I have sorted out my free time, so that its either something I enjoy, or a cause I believe in, or something that helps my mental or physical health.
I am listening to a playlist called, “Calm down Michelle, and I'm glad you had a good time at dance.” It is beautiful calming music that makes me happy. All eras, all genres. I made this playlist a few years ago when I came home from dance so wound up that I was afraid that I wouldn’t sleep. Wound up in a good way. Because I love dance. Its my thing. Well. One of my things. One of my favoritest things.
I have to take the whole summer off of dance because of a broken ankle. This made me very sad. On the other hand? I can walk. Sort of. I'm getting there. And I have my beloved pup back. And soon, right at the end of my street there will be concerts, music festivals, an art fest, a farmers market, a classic car show, food trucks, and lots+ lots of music, all at the beautiful scenic water. If you’ve been following along, you're aware that #WeLiveInAMagicalPlace.
Kind of like, the other day, I tried to take Miss KD Puppy to daycare. I was blocked at every turn because of road construction. I could be angry and annoyed because of inconvenience and delay, or I can be happy that they are fixing the road.
Im getting better. My body and my head. And the road is getting help. And getting better. I choose to be happy and appreciate the good. Im not sure if Im climbing out of the rabbit hole, or in to a new and better one. But Im very consciously choosing to have a good life.
Oh, how we have sorted stuff out at work. It was really difficult, but we have figured out a plan that we never would’ve, had we not faced some bumps.
I have sorted out my free time, so that its either something I enjoy, or a cause I believe in, or something that helps my mental or physical health.
And that’s the best I can do for now. I have good days and bad. I hit HARD roadblocks. And then I either ask for help, or help myself, depending.
Ill dance again in the fall. But right now, I am excited just to walk. I am pretty sure this is a metaphor for everything in my life.
This article in Positively Positive crossed my path this morning while I was watching the Royal Wedding this morning, and perusing social media. The article encourages the reader to take some time and create a set of, "commandments," that will be a template for the way that you want to live your life. This struck me as an interesting exercise as I rebuild my life.
The writer, Gretchen Rubin, encourages us to take our time and think very clearly about this. She took several months to put hers together. I dashed mine off before Meghan and Harry even had their first kiss. I guess that I am surprisingly clear about what I want my life to look like.
I found this to be a very valuable exercise. I will feel free to add to, or delete from my list when I darned well feel like it. This is a template very specific to me. This is my list, after all. Who is gonna stop me?
Here is my list of Twelve Personal Commandments:
Always look for ways to help others. Always ask for help when you need it.
Listen. Make it about the person speaking. Understand. Care. Be a safe place for friends, family, and strangers.
Give your all in business. Continue to make it a place of music, culture, charity, and fun. Be prosperous and generous.
Give people the benefit of the doubt. Look for the best in people, and even help them to find it for themselves. But trust your nose for nonsense of any kind. It is eerily accurate.
Replenish your spirit with exercise, art, music, travel, time in nature, time at the water, time with the beloved pup.
Spend time with people and in situations that make you feel good, happy, and like your best self.
Distance yourself, with kindness, from people +/or situations that are not good for you.
Be yourself. You are not, “too much.” Don’t squash yourself down to meet others.
Acknowledge your feelings, and feel them. Pain, anger, love, joy. Experience them; don’t smash them in an effort to make others more comfortable.
Create. Create. Create.
Make your home an oasis of beauty, calm, and love.
Stay vulnerable, + don’t hide it. It’s a big part of what makes you, YOU.
I hope that if you've taken the time to read this far, that you will dash off your own Twelve Personal Commandments. If you do, please let me know, and share if you wish.
Sending you all outrageous love.
What is so fascinating about my tiny, tiny, tiny little porch, aka, stoop? No. The garden above is not my garden, and the cat is not my cat. The house is not my house. This is how I feel sitting on my stoop filled with plants. Replace the cat with my dog, KD, and you've got the way that the stoop always looks in my imagination.
#StoopLife was a big thing with Peter and me. So I was worried. How would I do planting without him? That was one of our special things. Well. I had a few teary moments missing him, who wouldn't. I am very pleased with my little stoop garden. Ive got more flowers this year. I still have lots of vegetables growing, and herbs. Solar flower lights. I *needed extra flowers this year. I want to pull in to my driveway and see a flower garden, every single night when I get home from work. I want to be blown away with their beauty. Ive got too many now, and Ill probably add more.
We have had intermittently warm/sunny days recently. I have started to readopt the tradition of sitting on the stoop with KD. This is her happy place, her window on the world. She loves to watch the people go by. She sits there calmly. She will happily greet any passersby whom would like to pet her. And there are lots of them. Shes awfully cute. Im pretty sure Ive mentioned that before, if youve been following along.
The beautiful thing about the stoop is that ...ok. Im just going to say it. It has magical powers. If Im the least bit lonely, I sit out there for mere moments, and someone will come along and talk to me. Whether I want them to or not, almost.
In the approximately three years that I have lived here, this stoop has hosted cowboy bands, impromptu actors, lots of strangers, lot+lots+lots of my friends and family. My former neighbor Bobby used to show up with bunch of friends, and Id pull out chairs, we'd take up the entire sidewalk besides the porch. Nobody cared. In fact, if people walked by they would be most likely to stop and talk to us. My neighbors, Joey and Cherie,and their beautiful pit bull Zeus are frequent stoop visitors.
In the past couple of weeks, I have walked out there to find four people skateboarding on the tiny little stoop. Rappers who were performing at a nearby bar. An over-amorous drunk guy. People drumming and playing guitar right across the street in a little park. *These people, I ran over and offered food. Im not sure why. But holy, heck, were they grateful, and they played a bunch of my favorite tunes for me. One of my neighbors, who didn't want to wake me up in case I was sleeping, was sitting there on the stoop with drinks just in case I was awake the other night. I was!
Ive lived enough life to have had some beautiful porches. Ive been blessed to travel quite a bit and see incredibly spectacular gardens and porches. This is, by far, the smallest ever. Yet. Its magical.
#StoopLife 2017. The story continues.
Will I ever fall in love again? I don't know. My last experience was so mind-blowingly beautiful that it is a ridiculously tough act to follow. But, if you've been following along, you know that Peter and I had a conversation long before he got sick. If anything was to ever happen to either of us, we would grieve with all of our hearts, and then go on and live a beautiful life. We also agreed that we would want each other to fall in love again.
There are people who wanted me to start dating 15 minutes after he died. There are people who say that I need to wait two years. The person who decides when, or if, is a panel of three people. Me, myself, and I. Could be tomorrow, could be never.
So on the days when I feel good enough to start to think about this in the abstract, I wonder what type of man I should date. What kind of man I could fall in love with. And what would that look like? What would he be like?
Its still a new moon, so I decided to make a list of what my ultimate man would be like. As my brilliant friend Sara likes to say, "I want all of this, or better." Lets face it. I can make a pretty nice life for myself on my own just casually dating here and there. So, heres what Id like, when and if Im ready, in my ultimate man.
He will understand, and not be threatened by the fact that Peter will always be a part of me.
He needs to be kind. To me, to The Humans, to animals.
He needs a great sense of humor.
He needs to be smart.
He needs to be interested in the world, people, and learning about new things.
He needs a sense of adventure.
He had to be comfortable around people of privilege and people who have nothing. And not look down on either of these groups of people.
He has to be comfortable in a five star restaurant or a corner pub. And be kind to the people in both places. And every place in between.
He must have good manners.
He needs to be so interesting that I could just sit and talk to him for hours. And listen to him.
He needs to care about hearing the end of my sentence.
He needs to care about my likes and dislikes.
He needs a great voice. What makes a great voice? I dont know. Ill know it when I hear it.
He needs to take care of himself and his health, but not be a fanatic about it.
He needs to be able to enjoy the company of my friends. There are lots of them. And they are about as diverse and eclectic as you could possibly imagine.
He needs to like to entertain with me. He needs to like a good party.
He needs to be open to going to hear music of lots of different genres.
He needs to like picnics and sunset dog-walks by the water.
Speaking of which, he needs to adore my dog, or at least treat her kindly.
I need to be able to just sit down on the porch with a good bottle of wine, and just look at the stars, and talk to him about stuff.
Speaking of which, no one who doesnt drink. No one who drinks too much. ( Ill decide whats too much. This is my list.)
He needs to be supportive and encouraging of my career.
He needs to be kind to my family and enjoy their company.
He needs to think the charitable stuff I like to do is cool, and want to support me in his attitude and sometimes, his time.
He will not make me feel stupid. Especially if I am asking him for help with something hes good at.
He will find ways to make me feel beautiful, special, and smart.
We dont have to agree on politics, but he needs to be able to discuss them without getting angry. And respect our differences and enjoy learning from each-other. He needs to not be completely obsessed with talking about politics.
He will not look down on people of other religions, or lack thereof. He will not look down on gay or transgender people. He will not be a racist.
He needs to travel well.
He needs the ability to come with me on the crazy adventures I cook up, and appreciate them and have a blast.
He needs to be able to both suggest, and accept, making plans. Inability to make plans is frustrating, disrespectful of my schedule, and an absolute dealbreaker.
Speaking of which;He will be prompt. Don't keep me waiting. I'm not a fan. At least don't make a habit of it.
He needs to embrace my quirkiness and not try to squash it.
He will think I'm beautiful and smart and be madly attracted to me. He will think that being with me is the best thing thats ever happened to him, and he wont be afraid to tell me.
I will be madly attracted to him.
Money is not important, per se, but he needs to be able to take care of himself, and sometimes, me too.
We will automatically find ways to help each-other every day.
He will appreciate my kind nature and the fact that I love with all of my heart.
He will not be afraid of love. Or if he is afraid, hell take a chance anyway. Because he realizes that Im worth it.
April 12. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
Three years ago today, Peter and I were falling in love.
Two years ago today, Facebook tells me we went on a bike ride adventure and called it the "official start of Summer 2015, Epic Summer!" We were right. Spring-summer 2015 went on to be the best of both of our lives. Crazy in love, every single day and night was an adventure. All of 2014 and 2015 were magical, along with some magical moments in early 2016.
One year ago today, I took Peter to MASH. He was jaundiced and weak. It was clear to all of us that he was very sick, and he finally agree to go get checked on at MASH. There we were told that he needed to go to the ER. He begged me for one more night at home sleeping wrapped around each other. I granted him that wish, one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make. I'm now glad that I did. Because this was the beginning of the end. The next day, we went to the ER at Kenmore Mercy and found out the gravity of his illness and just how close he was to death. The next three months of our lives were a whirlwind of hospitals, home care, extreme sickness, extreme love. We didnt think he was going to die. We were just trying to keep him well enough for a transplant. You can scroll back and read about the months where he was sick if you like. Ive said enough about that. But God, or The Universe, or somebody, had other plans. July 10 we lost him.
These milestone days. The first time going to the hospital. Its easy to get sucked right back in to extreme grief and darkness. I am going to work very hard on not doing that. I remind myself how far Ive come since July, and I tell myself bumps and setbacks are natural. But I am not going to live in grief and misery for the rest of my life.
When I woke up this morning, I popped on Facebook, and the memories showed me last year. But they also showed me the last several April 12ths of my life. So there is context. I can see, although I never articulated it, I remember through my posts what was going on. I can see, and remember the pain I was in during 2011-2012. I can see myself coming back to life in 2013-2014. And then the happiest time of my life, in 2014 and 2015. And I can tell just by what I wrote, although no stranger would detect it, I can tell when I started to know something was very wrong.
Last night I was walking KD by the water near Gateway Park. I was thinking about the progress that I am making on becoming a happy, healthy person again. I remembered my promise to myself to take this year to concentrate on getting better. Concentrate on my beloved job, my physical fitness, and spend any additional free time doing things and being around positive people places and pursuits that make me happy. Im not at the point where I can do as much as I used to helping others yet. I was puzzling over it a bit. Im sure not fully healed yet, but I am getting a lot better. So Im walking along mulling all of this over. I looked up at the sky, and asked Peter for help. "Show me what to do next," I said. KD started pulling me, and barking. I try to settle her but she wont be deterred. I look up to see what shes trying to show me. Its the sign above: "Take care of yourself." In big red letters. It doesn't get much clearer than that. Thanks, Peter!
I hope that my Facebook post on April 12, 2018 is telling the world that I am bursting with happiness again. Maybe Ill even fall in love again, who knows. In the mean time, I plan on taking Peters advice, and working towards a happy life again. For now, Ill stick with taking care of myself.
Today's writing prompt was the word, releasing. My first thought was, what do I need to release?
I came up with a lot of things. And then I realized that the things I came up with were things I didn't like about myself. Not so much in general, but Post-PK-sickness-and-Death-Michelle.
I hate that I cant always do things I used to love to do.
I hate that I cant be there for my friends like I used to.
I hate that I'm not back in the shape I want to be in yet.
I hate that I sometimes have sad or angry moods still.
I hate that I'm not as creative as I used to be at my job.
I hate that I cant do all of the charitable things I usually love to do.
Wah-wha-wha. Oh I could go on. But this is enough examples to make the point I need to make. What if, I forgave myself for mistakes that I have made. What if I release the idea of who I wish I was again, and embraced the idea that we are all works in progress, all of our lives. I'm the best person I can be for right now, and always trying to get better. As long as I'm trying to improve, and believe me, I am.
So I take and re-frame the list I made above in my head and release beating myself up about these things. How would that look?
Instead of: I hate that I cant always do things I used to love to do.
How about: I still like doing more things than most humans do. And I'm adding more and more cool new experiences every day.
Instead of: I hate that I cant be there for my friends like I used to
How about: By most peoples standards, I'm still a pretty darned good friend to have.
Instead of: I hate that I'm not back in the shape I want to be in yet.
How about: I'm focused on getting my health back to a peak level and actively working towards it.
Instead of: I hate that I sometimes have sad or angry moods still.
How about: I've gotten a lot better at avoiding things that will bring me to The Bad Place in my head. I've also gotten better at digging myself out of it, much more quickly. (side note, one day I told my cousin that I was in The Bad Place and she asked me if that was a bar. Ha! )
Instead of: I hate that I'm not as creative as I used to be at my job.
How about: I feel my creativity coming back in leaps and bounds, especially the last month or so. We are actively working on a lot of cool and exciting projects that will happen in 2017.
Instead of:I hate that I cant do all of the charitable things I usually love to do.
How about: I'm concentrating on getting myself better for a few more months, so that I will be strong and able to do a lot more good in the world before I leave it.
There. That sounds more like the me I want to be.
Image by Josephine Wall.
Today's writing prompt word was gratitude. This one is tough, only because I feel like I've almost OVER-covered this topic in past articles. So I'm going to skip all of the obvious, always be grateful type things. I'm going to skip listing the 9000 things and people I'm grateful for. And I'm going to pick just one thing. Today, I am grateful that a wonderful woman in Holland,who goes by the name Rainbow Imagine tweeted out writing prompts. She has given me my voice back. I am incredibly grateful to her.
Going along with something that seems stupid or pointless for the sake of the other person.
Perhaps agreeing with someone just to keep them happy. *from Urban Dictionary
Please humor me. I am not quite myself yet. It might be confusing to see me some days, so full of life and so genuinely happy. And other days, I am hardly doing a decent impression of myself. The good news is that the good days are coming a lot more frequently. The bad news is that when the bad days come, I full on panic at the depth of my sadness.
So you'll see me on a good day, with my friends or family, and I'm clearly having a blast. And you'll think, "look at her, she's got this!" Three days later I might be sitting on the floor with my dog crying my eyes out. A couple of days somewhere in the middle will follow. My body and mind fight so hard to get my spirit back. And then when it does, I want to capitalize on that. I want to squeeze out every drop of fun and beauty and light and just, life. I imagine its confusing to watch, as I'm blessed to have a lot of people around me who care about me.
Sometimes I cant drive very far. Sometimes I can.
Sometimes the idea of a huge crowd sounds like a blast. Other days, that sounds very scary to me.
Sometimes I want to be alone. Sometimes I need people I love, or even strangers around me to escape the thoughts rattling through my head. Sometimes I want to be with people because I feel like myself, and just want to enjoy their company.
Every once in a while, I cry. Who wouldnt. Hand me a tissue. Dont make a big deal out of it, but dont ignore it either. Most times it only lasts a couple of minutes.
Come along on my adventures. Join me when Im in the light. Ive never been more eager for fun and adventure. Having something to look forward to is also a huge help.
Understand when I know something will trigger my grief and set me back. It might not make sense to you. Ive got eight months of this under my belt. I know when something is or is not going to be good for me. And that changes from day to day. And then changes back again.
Humor me. Stick with me. I need all of you more than ever.
I've always been pretty good at forgiving people who hurt me for their "sins," perceived by me. Forgiveness to me means, if you are staying in my life, I forgive you and no longer hold this, *whatever it is,* against you. I let it go. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of communication and I will almost always tell someone if what they say or do is hurting me. This last bit is new in the last 3 years. Its a better way to live. Talk about it, straighten it out, move on. If I need to separate you from my life, I still forgive you, completely. And genuinely wish you well. GENUINELY.
The hardest bit of forgiveness for me is forgiving myself. For stupid things I say and do sometimes.
I'm getting better at it. I'm focusing on trying to be at least half as kind to myself as I am to others. Join me. Let it go. Today is a new day. Give it your best without all of yesterday's garbage dragging you down. We all get another chance to get it right, every day that we wake up on this planet. Let's do this.
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