Let it Ride

I love how Mike was made.  He was a good man.  He was solid.  Kindhearted.  Bold in character, and strong in spirit.  He stood with confidence.  When he walked in a room the energy changed.  Mike commanded attention in a very unassuming way.  There was a certain authority in everything he did, yet there was a gentleness to him that you could see in his eyes.  He made fast friends everywhere he went.  I witnessed again and again as people were drawn to his warmth.  He had a smile that would light up a room; and, there was an easy, charismatic way about him that felt genuine and true. 

Mike was easy to love.  To know him, was to love him.   

Mike loved life and the people he shared his life with.  He was an easy conversation and many of his animated talks went long into the night.  Not only could he hold a table while speaking, Mike was earnestly interested in what others had to say.  He would lean in to every conversation he had.  I adored this about him.  Mike had engaging, heartfelt discussions with the waitress who served him his breakfast during the work week, and his butcher on 40th Avenue knew about all the guests coming to our dinner parties.  He regularly made a short story long with the neighbor; and, just the same, he quickly made friends with the guy on the roadside selling farm fresh corn.  I'm not sure what Mike said, but he came home and proudly announced, " Honey, we have a corn dealer and he'll  deliver straight to the house".  Yup, he boldly announced, in a matter of fact way, that we had our very own corn dealer.  To Mike this was not out of the ordinary.  And, to me, at the time, this was strangely not unexpected because anything was possible when Mike was alive.  Our life was crammed full of whimsy and joy.  And, trust me, Mike didn't stop at the corn dealer.  He effortlessly gathered people every place he went.   Another time, while we were camping,  Mike took out the trash and after a long while he came back to the trailer and told me that I had to come quick because he "just made new friends for us".  That was my Mike.  He came by it honestly,  and he quite literally found treasure when holding a bag full of garbage. 

He could engage anyone, anywhere and I loved watching him do so.  With Mike life was exciting and the opportunities were boundless.  For a long, long time, after he died, I felt the life I loved so much was over.  And, in many ways, it is.  But, life itself isn't over for me.  There are still opportunities for me - even without Mike.  Sure, this is not the life I imagined.  And, this is not the life I'd choose.  But, it's the one I've got.  What can I do but make the best of it.  Now, it is my turn to find treasure while holding onto the bag full of garbage that grief has served me. 

Once again, I must do as Mike did.  I have to find a way to create possibilities out of whatever life hands me.   Dang, I sure wish I knew what he said to the corn guy because I'm sure whatever words he strung together could serve me well as I carry on without him...

 

 

 

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Back to Fear-Facing

In the almost 6 years since my fiance has been gone, so much life has happened. An unbelievable amount really. It’s felt like warp speed living. In part that was due to how much higher my emotions have run since he died… but it’s also in part due to having had so much change happen and having faced so many fears in such a small time in my life.

In no other time in my life has every single aspect of it changed so dramatically. I didn't choose his death, but I chose a lot of other scary things... I left my career. I moved away. I began a new lifestyle and career direction that honestly had no direction to it all ("artist"). I found new love, or more accurately, new love found me. I became the partner of a widower and the mother-figure to his daughter. I moved across the country. It has been a never-ending journey of fear-facing for half a decade now.

The past few weeks I’ve been attending a women’s wellness class. We do yoga and journal and talk about feelings and well being and all that touchy-feely stuff. There was a time when I would have been too sarcastic to walk into a room of woman like this. I would have thought it was a joke - mostly because of my own insecurities to open up to people about my deepest pains.

In a way, Drew’s death shook that up for me. It got me talking about my pain more openly and facing this fear of being vulnerable with others. It helped me learn HOW to be more open with my pain, and how to share it with others… especially women. It humbled me, and it made me take my armor of sarcasm off and let people in. In some ways, it was the best gift he could give me, because this is something I’ve always struggled with.

So last week in class, we talked about the things that bring us fulfillment, the things that drain us, the ways that we take care of ourselves. One of the questions was about the bravest thing we’ve ever done. And I think to myself “Hell Yes. I’ve got this one. I’ve got bravery in spades.” Until she changed it up…

“What is the bravest thing you’ve done this week?”

What? Uh… huh?

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And Though She Be But Little

 
Last night we were sitting in the restaurant and there was a table of four boys sitting across the aisle from us. They were being a little too loud for comfort.
 
Without missing a beat, Lila turns to them and yells, “Hey! Be quiet!” I quickly tried to quiet Lila down because I didn’t want to cause a scene and young boys are prone to cause one.
 
Then I thought of how much she reminded me of Linzi in that moment and how fearless she was. She didn’t care who it was, how much bigger they were, or their social status, or financial standing. If she found somebody in the wrong, she didn’t hesitate to call them into question.
  
It’s what attracted me to her initially. I admired her willingness to tell me where I was going wrong and what I needed to do to be better. She pushed me to be better. To do more.
 
That same feistiness and fearlessness is already instilled in our little one.
 
I miss that woman something awful in moments such as that.
 
One of her favorite phrases was a line from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
 
It’s a perfect way to describe my wife. It’s a perfect way to describe our daughter.
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Book Anxiety

So, after about 3 and a half years or so of writing and not writing and then writing again, and then the last 6 months or so of REALLY doing a TON of writing and not being able to look at computer screens anymore because my eyes hurt so bad - I am finally finished writing my book. It is FINISHED!!!! 

I handed it over to my editor 2 days ago, and now he will edit and make suggestions on things like grammar, structure, spelling, and a little bit of content. And then it will be ready for uploading and publishing and that whole process by early June, so that it will be 100% OUT and available for purchase and shipping etc., in time for July 13th. That weekend is Camp Widow in San Diego. My great hope is that I will be there as a presenter, this time with my book on sale at the Camp Widow bookstore, for the first time. More importantly, July 13th will be the 7 year anniversary of Don's death, so it's really important to me to be able to honor and recognize that day, with this book finally being out there for the public. I hope like hell that it helps people; brings them comfort, hope, or a few moments of knowing someone else understands. 

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My Mind; My Power

I’ve been really down lately. I don’t know exactly why, but I have some ideas. Work has been overwhelmingly stressful, and I’ve been constantly sick. I will think I’m better from one sickness and a day later I seem to have something else. Every time I get sick or I have a really hard day at work (which is often) I seem to sink a little bit lower in how I feel about myself and my abilities. I’ve been sleeping a lot, having very little energy and motivation to do anything, missing Mike, and thinking miserable thoughts. I want to be functioning like my usual self, but I just can’t seem to do it. Then that frustrates me even more that I can’t seem to pick myself up and I get even more upset and stressed with myself. It’s a hard cycle for me to break.

Last week I went from sleeping pretty much all weekend and cancelling all plans, going to work Monday to then be throwing up Monday night, to having a cold by Wednesday that is still not completely gone. I had an appointment booked with a Naturopath at the end of the week that I booked quite a long time ago. I felt like cancelling but I decided to go to see if I could somehow boost my immune system. When she asked what I wanted to discuss I explained how I’m stressed and sick and probably got off topic with details. The poor doctor was probably thinking she’s not a therapist. However, she said something that popped out to me. She said, “So what strategies do you have for handling your stress? You can’t always avoid stressful situations but what do you do to help yourself?”

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Missing Him on 40

I’m on the road again.

I left Arizona, headed to Arkansas, a few days ago. Or maybe it was a week ago, now. I’m kind of tired after driving some long ass days.

Tune up on my car. New tires, brakes on my rig, PinkMagic, fixed.

Our daughter was road tripping to Arkansas with me, to see the opera camp where I work for the summer. It’s my second year back there, as the groundskeeper.

We were planning a fairly easy trip, stopping to visit family in Denver, taking our time.

Well, as they say…

The best laid plans of mice and men…

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Ink to Remember, Part 2

breathe_easy_tat.jpgI’m going to do the easy thing today, and feed off of Sarah’s sunday post.  I was in the woods for the first time in a while this past weekend, while Sarah’s sister came into town for a few days.  They got to have their weekend together, while I got 24 hours or so next to a campfire.

Her sister got her first tattoo on Saturday.  From her son, Sarah’s nephew. As Sarah watched, she thought of various tattoos that she might get.  Ink that she has thought about for years. New ideas for shared tattoos with her sister. Memorial tattoos, signifying Drew.  

She hated that her mind went to death when contemplating what she would get.  As she wrote, even a shared, “fun” tattoo with her sister would ultimately, end up as a reminder that one of them is gone.  It’s inevitable, and I get it.

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Passion

Over the last 532 days, I have taken a fair bit of time to think about my future.  After much thought and consideration, I have concluded that my life will be magical again - eventually.  I know that my life will be everything I ever dreamed it could be.  Life will be beautiful - again.  Maybe even more lovely than I've ever imagined...  And, the truth is, so will yours if you want it to be.

A year ago, if someone told me that my life would fall into place again I would have hoped what they were telling me was right.  The problem is that hope does not provide a sense of contentment because hope can only take you so far.  It is just a starting point.  There is a big difference between hoping and knowing.  Now, inside my heart, I know, without a doubt, that I will be okay.  In truth, I know that I will be better than okay.  And, let me be completely realistic, this peace of mind has been well earned. I have spent the better part of seventeen-and-a-half months working hard to come to this place.  The sense of peace I am feeling hasn't come easy, but it is well deserved. 

I have come to believe that everything in my life is going according to plan.  A plan that is much bigger than me or Mike.  I do not know exactly what the plan is; but, I know that I am being lead in the right direction.  Recently, my mindset has become different and I am better for the change.  I am more content since I've acknowledged that the plan itself is none of my business.  Sure, it's my life and I am obviously interested in the outcome; but, I mean it, what happens to me is really not for me to worry about.  I am much more at peace now that I have loosened the reigns; and, I am confident that my future is in better hands than mine. 

Since I have removed myself from the responsibility of leading me in the right direction, I no longer feel that it is necessary to plan every little detail about my life.  I am so grateful that I am no longer endlessly strategizing and envisioning elaborate scenarios in my mind.  Existing with this mindset was completely exhausting and unnecessary.  It's ironic, now, I do less; and, this has made all the difference.  Less is really more. 

I know that whatever will be, will be - in spite of what I do, or do not do.  It seems so simple, but for the longest time this concept was beyond me. After Mike died I thought I had to "fix" my life and my broken self.  Now, I understand that my life is going to be exactly as it is intended to be and the best thing I can do is move aside and let things unfold. I know this might sounds lofty, or naive, or over simplistic.  I assure you, I am not trying to sugarcoat my thoughts.  I am just sharing what I've come to know.  I really believe that by relinquishing the control I was desperately clinging to I am now heading in the right direction, in spite of myself. 

In the past, when I was trying to steer my life, I was holding the wheel so tight that I wasn't enjoying the drive.  I was missing the point.  Now, I have stopped trying to control my destiny.  I am no longer interfering in the direction of my life because I have faith that I am being lead towards the future I am intended to live.  And, now, I am finally able to relax a bit.  But, I am an overachiever so relaxing hasn't lasted as long as I hoped... 

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Ink to Remember

I'm writing you all on my phone, in the back room of a tattoo shop in Cleveland. An odd place to write from, and no, I'm not the one getting the tattoo… but my sister is. Her first. My nephew, her son, is apprenticing as a tattoo artist and is doing hers. This is in so many ways so very cool. Getting to be here for it and watch is something I'm grateful for… even though I've chickened out from getting one myself!

Sitting here, I am already dreaming of coming back for my first tattoo. I already know of two I want for certain.. both are memorials to Drew. I had decided to wait 5 years from his death and if I was still certain about one, I would get it. Well, I'm creeping I to six years now, and as coincidence would have it my nephew just moved to town to do tattoo work.. it seems like a sign.

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Five Years My Love

My Dear Linzi,

 

Five Years, my love. Five Years.

 

We would’ve been married five years today.

 

Yet another milestone you won’t be able to see or celebrate with me. What would we have done? Where would I have taken you? Who would’ve watched Lila that night? Would I have cooked for you? All questions that will forever remain unanswered and unknown.

 

My, where has the time gone?

 

It trailed off in the wake of your absence. Everywhere. Nowhere. I’m not sure. It’s been difficult to pay attention to the passage of time anymore. One more second is just another second closer to seeing you again. How long am I trapped in this prison of pain, my love?

 

The tears still fall just as freely as they did back then. The thought of you is still as bittersweet as the day I woke up to you gone, reconciling with myself that the night before actually happened.

 

I miss the arguments. I miss your encouragement and your compliments. I miss the disagreements over silly things like preference of condiments. I miss laughing at anything that didn’t make sense. I miss your critiques meant to help me do better than I once did.

 

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