Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘moving forward’

Maybe I do

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I have been without a canine companion for nearly two full months since Ruby died.  I have lost count of the number of people who have sent me posts of a dog in need of re-homing, the number of texts to take a dog, foster, and the number of times I have been asked, “Have you gotten another dog yet?”

Ruby was my back up dog for Duke and I did not have a backup dog for Ruby because I did not imagine I would need one for many years.  Her death was sudden and traumatic.  While I could not imagine a life without a dog exactly, I knew I was in no way ready for another.

My friends and I talked at great length about how we do not know me without a dog because for the last 16 years, I have had one or two.  My brother said I could not be me without one.

I made a conscious decision not to rush into another because emotionally, losing three dogs in three years was a lot.  I went on the hope method that I had learned how to stay grounded without the need of an external grounding source, which for me was always a dog or two.  My dogs taught me how to do this over the years, and I felt somewhat confident in the lessons I had learned from them.

Still, I was not sure.  I wasn’t sure if I would feel lonely without one.  I was not sure that I wouldn’t lose my mind or otherwise lose my sense of mission and purpose.

Two months in, I have not lost my mind or otherwise lost my sense of mission and purpose.  I still do not feel lonely.  I do miss having a living, breathing, always loving being under foot, but have watched others’ dogs and getting my dog fixes often.

I figured I would be trying to find ways to avoid coming home to an empty house, but as it has turned out, I still like my place.  It is still the refuge and the Zen space I created for my dogs and I.  While I have the freedom to do other things, and sometimes choose to do them, I am often simply choosing to come home after work.

It is not uncomfortable.  I do not feel like I am missing anything in my life.  I do plan to add another dog into my life next year.  I honestly never thought I would be ok under these circumstances.

Since I seem to be, I will go with that.

Letting Go Goes Deeper

Run Free Sweet Girl

Run Free Sweet Girl

It is certainly not my first post on letting go, nor do I suspect it will be my last post on the subject.  The last few weeks, the universe has honed my ability to do so more quickly.

I am no stranger to traumatic experiences, nor am I trauma’s biggest fan despite the familiarity.  What I have learned about trauma is that no matter how quickly you pick up the leftover pieces and continue moving forward, the imprint physiologically remains far longer.

Loss and trauma are strange bedfellows, I have also learned.  Not all losses are traumatic, but most trauma involves a loss of something/someone.

With the vicarious trauma professionally, and from simply watching the news about the various tragedies happening world-wide, experiencing a personal trauma in addition, has created a variety of interesting visceral responses.

Nearly 2 ½ weeks ago, I unexpectedly lost my third dog in three years.  The first two were inevitable as they were seniors, but the third was only five years old, and we experienced a painful final 72 hours of her life together.  She was very vocal about her pain and suffering, and no amount of medication was easing that for her.  I chose not to prolong her suffering.

While I chose to let her go, the experience of her suffering remains both in my heart and in my mind.

I went back to work the following week, and while apparently numb, I found myself extra sensitive to suffering of all kinds.  In my semi-conscious waking state for the first week, I saw her eyes and felt her pressing her painful self into me attempting to ease her pain.  The second week was a bit more interesting in my sleeping state.

Nearly every soul connection I have had in the last decade came flooding back in my dreams.  The gist I could gather when I would awaken was the theme of letting go on a different level.  Interestingly enough, Duke was not among them because he was in my dreams the week before all this happened with Ruby.  It was his death anniversary, which is the last time I posted a blog.

Because it is my nature to look for the lesson and potential growth opportunity in everything, I cannot help but to think more about these losses and the residual effects they may be having on my ability to move forward in my life.  Perhaps that was Ruby’s ultimate lesson for me in our relatively short time together.

Grieving, letting go and healing trauma happens as a process.  It appears to be happening on a global scale, and not just in my personal and professional life, so I have to believe that continuing to move forward while being open to the process itself, will promote that healing process.

 

Off to the Races in 2016

Racing Ruby

My life has raced along since the start of 2016.  Right out of the gate, my life at work was off to the races.  It will likely be much the same throughout the year as we grow and expand several new wellness programs.

If you have ever ran, biked, swam, rowed or otherwise been in a race, you may know that giving your all during that race takes a toll on the body at the very same time it can be invigorating and exciting.  Most races are short-lived and have a specific distance after which you can rest and recover before training for the next.

Each day often feels like a race.  At the end of the workday, I come home, walk my dog, feed us both and then crash.  I only hope that my body gets enough rest and recovery time before starting the next leg of race for the week as I go.  At the end of the workweek races, I have very little left of me.

In response to this wonderfully exciting, not likely to end anytime soon, race at work, I have had to make some adjustments in my self-care and planning on weekends and evenings.

I have stepped up my healthy eating to yet another level, have set my bedtime routine earlier and my phone/screen time after work has been limited.  So far, these changes have been helpful in being able to make it through the workweek, but doesn’t always allow for there to be energy to do much other than rest and recover on weekends.

It has made for some great bonding time with my alien vampire baby dog Ruby
, but it hasn’t  allowed for as much social time with my friends and family. I am still getting some on the weekends, but with my level of fatigue and the colder temperatures, that is a bit more challenging to do.

There have already been many extras and many exciting things in 2016, for which I am both grateful and feel honored.  (Lightning Hero Award!) My plan is to keep honing my self-care as I move through month #2 of 2016 to keep the momentum going.

How is 2016 treating you so far?  Do you ever feel like you are always off to the races?

 

 

 

Ending an Era–Weeble-Wobble Style

There is a natural order and flow to the universe.  It becomes evident as one period ends and another begins.  No time is it more evident than the ending of one year into another.

This year, on New Year’s weekend, I did something a bit different than I have in the last few.  While I was my usual reflective self, purged things in my house no longer necessary, and such, I was also ever conscious of the need to be still enough and grounded enough to understand what I needed to let go of from 2015.  I wanted to be clear and certain about what would carry over into 2016.

My 2015 was overall quite positive with the exception of the loss of my soul mate dog.  Much of what happened in 2015 involved the ending of an era.  An era that started nearly 15 years ago, and I am not sure I realized the magnitude of that ending.

I didn’t just need the stillness and grounding to close out a typical year, but to close out an era and to put some serious thought into what I wanted to create for the next era that had already begun to emerge in 2015 (late 2014 technically).

Moving forward is probably one of my frequently used tags for this blog, so it might surprise you that I historically am not very good at letting things go.  I have so often in my life hung on so tightly to ideas, thought patterns, people, jobs, situations, friends, etc. long after I knew it was no longer serving me.  I am not sure I can say that in this new emerging era.  I have gotten quite a bit better, and perhaps even more efficient, in my ability to let go and move forward.

It was certainly something Duke and his brother tried so very hard to teach me in their lifetime, so I am proud to be able to honor them by finally “getting” it.  I surprised myself when it was time to let Amore and Duke go because I didn’t feel the need to hang on for dear life for myself.  I felt more the need to let them go for them.  Duke was truly the testament for that.  Amore paved the way for it.

Letting Duke go meant the end of a very challenging era.  My entire life was thwarted, derailed, and I was on a detour for quite a while.  But somewhere along the way, I realized I might just be a Weeble-Wobble.  How else can I explain where I am now, based on where I started?

weeble-wobble

The detour taught me more than I ever expected to learn, and gave me a perspective that I never thought I would have.  The lessons, the perspective, gratitude, humility, and the strength from that era helped me to move forward at the time of his loss, but more than that, have allowed me to get back on the path with more certainty, in spite of my illness.

It is this foundation I chose to take with me into my life’s new era, and into 2016. What are you choosing to take with you into 2016?  What are you letting go?

 

 

 

Celebrating Life and Death

mom

As I remember it, twenty years ago tonight, I got a call from my older brother.  He said, “Your mother is dead.”  To which I replied, “What do you mean she is dead? Where is she?”  He then said she wasn’t dead yet because she was at the hospital.

We were all there in the ICU waiting room when I suggested we all leave the hospital.  After years and dozens of what we thought was the last trip to the hospital, I said, “She is not going to die just to spite us, so we should probably go home and get some sleep.”

And we did.  I didn’t rush to the hospital the next day either.  I told my husband at the time to go to work because I didn’t figure anything would happen yet.  I don’t remember what everyone else did.  I only remember what happened once I got to the ICU waiting area and no one from my family was there.

I called back to the ICU nurse’s station and the nurse asked me to come back there so she could talk to me.  I asked, “Is she dead?”  She replied, “Ma’am, please just come back so I can talk to you.”  I demanded she tell me before I went through those large double doors into the ICU.  Perhaps I made a bit of a scene in the waiting area, but I don’t recall and am certain I didn’t care.

The nurse finally said that yes, she died earlier.  I was shocked at what I said next,  “Is she still here? Can I see her?”  I am not a fan of dead bodies, but I had to see for myself if what she was telling me was really true.

It was.  I saw it for myself while my stepfather and his sister stood on either side of her body.  Somehow, I was told that everyone was at my grandfather’s house and given directions on how to get there.  I only remember the walk to the parking garage at the hospital.  It was cold, dark and I don’t remember knowing what to do next.  Then I have flashes of memory at my grandfather’s house.  My husband found his way there eventually, although I have no real memory of how all of that happened or how I got home from there.

Ironically, after twenty years, the parts I remember are the same as the week after she died.  Even as clearly, I remember the true gravity of the situation a few weeks later.  I had waited for mom to get sober for years.  It took a few weeks for it to sink in that the hope I had held onto so tightly for mom to get sober and be more mom-like had died too.  At that point, the real healing could begin.

Twenty years later, I have a better understanding of why mom was the way she was when I was growing up.  I have a better appreciation for what was good about her and for those characteristics that I share in common with her.  I certainly would not be the person I have grown into had it not been for her, so for that I celebrate her life.

 

 

Are you a holiday Zombie?

guyanachronicle.com

guyanachronicle.com

It is a well-known fact that we cannot move forward when our thoughts are consumed with something from the past.  Whether those thoughts are positive or negative from the past, if we are consumed by them, we cannot move forward fully.

Being consumed with overly positive thoughts is no less serving for us than being consumed by traumatic or upsetting events.  We miss this moment, right now, when we allow our thoughts to drift fully into those past events.

That is not to say that we cannot have happy or not so happy memories—that isn’t what I am talking about.  I am talking about the wishing for a different time, living the emotions from a different time, and missing being present now.

Around the holidays, anniversaries of deaths and other times of the year, this becomes more prevalent.  The steady diet of past events swirling about in our heads creates a lot of stress on our bodies, and we move about our day like zombies because we are reliving the past instead of living in today.

Moving forward becomes quite a bit like trudging along in quicksand because we are literally stuck in another time and place.  If it gets thick enough inside our minds, even the people in our lives today take on the characteristics of those from the time period in which we are stuck.

We may see only negatives or only perceive someone doing something to us that might be similar to what someone from our past did.  Or we overly glamorize someone because they remind us of someone (or some feeling) we knew in that past moment we find ourselves.  Either way, we aren’t seeing it for what it really is today.

I have struggled in the quicksand at various times in my life.  All I know for sure about it is that it is no way to live with any quality.  I know for sure that there is no true way to discern what is happening right now when I am looking at it through those past filters.

We cannot get out of quicksand by fighting the quicksand.  Thoughts of the past and memories are going to flood our thoughts.  That doesn’t mean that we have to give them the power to overtake our lives.  So how do we get out of the quicksand?

I have done it in many ways over the years of managing quicksand, but I am by no means an expert about how you might find your way safely away from it.  What worked for me each time was different, but the critical factor was that I truly was willing to do something to get out of it.

As we trudge through the holiday season’s quicksand together, I want to hear from you.  I want to know how you have gotten yourself through it and to the other side of it.  I will share mine throughout the month, if you share yours too.  Imagine the list we can compile to help others if we do it together!

 

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