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12/28/18 – Feeling Optimistic

Tomorrow is my last day of work before a full week of vacation. What a gift to give myself. I need this. As these last couple of work days have wound down, i am coming closer to realizing that work has been an exceptional distraction from my grief. I have embraced and accepted that there will very likely be a moment of falling apart and coming down in the week ahead. I will allow it. I will talk about it if i need to. I will live in the moment. I will take this as part of my path as I move towards the next chapter of my life in the new year.

I said no to some things this week because i needed to. I gave so much in the last seven months. I think I have earned the right to sit down and take care of me. I’m tired. Mentally, physically, emotionally. I need my coming rest. I am feeling blessed at the fact that i can take a week off and not be in a financial crisis. My clients are partially responsible for that. They keep me busy, but they spoiled me with thank you’s this month. Small gifts of extra tips and trinkets added up. Nearly every work day since Thanksgiving has had me coming home with gifts.

These items and extra financial surprises, made me see what a blessing i have been to the people that let me take care of them. The back and forth or giving and receiving is the epitome of what I have been waiting to create in my life for myself and those around me. I have visions of what I want the next year to look like and I believe fully that I am closer than ever to carving out a better picture of the life I have been moving towards. The start of a world that looks in and takes care of those within it isn’t just inside my head, it is beginning to surround me. I’m cultivating that, I’m helping to encourage that mentality, and i am seeing the fruits of it. I am lucky enough to have people that care about each other and can see a bigger picture in the care-taking of others.

I feel like i am rambling. I am tired. I cannot wait to be on vacation. The beach across the street, sand, fresh seafood, daily outside walks. My head will clear, I will have to deal with and face some things that i have shelved. That’s okay too. I know that next year will involve me having to take care of the stuff i shelved. I have to take a bit better care of me, and I deserve to personally have more benefits from the fruits of my labor. New car for sure, new office maybe? Makes me excited and nervous at the same time.

I felt moody and dramatic when i started writing this, but as i have progressed, I’m now feeling light. There’s a level of anticipation involved in what the new year will hold. Good things come to those that wait? I think i have been waiting. I’ve been putting off the opening of the gift of patience.

I swear I’m not stoned, I haven’t even been drinking tonight either. I just feel moved in the sense that something is on the horizon. More change for sure, but more good. More reward for the gifts I have bestowed upon others.

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Christmas Eve 2018

Here we are. We made it to Christmas Eve. Somehow. Maybe it wasn’t as scary as it seems. It certainly hasn’t been the emotional drain that I planned for. Maybe that’s because I have accepted that wherever Dad is, he’s in a better place for him? Doesn’t mean that I don’t miss him, just that I can acknowledge that him being pain-free is so much more important. I can’t imagine what his quality of life would be like right now. More chemo? More surgery? Still having mobility issues from the broken leg?

He wouldn’t have been happy with any of that. Tonight we are going to toast my Dad. I splurged last year on an expensive bottle of champagne to celebrate him being done with chemo and being declared cancer free. We never opened it. Tonight Mom is busting out Grandma’s good crystal and we are going to do just that. I expect to cry, I’m trying to get it out now. I have Christmas carols on, I’m making mashed potatoes, listening to the rain, and missing my Dad. Matt has gone to the gym, so I’m happy to be alone for a bit.

We had a few friends over last night to celebrate Festivus, which we simply use every year as an excuse to see everyone before the holiday. Watching movies and drinking, laughing too hard and teasing each other, it made my heart so happy. This is what I want and need. My tribe. The people I lean on. My rally squad. Also known as “Coach C’s Cheering Section” during the football season. This group of humans takes great care of us, but we do the same. We do love here.

I may have lost my Dad this year, but this year I realized the true benefit of nourishing and feeding the relationships we treasure. When you take care of others, they in turn will take care of you when you need them. And man, they did. They stepped up and didn’t miss a beat. Each in their own way. They gave what they were capable of. I love these people. I didn’t get to see everyone. We certainly were missing some faces. However, near or far, they are in my heart and this is my biggest take away from this year.

Yes, it was hard, tragic, and very challenging. With that said, I learned so much about myself, my marriage, and my friendships. The human heart is vast and wide. It is capable of so much more then I ever knew. In a time of loss, when the bottom dropped out, I never had to fall, I hardly had to lose my balance. Someone was always walking with me, holding me up, giving me the strength to take the next steps.

Some people are excited for 2018 to finally end. Not me. I’m sad that Dad won’t get to 2019, but again, even with losing him this year, the growth that happened, i won’t soon forget that plenty of good happened. It makes up for the sadness and loss. My faith in the kindness of others in unwavering. I have that to take into the next year with me. Maybe this is too optimistic, but I’m refusing to dwell on negative. It was a sad year, but moving forward, the journey of my grief, the continued growth of my relationships, my successes at work, were all positive things. I’m changed for the better. I can thank my dad for that in some weird way.

I miss him. I always will. He’s here though. He’ll live on in my heart. Tonight i can toast him and thank him for everything. Merry Christmas Dad, wherever you are. I love you.

Thanksgiving Things

After two and a half days off, I came back to work for another short day, only to kick it off with a no-show. Kind of my fault. I should have done confirmations yesterday. Couldn’t be bothered. I’m tired, I could use more rest. Secretly it would be glorious to have a month off. That’s really not realistic or affordable though. Mostly, especially since we are getting down to the end of the year, I just need more time for me. I haven’t taken enough, and the reprieve I had in a few short days made me long for afternoons on the couch with coffee and cats. Even more so since NorCal finally had its first big fall storm and everything is grey and foggy.

We (meaning me and coach) spent our first Thanksgiving without my Dad in San Francisco. We drive down after I got off work on Wednesday and were through yesterday morning. We had to come home early to beat traffic, we had concert tickets for Fleetwood Mac last night.

Thanksgiving day was the 6th month anniversary of Dad’s passing. I really didn’t want to do turkey this year since that was always my dad’s thing. My mom and brother went to Pismo with other friends of his. We didn’t go for several reasons. One being that we simply didn’t have time to make the 6 hour drive worth the two nights we be staying, and another reason because we don’t care about beach camping and atv riding.

I know my mom was disappointed that we weren’t together for the holiday (my first Thanksgiving ever not spent with her). We didn’t see Coach’s parents either. It was just him and I, and two days of fresh seafood. We stayed on the Wharf, got dressed up for dinner, and walked A LOT. It was so perfect. We really would like to make this our new tradition. Neither one of us particularly cares for traditional Thanksgiving fair, so this was great for us. Our favorite city to escape to, our favorite views, favorite foods, and easy to get to local bars. We toasted to Dad, we toasted to the extremely honest place we gotten to in our marriage, and mostly, we enjoyed each other’s company. It was much needed.

Last night we balled our eyes out watching Stevie Nicks sing Free Fallin’ as a tribute to Tom Petty and we held on to each other as she sang Landslide (my dad and I danced to this at our wedding). The show made it even harder to to get up this morning. I don’t know why didn’t give myself more time off. Sometimes I take Saturday off over thanksgiving, this is a time I wish I did.

I think I feel guilty because of the time off I’m taking next month. 23-25, then 12/30-1/6. I’m actually getting a full 8 days off in a row, I haven’t done that since we got married.

My birthday is in two weeks. I’ll be 38. Age doesn’t bother me, it’s just numbers. It’s the fact that this year is ending, and so much happened. I’ve pulled inward as I’ve started to do a bit more self-care. Apparently our friends are concerned that I’m not wanting to be more social, but my reality is that I need more space for me. That’s how I deal. I ask for help and come up for air when I start drowning. That’s how I function. The journey I’ve been on with getting this lower leg calf sleeve tattoo has been so helpful. The ankle is fully complete, and I’m nearly fully covered to the knee. The ankles were rough to get done. I’ve signed on to do the top of my foot next. I don’t know what I was thinking. But enduring the pain is part of the journey. Maybe it is appropriate thAt the most painful parts have been saved for last. Who knows.

Anyway. In a week it will be December. That’s weird to me. I’m ready for whatever else I need to tackle this year. I’m just trying not to burden myself with anything unnecessary, which also includes minimal gift shopping. I don’t need anything. I just need time with people. December is a good month for that.

Monday Stuff 10/8/18

It’s October. I’ve gotten this far. I’ve been working a lot. More than I’m used to. Or maybe it’s my new normal and I still haven’t wrapped my brain around it. I worry that I’m overbooking to distract myself. Truthfully, I am just this busy. I haven’t taken much time off though. I am taking an extra day this week, I’m taking a Saturday in two weeks so we can do two full days in Santa Cruz. I have 5 days off in November over the holiday weekend. I’m taking a full week in December. I’m trying to make the time. For me. I have to do this for me.

My newly sleeved lower right leg is just about done. 1 more session. Then I have to decide what we are going to do next. I have ideas… The tattoo sessions are helping me process. The pain is letting me know I’m still feeling. The time is something that is solely for me. The money is hard earned and I’m parting with it for beautiful, wearable art. Plus, this new-to-me artist is great. He’s talented and super easy to work with.

I’m working hard on being honest. I feel like I have little to lose at this point in the year. I’m struggling a little in some of my relationships, and trying to bring my marriage to a better place. I figure as long as I’m being honest, I can’t lose. I’m not being mean or anything, I’m just making a point of taking more ownership of my emotions. I take care of so many people but I’m not doing that enough for me. I really need to do more. I want more for myself and my life. I have to make me a priority a bit more often. I’m trying to start that now as much as I can, but that’s going to be a bigger focus for next year. I want to be more fully satisfied, and not just with my job. I’m purging a lot of belongings. The things I don’t need, I don’t want. It’s just the right time for that. Less of what I don’t need, more of what will bring me joy and happiness.

This comes back to my wants. I want a few things I can’t have. Things that are currently unattainable. Nothing illicit, just things that if my world, my space, and my view were changed, I could have something more aligned to fit what I want this life to look like.

That sounds so vague. Some of the things I’m processing through I’m not fully ready enough to divulge, to actually say out loud, outside of my head. But I know there are things that if I chose to peruse them, I will upset the current status quo. I could lose more. They could cost me.

I don’t want my happiness to come at the expense of others. I at least need to recognize that the life I’d like to have isn’t the life I’m living. I know the grass isn’t always greener, but if the opportunity is made for a life more abundant, more full of the things I crave, shouldn’t I go for it? A life more fulfilled and more lived? A life where the best version of myself is more thoroughly loving and caring, more present, more honest and self aware, more for the space that I am occupying.

My current reality is that I thought there would be more. I thought more would be brought to the table. I go hungry and I feel empty and used up. It never looks the way you thought it would. I just didn’t think that my current view would be so much less. I don’t know that I will get farther by literally clearing out the clutter, but maybe I will now be able to put one foot in front of the other and carve a path.

8/5/18

It’s been smokey here for weeks. There’s two HUGE fires burning. One north, one northwest. I’m grateful I was able to buy that new treadmill last month, it sucks to be outside right now.

This evening isn’t too bad. The delta breeze has kicked up slightly and blown the smoke back north. It’s cool at night. Things are still hard. Not that I expect them to be easy already. This last work week was emotionally exhausting. I’ve had a few cancellations going into next week, but I also have 3 new clients on Wednesday. Not a bad start to August. I’m taking the calculations as a sign. I need to slow down slightly, breathe. I’m doing fine financially, it’s time to give my soul space to heal.

I went and got a tattoo started today. Something big, a project. New artist, new shop, fresh ideas. I combined some ideas I had for a California tattoo into a memorial tattoo for my dad. I got a huge soaring eagle that spans a huge section of my lower, outer right leg. For 3.5 hours I gutted out the pain. It varied from uncomfortable to intolerable. I truly believe my dad was with me through part of this. Even though he wasn’t a fan of the tattoos, I think he on some level appreciated the toughness involved in getting one. He would know it was for him. He knows what it means and why I’m going to carry it.

This is part of my grief process. I feel a bit closer to him somehow right now. I let go of some of my own pain. I got some clarity. There will be light and life after his death.

Coach dropped me off and picked me up from my appointment. I had a killer lunch and a perfect bloody mary for my Sunday Funday. Finished season 6 of Orange is the New Black, and now I’m ready for my week. I even put my laundry away and emptied the dishwasher. I’m going to chug some water, wash my face, and go to bed early. Monday starts soon.

7/15/18

I tried hard today. I finished an exhausting 4 day work week last night and crashed when I got home. I actually got 8 hours of hard earned sleep. Took a long, lazy walk outside in 80 degree weather (high was 100 today) this morning. Stoked as all get out that my new treadmill is coming on Tuesday. I did all my laundry, hit the bank, and grocery shopped.

I also finished my photo book for the first 6 months of the year. About 4 years ago I got into the habit of creating a Shutterfly photo book for every year and major trip we took. I went and did books starting from 2009 when we starting dating. I’m now at a point where I have to split the year in two because I take so many pictures and hit so many notes. Usually in the past I try to make them come from both mine and coach’s point of view, I stopped doing that with the last couple books and really started owning that it was my photo journal, my memories, and my point of view. I love these books. This last one was hard. Typically I work on them every other week or so. I put off this current one for months. With dad sick I was distracted. With dad gone, it didn’t seem relevant.

Truth is I still have to tell my story. So I did. I finished it. And I was in a shitty mood for the rest of the day. It was like going over all of it again. It had to be done. The book is raw and it’s honest and it’s gone to print. I will never be able to forget how I felt after dad died.

The book also lent to remind me that I have 6 more months to live within this year. It’s not over. Our first Christmas, thanksgiving, and my birthday will come without dad here. And I will document it. I will live through it. It will break my heart. We’ll have to start new traditions and let old ones go or revamp them. This saddens and terrifies me.

What’s that all going to look like? How will I handle that? How do I move on and move forward? These are the same questions I ask everyday. Here I am. You don’t get better. You get different. Because life is different. Big pill to swallow. Choked down everyday. Some days it is so easy, other days, like today? My heart broke all over again.

Tomorrow I’ll get up at my usual Monday time. 5:50am. I’ll take my walk, feed my cats, I’ll go to work. I’ll get shit done. Part of the day I’ll be me, part of the day I’ll be the gal who’s dad died two months ago. And I’ll get through. I’ll be okay. Different, but okay.

7/13/18

Let’s be real. I’m struggling. Some days are super easy and I just make it through. This week I’ve been annoyed everyday and now I’m just tired and angry today.

We took four days and went up highway 1 to a part of the coast we’ve only driven through, and spent 4 days. I could have used a week. I at least should have taken the rest of this week off. The time away was nice. Restful, easy.

I’ve talked to people who lost parents, everyone did something different. Few days off here and there, I know someone who was able to take a month. A month off would do serious damage to my savings. But why can’t I start taking an extra day off on my schedule when I can find it? This has become my new plan. I’m taking an extra day when I can find it. I’m going to be more deliberate in my schedule to keep chunks of time open for myself. My regular days off are Sundays and Tuesdays. Monday is typically one of my longest work days of the week, so getting that off simply isn’t an option. But I can take Wednesday’s where I can. And I’m going to.

Will this fix everything? No. Will it give me more down time? Yes.

I’ve been told that I’m the strong one, that everyone needs me. I’m reliable. That’s annoying to me. What does that mean exactly? That I’m expected to suck it up and move forward? Even when I said to my mom before we went out of town that I should have taken the whole week she asked why I needed that. This coming from a woman who left to take 10 days away with my brother and his wife and kid to go on a cruise. (We we’re also invited, I declined. If I’m taking 10 days off, it’s not going to be stuck on a boat, I’m site-seeing in my own time. Hello road trip.)

So this is where I’m at. From what I’m told I’m in a natural place of progression in my grief. I’m guessing that’s good? I’m moving along? Dealing? This is the first time in my career that I wish my job didn’t require so much of me, I almost for a moment wish my job was a tad more mindless. I’m pushing through though. I’m going to get there. I just need to take the time I need, and be mindful and aggressive about the lines I write in my appointment book delineating my days off. I can do this. I need this. I will get to the other side.

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