Friday, June 13, 2014

Happiness is a form of courage

Courage is my character of choice. Everything I do, want to do, plan to do, I give partial credit to "Courage."  It may have something to do with Amy Cuddy's TED talk I watched long time ago.  Although her phrase "fake it 'til you become it" doesn't resonate with me very much, as I dislike anything fake - fake smiles, fake eyelashes, fake butter, fake boobs, fake characters - I understand her point.  I prefer "do it 'til you become it."  It infers a series of mindful actions rather than deliberate deceit.  Regardless of the word of choice, courage drives the doing.  

That brings me to Happiness.  

Is happiness a form of being?  Or do you create happiness?  Or both?

The Friday before Memorial Day weekend in year 2000, at the SeaTac airport, while waiting for my flight home to Boise after a long day of meeting, this man was eyeing me at the gate.  This man eventually became my husband.  He chatted up the gate agent and switched his seat so he could sit next to me on the Horizon flight.  Exit row.  

That weekend, we went for a hike at Camelback Mountain with Kida, the Black Dog.  The man discovered that I'm a classical pianist.  I discovered he spoke Russian fluently.  I also made belief he was a spy… 

A month later, I announced that I was moving to Seattle to chase the Green Siren (Starbucks) and to become a Purple Dawg (UW Business School).  August, we went our separate ways, with our respective dog.  That was the end of our summer romance.  

Four months later, the man got a job with Alaska Airlines flying MD80, based in Seattle.  The dogs were reunited, as did the man and the woman.  The rest was history.  Until the day my husband died, he said I created this whole thing.  

Best 13 years of my life.  BUT - but - the best, and the happiest, must still be yet to come.  It is yet to be created.  

Happiness is a form of courage.  

Happiness is shooting bull's eye

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Evolution of Me

I stumbled upon my Facebook entry from a year ago.  I remarked that I began to feel quite human again for four days in a row.  That was April 25, 2013.  My remarks prompted me to revisit my blog so I can appreciate the progress I have made, and the evolution of myself.  

Apparently I made hummus a la Eric's recipe for the first time.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great.  It certainly didn't taste the same.  "What do you know; even garbanzo beans felt the void," I noted.  

I am grateful that I was able to express those vivid and raw sentiments so openly and honestly.  I think my ability to do so is a tremendous gift from the Universe. The way I express grief helped me evolve.  It continues to help me relentlessly focus on only the important things and my gratitude in my very charmed life, rather than Eric's death.  It was just so big to wrap my mind around the loss of a good man, my good man, in this world.

What a difference a year makes.  I feel very human.  Everyday.  I am acutely aware of Eric's absence AND presence in pretty much everything I do.  It is not a sad sentiment; rather, the awareness allows for a continuous evolution of my being.

I find that to allow myself to evolve, which is much more than to emerge from grief, gives me the courage to live All In with very little fear and reservation of the "what if's."  

My evolution gives me the courage to transform my living space from "our" home to "my" home.  It gives me room to uncover and develop my hidden talents.  It gives me the hunger to volunteer and serve at the Puget Sound Community School.  My friend Sieglinde asked why I continue to be involved in PSCS.  I think it's because PSCS brings out the best in me.  When I am at my best, I help others to bring out their best, to be at their best.  I feel strongly that "to help others to be at their best" has become my mission of my existence.  I am very grateful for my discovery.  

My evolution also opens windows and doors so I may enjoy a loving relationship with Ken, a very good, kind, generous man who, rightly so, thinks I am the best thing since sliced bread.  I feel fortunate that he also thinks I walk on water; I'll work on that, too.  More importantly, I feel peaceful and right.  And happy.  There is a loving sentiment of joy.

My evolution makes me face my passion, feed my hobbies, and refuse the myriad of excuses that are just that:  excuses.  To live in the present.  To not be attached to the outcome, but to go courageously into the journey itself.  All In.  Many would say "that's great, Daisy!  It's what Eric would have wanted you to do!"  That is wonderful.  But I think it's MORE wonderful and important that it is exactly what *Daisy* wants to do.  

I do know with certainty that Eric would say, as he always did, "very cool, babe. You have outdone yourself."  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Do you miss me?

Eric didn't use to "miss" me.  He didn't really "miss" anyone; he wasn't wired that way.  That didn't mean he didn't think of others, and it certainly didn't mean he loved me little.  He loved me plenty, likely more than anyone else he would and could love.  

I, on the other hand, used to miss him.  That's how I was wired.  

Now, I try not to miss him.  I had loved this man with every fiber and every ounce of energy.  Especially in the last few years.  It was profoundly powerful. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. Instead of missing him, I need to turn the energy around. Instead of focusing on his absence, I shall let his presence comes through.  I need to let his presence be my focus.  His laughs, his silence, his meditation, our conversations.  

I feel his presence in pretty much everything I do:  Every loaf of bread I bake, every round of skate on Alki, every French press on Sunday, every time I touch my bow and arrows, every piece of music I play on the piano, every piece of art I create, while I am in any corner of my house, when I ask "what should I do."  

I try not to "miss" him.  Me missing him somehow implies that I am focused on the past, what was lost.  He would not want me to "miss" him.  He would prefer that I remember him, but not "miss" him.  He would want that we apply what he has shared with us in our respective lives, in the best ways we know how.  He would not want us to miss him.  

Not "missing" my deceased husband, and putting it in writing.  That is so controversial.  And cold.  But it's not like that.  

It's about knowing that he is present.  

Then I discovered something I never considered.  What Eric and I shared was very powerful.  What I learn and intentionally apply from our love is more profound.  

My living may need to include not missing.  And that scares me shitless…  

My dear friend Janelle's corgi, Abby

Sunday, March 9, 2014

"My Legacy"

A few weeks ago somebody at work asked what I would like to be remembered by when I leave my company.  "What do you want to be your legacy?" he asked.  It was one of those "self reflection" sessions at a meeting.  The kind you "take three minutes to ponder then write down your thoughts on a piece of paper" session. 

My legacy.  What does that even mean!?

I am not that ambitious.  I don't think about my legacy or what I want to be remembered by when I leave my company, or ever - it is just not that interesting and certainly not that important to me.  I try to make the best decisions for me, for my peeps, and and for the business.  That's it.  Why complicate things?  I stared at my note pad.  My mind wandered away.  I wondered what I should make for dinner; I wondered when it will finally stop raining.  I secretly chuckled how Eric would roll his eyes all the way to the back of his head if I asked him that same question at dinner.  Yup.  He, too, would consider this a frivolous question.  And then he'll say, "that's a deep subject."     

Tick tock tick tock.  I had better write something down.  I had one minute left. Still, my page was blank and I still couldn't think of what to make for dinner.       

I don't consider what I do for a living very important or meaningful in the grand scheme of things, although I would like to delude myself that at least a small portion of it just might be so.  That is, of course, if I assume correctly that there is indeed a "grand scheme" and that my presumed grand scheme is indeed THE grand scheme…  

I now had about 45 seconds remaining to scribble down something.  Quick!

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"I don't know what I want to be remembered by when I leave this company, or when I die.  I am a people connector.  I am to bring out the best in others in everything I do.  Let's not complicate things."   

Wild Camping with Eric between New Denver & Kaslo
(Beyond Jasper, Canada)
August, 2011

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Random Babble

I made a decision last month that I don't want to count chapters anymore.  I think it also means I don't want to count 15th's anymore.  

In god's honest truth, I am physically tired of remembering Eric. Of compartmentalizing memories. Remembering is VERY HARD WORK.  I want to close the lid and say "I'm done."  I don't want to think about him.  I don't want to remember anything.  I don't want to talk about it.  I don't even want strangers to know that I had a husband.  Answering that requires factual information that is also respectful to his death.  Explanation requires lengthy sentences and careful thoughts.  Thinking gets better when there are good dialogues, but good dialogues are energy expenditures.  Now, I simply prefer listening to music over talking.  I don't like listening to my voice that much anymore.  

Perhaps it is a form of escapism.  I respect my need for space and an escape whenever I feel like it.  The fact is, I will never be devoid of memories of my husband.  An escape from it is not only smart and healthy, but brave.        

Ever feel like you're damaged goods?  I was talking about that with a friend and he said, "Daisy, we are all damaged goods one way or another."  There might be merit to that statement.  Since no person is "perfect," in essence, everyone is "damaged" one way or another.  It's not good or bad; there needs not be a value judgement.  

Winter Sojourn 2011
Ashland, OR

It will be Eric's birthday (again) in a few days, a day he never liked to celebrate in the recent near-decade because it painfully reminded him of yet another year passed and his inability to do anything he loved to do, to live life.  It was impossible for others to remotely comprehend even a hairline fraction of what that meant.  I hated answering the question "what did you guys do to celebrate his birthday?"  Sometimes I simply lied about it.  As much as I could, I avoided answering that dreadful question. Diversion is a great life skill.

I am immensely grateful that my husband is eternally free of agony of any form.  

Still, I find internal resentment that I cannot explain. I find myself extremely intolerant of whining, entitlement, laziness and incompetence.  Especially entitlement and laziness.  I find this world brutally unfair.  I feel Eric's life cheated and robbed.  I feel an overwhelming burden that I never asked for; cards dealt to me and a game I was forced to play in; strength and grace buried that would otherwise take me five lifetimes to uncover. 

I also honor completely that I have only one life to live:  mine.  There is no time to waste.  The illusion of control over one's own life is just that:  A complete illusion, and delusion.  The sooner we let go of the need to exert control, the sooner we can live.  It is that simple.     

Random babble. 

Ashland, Oregon
December, 2011


Saturday, February 22, 2014

The counting has ceased

I decided I am going to stop counting chapters.  I don't need benchmarking anymore. I think I just made incredible progress.  

I went away for a few days for some sunshine and R&R in central California. Respite takes in many forms.  This is my fifth trip away in twelve months.  A friend asked how I feel coming home. There is no place like home, no matter what.  I follow my evening routine:  Open door, turn off alarm, wash hands, light candles in the living room, turn on laptop, select music.  It feels like a Taco Tuesday.  It's all good.  

You've got to leverage the good days to propel yourself to the next stage, or you'll risk being stuck wallowing in the same place.  Wallowing is bad juju.  

While watching the Winter Olympics games, I learned the story about Sarah Burke, a Canadian freestyle skier and a pioneer in superpipe, and her tireless work in lobbying the IOC to include women halfpipe into the 2014 Olympics games.  She succeeded, but died in January 2012 after a severe training accident in Park City, Utah.  At an interview, Rory Burke, Sarah's husband, said Sarah never asked why, but why not.  

Words to live by.  "Why not?"  Why not stop counting chapters?  

Why not a fountain in the backyard!?
Hearst Castle, San Simeon


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 365: The dream

I've anticipated the arrival of Day 365, and it's finally here. 

I want to write, but I don't know about what.  I sit in front of my Mac and stare at the screen, wishing the Facebook "blip" would sound.  It would signify somebody makes a comment on my post.  Any post.  I take a sip of my coffee, let my brain runs around in circles.  It naturally goes to the warm, sunny day 365 days ago, and the Excel spreadsheet I worked on all afternoon…  The office was thinning out around 3pm - such would be the norm on a sunny winter afternoon - yet I decided to stick around until official quittn' time.  To finish the spreadsheet, I said.  At 5:15, I put on my turquoise Patagonia jacket, I waved "have a good weekend" to my gal pal Julie, and flashed a big smile.  I was going home to my husband.  My niece Katie was waiting for me downstairs; we were carpooling.  

I threw away the spreadsheet and I never looked at it again.  I secretly loathe Excel. 

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For all our years together, I never dreamed about Eric.  Not once.  How unromantic!!  But, why would I dream about him when he was already with me?   

That is, until a month after Eric died.  He came to let me know, he was completely pain free.  And fine.

I blog about it on this day because I need us to know, Eric is completely pain free. And fine.  In whatever form he is.  Wherever he is.  My good friend Ginny said, that a person dies is not nearly as important as how the person lived.  

I am very comfortable talking about Eric's death - and using the word died and death in conversations.  My husband didn't pass on.  He didn't pass away.  There is no need to soften anything with me.  Facts are facts - we need to be respectful in handling them.  I can handle facts like a champ now. 

I used to sleep through almost anything.  Thunderstorms, howling wind, earthquakes, barking dogs, neighbor screaming profanities.  That is, until Eric died. Melatonin worked its magic every once in a while.  

The night Eric visited, I actually slept.  In the dream, I found my husband sleeping in blue striped flannel pajamas…  WTF.  He never wore pajamas.  He didn't own pajamas.  And FLANNEL?  Really?  Who dressed my handsome husband!?  I was not pleased…  I was about to stop my dream and go straight to the one in charge of the sleepwear department.

I turned on the light in his dorm room; he sat up and complained, "HONE, you woke me up!!!"  He hated being woken up, because it took him so much efforts to fall asleep.  What an oxymoron:  taking efforts to fall asleep.     

"HONE!  You woke me up!  I have a trip tomorrow morning!"
"A trip?  Where are you going?  How are you supposed to fly?"
Silence.  Smiled.  "What do you think?" 
Stunned. "Where are you flying to?"
Smiled.  "I'm trying to get on the same trip to Dallas with you!" 

I broke down and weeped.  For him to sit in the cockpit and fly my plane to Dallas, it could ONLY mean one thing:  my husband was no longer caged in like a zoo animal.  My husband was no longer in pain.  My husband was free.  

Eric was a "Water Rabbit" - he was a Pisces, born in the year of Rabbit.  While on my business trip in Dallas, the Water Rabbit came to see me.  One morning at four o'clock, as I stepped out of the hotel lobby and went to work - there it was, a big rabbit in the bush!  Just sitting there, waiting.  Then slowly, he hopped away…  Sixteen hours later, I returned to the hotel after a long-ass day.  There it was again, the freakn' RABBIT!  Sitting there again, waiting…  Then slowly, he hopped away again.  

I never talked about my dream or my Water Rabbit story.  They lived solely inside of me.  Until now.

I don't know how dreams work; I don't care.  I don't want any "expert" to interpret my dreams.  I don't even know if the rabbit story has the slightest significance to anything - but who cares!?  I'm not trying to cure cancer and save babies - that's not my gig.  My gig is to be a "teacher" through my unconventional experiences, a role I never asked for, but it's the cards I've been dealt.  That's my gig.  

Find-Your-Gig.  Express it fully.  Dive All In. 

On Day 365, a much anticipated day, the anniversary of my husband's death, I am strong, soft, brave, graceful, vulnerable.  I am sad, and I am relieved.  I am immensely grateful.  My Gratitude Cup has never been so full, and that it perpetually overflows day and night.  

Water Rabbit
Dallas, TX
May, 2013