Below is a post I wrote for my personal blog on the date and time noted. That day and the revelations I had were a giant turning point for me. I wanted to share it with you as I wrote it that day. The photograph is the actual sunset I was watching that evening.
It is Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm. To you, my reader, the time and date is not important but for me it is very important. Much of my life the past 3 years is chronicled in this blog and tonight I want to remember this turning point. I want to remember it forever. Today has been a beautiful day in Arizona so I decided to dangle my legs in the pool with a glass of wine, a book and Tater Tot. When Tater bored of playing with me I began watching the sun set on the beautiful Superstition Mountains that I fell in love with many years ago. They are why I live here.
I began to think about my life, my future, what I want. The amazing thing is that I did not look at these things as my life after TJ, or my future without TJ, or what I want now that he is gone. I was simply thinking about me. He did not enter my mind. I was not thinking what would TJ want me to do, or he would approve or disapprove of this. I was only thinking of myself. This is a first. Sure, after he died and I bought the new house, I used to say, “it is all about me now” but it never really was, he was always there, in my mind, guiding my every decision.
I found myself with a sense of inner peace, calm, and yes, even happiness. True happiness. I looked around my property and saw my “home”. I saw this place where I have lived for 2 years as my “HOME”! They say home is where the heart is, but my heart has not been here. It is now. I see a future here for me. I see lots of happy memories being made here. Isn’t that what a home is all about?
So, before the sun sets completely, I am going to pour a 2nd glass of wine and watch that beautiful, beautiful mountain turn red. I will toast to TJ, whom I will always remember and love and hold in my heart, but I will also toast to myself for having reached this point. I will toast to the new life I am about to embark on. And by the way, I have tossed some of that old tattered baggage that I have been dragging around with me into the desert. I may have kept a small carry on, but that is nothing compared to what I have rid myself of.
While I watch the sunset tonight I will say goodbye to many things, but more importantly I am looking forward to the sunrise tomorrow. I am on the precipice of something new and wonderful. The baggage I carry now is in the overhead compartment, out of sight and out of mind. I might, just maybe, leave it there, as I will soon be changing planes.
I have to stop analyzing why I made the choices that I have in the past or where I have gone wrong. Standing right where I am at this moment in life I have to decide that I want something different and do something about it. While change can be scary, it can also be very refreshing.
I am in charge of my life. I don’t have to wait for something to happen to me to make changes. Change doesn’t always come from the outside. It is simply time, time to start making some new decisions. Time to change things up a bit.
I find it empowering to take on a new challenge or a new habit. Making a new decision can be very refreshing. I am not just taking on a new activity. I am taking on my life. I know that what I have to look forward to is much greater than what I am leaving behind.
It is easy to believe I have no more chances and to not take responsibility for creating a world as I want it. Sure, there are things that I cannot control, but I also know I am very powerful and can accomplish a lot once I am willing to make a decision and take a chance.
Over the past few years I have proven to myself that I can transform hardship into growth and loss into gain. When I am faced with a stressful situation I simply remember that how I handle it not only shapes today, but it shapes tomorrow also.
“A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” ~ Unknown
Most of the time when seeking advice we already know the answer. We generally only seek advice for permission to trust our instincts. I have stopped that and have begun making choices for myself. I have learned to take a step back and look at things objectively, make a choice, and stick with it.
I think the main reason for this is that I don’t have TJ to bounce ideas off of anymore and I don’t want to burden my friends with what may seem to them a somewhat minor decision. I must admit that I do “channel” TJ, or at least think to myself, “what would TJ do”, especially when it comes to home projects.
Making any decision affects change and sometimes it can be scary to be solely responsible for that change. Often I don’t know what the aftermath of a decision will be or if I will be able to deal with the aftermath on my own. I have learned that I need to trust my decisions and not second guess myself.
I am learning. Yes, I have made some bad decisions, but I have learned from those decisions and I know what I would do differently the next time. I have become comfortable with making mistakes. I know that sounds awful, but I used to hate it and berate myself for making mistakes. I now accept mistakes with grace and gratitude for the learning opportunity. I know I made the best decision possible with the knowledge and information I had available.
I read once, “Life is a hard hat zone. We are always under construction”. I know, for me, I have undergone a major renovation over the past few years. Much of me is better than before and parts are still a work in progress. I am at peace with that. Every day I get up and put one foot in front of the other, slowly moving forward, and on some days, just that is an accomplishment in and of itself.
One day I could see my whole life stretched out in front of me, and then, suddenly, I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of me. Hitting that wall of thick foggy grief literally took my breath away. My life was shattered into a million pieces and I had no idea how to put them all back together. Many of those pieces I have managed to glue together over the past 2 years. Others are still scattered so widely that I just can’t seem to pick all of them up. Some are so shattered that they are not repairable. It is those pieces that will forever be missing from my life.
No matter how hard I work at it there are some wounds that will never fully heal. I have to adjust to a whole new way of living. Things have changed too radically to ever go back to what they were. I am a whole new person with a whole other life. Because I am a changed person now, many things are much clearer.
When I first began to see through the fog of grief and enjoy happy moments I felt guilty. Guilty that TJ wasn’t around to enjoy them too. Guilty that maybe it was too soon for me to be happy. Guilty that I was dishonoring TJ’s memory by having joy in my life. It was that guilt that would push me back into the fog of grief. I would find myself suspended in the fog until joy found its way around to me again and as quickly as the fog would clear it would reappear as the guilt took over. It was only once the fog of grief cleared completely that the real healing began.
I began to feel true happiness again. Happiness without the guilt. Yes, there are many times when I think to myself that TJ would have loved to be a part of it, but it is with a smile and not a frown. I began to find happiness in unexpected places. I began finding my way back to the things that truly mattered the most. I believe the universe has a way of making sure we wind up exactly where we belong. I now believe I am on that path, although I don’t know where it leads. Did a part of me die right along side of TJ? Yes, of course it did, but I have to choose. I have to choose between yesterday and tomorrow. I must pick one and stick with it.
Healing is not a team sport. It is a solitary, long distance run. It is long, it is exhausting, and it is lonely as hell!
A few months ago I attended the Arizona Sun Circuit Horse Show and sat through 5 hours of lectures/demonstrations. All were very interesting with the exception of hour 2 and that was when the phrase “embrace impermanence” popped into my head.
Impermanence is usually something we try to avoid. I prefer things structured and dependable. I like the security of knowing what is going to happen on a daily basis. Because of fear we try to hold onto whatever makes us happy. We hold on because we don’t want to feel the alternative. But the reality is that nothing lasts forever. It is because of impermanence that not only do the painful times pass but the joyous times as well. Change is inevitable and we must learn to expect and accept the changes in life. It is when we resist change that we suffer the greatest.
The next time you find yourself in a joyful moment remember impermanence. The next time you find yourself sad or depressed, also remember impermanence. It is impermanence that allows us to appreciate the moment. Because of impermanence we should try to find the positive in every moment and not dwell on what we have lost. The unknown can be a curse or an adventure. It is up to us to choose.
“When you truly embrace your human impermanence you connect with the power you have, and influence you have, over the time you have.” ~ Steve Maraboli
I have always loved animals. My Mom used to frequently dream that I brought home a stray elephant I had found. Throughout the years I have adopted numerous stray dogs and even a few barn cats. For me, animals bring so much joy into my life that I can’t imagine being without them.
Animals can sense so many of our emotions and give us unconditional love. I believe one can find so much symbolism in the way they behave and often times parallels between their life and ours can be drawn. I want to share with you one such true story.
Quite a few years back an injured dove showed up at our house. I don’t know if he had been shot or hit by a car, but his breast was completely sliced open. I first noticed him while I was throwing scratch (cracked corn) on the ground for my chickens. He was trying desperately to steal some but the chickens kept chasing him away and it was obvious that he could not fly. I threw him some scratch off to the side so he could eat. For the first week he ate alone, away from the chickens and away from me. Every morning he would appear for his share of some scratch and it wasn’t long before my chickens began to accept him and he blended right in. Over time his breast began to heal and he could fly a little bit at a time; not very long and not very high but to me it was fantastic improvement. During his healing he learned that I was not a threat and he had no fear of me. When eventually he could fly good as new he never left our place. He would always be waiting for me when I went out to feed in the morning and often when I would leave for work he would ride the bed rails of my truck until I pulled out of the driveway. He would then fly up to rest on the power lines. Many days he would be waiting on those same lines when I got home. As I pulled into the driveway he would swoop down and ride the truck to its parking place. In the evenings, as TJ and I sat on the patio discussing our day and planning the next he would happily perch nearby. He eventually found a mate and they built their nest on our patio right outside the back door. While TJ wasn’t happy with the mess they were creating, I convinced him to please let them be. They raised not just one but two families right on our patio.
When I moved from that house after TJ died there was no way for me to bring him with me so I was forced to leave him behind and it broke my heart. I can still vividly remember the last time I pulled out of that driveway and he was on the bed rails of my truck. When he flew off just as I pulled into the street I stuck my hand out the window and waved goodbye.
I was leaving my old life behind to begin my own healing process. I was beginning my own journey to learn how to spread my wings and fly again. Small short flights at first, as the pain held me back. But with time and nourishment much longer and higher flights. I am not yet soaring above the power lines, but I will.