As many of you know, so much has taken place in my life the past year. Love, joy, happiness, peace, to death, grief, trauma, followed by counseling which lead to understanding, forgiveness, letting go, and on to healing. Everything else seemed to crop up in-between. Life is that journey and mine has been quite a ride. I have to say that from all of this, I have grown to expect the unexpected. And I love it!
I have decided this will be the year of Yes for me. Yes I will go to every Idaho Shakespeare play this summer. Yes I will go to this or that concert. Yes I will take that weekend trip getaway but mind you, my dog Zeke has to tag along! Yes I will make plans and Yes I will do spontaneous things. When I think of you, Yes I will grab my phone and call you.
The unexpected is what has come from saying Yes. I moved to a neighborhood and have been blessed to meet new people from all walks of life. My new friends blend with my friends that are my Idaho family. Just watching their interaction is as joyful as watching a really good movie. I have a broad smile on my face as I listen to their conversation and laughter. That smile is one of those deep down feelings of the blessing of loving friendships.
Saying Yes had led me to experience life the same as I did before, but somehow things seem richer. Richer experiences, richer laughter, richer appreciation. Like an Instagram photo in technicolor. Maybe richer is not the right word, but I feel things deeper now. I appreciate things to an extent I did not before. I smile out loud, if you know what I mean. I did not expect such joy in my life again so soon.
The unexpected is the life lesson that continues for me. A friend once told me, “You never stop learning”. Amen to that. I have always held that in my heart, knowing that no matter what, there was a lesson to be had. With those lessons I have found the silver lining and moved on.
So, today I welcome the unexpected. Stay tuned.
#grief #lifelesson #JustSayYes
What is the meaning of a “monkey on your shoulder” or a “monkey on your back”? You know, the monkey that doesn’t exactly give you good advice? I looked it up, I just had to! Believe it or not, there are many interpretations and explanations, but essentially the monkey is a carrying a burden or problem that is a major source of irritation. My monkey just happens to be a squirrel.
It all started and ended with a dream on Friday morning. Bear with me, I have very vivid dreams and this one is no exception. In my dream, I had a squirrel for a pet. A real, live squirrel. This squirrel went everywhere with me: work, shopping, hiking, driving, you name it. I even had a sock purse with an over the shoulder strap. The purse had openings for its tail and legs, and at the top opening its cute little head peered out to give me great joy. But as the dream advanced I began to learn that the squirrel was becoming a real problem when it came to access to some places I wanted to be at.
“No, sorry, no squirrels allowed”. Or, “You can’t bring that squirrel in here!” Better yet, “Really, lady, a squirrel??” Oh dear, my squirrel was no longer welcome. Heavy sigh.
Next, I found myself at Fred Meyer which is just plain odd since the nearest store to me is not convenient and I do not frequent the store often enough to have a scene in this dream. My squirrel and I went from aisle to aisle and the little creature kept angling towards the windows and doors. I soon came to the realization that the squirrel wanted to be free. We said our goodbyes, and the next time the automatic door opened, the squirrel scampered out. Goodbye my squirrel!
Then I woke up in laughter, out loud laughter mind you. I realized immediately what the dream meant. That silly dream helped me to realize I needed to release emotions that had become a burden, that source of irritation. I decided it was high time to let those emotions go and in the process, I had a fantastic day. It did help that it was a Friday. Best of all, problem gone! Squirrel aka Monkey found someone else to pester.
I also told myself it was okay that I took the week to process the squirrel/monkey on my shoulder. It was something I just had to work through. I managed to reach the other side of reasoning and the result was inner peace, free of the struggle that was going on inside of me. I like that I had this lesson come my way, and with the help of a squirrel for humor.
I kind of miss that squirrel, though. It was so darn cute!
#grielf #monkeyonmyback #lifelesson
This past weekend was the Celebration of Life for Paul, and it all went perfectly! Paul’s brother and two sisters flew in from different corners of the country as well as friends from college and friends he went to baseball camps or spring training that he kept in touch with. To me, this is the evidence to the kind of man he was, a man that was not only well loved but well respected. I really was one lucky girl to have been loved by such a wonderful man.
I don’t know if you read his obituary, but we wrote that he loved reading the New Yorker magazine. I honestly think he may have loved the cartoons the best! Paul’s daughters had numerous cartoons that he has saved fastened on a strings across empty distressed window frames, just about the most unique display I have ever seen. Everyone present enjoyed these as well as other tributes we had on display.
I particularly appreciated Paul’s former patients that expressed their sorrow for losing the best physician they had ever had. Story after story about how they would not even be alive if it were not for the care he gave to that person. One particular patient told me that his Mother was Paul’s feistiest patient. I doubt that because she was just so darn sweet to me. Looks can be deceiving though….Then the funny stories, oh my how we laughed! We all miss Paul Ryan deeply.
On Sunday, I spent the day organizing my new place, the garage and starting a few boxes for donating. I was feeling sad not because of missing Paul, but because I was giving myself permission for the next step or chapter I will be undertaking. Having the Celebration of Life was and is a big step in that direction. I am not quite sure about where that path leads. I also realized that with this new journey, I am not going to ask God any questions about what if. I am just going to have to find out what lies ahead.
That darn crystal ball clearly will not talk to me. Just as well.
“Someone said that “Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” And above all don’t imagine that the story is over. Life has a lot of chapters.” – John Gardner, 1990
#grief #celebrationoflife #lifejourney
I passed up going out on a Friday night to finish setting up my vegetable garden, mixing dirt and inoculated vermi char (click link to find out what it is). I went to great lengths, well dollars, to make sure my garden will be 100% organic this year, too. I am dreaming of sun ripened tomatoes, herbs gone wild with overgrowth and sweet peppers to grill. Yes, life is good.
I don’t have a sprinkler system where I live, so this means putting on a MacGyver hat and creating a watering system. It is mind boggling what is on the market now – splitters for the hose bib, timers, drip hoses, I could go on and on. Then there is the garden art section – sorry folks, no glass globes for me. If anything, I am looking for an old brass twin bed headboard and footboard to decorate my garden bed.
Ok, research on dirt and what to mix in with it done. Massive amounts of dirt mix purchased from North End Organic Nursery. Plants are now in the ground with stakes. Watering system set up. Now what? We grow.
Same goes for me in the past seven months since Paul died. My life completely changed in less than 30 seconds. I learned rather quickly that I had to make good choices on how I was going to deal with what life presented me. I could choose suffering and be a victim. That wasn’t for me…..Instead, I chose life and in the process, I woke up. I have grown so much since then.
Not that I was asleep, mind you. Paul had introduced me to Buddhism and I truly enjoyed learning about a way of life that fit me to a tee. And, I talk to God every day. I am positive I had Him in stitches laughing a time or two! I prayed I would wake up soon with clarity.
And, so I did. I woke up to what I needed at a deep time of grief. I learned that it was perfectly okay to say that I needed help. I woke up to an outpouring of love and friendships that paved the way to my healing. I was reminded how precious life is and always will be. I woke up to possibilities that I had not yet dreamed of. I learned that I am one strong lady because I was determined to not let anger enter my heart or mind. I woke up when I focused on understanding which led to letting to which led to forgiveness. I earnestly paid better attention, too. When my sister calls me, I close my laptop.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I had a neighbor that was about 10 years older than I. She remarked once, “You never stop learning!” I have always remembered that insightful remark. After all, learning leads to growth.
#grief #growth #lifechoices #lifelesson
Ah, the joy of unpacking! No, really, I am having a delightful time unpacking, savoring memories as I open boxes of my treasures, my books, my kitchen tools. Treasure troves of silly knick knacks I have saved over the years are now going to the Do Not Need box. Two of my favorite chairs just don’t fit in this tiny house will be part of a closing gift to a friend’s daughter that is purchasing her first home. And, naturally I am her Realtor®.
What I am learning is that letting go of things, of attachments, of the past is opening my life to the new life I have now found myself in. I did not dream I would be single again; I honestly thought Paul and I would grow old together. He did, too. We had so many plans. Life got in the way when he suddenly died. But for me, life goes on. I am the one that is alive. And I am going to live.
However, I am going to live in a completely new environment, in a tiny house. Interestingly enough, I just realized that I lived in a number of studios in my early 20’s that were probably the same square footage! Full circle. And, in entering that circle, I know that it’s those things from the past are what I need to leave behind for my present.
Let’s talk about letting go of “things”. I am finding the letting go is just as if a heavy weight has been discarded from my body. I have a box full of yarn that I really won’t use, boxes of clothes, double kitchen items (how did that happen??), lamps, chairs, you name it. These things won’t fit and I have decided I am not going to keep them, either.
My gauge is this: I am not moving again for some time. These “things” will take up space in my garage and gather dust. Rather than get dusty, these things are going to find new homes. The yarn will go to the Idaho Office for Refugees, and I will be excited to see what they do with the yarn! I am going to have a clothing exchange party again this summer. Just like the last big exchange party, what is left over will be divided between The Women’s and Children’s Alliance and City Light Women’s & Children’s Shelter. The rest of those things will go to the Idaho Youth Ranch. You get the picture.
I have come to the place in my life where if it doesn’t fit or work, it goes. And it goes before I change my mind! To friends, family or charities. I cannot and will not deal with so much stuff any longer. Simplify is key. Downsize is essential. Release follows.
I do have a confession to make. I will have to get a storage cabinet in my garage for some kitchen things. I love to cook and entertain and those items will stay put. Is that so wrong?
#grief #tinyhouse #purging #donating
In a grief group I attended after Paul died, we discussed that grief come in waves and often times when we least expect it. This weekend I attended a dinner party in Ketchum with many Boise friends for company. One particular couple present are friends with Paul’s ex-wife. When I reminded her of who I was, she literally and physically was taken aback (she did not recognize me). Her response took me aback as well. I took numerous deep breaths and carried on. And, as I left the dinner, I stopped to thank her for being gracious to me. She may never know how much her kindness meant to me. As I walked out of the clubhouse, I broke down in a total mess, in crocodile tears. Thank goodness I wear waterproof mascara. :-)
Paul’s Celebration of Life is in a few weeks, and I am looking forward to catching up with many friends of his that were also his patients. I am excited to be surrounded by all the love that came my way after Paul died so unexpectedly last Fall. But, to be honest, I am also in fear of his ex-wife being present. Oh Lord, please help me because I honestly don’t know what to do or how to act.
What would you do in my shoes? She was bitterly unkind to me after Paul died and her actions added to my trauma. However, in the time that has passed, I learned and eventually came to understand what may have been her pain and sorrow. This led me to eventually let go of my anger towards her and forgive her. But dealing with her is another thing altogether.
I have decided I am going to contact her and concede that we may be uncomfortable at the Celebration.
But I want to be comfortable and the only way to do so is to reach out.
#grief #forgiveness #understanding #lettinggo
By now most of you know that I moved last weekend into a small cottage in the Art District in Garden City. Considering I went from 2,000 sq. ft. to 1,000 sq. ft. in 2009, this new living space is more than just interesting. I can tell you one thing: it is not a challenge. Yet.
In 2009, I let a number of furniture pieces go and kept what I was – at the time – attached to. The 1,000 sq. ft. townhome was just about perfect, too. I had a nice sized bedroom, a guest room that doubled as an office, a full bath and a half bath for guests. I downsized my life, my living expenses, and my way of life. It was also a very good change for me to have downsized as I did during the recession.
As it would turn out, I moved in to Paul’s house about a year ago, where I thought we would always hang out and grow old together. Then life got in the way when Paul died very unexpectedly last Fall. I will always be grateful for the place to land when I was forced out of Paul’s house. The agreement was that it would be temporary. So, when this little cottage became available, I jumped at the opportunity!
I honestly did not realize how small the place is until I began to move in. I knew I would have to give a few things up or away. But my dresser!?? Shoes!? Clothes!? Kitchen gadgets!? Books!? Art work!?
Ok, this meant it was time to do that annual spring cleaning! I now have a few boxes of clothes and shoes which will become the basis for my highly anticipated clothing exchange party. Kitchen gadgets are being outsourced to local charities. Books, well my books are intact. For now. Oh, and the dresser? Get this: I took it out of the space in the closet, purchased those stacking storage drawers and voila! I now have more room in my closet! I will admit that from now on I will be much more thoughtful for any and all clothing purchases. I have to be! Art work, well, some of it actually is hanging outside under the protection of my covered patio. One piece will be shipped to my brother. Another piece will be shipped to my niece who just had her first baby. Some I will keep for the future, and some I will simply give to anyone that admires it.
After all, giving is receiving joy.
#grief #tinyhouse #springcleaning #giving