Thursday, September 11, 2014

Photography Healing

Photography helps me refocus myself. It's very healing. This has been especially helpful since I'm still mourning Floyd's loss.

"In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality."
- Alfred Stieglitz

sea horse
beach shoes
hanging lanterns

Thursday, August 28, 2014

There's a Hole in My Soul

There's a hole in my soul. It's because he is gone.

Floyd in his cool camper, enjoying a Malibu breeze.

Floyd died on August 26, 2014. He was 17 years old.

It was the most difficult decision of my life. It was horrible. The day before he was put to sleep, I cried like I never cried before. Once we made the decision, I walked through my office with sunglasses on, made it to my car and sobbed. Really sobbed. That night, I came home and cried some more. Every time I looked at Floyd, I knew it would be the last time. His last dinner. His last bedtime snack. His last . . .

Tuesday morning was surreal. My husband woke up before me. He cleaned out the truck. Made Floyd a bed in the back seat. Punched the directions to the animal shelter into the GPS. And put the shovel in the bed of the truck.

I took Floyd out for his last morning potty. He ate his last egg for breakfast.

Then, we got into the truck for the ride to his resting place. He was born in St. Augustine and he would die in St. Augustine.

We discussed different options. I looked into in-home euthanasia but it just didn't feel right. This isn't Floyd's home - we've only been here for 8 months. So, we decided to do it in our truck. The truck that has been a part of Floyd's life for the last 12 years. The truck that he took on many adventures. The truck that felt like home.

The 90 minute ride went okay. I fed Floyd leftover salmon from the night before. I figured that his last meal should be a good one. For a brief time, he became really anxious. It was bad. It was an acknowledgment from God that it was time. I tried to comfort him. After a while, he became relaxed. He rested his head on his Winnie the Pooh bear.

Then, we arrived. I felt like I would vomit. My husband could not go inside without stopping to compose himself. That moment was awful.

They don't usually euthanize dogs in vehicles. They made an exception after my tear-filled call and my husband's pleading. The two ladies who did it were very compassionate. One of them actually crawled into the front seat of the truck in order to hold Floyd. It took about 15 seconds for the sedative to start working. He became very sleepy and just let go into my husband's arms.

We kissed him and told him how much we love him. I kissed his ears for the last time.

When the ladies came back to administer the last shot, I couldn't watch. I was afraid that Floyd would cry. So, I walked away. I didn't hear any cries. I turned around and saw the anguish on my husband's face. It was pure sadness. He touched Floyd and looked into his eyes when he died. Floyd was not alone. He was loved up until the last breath. He is still loved.

We're not saying loved. We're saying love.

My husband dug Floyd's grave. He is buried at our friend's farmhouse. Horses watch over Floyd. He is buried with Winnie the Pooh and his toy puppy, Charlie. He is wrapped in blankets. There is a cross placed on his back. God is responsible for Floyd. Floyd is with Him. I know this. I feel this.

The space on the living room floor is empty. It's as empty as my heart. It's as empty as my soul. I don't know what to do with his leash. I don't know what to do with the rest of his toys or the cans of Pedigree that are still in the cabinet.

All I know is that I miss Floyd more than I ever could have imagined. I am grateful for the last 17 years but I also would do anything to kiss him again.

This sucks. It sucks really bad. There's a hole in my soul and I'm not sure if it will ever be filled again.

Goodbye, sweet Floyd.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thank Goodness for Mechanically-Inclined Husbands

I love that my husband is mechanically-inclined (i.e. Mr. Fix It). We were traveling on I-4 about to head into Orlando and our truck started acting funky. The power steering quit working, engine began over-heating and other stuff I don't understand.

My husband knew exactly what it was: some pulley thing that a belt attaches to. The plastic circular thing that is supposed to be part of the pulley had melted. We pulled into a Publix parking lot, my husband took out his toolbox and began figuring things out. Then, we called a cab to take us to an auto part store, paid $42 for the part, rode back to Publix, paid $24 for the taxi, installed the new pulley thing & put the belt back on. We were on our way home less than 30 minutes later.

He was sweaty, since it had been 95 degrees outside, had grease all over his hands and arms and somehow cut himself during the process so the grease was mixed with blood. I was so proud. I'm also thankful for a husband who knows things like this. I feel safe with him and know that we can get through anything.

This little detour reminded me of how important it is to be self-reliant and to know that you can pull through any challenge.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mind Junk

I feel cluttered. I keep picturing that my mind is full of junk. Sort of like this:

In times like these, I think too much. Way too much. I think about discovering new places and traveling the country with my husband and writing every day and becoming my own boss. I wonder what it feels like to be so confident that I sing along with Tori Amos. The beautiful lyrics floating from my stomach to my heart, through my throat and onto my tongue.

I think about starting an LLC so that I am prepared for all of the entrepreneurship opportunities that are on my bucket list. I think about work. Not as much as I used to but I hope that I am making a difference. I am faced with many new challenges and quite a few of them are outside of my comfort zone. My leadership capacity is being tested and I'm finding that I have to make decisions in more direct and assertive ways than I ever have before. I surprise myself sometimes. Am I being direct or a bitch? I am unsure sometimes.

I stopped reading the bible and I have no idea why. I know that I need to start again but I haven't. I don't know why. Maybe it's the mind junk. I'm not sure but I am thinking that mind junk is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's an excuse. A rationalization. An out. A way to build a wall to keep me from myself.


Or, maybe the mind junk is a catalyst. A way to open myself to a an mysterious vulnerability that will at first break my heart and then restore it, little by little. Becoming new again. Becoming me again.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dog Years Reflections

My dog is almost 17 years old. He only has to make it five more weeks. If he does, he'll be considered to be 119 years old in Dog Years.

Floyd is pretty much blind. I think that he can see some things but I'm not sure what they are. We have to lead him inside from the backyard because he gets lost out there. He also runs into walls and furniture and stumbles over shoes if we forget and leave them in the middle of the floor.

He sleeps a lot. A LOT. He whines more than I like. It's not irritating - it just makes me sad. There are a few things that help him relax. His floor fan is his comfort zone. It's just a cheap $20 box fan and it runs 24 hours per day. He usually sleeps right in front of it. Sometimes, he sleeps so close to the fan that I'm afraid his tail will get stuck inside. The next saving grace is Sara McLachlan or Nora Jones or Adele - any soothing female voice will almost instantly relax him. We also give him Benadryl at night with a little snack - it really helps.

Even though Floyd is blind and losing equilibrium, he still LOVES to eat. He can't eat hard food or dog treats anymore so he gets extra meals. Floyd eats breakfast, dinner and a late night snack. If he cries a lot at night, I also give him a little bowl of milk (this usually does the trick). He will do anything for fish - he gets salmon and tuna for treats and I think that he's in heaven when he does. This morning, when my husband made breakfast, Floyd got his Sunday egg over medium.

Floyd's toy box sits on the living room floor and it is filled with memories. Winnie the Pooh, Scooby Doo, Eeyore, a cow that moos, a small puppy named Charlie and a chipmunk among other stuffed animals. He will sniff his toy box once in a while but no longer plays with his toys. They are patient with him ignoring them and understand that the older you get, the more you just wish to be left alone.

Only pet people can understand how much our pets mean to us. I was 20 years old when I adopted Floyd from the Humane Society. I paid $40 for a family member who I never imagined would be a part of my family 17 years later.

My husband and I talk about Floyd dying. I think it is a way to prepare ourselves for the inevitable. We are thankful that Floyd has had a wonderful life - he was loved and traveled and went on many adventures. I can't imagine my life without him. I know that death is a part of life but it's so difficult to accept.

Until it is his time to go, I will give Floyd as much loving as he can stand. I kiss him and tell him that I love him. I'll do whatever I can to keep him at peace - even if it means stocking up on canned salmon and buying a new fan if this one ever breaks.

Here's a photo of Floyd on vacation many years ago:

Floyd on his first boat. He loved it!

And a recent one at home:

Floyd sleeping in a new spot.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Twin Peaks Reflections

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been slowly watching Twin Peaks episodes. Again. This show is amazing. It's weird and crazy and so very interesting. The writing is wonderful. It is full of emotion and intellect. David Lynch is raw. He is real. I don't always understand him and I love it. His work makes me. . . wonder. And think. And reflect. I'm reminded to enjoy the little things. Have you given yourself a present today?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Funky Roses

Today, I needed to immerse myself in creativity and music in order to find balance. After an hour or so and a few Blow Pops later, Funky Roses emerged.

The perfect song to accompany my Funky Roses mood was "Don't Follow" by Alice in Chains. I love this song. It reminds me of the time in my life when I learned to let go. I was in college and had spent months grieving the loss of my dad. I was withdrawn and depressed. A friend encouraged me to go out with her and it ended up becoming an evening I will remember forever.

A group of us, sitting on the floor, drinking alcoholic beverages with our eyes closed moving to the music in our own unique ways. It was the first time in my life when I just let go of everything I had been holding on to. I felt free. I felt independent and connected. It was an amazing feeling.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself to let go and to embrace whatever emotion I'm feeling at the time. Even those feelings that are difficult and probably not be pretty. Most likely, they will be complex and messy - otherwise, I wouldn't need to remind myself.

When we do meditate and reflect on these types of feelings, interesting things can happen. We realize things about ourselves that are both scary and exciting. Hidden desires emerge and those things that are easy to bottle up bubble to the surface. We feel alive and activated. We can't ignore the complexities in life when we allow ourselves to delve into them. It's both horrible and beautiful at the same time. I love it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Reflections

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20: 28

It's easy not to get caught up in the commercialism of Easter when you don't have children. There are no Easter baskets or egg hunts or chocolate bunnies. There is space to meditate on the meaning of this day: sacrifice, love, pain and joy.

There is space to realize that I struggle with my Christianity. I struggle with keeping my connection with Jesus as the most important aspect of my life. It is a reminder that I must consciously and actively develop and nurture my relationship with Him. Little steps like reading scripture every day, praying with purpose and giving thanks for all of the blessings in my life.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This and That and Bike Week

It's an amazing Sunday afternoon here in central Florida. Beautiful. The weather is perfect - sunny, a blue sky, a small enough chill in the air that you can wear a groovy scarf and it rained yesterday so everything is extra green.

I started monitoring my food and exercise. It's not the D word that most women loathe - it's just eating healthier and being cognizant about exercising. I didn't stay within my goal twice this week but that's okay because it's only my first week. I'm using My Fitness Pal to track food and exercise. I love this because it's easy and it's free. It just takes planning and I love the kind of awareness that comes with really looking at the nutritional content of foods.

I can't believe that tonight is the season finale of the Walking Dead. This is the first season that I've watched in real time because I hadn't had cable in so long. Thank goodness for TV on DVD and season marathons. I really hope that none of the main characters die off. Especially Daryl.

I slept in this morning. Really slept in. I've only been awake for an hour and it's 12:41 p.m. My day includes lots of cleaning, a walk around a lake, 30 minutes on my stationary bike and giving my dog a bath. I love cleaning and now that I know I burn 243 calories an hour, it's even better!

I am not participating in the A to Z Challenge this year. I had the past two years and really enjoyed it. I just don't have it in me this year. I am still adjusting to my new job and the move. My creativity has been off balance. I just started getting back into photography again after a few months. Writing is still on hold. Here are a few new photos from a spontaneous trip to Daytona Beach during Bike Week. I love Bike Week - if you're observant enough, you can see life and humanity and beauty all around you.




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Remembering Grandpa

My grandpa died on March 3. His name was Gerald and he was 89 years old.

Gerald and Dessie with my dad.

I miss him and I loved him very much. I am also thankful that he is no longer suffering from dementia. This sort of grief makes me feel conflicted. I felt this same way when my grandma died in 2010 and when my dad died in 1996. They were all terminally ill so when they died, I felt a sense of relief that accompanied the loss. I don't like feeling this way. It's really confusing.

My grandpa is now with my dad and my grandma. He is home. There was no funeral or memorial. I guess that he didn't want anything and it wasn't my decision to make. This tiny memoir is my memorial to my grandpa. I need to reflect on his life. He deserves to be recognized for being a good man.

Me and grandpa on my wedding day.

Gerald was sort of a quiet man. He was hard working, having retired from General Motors, and provided well for his family. He loved his family and enjoyed being around others. You could tell because he would get a certain look on his face. It was a combination of peacefulness and pride in his family and friends. It was a look of happiness.

Grandma and grandpa.

My grandpa found little things amusing. For one anniversary, my husband and I bought grandpa and grandma a weekend at a bed and breakfast in St. Augustine. They had so much fun. After dinner one evening, we walked them back to their room. The bed was turned down and there were chocolates on their pillows. My grandpa thought the chocolates were condoms. We laughed until our stomachs hurt.

At home in Florida.

He didn't like asking for help. We had a family cabin in Michigan - it was on an island on a lake. One summer, he needed to do some work on the cabin. My husband and I were taking a vacation to Michigan and asked him to wait until we got there so we could help. He didn't wait and ended up falling off of a ladder. He laid outside on the ground for hours before my grandma came looking for him. There's no phone on the island so my grandma had to yell for a fisherman to come pick him up and take him to the hospital.

When my husband and I finally arrived, we still went to the island. My grandpa had no problem getting into the rubber raft at the landing with his walker. He was one of the most determined men I've ever known.

He loved fishing.

He was the only grandpa I knew. I always remember him being there - as a child, a teenager and an adult. We were close - even when I lived across the country, he and my grandma were there for me. He was there for dance recitals, graduations, my move to college, vacations, my dad's death, birthdays and my wedding.

My grandpa and I before a dance recital.

One of the things that I will remember the most about him was his love for my grandma. They were amazing. She used to get frustrated with him and he would just laugh. He would sneak kisses when he thought no one was watching and he simply adored her. I hope that my marriage is as long as theirs. I pray that my marriage is as full as Gerald and Dessie's was.

Love is forever.
Grandpa, you will always be in my heart. I will remember you forever.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

God on a Shelf

The past six weeks have been a whirlwind. I moved. Unpacked boxes. Started a new job. Met a lot of new people. Unpacked more boxes. Got the flu. Began learning new systems at work. Sat by a fire. Went to a really cool outdoor movie. Unpacked more boxes. Bought cheap household items at Ikea. Traveled to Atlanta for a conference. Stayed up late to watch The Walking Dead marathon. And, this week, I will continue to unpack even more boxes.

I have to wonder: will the boxes ever get emptied?

Throughout all of this, I've been moving really fast: physically and mentally. I compartmentalize the things in my mind. It has been a sort of defense mechanism, this go-go-go mentality, to help with the tremendous amount of change I have endured the past month and a half. For me, this was necessary.

However, I realized that this self-protection type of mentality has kept me from reflecting on all the changes in my life. I haven't really absorbed or savored them. This tunnel vision has kept me from connecting with God, too. I put Him on a shelf and I miss Him.

The great thing is knowing that He is there for me, waiting on me to come around. I am not alone and, because I believe that Jesus is my savior, I will never be alone again. There will always be someone to confide in. Someone to love me. When I begin to drift, He will inspire me and motivate me to embrace all of the blessings in my life.

Prayer: I'm sorry, God, for putting You on a shelf. I forgot that You are my Rock. I lost sight of you and I am aching to be with You again. To feel close to You. To be centered in You. Help me stay centered in Christ and continue discovering who I am in You.