another life

I bought a car this week.

It’s funny because it brought a lot of things to mind. Years ago – back when my life was very dark, and hopeless and felt eternally bleak – I made a list. I can’t find it now, but I remember fairly clearly what was on it. I remember where I was when I wrote it. I remember what motivated me to put my dreams on paper.

I’d thought that I had direction.  I thought I’d found a partner to struggle through life with, and together we would accomplish things.  I’d made moves (both literally and figuratively) to advance our lives.  And then — suddenly and without a lot of warning — everything crashed down around me.  My life as I’d known it, as I’d planned it, ceased to be.  And I was left, alone, with massive amounts of debt — no direction, no partner, no life plan.  Everything gone.

I moved back in with my parents at the age of 28 — something I’d vowed I would never do.  I went back to waitressing after struggling so hard to get out.  I spent more time than anyone should ever spend on the phone with my credit card providers, the landlord of my abandoned apartment in Chicago — groveling and apologizing and feeling more vulnerable and less valuable than anything I could articulate.  Because that’s something that we all turn a blind eye to — the unquantifiable things.  The shame and the humiliation — the feelings of defeat, of loss. Of failure. The fact that when you make such a huge error — and you don’t see it at first — you lose all faith in yourself.  You don’t trust anything you feel, and it’s confusing and disorienting.  And indescribably sad.

Back then, as I scratched and clawed my way out of the despair, I made a list.  I wanted something solid to refer back to, to reference when I again began to lose my way.  It wasn’t a long list, and it didn’t have much focus.  Except that it defined the life I hoped to live one day.  It motivated me to put money in savings every week, and open an IRA.  It made sacrificing on spending easier because there was an end goal.

I wanted to get certified as a paralegal.  I looked into courses at West Chester University.  I ended up taking my LSATs and applying to law school.  I got in, I got wait-listed, I got denied.  I was offered a partial scholarship.  I didn’t go.  Instead I took a risk on my boss and his restaurant company.  And that’s where I’m at now — six years in, running a growing business.  Three restaurants open, two in development — more on the way.  But I’m not a waitress anymore.  Thank God for that.

I wanted to own a townhouse.  I have always had a love for townhomes — I don’t know why.  I just think they are divine.  And I had this strange, dream-like vision of being a successful career woman living in a neat townhouse.  I lived with my parents for a little over a year.  And then John and I moved into a one bedroom apartment on the first floor of our landlord’s house.  We struggled to pay rent for about six months.  We could barely buy groceries.  And we lived there for six years.  And our landlords became our friends.  And then, last summer, we bought a townhouse.  A brand new, we-picked-everything-in-it-townhouse.  And I come home at night, after an hour commute on the train, after running a business all day — to my perfect townhouse.

I wanted a dog.  A real dog, a dog who went running with me and curled up on the couch.  And in the first few days of 2012, John and I brought home Lucy.  And until the MS, she went running with me every day.  And when she’s feeling very generous, she curls up on the couch with her dad & me.  And she is utter, complete, ridiculous perfection.  She is my protector, and my child.  She is a diva and a love bug.  She is everything rolled into one.  I don’t know how John and I existed without her.

I wanted to drive a Mini Cooper.  And I did.  I drove a black and gold Mini Cooper named Rooney, which I bought for my 30th birthday.  And I owned a red and white Mini Cooper named Junebug.  And she was beautiful.

There were other things on the list — things I haven’t done yet.  I haven’t learned to speak Spanish. And I haven’t published anything.  And I haven’t recorded a song.  I might never do those things.  But dreams are just that — dreams.  And they keep me motivated when the going gets tough.

I haven’t achieved all the physical things I dreamed of, either — MS is a bitch like that.  But i ran Broad Street before I was diagnosed, and nothing can ever take that away.  And I feel blessed that I did it — even though I’ll never run a half marathon, or compete in a triathlon.  Or climb mountain peaks like my brother.  Or do a myriad of other things.

But back to the car that I bought this week.

John and I bought a Range Rover.  Even typing that feels absurd and makes me giggle.  I mean — do normal people buy Range Rovers?  Six years ago we were eating dinners made of discount pasta (yes, discount pasta – something already absurdly inexpensive) and shaking under the blankets rather than turning the heat on.

It’s sort of insane.  No — it actually is insane.  Life is not easy — I promise you, most people can attest to that. Life does not cut you breaks, or help you out when you’re having a bad day.  Life is brutal and unforgiving and relentless.  Life tosses MS into the mix right when you think you’re getting on your feet.  Life is like that.  

And yet, despite all that — despite all the things that seemed to forever be going wrong — somehow John and I have ended up here.  And it isn’t by chance.  It is because of hard work, and sacrifice, and making choices.  It’s because when things got hard, we held onto each other and buckled down.

I feel really proud of us.  And when we bought the Range Rover — whom I have named Hazel despite all the raised eyebrows — it felt like the ultimate validation of our hard work.  Not only were we able to buy a house, and furnish it (woof! that’s a tall order when you go from a one bedroom apartment to a three-story townhouse) but we turned around and bought a very nice SUV.

*****

I met John the day before my birthday.  He walked in the front doors of the restaurant he managed — a restaurant I’d waited tables at — and I knew.  I don’t know what I knew — I just knew more than anything, that there was something about him.  I was still wrapped up in another thing but John filled my head.  His smile and how genuine he was, the blue of his shirt and the twinkle in his eyes.  I think we both knew that God had sent us to each other (with Jennie’s help, of course) and six months later, when circumstances were better, we fell into each other.  I was a broken mess, and he scooped me up with his strong, gentle hands, and he helped to heal me.  He helped me find my faith again.

Our journey hasn’t been easy.  On so many levels.  It makes me laugh, to be honest.

But even when things have been excruciating, I have never doubted for a moment that he was there, my strength and my soul and my heartbeat.  And as we’ve struggled and succeeded, and struggled again, I’ve found peace within myself.  I’ve laid so many demons to rest.

So when we bought that car this week — that absurd, luxurious, beautiful car — it reminded me of the journey.  It reminded me of the list, and the dreams that all felt so unattainable.  And maybe we crash again.  Maybe things get hard again.  But they aren’t hard right now.  And I know that no matter what, I have John by my side, holding my hand, making me laugh, wiping away my tears.  And the gratitude for all of it — for the shitty noodles and the freezing cold nights and the sacrifices — as well as the blessings of Lucy, and our home and our groceries ….  Well, all of it is so crystal clear and near the surface of my conscience that I am drowning in love and thankfulness.

old and new

Tonight the man and I, along with our trusty sidekick Lucy Lou, are heading over to watch the Ambler Symphony play at Hope Lodge.  We have tried to go every year (it hasn’t always worked out … honeymoon, Mini Cooper purchase, blah blah blah) but we are ‘traditions’ kind of people, and this is a good one.

Sadly, it will also probably be our last Ambler Symphony at Hope Lodge.  It will be a long drive from our new abode on a Wednesday night.  But it’s been fun re-visiting all the things we love to do in this area, and really appreciating them, before moving on to new traditions and routines.

I’m excited to see what our new home and community bring into our lives.  But we have thus far been informed and influenced by our current traditions, and this is one of my favorites.  I dutifully got an abundant charcuterie board from the restaurant, and even though we will be drinking fizzy water this year instead of a beautiful summer wine (I think we took Charles and Charles rose the last time we went and it was lovely!) I know we will have a great time.

This crazy journey of life is –in the words of The Beatles — a long and winding road.  And even though this section is reaching its conclusion, I have loved the steps we’ve walked together in our home, in our little town.  I will always remember this place with so much love and fondness.

2/7

Today is my second wedding anniversary – but it’s also the seventh anniversary of John and I becoming an us.  We celebrated like champions over the weekend, so today it was work, and then GoT in our pjs while the rain drummed and the thunder and lightening sparred in the sky.

I’ve been all over the place these past few days — the bubble of anticipation for the beginning of June nearly overwhelming.  It’s a big month in the Hawn household.  The man will be journeying to Scotland with me for the first time and our house  — that wild and crazy decision we made in the depths of January — is near fruition.  We snuck in yesterday and saw the flooring down, and the plumbing in every bathroom nearly complete.  It seems that this long held dream will soon be a reality.   Exhilarating and terrifying simultaneously!

The apartment is partially packed — boxes and rolls of tape leaning in corners near stacked belongings.  Lucy has been pushing her food around and working herself up into a frenzy — we think it’s the transition of her home – the uncertainty.  The nervous energy of John and I that she can inherently feel.

It’s an exciting time and a scary time — work continues to challenge us both (in varying degrees and at varying times) and this step — this leap into home ownership feels enormous.  I want to remember these moments, the small breath in between the huge gulps of air — but I know that as time passes, things fade, images become blurry.  There will be a moment in the future when I struggle to remember some detail of this apartment that seems ridiculously simple right now.

Today marks something so important – something so responsible for who I am today, where I am, who I’ve become.  FInding John, choosing to forge a life together — it’s immense, significant.  Humbling.  I think it’s only fitting that a month as big as this month is setting out to be, begins with us.  And I sincerely hope it ends with Lucy finding her appetite in her new house.

thanksgiving

Over a month ago, I spent some time at a great retreat in Austin Texas.  Along with teaching me that (basically) I don’t eat the way I should at all, the retreat also focused on mental and spiritual health.  And I found those sessions and that information so incredibly enriching.

To save this blog from being REALLY long, let me just say that OHI really focused on the power of gratitude.  And having just completed a seven day gratitude ‘challenge’ on Facebook prior to arriving, I was completely on that bandwagon.  Thinking about the things we are grateful for on a daily basis — and articulating those things –is incredibly uplifting and powerful.

So in honor of the things I enumerated on Facebook back in September — here’s a re-posting.  Wishing everyone a beautiful Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love.

Sept 20, 2014

Nominated by my wonderful friend Angie — — thank you for thinking of me!  Three things I am grateful for today (and then the following six!)

1 — Most obviously I am grateful for my husband.  He got more than he  bargained for when he married me but his is my strength, my laughter and my best friend.

2 — I am grateful for my Lucy.  To have an animal look at you with the love that fills her big brown eyes — takes your breath away.  It is truly a gift….

3-  I am grateful for my family.  The last two years of MS and cancer (not both me!) have shown the true strength and integrity of my parents, my wonderful second mother (my mum’s twin) and my insanely amazing brother.

When you’ve had the journey I’ve had recently — you definitely see with crystal clarity the things for which you are grateful.  Thanks for the nom Ange!

September 21, 2014

1 — I am grateful for ceiling fans.  They just make everything better — especially sleep!

2 — I am grateful for football.  I just love it, and I’m not going to use this as a place for anything other than positive stuff right now. (Editorial note: Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson were dominating NFL news at the time).  I have been so lucky to have so many great memories throughout my life that have to do with football — PSU, Steelers, PR Rams & Fedko, Womissing Saturday day games & away games on Friday nights — the Flemington Falcons — football has always been a big part of my life.  And Sunday is the best day for a shout out.

3– I am grateful for Starbucks.  And on that subject, I am grateful for Ted — for introducing me to the soy chai latte in college — it has been my drink for over 10 years & I love it.  I am grateful to all my baristas who know me, my hubs, my drinks and my football teams.  They always brighten my day.  I love Starbucks.

September 22, 2014

Day Tre —

I am grateful for —

1 — All the failed relationships and friendships I have had to this point in my life.  Those failures taught me about myself, my strengths and weaknesses and the kinds of people I know to be true friends and in the case of my husband, my partner.

2 — On that subject, here’s to ALL the mistakes I have learned from throughout the years — as my dad once said, if there was hard way in which to learn something, I found it.  Maybe I just liked knowing how everything worked from the inside out — needless to say, those mistakes have helped me figure myself out, and I’m grateful for that.

3 — I am grateful for Aman and Les, the guys who work the floor I park on in my garage.  They make every day better with their smiles, the knowledge that my car is safe and protected and the friendly way in which they handle even the most stressful of parking garage situations.  Five years in, and i couldn’t imagine parking anywhere else.  No matter how bad my day might have been — they are there, smiling, asking about Lucy & John and just generally being good humans.

September 23, 2014

Fourth Day of Gratefulness — the Work Edition

1 — I am grateful for my boss.  He took a chance on me and believed in me and supported me & what I was doing when other people might have been telling him that it was crazy to give me the responsibility he gave me.  And when my whole world changed he gave me flexibility to pursue my health, the time to do it, and many other resources on which a price can never be put.

2 — I am grateful for my co-workers, and especially my two ‘partners.’  It is a great feeling to get to work in an industry you love, with people who are fun to be around — honest, decent people who care as much as you do about the success of what is being done.  People you survived the trenches with — who have your back and you have theirs.

3 — I am grateful for my Aunt & Uncle — it was through them I learned about the art of hospitality, the love of food and the great industry that I have found a home in.  Sitting beside an indoor pool at one of my uncle’s hotels in the UK at the tender age of 8 or 9, he told me with a laugh that I had rich taste (as I sat noshing on delectably buttery smoked salmon & caviar) and should marry a rich man.  Well, Uncle T, I did you one better.  I’m doin’ it myself — and I learned my fundamentals from you.

September 24, 2014

Cinco!

I am grateful —

1 — for the small moments in life — being half awake in the grayness of the morning and hearing my puppy’s snuffles and cuddling up with my hubs … the cool autumn breeze blowing leaves in the late afternoon sunlight … the woman in the elevator who likes my dress … the crackling of a good fire pit … things that create the depth of life.

2 — for my time in Wyomissing.  We moved so much throughout my youth, that I went to two elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools.  But just being at Wyo for 2 years has impacted my life in such a positive way, even sixteen years later.  I’m grateful so much for that.  Makes me feel like I did actually come from somewhere.

3 — for contact lenses.  I can’t imagine what it must have feel like for people with vision like mine prior to glasses, but contacts were a huge improvement for me.  Maybe lasik one day ….

September 25, 2014

Grateful Day #6

1 — I am grateful for diversity.  Yeah, sometimes people who are vastly different from ourselves can prove to be infuriating.  But minus the idiots from Philly (editorial note: this was written at the time when some real geniuses thought it would be fun to beat up a gay couple … basically in center city) and others who commit just unspeakable crimes — doesn’t being different add to the spice of life?  Doesn’t it sometimes help us see things from an entirely new viewpoint? I like to think so.

2 — I am grateful for my faith.  It’s mine, and it’s personal and when things feel dark and when things feel light, I always feel as though there is a reassuring hand on my shoulder keeping me steady.

3 — I am sincerely grateful for sleep.  I know it’s a necessity of life — but I relish it.  I love slipping into cool clean sheets and snuggling under soft blankets, close to the ones I love. It’s a haven of peacefulness that comes every night, and I am supremely grateful for that.

September 26, 2014

I want to preface this by saying thank you to Angie again, because sometimes, the things we are grateful for become the things we take for granted.  And this exercise has reminded me that even in the tough times, life is a phenomenal adventure filled to the brim with wonder.

On this final day of FB status updates, I am grateful for …

1 — Yoga.  It has helped me climb from a place of physical desperation to a place of acceptance. Maybe I’ll never teach yoga, or be anything close to physically proficient.  But it has reminded me, through this new part of my journey, that even though some things have been taken away — and I often mourn those things more than I should — some things have not.

2 — Humility and self-awareness.  I am a perfectly imperfect human being.  I’ve made a load of mistakes, I’ve inadvertently (and not-so-inadvertently) hurt people.  But I’d also like to believe I’ve lifted some people up, passed along the gifts that have been given to me throughout my life.  I’ve learned that being humble is a vastly preferable alternative to being bombastically egocentric.  Both personally, and in those I spend my time with.

3 — Passion.  I spent the early years of my life pursing a passion, and I may not have found a career in it, but nothing will ever lift up my soul quite the way belting out a good song does.  Transcendent, if I’m being passionate about it.

 

timeline

Have you ever had a moment when you thought — I used to do “fill in the blank” all the time, and I’ve gotten so far away from it, it feels foreign and as though that’s not really me anymore … but I want it to be me?

Yeah, I have those moments a lot.  Life being the roller coaster that it is, choosing this door instead of that door, setting certain goals that change how you make commitments in life  — so many things that create the journey taken to this point in time.   It’s actually kind of fascinating.

And then I’m here — remembering a time when getting home at night didn’t consist of pouring a large alcoholic beverage, pulling on comfy pants and turning on a favorite TV show or movie.  Thinking of the time before I took my current job, and my schedule changed every week and took no notice of whether it was the weekend or not (I can hear Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess -during Downton Abbey’s first season- asking in a blankly perplexed voice “What is a week – end?”)

Now I find myself armed with my laptop, my Nook and Pandora, hoping to recapture some of the nights and afternoons of my mid-20s, when I felt creative, when I found a book more enticing than the TV.  And all I can think about is how life changes and grows and you can never be certain where it will lead you.

Two years ago I thought I’d run a marathon one day.  I hoped that I might marry my funny, handsome man.  I had no qualms about jumping in at the restaurant — carrying a tray, bussing a table, taking an order.  Two years ago I had a savings account for possible lasik or a breast reduction.

Six years ago I was living at home with my parents.  I had no savings accounts.  I’d known John for a little over six months and I was a complete and total emotional mess most of the time.  I’d gotten him Bruce Springsteen tickets for his birthday.  I’d just gotten my first legit event planning job.

Ten years ago, I was in the midst of finally moving away from State College.  I was a ‘professional’ server.  My car was stick shift.  I liked the wrong guys and had little to no self-esteem.  But I was still in touch with all my theatre peeps — and I miss them.  A lot.

Eighteen years ago I’d just moved to Wyomissing.  My brother and I took ‘joy rides’ around our new neighborhood and listened to Celine Dion (that was my choice and trust me, Dave doesn’t let me forget it).  I was right on the verge of meeting some of my longtime friends, learning all the responses to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, waiting my first table and singing my first true lead role in a musical.

And then I come back to now – I have a good job, the most perfect furry little girl named Lucy, a best friend and soul mate (puke puke, I know) who cherishes me, respects me, believes in me and takes care of me.  I live in a beautiful apartment.  I eat sushi at least once a week without it breaking the bank.  I have two last names.  I feel stable.  I also have MS.  Shit happens, right?

So that’s me, tonight.  I have Edith Piaf on.  I’m going to have sushi for dinner.  And I’m going to curl up with my puppy and my man and watch a movie.

And I’m a-okay with that.

 

 

my Lucy, my “dog”-hter

I’m not the best at being home alone when my husband is away on business.

I’m also not especially proud of that.  My mother is a strong, independent woman.  Both my grandmothers = the same.  And here I am, dithering away, sad and lonely because the man is away.

Long story short, a few years ago he was sent to Costa Rica for what -originally- was going to be a six-week trip to launch and ramp up a new LATAM (sp?) office for his former company.  I balked.  I never used to have a problem being alone – but in January of 2008 I was robbed while asleep in my bed and something about my inner DNA changed.  Being alone -at night- no matter how much safely could be assured – just didn’t sit well with me.  Now, I’ve definitely gotten better over time.  But — well, that’s part of the story.

Our lease terms dictated that we were not permitted to have pets.  I fretted about this, telling John that only a dog -another living being – would make me feel secure.  He’d been to Costa Rica a few times before that, and I’d spent that time in a  perpetual state of overwhelmingly bleary-eyed fatigue.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t function.  Even my co-workers counted the days until John came home.  It meant I would once again be capable of doing my job properly.

MIraculously, our landlords agreed to allow us a trial period to have a puppy.  There were stipulations – about things such as noise, and breed  – but we were given permission to get a dog.  On January 7th 2012 we brought Lucy Lou home.  She was a nervous dog, falling asleep standing up out of fear.  She shook nearly our entire drive home, and often in the first few weeks.  It didn’t bode well in terms of ‘protection.’  And then John went away, and it was just her and I … and we sort of figured it out together.

Now, here we are, my girl and I, snuggled on the couch two and half years later, still a team when John goes away, still protecting each other, and being an alive being when otherwise we would have been alone.  She knows me (she prefers her Daddy, but such is life) and when I’m hurting, or vulnerable, or scared, she’s right by my side, her big brown eyes assuring me that all will be okay.  And she even has a pretty ferocious bark – not that I ever enjoy being in a situation where she feels inclined to use it.

The truth is, she’s so much more to us than just a companion.  I think adding Lucy to our lives taught us immeasurably about ourselves – our capacity as caretakers, our depth of feeling regarding a creature who looks solely to us for her quality of life and well-being.  We will never have children (and that’s a decision we’ve had careful and considerate conversations about over the years of our relationship) but we have her, and she means more to both of us that words could ever describe.

I miss John when he’s away.  And I still have a hard time being home alone, especially at night.  And I still feel like a little bit of a failure for that.  But being here, doing spreadsheets for work while drinking red wine and watching a Harry Potter marathon wouldn’t feel nearly as comfortable if my baby girl weren’t curled up by my side, the soft snuffle of her breath the only break in the her rhythmic breathing.

And we had a good night.  We dropped John off at the airport and came home.  We wandered around the yard while Lucy found a myriad of sniffs she clearly never smelled before (cue raised eyebrows and skeptical look).  Then, while she scarfed her dinner, I made some zucchini pasta and scallops for dinner, and poured myself a generous glass of Cabernet.  Now, we are together on the couch, watching Harry Potter (I could watch HP every day) and getting ramped up for the beginning of the week.

And- let’s be honest – it will be Wednesday in no time.

taking stock

At this very moment, the hubs and I are ensconced on the couch watching football and snuggling with Lucy Lou.  She is not as responsive to the Steelers as she is to the Giants, but I can’t totally blame her.  Her very first month with us included a Giants Super Bowl win and an abundance of Giants TV specials and paraphernalia around the house.  That, and inherently, she’s her daddy’s girl.

It was a good weekend ~ beginning with John arriving home on Friday, spending some great quality time with friends last night and rounding out with having an incredibly productive day today.  I had an overwhelming feeling of happiness and contentedness when football revved up onscreen, and I found myself making a mid-afternoon snack in our -insanely!- organized and prepped kitchen, the late afternoon sun slanting through the windows.  I have to admit that those moments (during the week) are few and far between.  And yet, so often on the weekends, I find them to be in abundance.  This morning, hot Starbucks in hand, walking Lucy through the woods; this afternoon as we organized our grocery shopping, prepped lunches, dinners and juice for the week; twilight, as Lucy curled up between us on the couch, at peace amid her mummy and daddy.  Last night, sitting around the fire pit, enjoying light-hearted conversation with friends; driving home through the farmland, the stars twinkling over the meadows.  Weekends, now more than ever, get me through the week … either remembering a good one, or anticipating the next.

It’s been a challenging year ~ for me, both personally and professionally.  On Friday I moved my work offices for the fifth time in less than four years.  Exhausting.  I also spoke with a nurse from the third -yes, third- medical therapy my MS doctor has prescribed me  in less than a year.   ( have moments when I long for life to be normal, regular.  And then I realize that it won’t ever really  be normal again.  After all, I won’t ever NOT have MS.  So what I need to do is catalog days like today, full of happiness and contentment, and remind myself that this is normal now.  And it’s not so bad.

revelations

Once a year, the hubs heads down to Washington D.C. for a week as part of a study through NIH.  I used to dread those weeks ~ so many days alone in my apartment, spooked by every noise, barely able to sleep through the night … Ugh.  Shivers.

I still don’t like being away from him, especially for long periods of time (I weirdly don’t enjoy talking on the phone, which is a necessary part of being apart).  But on Monday, as I prepared dinner for Lucy, and then dinner for myself, I realized that it was the first day since I’d broken my foot and had terrible MS flares that I’d been entirely on my own.  No one to do the ‘tough’ stuff, no one to pick up the slack, no one to baby me or take care of me.  I was completely alone.

And it felt wonderful.

Strange, right?  I feel as though, in turn, I should have felt guilty at the small joy of my solitude, but instead I felt … comfort?  Knowing that as I adjust to my new ‘normals’ of legs and arms and speed and vision, I could do it on my own.  And I was okay.  No husband, no parent, no kindly neighbor baby-sitting me.  Just me, and my furry friend Lucy.

We had a good day, too.  Work was uneventful (a small miracle, or karmic balance for yesterday …  I’m not sure), we went on a walk, and then we settled in to enjoy dinner, some TV and finally, bed.

For our walk, Lucy and I headed to the trails I used to train on for my long runs.  We used to visit them most mornings, and run them from end to end.  I hadn’t been in quite some time, so it was nostalgic and also a little sad.  She was overjoyed, her nose full of so many fall smells that she zig-zagged across the trail, unsure which sniff was superior.  Her tail wagged, and her mouth hung open in a huge doggy smile.  My heart swelled for that, just knowing that this creature, whose care (this week) is solely entrusted to me, was happy.  She’s a funny thing, smart as a whip and so intuitive, and yet bursting with energy from every cell of her body.  We walked a mile ~ a long, tough mile, especially at the end ~ and I tried to remind myself that when I began to run (ahem, jog) I began at a mile, and worked my way up.  I don’t know how this whole MS thing works, but I’m hoping that with practice, a mile won’t be so tough anymore.  I focused on that, instead of the irony of the entire situation.  Learning to walk again, instead of beginning a fitness routine.

I have to admit, this week got off to a bumpy start.  The man & I journeyed to his cousins’ annual Halloween party.  We put together last-minute costumes (purchased exclusively from Lowe’s  ~ now that’s creativity!) because our original idea did not come together well at.all. And then, despite the ratio of one water bottle for each glass of wine, I did not calculate for the jello shots (which kicked my butt).  By the time I curled up in bed on Sunday night (after a great afternoon with my parents watching the Steelers … well, best to forget about that part) I was ready to sleep for days without waking.

However – and this goes to show how far I’ve come regarding being home alone – I still got up Monday morning, made a smoothie for breakfast and got myself to work at a reasonable hour.  It’s small things like that that help keep life in perspective, that help me stay positive and believe in myself.  It was rewarding to get home that night, and instead of feeling adrift and painfully alone, I felt proud of myself.

Last night, feeling a little puffed up and proud of how I’d been handling my week alone, I decided to venture to yoga.  It ended up being a great idea, as work was a bit of a beast.  Rather than heading home and drowning my frustrations in a glass of wine (which would have been delicious, but unneeded) I sweat it out on the mat.  Minda met me there, her own baggage checked at the door, and we both worked our way through class.  For me, it was less frustrating than class a few weeks ago, because I had a better understanding of what would challenge me, and where I would find relief.  I also tried very hard to focus solely on my own practice, so while I know our teacher used themes of Halloween ~ dressing up as someone else, and fear ~ I didn’t dive into those thoughts the way I normally do.  I focused on my breath, and my hands, and my legs, and my movement ~ how the stretches felt now, versus how it used to feel, and how I could use certain clues to know how my body was feeling.

I thought about how Minda and I both came to the mat from situations of angst ~ but how different it manifested for me in contrast to her.   She gave birth to her second child in June, and has been adjusting to  life as a mother of two plus a full-time high school teacher at the same time I’ve been struggling through crutches and crazy MS symptoms.  Funny how life works, right?  Both emotional roller coasters on the best of days, and yet so fundamentally different in their challenges.

I’m glad I took the time to figure out my schedule and Lucy’s to make it to class last night.  I think it was a healthy release for the stress that is weighing down my shoulders, and also a nice, albeit brief, catch up with my friend, whose life is winding down such a different path than mine.  Moments like that are precious, and I think I understand and appreciate that more as I get older.  Everyone makes choices based on their own personal circumstances, wants, desires and lives move in different directions based on those choices.  It’s sort of an interesting thing to contemplate, and to me, is what makes life so beautiful.

Today marks the halfway point of my girls’ week with Lucy.  And I’m okay with that.  I’ve enjoyed my quiet evenings and my early bedtimes, but I miss my husband and am looking forward to having him home.  Lucy is, too.  (He’s her favorite!)

 

good mornings

Some of my most favorite moments include the gray early morning, when Lucy hops up on our bed and curls up down between our feet.  I’m usually still half asleep, but those minutes before the alarm goes off, with our whole family snuggled together, count as some of the most precious of my day.  Lucy’s breath evens out and she begins to snurfle and I feel completely contented, safe and warm.

This morning the man disturbed this loveliness by heading to the gym.  Me and my bum legs stayed at home and enjoyed sleeping in a little longer.

This afternoon we have plans to attend Chestnut Hill’s Second Annual Harry Potter Festival.  One of my girlfriends found a House Quiz, and I will be decked out in HufflePull colors this afternoon, while the man will be Gryffindor.  Cheers to fun things to do on the weekend with friends!

paths of least resistance

Sometimes, on this crazy journey, I get more caught up in what I can no longer do, instead of focusing on what I can do.  I think that’s inevitable ~ life felt established, with routines and traditions and then all of a sudden, those things were taken away, like a rug being pulled out from under my feet.

Every time I see someone posting on social media about running, I feel deflated and frustrated.  I drive past the trails that Lucy and I used to run three or four mornings a week, and I am sad.  I’d like to believe I will be able to run again, but the truth is, I don’t know.  I feel so angry and defeated.  I am full of regrets ~ regrets for not running Broad Street earlier this year before everything started with my legs … disappointed in myself for not running the Half Marathon last October in Atlantic City ~ something I may never have the opportunity to do again.  It calls to mind the saying “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”  Had I not delayed, failed to train sufficiently last fall, at least now I would have the satisfaction of having run a half marathon, instead of the sadness that I got close and failed to get it done.

And then I think of all the things I am still able to do, and remind myself to be grateful for those things ~ yoga, swimming, walking.  And I try to talk myself up and remind myself to focus on the positives.  I know that what is most essential right now is action ~ creating a new routine, finding new ways to stay healthy and get exercise.  But it’s harder than that  … loading Lucy in the trunk of the car and heading to the trails was a matter of getting up and doing it.  Swimming or yoga requires scheduling and can’t include my pupster, who deserves to stretch her legs even more than I do.

On a different, and more positive note, the start of this week was a busy one for me work-wise.  Our third project hit full speed with a Tasting and Happy Hour for potential investors on Tuesday evening which had been preceded by a preliminary Panini tasting on Monday.  Which has meant take-out three nights in a row at home.  On Monday, I cheated and brought home treats from work (who can honestly say no to prosciutto, kunik and pizza?  seriously). Tuesday was a visit to our favorite local sushi place (where they do actually know our names… and our order.  As a small sidenote, there is something indefinably comforting about walking into a place of business and being recognized.  I believe that is a legit part of Starbucks training … and not a bad idea.  I know how important it was and what great relationships were built when I worked in restaurants every day instead of the office ~ a great part of real social interaction versus social media).  We have been enjoying some choice selections from Pennsylvania’s Chairman Select collection.  On Tuesday, we cracked open a bottle of Duckhorn Decoy Zinfandel.  I happen to deeply love the thick headiness of a good Zin ~ the husby isn’t quite as big a fan (he prefers more dry, minerally juice) but we both enjoyed the bottle, and our movie pic, The Great Gatsby (directed by Baz Luhrmann).  Totally didn’t expect the movie to be what it was but we were both completely drawn into the overly stylized telling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic.

Last night we checked out a new take-out place, Palace of Asia.  I was worn out (I usually am by Wednesday … how lame is that?)  and the man and I didn’t feel like shopping and then cooking.  So after some menu perusing, we got a variety of vegetarian entrees featured on the Indian cuisine menu.

Whew.  Delish.  Despite the major language barrier encountered when calling in, we got everything we ordered, and enjoyed every bite.  Our first entrée was a selection of nine garden vegetables (squash, potato, peas, etc) cooked in a spicy cream sauce (Korma ~ my favorite!).  The second dish featured tiny potatoes stuffed with cheese in a kashmiri sauce (a super amazing cream sauce with nuts and raisins).  For our first foray into Indian take-out, it was a success.  Although I couldn’t eat that every week ~ much too heavy! I love the flavors and seasoning Indian food employs though ~ so outside of the flavors I grew up with and know.  So decadent.  We caught up on some sitcoms and enjoyed another bottle of Zin (the man is going to boycott soon) which was actually (dare I say it? sacrilege) a little superior to the Duckhorn.

At the end of October, my offices will move downtown again, and when that happens, I hope the husby and I can get into a groove with cooking, and the gym and Miss Lucy.  Until then, I plan on enjoying the waning days of my easy commute and spending as much evening lounge time with my family as possible.  This evening we are headed out to a Mexican “Haute Cuisine” BYOB in Old City (which we have only heard rave reviews about)  … I am very much looking forward to it, and to continuing our streak of not cooking this whole week.  (Hehe!)

Until tomorrow.  xo.