A letter to Minnie

  

Six years ago I let Bob talk me into looking at adopting a Great Dane.  When I went on the adoption page and saw your photo, all stretched out on a couch with a bunch of toys in your mouth I said “her – I want her”. A few weeks later he showed up with you in the back car and my life would never be the same. 

I was convinced we’d change your name but when you climbed into the recliner – all 100 lbs of you we knew Minnie would stick.  Later that year when Bob and I decided we would split up I had a tough decision to make and I’ll never regret it for a minute.  I said you can take anything in the house.  I’m keeping Minnie and the TV.  And we slept on a futon mattress on the floor for a week but I had you and that was what mattered.

   

 

I’m sorry that I chose to have someone in our lives who didn’t love you like you deserved but I hope during those couple of years I loved you enough to make up for it.  And once again I never regret making him leave after you had your first seizure and he said he wish you wouldn’t have made it.  I’m sorry it took me so long to see it.

I’m so glad you had a chance to be loved by so many people, Melissa, Valerie, Bayley, Emily, Rob, Jody… The list goes on… I’m glad you had a grandma that spoiled you silly and a great grandma that called me today so sad that she didn’t get to say goodbye… I’m happy in the end that you had a Dad there that loved you more than you can imagine… That would have done anything for you… That was there with you to say goodbye…  

   

  

And you were a great sister to the brother you let sit on your face  

You were so smart, and a bit of a trouble maker… Bananas, really? Spatulas? I mean you chewed through a child lock once… When you wanted something there was no stopping you…

   

  

You taught me what it was like to love unconditionally again… You saved my life more than once… I would say I have to keep going Minnie needs me…  

You frustrated me at times but ultimately you taught me patience… You were there when I came through the door every day and every moment I got to spend with you was a blessing… Life will not be the same… I plan to bury your ashes outside under the bleeding heart plant that you never failed to roll over at some point each summer… And we’ll it’s a bleeding heart flower it doesn’t get much more fitting than that… You are and always will be my angel… Love you baby girl

  

   

           

Advertisements

How to Breathe

This is such a theme in my life isn’t it?

I’ve been really down lately.  My anxiety has been back.  My knee started swelling up again a week or so again, so I immediately made a doctor’s appointment – I go in on Thursday to see my orthopedic surgeon to see if I’ve done something to it or if my arthritis has just gotten out of hand.  I’ve cut all cardio and exercise from my routine hoping the rest would help and I fear that I’ll start to undo everything I’ve been working for.

I crashed a little bit after the anniversary of my dad’s death- I grieved really silently this year other than the blog post.  It was like I poured it all out of my system and then didn’t know what to do with all of those feelings.

I felt just so incredibly lost and overwhelmed.  I found just a moment of solace in my prayers at night.  I would beg for my heart rate to slow down, for calmness to creep into my soul.

Today I got a little bit of help.

A few months ago the singer/songwriter who you all know I have so much respect for and who has made the music that I have found so healing as of late began releasing snippets of songs that would be on his new album.

Today – Matthew Mayfield released Wild Eyes.

On Wild Eyes is a song entitled How to Breathe.

And as I listened to it the whole way through the first time I rushed up to close my office door because my emotions just exploded.

“The back and forth the push and pull / It’s carved a curse inside my soul / Yet I believe that this tug of war has taught me how to breathe”

I said back when I first talked about Matthew Mayfield’s music in November that everyone should find a song that makes them feel again.  For me its understanding that being broken is ok.  It’s my brokenness that makes me who I am.  No one has the same cracks that I do – No one has been put back together the same way that I have.

I am blessed for the dents, dings, rust stains and scars that I carry.  Each one has taught me how to breathe.  In the end every single one of them ended with some type of hope.  How easy it is to forget that.

Thank you MM – thank you the timing of this album could not have been better.

The album is available on iTunes now.

12 years – Grief Becomes

Today marks 12 years since Dad passed away… is it odd that I wonder how best to describe it… – lost his battle with cancer, died, left us, succumbed to the disease, was called to heaven… I hate them all… passed away seems like the most benign of them all I suppose… so we’ll go with it….

12 years…

Hard to imagine…

I say that every year… every time I add another digit to that total and every year it still feels like yesterday… this year it crept up on me like a sneaky little bugger… Being on vacation, then coming home to a crazy schedule and this weekend I was down with a flu-like virus so all of the sudden I was like crap – seriously Feb 11th where did you come from… I was not ready…

Maybe it’s a good thing… I’m emotional but I didn’t get the chance to dwell.. Maybe it’s because I’m so proud of where my life is at that I’m doing better this year… there’s a whole host of reason’s, then again – I could just be one hot mess by tonight so who knows…

Before I get too deep into this post can we take a second to just admire my dad’s hair… and stache… 2 5

Things of magic they were… and that photo – total James Bond look…

4

images

I went searching for quotes that put into words what I was feeling this year – it’s quite the eclectic mix… this first one – so true… When I think back to when I found out that Dad’s first diagnosis was only for a few months and yet he held on for over two years I can’t even imagine – I was clueless… I just assumed things would keep struggling on… It was like I wasn’t really there while it was all happening… If I ignored it all it couldn’t really be true… there would still be tomorrow… until there wasn’t…

In the photo above the quote I couldn’t even tell you what year that was… I can tell you that Dad was sick… I can tell you that I probably didn’t realize how sick he really was… I can tell you that I thought we still had a lot of tomorrows…

98aa91bcfab7909253d6e9091fa860b2

I found some great photos of my dad from before I was even born and I have to admit I love this stuff – the things that let me glimpse the man he was…

9

In the middle after graduation from West Point Military Academy

6

On the right – from legend the very last day his face was clean shaven…  I wonder about his friends too and how they have battled their grief because I know how much his death rocked everyone he touched… I think of them today too… because I bet today they might just realize in a gut check moment that 12 years has snuck up on them too…

And there are the photos from when I was too young to remember him and my mom in happier times…

8 1

It’s not much but now I so desperately cling to these as the bits and pieces of him… Like this scrap of paper that was tucked in a folder that brought me to tears last night… He was teaching me how to do a family tree… and when he got to writing himself in – he listed himself as Mr. Wonderful… How amazing that a little piece of his handwriting was the most precious thing I laid my hands on last night… Like for a moment I was touching his hand again…

11

After he died I spent half of my time trying to drink away his memory and the other half of the time clinging to anything I could put my hands on which wasn’t much… I have to admit as I sorted through photographs last night I was amazed at how few there were of me and my dad because odds were he was behind the camera taking the pictures… Then I was shocked at the photos I found of the months after he died… where you never would have known the turmoil that was going on… I looked totally fine… which leads me to this next quote…

Grief-Quotes-66

This is perhaps one of my favorite quotes on grief because it gives it a picture… When everything was caving in, when everyone was scrambling to put the pieces back together there I was in some sort of insulated bubble… Never did I feel so alone… But I didn’t know how to explain it to anyone… Sometimes I still don’t… this is what anxiety attacks feel like… like everything is completely out of control but you are just there and how do you even get out of it… It won’t last forever though – that’s what you have to remember…

1e5b778c4d87e81a6d179246724c3ce4

I often forget that CS Lewis wrote and entire book on grief – A Grief Observed… and if this doesn’t sum it up I don’t know what can… grief can be terrifying because there is no answer and it is never the same, no two people feel it the same way and there is no fix, no cure… and then there are times when grief actually isn’t scary at all which kind of makes it scary… when I was on vacation and I sat on our porch and the sun set and I talked to my dad and I was somber and I was joyous and I said how I wished that I could share this with him… and I grieved…

images (1)

Most importantly I remember every day that I feel this deep grief for the loss of my father because of how much he loved me and how much I loved him… was he perfect? Not by a long shot, did we do everything right – nope, was I the best daughter I could have been – no way, I contributed many a grey hair… but he loved me more than I could have ever asked for… and because he loved me and I him, losing him left that much more of a void in my life…

3 7

I miss him every moment of every day… I still, 12 years later, catch myself wanting to pick up the phone to call him and tell him something about my day…. When I have a completely breakdown I still scream out “why aren’t you here I need you”… I still wonder what life would have been life had things gone differently…

It’s the moments when people that knew him tell me how much I remind them of him, or when they say how they wish he could see what a wonderful person I’ve turned out to be, or when they say I hope you know how much he adored you… It’s in those moments that my heart breaks and bursts and I know I’ve done ok… and that I’m managing this grief thing as best as I can…

Take every emotion you can think of… roll it up and live it in a 5 minute span… and there you have grief… fear, love, joy, loss, anger, sadness, hope…

I love you Dad… 12 years….

10

Getting Back to Life

IMG_5110

For 7 amazing days this was my view every morning…  Looking out from our house on Sabbath Hill Road in Belle Vue, Tortola… It was everything I could have asked for and more… I had absolutely no idea how burnt out I had become until I got down to that island – where responsibilities were minimal, where my biggest worry was about wearing enough sunscreen and navigating some narrow roads with my best friend (and amazing driver)…

I had reached a level of manic back home that I was completely unaware of… It took a good 2-3 days before the island lifestyle started to sink into my bones but once it did I accepted it with open arms…

IMG_5211 IMG_5209 IMG_5148 IMG_5164 IMG_5142 IMG_5128Sorry if any of these photos are repeats from my previous post…

IMG_5111 IMG_5175 IMG_5188 IMG_5201 IMG_5215 IMG_5146

The people were great – we met some amazing locals and other people vacationing from all over the world – many who vacationed at the islands every year…

When it was time to go home we told the people we rented from that we intended to come back as soon as finances allowed us to… (we rented our house through Air B&B and it was fantastic – Olivia and Stany were great hosts and lived next door and were available any time we needed something)

In the airport in Miami when I was able to finally call home everyone started to comment how I sounded different, that I talked slower, seemed more relaxed, calmer, less anxious… It was true I really did… I just felt totally refreshed… Even when I jumped into some work things while working from home my first two days back I didn’t get stressed out – just took things as they came and rolled with the punches…

The day I got back my amazing grandmother turned 99.. Yes 99… we took her to dinner at our favorite restaurant/bar.  The bartender had a reserved sign on the bar for us and party hat for her.  He was so excited to have us.

IMG_5237 IMG_5283

She said she didn’t want any cake… but when I ordered some she ended up eating almost all of it anyways…

I had a fantastic 30th birthday party the Saturday after I got back with my good friend Judge who just happened to also be turning 40 and made the most of the last few days I had off.

IMG_5265

Elsa cupcakes – sorry the photo is so dark… I’ll update with a better one from the baker and my good friend Mel’s account! (shoutout to MommaMels)IMG_5274

What goes better with cupcakes than a few shots…

Then it was back to real life.  I was determined to hold onto this relaxation I had found… determined…

It lasted 2 days…

Tuesday night as I sat at home I raged into an anxiety attack out of no where and all I could think was how could this happen so quickly.  So I decided I would just go down the list of things I could think of that would help to ease me out of it.  Since I couldn’t identify what caused it I focused on getting comfortable, warmed up, secure… I allowed myself to “stim” which is often associated with autism but we actually all do it to some level – when we jiggle our leg, all of those unconscious movements to calm our minds… mine – when I hit extreme anxiety is slight rocking… might make me look like a crazy lady but oh does it help…

I finally was able to calm my nerves enough to get into bed – got under my weighted blanket which – BEST INVESTMENT EVER – well really best gift since my mom got it for me… as soon as I was under it I started saying a few prayers, my favorite psalm and before I knew it I woke up a few hours later needing to roll over in bed…

I woke up this morning not feeling well at all so I’m wondering if the anxiety attack was actually my body freaking out over a quick onset virus or bug…

IMG_5303

Minnie held me up after today’s work out… I needed some comforting at 6am that’s for sure…

Despite everything I knew the key to getting back into a schedule would be maintaining the work out and eating habits I began before I left for vacation…  So back to prepped food and early morning work outs… AND the bf got me the new fitbit Charge which is pretty beastly at tracking – does a lot better than the flex at tracking steps and sleep… So time to keep moving forward… and I’m going to try and remember than life will not end if I don’t get something done this instant… Need to put my health first…

IMG_5291 IMG_5285

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

Well Christmas wasn’t snowy this year… but it was wonderfully full of friends, family, and joy… and I couldn’t ask for much more…

I’m quite emotionally drained from it all… so I’m just going to sum it up with 3 quick pictures…

IMG_4873

An intentionally blurry photo of my mom Christmas morning when the sun was just coming up. To me somehow this captured how this holiday felt for me… just slightly out of focus but like that’s how it was supposed to be all along…

IMG_4902

The cutest present you could ever ask for! A kiss from my princess Minnie who tolerated this bow for oh I don’t know maybe 10 seconds.

IMG_4935

And one super exhausted puppy last night after 20 friends and family were at the house for Friendsmas of 2014… It was a hit and I felt so incredibly blessed to have so many people around… In the words of Bing and Rosemary – When I can’t sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep…

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday whatever it is that you celebrate and that you were able to take a moment to count your blessings even if things were chaotic or plans didn’t go as you wanted… in the end there is always some type of silver lining…

I’ll be back in the new year with lots of great things once I’ve had a chance to recenter myself and gear up for everything that 2015 has to offer!

Planning for Friendsmas

When I moved to Maryland for college I came home for Christmas my freshman year.  That year I had 7-8 friends over and we had a full meal, lots of cookies and exchanged little gifts.  I can’t remember when I had the next little get together like that but slowly over the last few years I’ve fully embraced the idea of a Friendsmas much like people have Friendsgiving these days.

The weekend after Christmas I invite friends over and cook a full meal and we just kick back and relax and have a day to not worry about much of anything.

Last year it was a great little group of about 9 of us.  Then 2014 happened.  And I opened up my life a little bit.  My cousins began family dinners on Thursday nights, I met some fantastic friends through Pirate games, began dating Ryan and hence grew the social circle a bit more and reconnected with some friends who had been lost over the last few years.

I sent out my invite list this year expecting maybe to have 12-13 people.  Right now my RSVPs stand at 22.  I feel so touched.  Even if everyone doesn’t make it to me that is incredible and it doesn’t even include the 4 or 5 people who are out of town and physically couldn’t make it.  While it will be impossible to have a sit down meal I’m still going all out and we’ll be eating on our laps college style and I’m ok with that it’s more about the company than anything else.

My mom, who isn’t coming to the party, because as she says, she’s too old for these shenanigans, is excited and keeps calling to tell me she’s bought assorted nuts and snacks for appetizers and how happy she is to hear about everyone getting together.

So what’s on the menu?

  • Turkey breast (I don’t do a full turkey – not that confident yet)
  • Small ham
  • Pineapple Stuffing
  • Good old fashioned stuffing
  • Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Creamed Corn with Bacon and Roasted Red Peppers

Now to get all the timing and prep of all of that down – that’s always the fun part… one oven… lots of food… bring me the crock pots!

Just Breathe

Something I say so often to myself when I feel a spiral begin whether it’s excitement or depression.  Just breathe…

Just breathe

This is especially important for me right now… My emotions have been out of control as of late and not in the whole manic highs and super low lows it’s almost as if I’ve been so super tuned into my emotions that I’m overwhelmed by coming to terms with everything I feel.  It’s as if I’m seeing myself for the first time in many ways, and holy cow is it terrifying.

Maybe it’s just a new level of sensitivity but I’ve had to seek out new ways to try and center myself.  More often than not I’ve yearned for a few moment that I can put on that music that sooths my soul that you’ve heard my gush about far too often in the last few months.  I’ll close my office door, stand in a corner of my kitchen after I get home, or curl up in my bed when I can’t slow down my mind at night and put that music on.

I’ve caught myself praying too.  I said the Our Father the other night when my anxiety spiked especially high.  I recite snippits of psalms that I remember from years ago.  I talk to my dad.  Not a lot, and not for long.  But I do talk to him.  And sometimes I just breathe.

This will be my 12th Christmas without my Dad.

I also just took a 3 hour break while writing this post after that last sentence.  Usually blog posts just kind of flow out of me and to be honest most of this one has.  But then sometimes I just get stuck.  Stuck in my own head, in my own breaks and cracks.

How true that quote is.  He wasn’t perfect.  And as I get older I find myself often saying, sheesh I know why dad was stressed so much, or I know why dad did this or did that.  And sometimes I think I know why he made some of the choices he made.  It doesn’t mean I agree with a lot of them but I think I get it.  And how I wish I had been older and wiser and had been able to talk to him.

There are so many ways to describe grief and everyone grieves differently.

grief-is-like-an-ocean

That is perhaps one of my favorite descriptions.  But I often think of grief like the weather.  There are days where it downpours and the wind blows and everything inside is so raw and torn open.  There are days when it envelopes you like fog settling down to the earth and it consumes you.  There are days that are clear, bright, that life feels right, that you celebrate all you had and have.  There are days that sometimes it never crosses your mind, that are so perfect that it’s like all of this was really meant to be in God’s plan.  And there are days like a quiet snow fall where peace and quiet fall over everything and you can reflect and accept.

I’m in the fog lately.  Like I can’t make my way out of whatever this little funk is that I’m in.  I’m not depressed, I’m not falling apart, I’m just acutely aware of everything yet I can’t decide which way is up.

12th Christmas.  And before I know it I’ll turn 30 in January and maybe it’s the idea of that new chapter of my life starting… I’m not sure… fog I’m telling you, lots of it…

So for now, in the midst of these ridiculous ramblings of an almost 30 something girl having an emotional holiday season… I tell myself just breathe.  And I turn up my music a little bit, say a silent prayer and close my eyes for a moment.  The fog will lift soon.  Just Breathe.