Sunday, September 29, 2019

I Looked for You Today

If you looked in on my life today as an errant bystander you wouldn't see anything extraordinary. My husband packed up and headed out for a business trip, I took a shower, got dressed and went to the local mall to run a few errands, I snagged a couple items from the grocery store and I made my way home. Sounds like a pretty typical Sunday afternoon.

What you wouldn't see are the hidden meanings and heart-wrought emotion I'm barely holding back from the surface.

Today was a day of firsts.

first full day on my own since I returned from the hospital
first time leaving the house alone
first time driving my car since September 13th's also the first time I have spent an entire day looking for you.

Yesterday I said goodbye to you, my best friend. I knew that your time with me was growing short, you were almost 12 and we have spent the last eleven and a half years adventuring side by side in this life. You were not feeling well, it had been a steady decline for the last month or so but, I wasn't going to give up hope. You sat with me through tears and pain, never leaving my side when I needed you and I promised you that I would always do the same. I just wasn't prepared to let you go so fast. I took our time for granted and I thought for sure we had more... at least another day. Always, at least one more day.

When the doctor told me how sick you were, my heart broke. You had been trying so hard to be yourself, always loving and gentle. I had no idea how bad it was for you. I guess we were the same in that way; never letting anyone know just how bad things felt. All I wanted in that moment was to hold you, tell you how much I loved you and never let you go. I had to make the impossible choice to ease your pain and I hope you knew just how much I loved you. I thought we had more time. I never thought I would come home without you.

I'm grateful for the kind and gentle heart of the doctor. Her eyes watered and her voice cracked as we discussed letting you go. She barely knew you and yet; she loved you. This was your effect on people. your beautiful warm eyes and sweet smile won over even the most adverse people. I loved you the instant I saw you and I'm so grateful that I got to be your person.

As you fell asleep one last time, your head resting on my hand and our foreheads together. I hope you heard me telling you that I loved you. I hope you knew how much joy you have brought to my life. I hope you knew you did everything right and you will always be with me. I hope you felt safe and like it was ok for you to finally rest. You were my soulmate, my best friend and the best companion I could ever ask for. You came both in and out of my life unexpectedly, but while you were by my side you were trustworthy and dependable and you never hesitated to show your full heart.

I work up several times last night, listening for the sound of you breathing; just like I have done every night for the last week. When I moved I was careful to not disturb you, your spot was still safe. Each time I realized you we'rent there my heart broke again and again. When I started my shower this morning I walked back into the living room to see if you were coming into the bathroom. When I got out you weren't there lying on the rug with your silly smile. When I was leaving the house I walked into the kitchen to get you a cookie. When I'd realized what I had done it brought me to my knees. I sat in your spot on the rug by the oven and cried.

When I got home from my errands I was exhausted. I opened the door and walked into the living room; I half expected you to be perched in your corner of the couch; making a nest out of the pillows, the way you always did. In that moment, it really hit me. You're gone.

I know that my heart will heal, that new routines will come and the pain of your loss will lessen. A day will come when it doesn't hurt to think of you and how much I loved you. Eventually, I will pack up your things, donating them to another dog that needs love.

Today is a day of firsts and it's my first day without you. I bought flowers, you used to love to smell them. I chose yellow because you we're sweet and bright; always friendly to everyone. As, I begin to sift through the aftermath of this month I will miss you. You were my confidant, I could tell you anything and you would snuggle up next to me, put your head on my lap and look up at me; reassuring me that it would all be ok. I don't know how I will move forward without you, but I will.

I love you my sweet boy. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be your mama, thank you for picking to spend your life with me.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Reckoning

I just had a birthday, I would normally say I 'celebrated' a birthday... but, this year was different. Being 35 was tough. Before you go ahead and start leaping to conclusions and assuming that I'm talking about some sort of 'mid-life crisis' let me assure you that this was so much more than that.

I believe in a lot of things; some that people think are hokey or dumb. I have traditions that are a little outside the norm and I like it that way. Let me begin this with sharing some of the things I believe in. Take my list for what you will, maybe you will want to create your own, maybe not. it's all ok.

I believe in:

  • taking time to reflect what the year has brought you (some do this for January 1st, I do this for my birthday)
  • speaking truth to bullshit- even my own, maybe even especially my own
  • understanding my own bullshit and working to reduce it
  • continuous self-growth
  • learning from life
  • leaning into pain and growing from it
  • moving forward; always

...with that being said, 35 was a year that kicked my ass. I got lost for a while, trying to be something or someone that wasn't true to myself. I second guessed my own worth and settled for less than I knew I deserved. I let pain win; both physical and emotional. I lost control of where my energy was being spent and I resented it; all of it. I stumbled, fell down, face-planted. I curled into a fetal position and arrested my own development. In some ways, I gave up. I resigned myself to my own self-limiting expectations and laid down to just let life happen to me; after all, I must deserve anything that comes my way...right? I wasn't happy. I knew in my soul that I wasn't happy, instead of working to change it, I just accepted it as the way I was supposed to be. I was too tired to fight that awful voice inside my head telling me that I was worthless. My gentle heart became broken and bitter. I somehow stopped listening to my own voice and instead listened to what strangers thought was best for me or defined who I am as a person. 

It would be easy to call myself names; I was stupid, I was an idiot, I was weak. 

Instead, I'm going to own it; all of it. It's messy and imperfect and yet somehow I am grateful for the bottom falling out. Believe me, it really did fall out. Tonight I'm sitting in my living room and listening to a beautiful thunderstorm. This is a rarity in Washington and I'm accepting this gift of the universe to help me wash it all away and start again. I've spent most of the day in quiet reflection and writing about what really matters to me; capturing my truth with words. I have 1 more day of vacation to wrap my brain around what I will step into 36 with and what I will choose to leave behind. 

I've come up with a few simple things that I want to work on this next year, baby steps on the path of enlightenment. I'm putting the words into print for accountability, support and reminders when I stray from my path. 

1. Write in my journal every day. This is less about writing a story and more about owning my energy. By taking 15 minutes a day to set my intention and ensure that I follow through I get to guide where I am spending my precious resources. This needs to be a priority. I need to hold myself to creating, honoring and committing to this small thing that is just for me. I will focus on setting boundaries to protect my energy; starting with less work and more investment in myself. When I honor who I am at my core, I become the best version of myself. 

2. Figure out how to run a fucking 5k. Again, this is less about the actual running of the 5k. Truthfully, I've lost count of the number of times I've actually run one, but what I aim to do is shift the focus to perfecting my craft. Since I started to get sick about 5 years ago, I've spent so much time thinking about all the the things I can no longer do. This year I want to love my body again. I want to feel beautiful in my own skin and a big part of that is feeling strong. I want to be grateful for each step instead of thinking about steps that have been taken away from me. I must stop letting pain win, whether it is physical or psychological, I have the option to either celebrate what I have been given or resent what has been taken; I'm opting to focus on the first. 

3. Mandatory 15 minute dance party every day- not just the good days. Catching on with the theme here? It's not about the actual task at hand, it's about the representation. This challenge for myself is about not letting the negative feelings win. Each day I wake up is worthy of a celebration, I need to take more time to do this. I need to marvel in the beauty of life, feel joy for the little things. I need to acknowledge the pain and fear when it stops by, but then I need to let it go. It's so exhausting to carry that extra baggage with me and I'm going to stop.

4. Hide and Seek is no longer my game of chance. My first instinct in all things to shrink, hide, duck and cover; absolutely not be seen. I was raised with the sense that modesty is a virtue and that I am a "behind the scenes" kind of person; even when I am successful. Shame is also a shit-starter for me. I've been a perfectionist my whole life. There is a difference between over sharing and being authentic. Authenticity means that I show up, just as I am. I know I'm not perfect, and that's ok, but I'm not shouting from the rooftop about how you need to accept my bad choices because I'm just being 'authentic'. I want to be seen as a whole person. I am: an artist, a woman, a writer, a friend, a sister, a spouse, an advocate, a coach, an athlete, a learner, an empath, a creative, a romantic, a daughter. There are also a tremendous amount of things that I am not. That's ok. I am not all things. I cannot be. If I truly want to be seen for all of the things that I am, I need to let go of the things that I am not. I am going to work hard at not shrinking into the shadows and hoping that I am left unnoticed. Sometimes I will struggle. This is where I will need your help, a gentle reminder of the parts of me that you see; the parts that shine. I am also going to work harder to honor all parts of me. I'm going to paint more, write more, coach more. You are going to hear my voice more.

I've been given an incredible gift; 35 very full years on this planet. I am going to work my hardest to honor year 36. This will never be an easy task, but I think I am up to the challenge.