to be “hooked up” with your boy or “set up” with your girl. Keep your friends where they are — they’ll have way too much to deal with as it pertains to who I am now.

I can say that openly without stuttering. I can say that and feel no shame. I know where my lane is and I stay in it.

I am me. Flawed. Fearful. Forgiven. The things I am not are exactly who I am.


This is a response to the CRY “Who Are You” prompt. Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.


N’Dambi, Can’t Hardly Wait

The Grieving Room

Photo by Sara Bakhshi on Unsplash

It’s been nearly 20 years and I am drained.

As I listened to her breathe on the other end of the phone while I asked pertinent questions about the radiology procedures I was scheduling for her, I noticed a break in her responses. I paused. I could hear her softly crying and everything in me shifted. This had been a moment for me to turn up the sunshine — to be my whole and empathetic self — not to cry along with her, but to change the atmosphere. It had been my moment, as it has been hundreds/thousands of times, to lift the spirits of another.

When scheduling a newly diagnosed cancer patient, it is almost always emotional for me. The invasive procedures or radiology scans will soon become their norm, but upon that first scheduling experience, there are questions unfamiliar to them. Some things require responses that are sure to open and pour salt into fresh wounds. I could tell she had become exhausted and had probably had her fill with speaking to scheduling staff, medical professionals, and abiding by the oncologist’s recommendations.

It isn’t every day of your life prior to this “new thing” you have been tasked with answering, “Can you sit and stand without assistance?” or “Are you allergic to IV contrast?” or “Have you had any recent scans or procedures related to this condition outside of this organization?” I want to be quick, but I want to be thorough. I want to ensure the details of the procedures have been given, but I also want to recognize and feel where the patient is during our scheduling conversation.

And this lady, at 86, was not in a good place. And why should she be?

Mine was an unfamiliar voice to her. Regardless of how calming and reassuring I had been, I was still a stranger — giving her details for a nuclear medicine whole-body bone scan and a CT chest/abdomen/pelvis with contrast — both to be done in tandem, on the same day. I heard her sniffling and my mind nearly shut down. I had to think of something to get her back with me on the call — back to the place of acknowledgment of this damning reality, and I did it my way — the polite, comedic way.

“Ma’am. You let me know when you’re ready, and we’ll begin looking at arrival times which range from crack-of-dawn-early to just right after sunrise early, and we’ll go from there.”

When I heard her giggle and get herself back in sync with me, I chuckled too. I assured her our technologists would take great care of her and we could take the time we needed for the call. She had the floor. This had been her time to allow it all to sink in and marinate, and I would select the date and time when she was ready.

After the brief comedic segue, the appointment was scheduled, and I had to get her transferred to yet another department for another appointment. But I am not the type to simply cold transfer our patients. I want to be sure someone will be ready for them, and on the line, to get them scheduled. I informed her of this process by saying, “Now that my task is done for your radiology appointments, I will get you connected with another team member to schedule your last appointment. Is there anything else I can do to assist you at this time?”

She laughed — still caught off guard by the description of the times for her appointments with our department. I knew the call ended on the note it needed to when she said, “No, sweetheart. You have done all I need you to do today.”

It has been nearly 20 years in the medical field, and it is weighing on me — breaking me down in ways I never thought I would ever witness. I remind myself I am where I am called to be, but every time I do this, I feel as though I am reassuring myself for what, exactly? Why? If my heart was still truly in it, would I need this reassurance? Would it be required? If I wanted to continue in the medical field, shouldn’t it just all flow rhythmically and naturally, like water?


How a “Stanley Sugarman” quote made me think of her.

After I scheduled my patient mentioned above, I had another patient who had called to see if her orders had been ready for several MRI scans. She began the conversation by letting me know she had just had a stroke several weeks ago and the day before — woke up to complete blindness in her right eye. Her scans, she had been told, would be STAT requests and needed to be scheduled for the next day, which would have been Friday, June 17, 2022.

I had been gathering myself after the previous call, however; I needed to begin the search for her orders. Unfortunately, the orders had not been in the system, and after reaching out to the team to see if they had been in the queue or on the backend awaiting transcribing, they were not there either.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have to say, “I apologize. Unfortunately, we do not have any orders for your scans.” It is not something a nervous, suffering, and anxiety-ridden person wants to hear. What most patients want to hear almost all the time is, “I see your orders right here and we can proceed with scheduling your appointment.”

Upon hearing her orders had not been received, she told me of the suffering she had endured and how she was simply tired and wanted to know what was going on with her. As a patient with multiple sclerosis, having to undergo MRIs would not be her first rodeo, but total blindness in one eye was. How do I make this right? How do I again shift the atmosphere?

Before I could tell her what the next steps would be, she stated she would reach out to her referring doctor and see if they were, in fact, faxing her orders to our organization. I provided her with our fax number just in case the previous submission went to another department. I advised her of our office hours and informed her to please call us back as soon as she heard from her provider so we could proceed with getting her scheduled.

She had mentioned being told she may need to be admitted, and upon hearing this, I informed her the doctor recommending this would need to correspond directly with the admitting team at the hospital. She ended the call with me to pursue further investigation with her doctor’s office.

There are days that pummel me into submission — days when I feel as though I cannot hear about another grand mal seizure, stroke, aortic aneurysm, or the many forms of cancer metastasizing from one site to various other parts of the body. Days that seem to travel alongside each other sizing me up, testing my strength. This past week covered me in so many of these days, and I am just happy I made it through the week.

Last night, I watched the new Netflix movie starring Queen Latifah and Adam Sandler, Hustle, and I allowed myself to get lost in their veteran, consistently on-point talent for close to two hours. Adam Sandler’s character, Stanley Sugarman, says something that made me think of my cousin, and I shook my head as I heard him say it:

There was only one guy who knew what I was capable of, and he died. — Stanley Sugarman

I am capable of so much. I have far too many talents and gifts, and I know I can do something else that doesn’t eat away at my soul as much as the medical field is doing now. My cousin knew this. She drilled it into my head on the days I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. These days, I replay her advice in my head — pulling the love she shared with me from the deepest places within me and allowing it to be a constant reminder.

I can still do what I want to do. I can still make it all happen. The question, though, is when?


When you need a pick-me-up, visit the babies.

I can always count on my baby cousins to light up my world. Spending time with them puts me in a whole other place — one where happiness seems to pull up next to me with little coaxing. Today, though, only one was home, but he was enough. Caison is growing up so fast, and I feel like time is being cruel with just how fast he’s growing. Every time I see him, he looks like he’s grown an inch.

The young one is full of energy, has an in-your-face personality, and still gives the best hugs a four-year-old will ever give. When I need a reminder of just how beautiful life can be, and how I am not meant to wallow continually in the dumps, I spend time with my baby cousins.

His mother is an expert hugger also, so I see where the ability comes from. I am blessed to have an affectionate family — to hear, “Text me when you get home” every time I turn my back to walk out the door. Sometimes, the babies will chime in, “Be safe!” and that makes it sweeter.

Visiting them rejuvenates me — stocks me with the will to go on and be so damn outstanding.


The week was hard, but it didn’t win.

I had a hard week but I am here to share it — I can talk about it. I am of sound mind, I still have a quick tongue, and my heart is full of love. This past week may have had me up against the ropes a few times, but it did not knock me out. We tussled in the ring for 8 rounds, and I lived to tell you about it.

It was a hard one, but it didn’t win.

Death is with you all the time; you get deeper in it as you move towards it, but it’s not unfamiliar to you. It’s always been there, so what becomes unfamiliar to you when you pass away from the moment is really life. — bell hooks


Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.

See you next Saturday.

©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in The Grieving Room newsletter via LinkedIn.