Grief and saying goodbye

I’ve been quiet for more then half of this year and haven’t kept up with blogging or following my goals and dreams.  I haven’t had my voice in far to long. 2016 for a lot of people has been a tough year. For me it was a year of EXTREMES. Success and failures, highs and lows. Through this year and this life I have never experienced a loss like I did in June.

For those that know me, or have been following my blog for awhile you know how important my dogs are to me. They are my family. I’ve survived a failed marriage, lost people I’ve loved that weren’t meant to stay, made it through unhealthy relationships, and had some other struggles along they way. I’ve also been blessed with incredible friendships, support of loved ones,  and gotten through challenges that have allowed growth. I’ve experienced great adventures, travelled amazing places, and am filled with gratitude for all the good that is in my life. Until I lost Roxy I hadn’t truly experienced mourning of this kind.

Roxy passed away June of 2016. She was supposed to go in for surgery to remove a large suspicious mass. Things deteriorated quickly and she wasn’t able to have the surgery. The mass had grown internally. It was cancer. It had changed so quickly that my warrior of a dog was suffering. That day has changed me forever. 

My close friend Krista gave me love and support by being at my side with my other dog Presley as we said goodbye to her. We gave her the best last day anyone could ask for. She was spoiled with burgers, ice cream and so many hugs. My friend had experienced the loss of a dog before, and I think going through it with me was really hard on her, but also offered her some healing as she didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to her dog. The support she gave me got me through that day.

 When Roxy left her body, she was in my arms, and her sister Presley by her side. For me, knowing she wasn’t present anymore but her body still physically in the room was such a hard puzzle to work around. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t coming home with me where she belonged. I’ve never experienced a harder day and I haven’t completely thawed from it.

After Roxy’s passing I had many low days. Presley and I had to get reacquainted with one another. We didn’t know how to be a family of two when for so long it had been a family of three. I stopped writing, doing photography, yoga and running. Hobbies that had normally included Roxy by my side. 

During this process I had a man in my life as a close friend. He came to me days before Roxy passed away as a gift to help me grieve, talk and cry through the pain. He disappeared the day I got her ashes back. Funny how the universe works through people in such a touching way. It hurt when he left, but at same time I had been so numb, so full of loss that losing him just felt like an extension of the pain I already had. 

Presley took her time adjusting as well. She cried, and mourned in her own way. She too felt a heavy grief. We had our days of cuddles and bonding, and other days where we didn’t know what to do with each other. I questioned if she even liked me. One thing I know, she made my house less empty, a little more like home, and a reason to fight through the grief. I felt like a stranger had invaded my body and I didn’t know what life was like before Roxy.

Roxy was my dream come true. She was the dog I always wanted but hadn’t been allowed. Then one day a co-worker was giving up her dog. The breed I had only dreamt about. Again the universe had my back, and gave me what I needed. I picked her up at 4 years old and we were inseparable. She went everywhere with me. She was with me when I bought my house, though my marriage, and convinced me that she needed a friend (Presley). They saw me through my divorce and then moved with me across the country to Calgary. She was my shadow, my mirror, and my best friend. She knew when I was happy, and celebrated. She knew when I was sad, and was happy to cuddle up with me through any tears that I needed to shed. I couldn’t walk anywhere in my house without her following. So when she left me, it was felt immeasurably. 

People can say it was just a dog. To me she was family. Those that don’t understand,haven’t been blessed by the loyalty and love a dog can give. If you’ve had the chance to see the beautiful tribute short movie called “Denali ”  by Ben Moon, then you’ll know just what I’m talking about. Please take the time to watch it.  I’ve included the link. He quotes at the end “People can learn a lot from dogs. When someone you love walks through the door you should go totally insane with joy” I think the world would be fuller, better and kinder place if we all lived that way. Just think about that for a moment. How often does your significant other come home and you don’t even step away from the television to welcome them back? 

The best part of my day has always been coming home to the sound of eight paws scurrying to the door with toys in their mouth to say “Welcome Home Mom! We’ve missed you so much!!!” I still take so much pleasure in having Presley welcome me at the door, and will never for a minute take that for granted.

I met a beautiful human awhile after I lost my girl, someone who shaped nearly the last half of this year. He is a dog lover and had experienced the loss of one before. He gave me a gift in Roxy’s memory, artwork in the form of her name. The greater gift I received that night was that he knew how much it would touch me, and he let me break down in his arms. I will never forget that night. He understood, and he didn’t shy away from my emotions. Him and I didn’t get to finish this year together. The months we shared were complicated but deep. Even such, the brief time we had touched my heart in such a way. I’ll always cherish this man and his kind gesture. His absence hasn’t been easy, nor one I could let go of without feeling it deeply, but his presence helped me find myself through it all.

Six months have passed since Roxy’s left and I’m still not the same girl. I guess I’m m not meant to be. It’s taken me this long to be able to speak about it without breaking down completely. I stopped blogging because I couldn’t find my breath. A lot had happened, but I felt too numb to share it. Life comes in ebbs and tides, and we learn and grow. I think that was what 2016 was for me. It was a year of gains, loss and growth. The loss seems to have a bigger percentage then the gains, but I haven’t forgotten all the beauty that also happened this year. In loss we sometimes we find ourselves a little more. To the people that supported me this year through the ups and downs of life, I’m incredibly grateful. 

I wish everyday that Roxy was by my side, and we could go for a run, play at the park, and adventure in the mountains together. Presley and I have been going to  the mountain for fresh air in her honor. We’ve found our balance again and even though we can’t see her, I know she is by my side watching over me. I don’t think the loss will ever feel lighter. It doesn’t have to. I don’t have to feel thankful for losing her. I was the luckiest to have her for as long as I did. I’m thankful for her spending the last six years of her life with me. I’m a better person due to her presence. I hope everyone has the chance to experience life with a dog. It’s a gift that shouldn’t be denied. 

Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking of my girl. I still hear her pitter patter around my condo, and it brings warmth to my heart. Run free sweet girl. Say hi to all the dogs up there, and I hope you found a giant water bowl to quench your thirst. We miss you daily.

 

Heart wide fucking open

Hi. Here we go . I said I’d be open and vulnerable…. But can I do it? The words are exploding in my mind and it’s time to start talking.

It’s my blog and I’m going to say things, and laugh, and swear and probably cry. And maybe even make you uncomfortable being so honest. But I’m pretty open, so it shouldn’t surprise you because anyone that knows me… knows that’s who I am.

There will be two posts shared today. I wrote a post over 2 weeks ago, but between blogging issues and deciding to be ok with being so open it didn’t get posted.

It deals with a lot of the same that’s posted below. Some of the words will be similar. Maybe you didn’t read my last one. I posted it just before I posted this one…  About me, my dogs, and a boy. But two weeks have passed, and I still had troubles letting go… So it continued until again I had to understand when it was to be let go, that yes indeed it was time for me to listen. So today I begin actually posting topics that belong in my lifestyle blog. Life lessons I don’t even always want to learn. So here it is…

I’ve said it before. I’m not awesome at letting go. Even if there’s nothing left to hold onto.

There you were. The perfect blend of I shouldn’t go there and I’m captivated by you. 

But lets start further back in 2013 and 2015….

I  had a heartbreak in 2013 that surprised many. I announced my separation that became my divorce.  It had been a long time coming, even if the marriage wasn’t long. It was years of slowly feeling my heart-break piece by piece. I had become a shell of who I was, and I didn’t feel right. It was time for me to become healthier and love myself again.  I found help from therapists, and admitted I was in over my head. Friends and professionals helped me make a tough decision. But in that I had to fully recognize that a relationship, a marriage was over, and gained the strength to say I wouldn’t stay any longer for someone who wasn’t willing to contribute. I won’t get into all the ins and outs on why my marriage failed. I’ll just say this. It wasn’t a quick decision but it was one that allowed me what I needed. It was the right decision.

So then the year 2015 came. A year I feel for a lot of people was full of trials and hard times.  I went through a heartbreak in 2015 that shook me and broke me and left me wondering how the hell that all happened. My heart was completely devastated and shattered. A different heartbreak then I had felt before. I hadn’t quite accepted just how wounded this relationship had left me, and was in denial of it ending.  I again, gave too much of myself, and put in all the effort and never wanted to walk away when I should have. Realizing I’ve given more than I’d gotten and ended up depleted. I stayed in a cycle of extreme highs and lows. Unhealthy moments that should never have been allowed…. When it was over and I was in the middle of this heartache, I woke up and came alive. Somewhere in that unhealthy space when things were ending, I found strength and beauty within myself. My heart shattered open. I realized the strength I have and that I was done with unhealthy relationships that left me wondering who I am.

I became balanced. Happy. And ready for more in life. More love. More gratitude. More living. And when I allowed myself to be so open you arrived. And I was ready for you, which surprised the hell out of me. I was enjoying my own company and wasn’t looking for someone to fill a void, because I didn’t feel empty. But I surprised myself when I wanted to get to know you. I was intrigued.  And you were the one that showed me kindness, and reminded me what a relationship should be.  It woke me the hell up to how badly I allowed myself to be treated previously. That’s a blog post for another day.

You filled me with joy and made me want to dance. But there were problems. You weren’t open to the things I was. And you said it. You told me that you weren’t good at this… But I didn’t listen to just your words… I listen to your actions, how you treated me, how you acted around me….. Your actions were into what we started. You wanted to be around. You said one thing but you left the door open. A part of you wanted us… And as I so eloquently put it to my friend… You hulk-smashed my heart. But I allowed it. I knew it was coming again and again when you’d speak your words, and back away. You were meant in my life to teach me kindness and after that we needed to walk away. But I stayed. And you let me. We both have fault in that. It should have ended romantically after a few weeks when I got the cliché lines from you…. I should have known my worth and laughed it off and just been your friend… Because it was just the beginning of us hanging out and it was still good.

People are meant to be in your life. Just not always forever. So we need to learn to let go when we’re told too. I can’t blame just you… I listened only to my heart that felt love. And I followed that against your warnings. But you left that door open. And that hurt.

I’m leaving for a month and it’s the truth; we weren’t meant at this time or maybe at all.  And it needed to end now. You were right about that. So I can go away centered and balanced and loving myself, and being brave. Brave enough to take this risk travelling alone. Brave enough to know I need it. And to be brave enough to know I’m meant for so much more. It takes two to be capable in a relationship. I am. You aren’t. And this… Whatever it was, wasn’t so profound for you, and that’s ok. You weren’t at my level, because you didn’t want to be. You weren’t willing to be. You were more closed down than anyone I have ever met. And I told you. I’m not there to fix you.

You are  beautiful in your ways. In ways you are deserving of more than you allow yourself, I hope one day you’ll see it. But my dear friend in other ways, this wasn’t all roses lets just put it that way. And you do have some responsibility in this situation we found ourselves in. Even if you say you were always honest with your words.  We both stayed too long in this suto-relationship. And in doing that, there was the stuff that hurt me. The parts that were real, that you wouldn’t acknowledge. You had to let me go based on our differences, and you didn’t want to hold me back, you also just didn’t want to be apart of what I had to offer… And I had to finally listen…

The difference this time  between what you and I had and those other relationships?? I stayed who I was. I didn’t change for you. I was goofy. I was me. I sang too loud in the car, and danced around feeling joy all around me. I learned  to not lose myself in you. I’m proud of myself, because I understand that this is growth. I didn’t allow you to shatter me. Yes my heart was smashed, and I feel this heartache, but I wasn’t completely undone. Not because it wasn’t real, but through it all, I saw what I want and what I need… and in truth, you can’t give me all of that. You don’t want too.  And at some point I could no longer deny that. My heart and my brain were not in agreement when it came to you.

So.. Letting go. I’m learning. And my heart broke but it also broke open even more. I didn’t close down and get bitter, which in all of these trials I’ve been through I never have. I learned. About me. About my worth. About letting go. About being so fucking grateful for all that I do have. About what I crave in a relationship and what I need… And what I won’t allow in the future. So there were many gifts in what we had.  And I showed myself I came along way from where I’ve been.

I spoke to friends and sought out advice on how to let go. And I’m so thankful to you all. Some knew about all of these heartaches and spoke your mind even when I wasn’t ready. But I heard you. I just had to get there in my own time. Even if the words were straight to the point. I heard you. And I loved you all for it. But I find my way in my own time. Between potential and caring to much I held on to tight, every time.

But you, the one that many never knew about, I have to let you go. As you have let me go. The timing is right. The universe again has said its time to allow for the healing and releasing what this was, and what it wasn’t. And it feels good to be authentic to myself again. I wouldn’t consider myself unlucky in love. I’ve felt and had great love. I’ve also had great loss. I’ve also had some lessons that hurt, and made me think twice about what I would ever allow.  But in that I’ve found myself. There will be days I hear a song and feel something that hurts, and reminds me of you…  but I’m going to save those moments for a rainy day, as Kenny Chesney put it.

(Side note: those who didn’t know about this most recent relationship… It’s not because you aren’t important in my life, and it certainly wasn’t because he was not important to me. He was.. He and I from the beginning were pretty much over… I wanted more. He wasn’t ready . And then it was over. And then it was over again….).

I’ve got so much coming my way.. I’ll be okay. Actually I am okay. I’m learning and that feels so damn good. There’s a reason people write songs about heartbreak. It’s excruciating and devastating. A pain I’ve become familiar with. But somewhere in there it’s life changing and beautiful to be so vulnerable to feel it all. I’m not afraid of my feelings. I was unapologetically all in, and willing to be open to love and see where it went.  The heartache has it’s purpose. It’s brought my creativity back. It’s reminded me of exactly what I want. It’ll be another blog post. What VANESSA Wants… I’ll write it all down, because it’s going to come true for me, and how cool will it be to see it all unfold. Believe it. I know my worth. Because I’m fucking awesome. And so are every one of you reading this.

I have to thank my friend Anita. She helps me to open my heart and feel gratitude and love even amongst the pain. She helps me to stay grounded and be authentic and know my truth. Through her work in body talk she’s gotten me through some dark days. She helps me when it’s time to let go. My tears are accepted and they flow freely. But she’d say I’ve done the work, she’s just the messenger. I’m able to feel creative and open and spiritual and blessed by the work we’ve done together. If you don’t know about body talk it’s time to seek it out. Message me for more information. If you’re in Calgary, and your ready to find your balance, or if your feeling stuck I highly recommend her.  Our bodies are incredible and when we actually tune in and listen… We realize we know our own truth all along. Ask me about her gift, and her passion. I will get you in touch with her.

So away I go. Full of love and life and passion. I’m learning to find my passions and live them. My dreams are coming true. What an incredible statement. I’m trusting that I’m on the right path. And being open to feeling all of what I’m going through as it help shapes me. I’m allowing myself to be in the moment and I’m able to move forward without fear. And I’m beyond excited for what’s to come.
Be kind. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Because although life is beautiful, it isn’t always easy.

Be full of passion for this life. Love life. All the moments. Because each moment has beauty in it. And… Let go when it no longer serves you. Be brave enough to do that.

Xo Vanessa

A prick, quills and my dog 

This post was originally written just after valentines. Things are better now but it should have been posted earlier. I was trying to get my blog to post under “travel” and “lifestyle” but haven’t quite figured it out yet..  It keep me from updating the blog on this subject so I’m posting it now. Like I said its a travel and life blog.. So if you only want to follow the travelling skip this and next post 🙂

I was on my flight today listening to Florence and the machines ” what kind of man” and it hit me really hard. It’s a great song and the lyrics rang true to quite a few of my past relationships.. Not being all in, but leaving the door open. 

Anyways.. The post is below:

So it’s no secret that my two dogs (or my girls as I often call them) were my valentines this year. And really.. They give unconditional love, and are always happy to see me… So I’d say I’m a pretty lucky girl.❤️
But I had kind of been seeing a guy for awhile,…. Yeah and didn’t tell most people as I knew it wasn’t going to last… Not my choice I thought he was pretty great… But anyways… it ended awhile ago and I didn’t walk away as soon as I should have… Could have saved me stress, heartache and all that… Well… What can I say… I’m a sucker for punishment and am still learning. When someone says they’re not good in relationships.. THEY MEAN IT. Okay okay. He was honest about it… But we both have to own up where we went wrong. He shouldn’t have been open to dating me if he was going to shut right down, and I should have walked away the second he said that he doesn’t “do relationships”

Life lesson: people come into your life at exactly the right time, for exactly the right reason. This guy healed parts of me that were broken and after I’d done so much work on fixing myself and the hurt I had… He came along and helped me further.  I had worked on myself enough that I was willing and ready for something more. He offered kindness which had been missing in previous relationships. However…. Just because someone comes along at the right time and helps you grow…. Doesn’t mean they’re meant to stay.  It was meant to be over soon after it started… I’m not good at letting go. I’ll get into that in another post at another time.. This post is about my dog, and I’m getting there…

I’ve been stressed, between this guy and me being over (had been awhile but we still were hanging) and he offended me the last time I saw him. I thought he was better than that… But I think he had his back up. Afraid.. Yeah I think so, but not here to diagnose what he has going on…

Lol. … You see what I did with the title of this post? Funny right?   But,  I wouldn’t call him that really. It’s just catchy. And I appreciate him for what he is, and probably all he ever should have been… A friend.. Oh well. My heart wanted more.. 😪

So between this guy and my upcoming trip with so much to still do… I was feeling emotional and stressed.

I met one of my closest friends for a walk. We did over 5 km and were  enjoying our day completely. She allowed me to vent about my stresses, and she talked about hers. It was incredibly windy but a warm day for what is supposed to be winter in Alberta. On our way back to the vehicle…. Things went wrong. My girls caught scent of something and before I could control them they were pulling me down an icy hill. I tried to get my balance and hold them on leash better and somehow one got away. Oh Roxy. My girl who stays by my side always…. Was gone after who knows what… Turns out she met a porcupine that wasn’t so happy to meet her.

My heart was hurting for her. She got away pretty lucky all considering. Too me it was awful and horrible… And she certainly wasn’t happy, but they weren’t all over her body and down her throat. It could have been worse. She seemed to only have quills in her nose. But still there was enough. Off to the vet we went.

Side note. Find a friend who loves you unconditionally like I have because I’m beyond grateful for her. Her support is solid, and her kindness is contagious. When shit goes wrong she has my back… I hit the jackpot with the friends I have in my life, and she is no exception.

My girls are my life and my loves and my family. Seeing one or both in pain is not ok. It hurts me. But man did it put things in perspective. Who cares that this guy I liked hadn’t texted in days, didn’t apologize for hurting my feelings. It doesn’t matter one bit when my girl Roxy was needing surgery to get the quills out.  The best part is the tiny reply I did get back  from him… 5 words… None of which were taking responsibility for what upset me, or apologizing… Just went to show me… Not everyone is willing to own their own shit... All that stress for no good reason. I was warned about boys like that. Emotional roller coaster I was allowing myself to be on… For someone who’s not capable of being accountable, or at least meeting somewhere in the middle. I’ll talk about that another time. But in times of stress, you realize quickly that anxiety and stressing over someone …. Well what can I say. Life happens and things get put into perspective…

So now I can just focus my stress on financial woes from my vet bill and planning my trip.

And Roxy ? She’s no worse for wear now. That girls got spirit. And hopefully has learnt that you don’t make friends with porcupines….  And I shouldn’t have tried so hard with someone who has their quills out too…

2015