life

This too shall pass…

WARNING: My heart is on my sleeve in this post and I did not edit. I just need to pour all of this out.

So many weeks have passed since my last post.

I learned a long time ago that the world doesn’t stop turning when something significant happens in your life. I wish it did and it sure feels as though it should. We lost our sweet Ava girl last week. It was so unexpected, for a few days, I really needed our world to stop turning.

Reading through my last post, I can’t help but be numbed (and maybe just slightly humbled) by how unpredictable life is. I wrote that post mindful of our “borrowed time” with her. I was feeling so grateful that her February blood work had revealed nothing out of the ordinary and I really just hoped to simply have her with us for, at the very least, another year. Not for a moment would I have believed our time left with her could be so short. The reality feels cruel. Our hearts are broken.

Our last day with her was one of the longest of my life and yet, it wasn’t long enough. Watching our family say their goodbyes to our beautiful girl. Knowing what the right decision was, after watching her struggle for more than two weeks, and still second guessing myself out of desperation. Telling the vet, through tears, about when we first met her and her endlessly gentle nature. Remembering the sixteen pound (they aren’t small for very long) ball of fluff we brought home. How quickly nine years went by. Feeling guilty about a few times when I was so tired, I skipped her walk and grateful for everything she brought to my (our) life. Listening to her fade away, with my face buried in the top of her head, thanking her for being such a good dog and telling her, over and over, how loved she was – how our hearts were so full we couldn’t have loved her more. All the while silently wanting to be able to take back what was happening, and just take her home.

I would give anything to jingle her collar and have her meet me at the door, or bury my face in the top of her head one more time.

I wrote the following in an email I sent, to my friend Laura, over the weekend. Right now, there really are no better words to sum up how I am feeling… “It’s really difficult not to have her here with us. The ache in my heart, at times, is overwhelming. There are moments I think of her and for a minute, I can’t breathe. John and I both found ourselves looking for her this last week. During the thunderstorm, I immediately scanned for her and began to tell her it was ok. She really was our third child, my right hand gal, and heart dog.”

There is a piece missing from our every day.  When my family leaves in the morning, I am filled with a gnawing emptiness. I am not lonely, but for the first time in twenty-two years, I am all alone. The house is still. The silence is palpable and the quiet make me so sad.

Some will say “she’s just a dog”. It’s ok for them to not understand. Many friends have texted, emailed, and sent cards saying they have been there and they understand our despair. I know people are going, or have been, through far worse. Especially right now. Still, it doesn’t lessen the sorrow in our little corner of the world.

This weekend we received a card from our veterinary office. When I opened it, there was a small(ish) piece of paper inside. I flipped it over to find her paw print. It was such a surprise it took my breath away and before I could blink, the tears were streaming down my cheeks. I know, as with anything painful, the flood of emotions will lessen over time. In the midst of it all, I hear my girlfriend Jessica, “this too shall pass”.

For now, it’s right in front of me and I really miss her.

-Kim

Ava12
Wildridge’s Sudden Avalanche “Ava”, 8/14/08 – 9/11/17
general, life

A bit of open-minded thinking never hurt anyone

Today it might seem I am rambling more than usual.

Can I be honest for a minute?

I know everyone is “entitled” to it, but truthfully; very few things in life aggravate me more than another person’s one sided, the world owes me, my way or the highway, black and white opinions. Particularly when it feels personally directed.

You DON’T know me.

You know the pieces I have shared, the parts I have allowed you to see, and the opinions you have derived from those. We all curate parts of ourselves for public viewing. You don’t know about the events that I have dealt with, the choices that shaped me into the person I am today, or how I got here.

You don’t know that if I had taken the easy road and followed that chapter in the psychology textbook, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.j_murphyquote

I chose the opposite path. The harder path. The road less traveled. It wasn’t always easy, but I did it. I am a relatively private person and I have never really been one to be railroaded. I was often referred to as headstrong, independent, obstinate, strong willed, or stubborn.

I spent my teens, twenties and most of my thirties dodging opinions and criticism, feeling the need to prove myself…Proving I could fit in and choosing a lot of the wrong people to befriend when I was young. (Do you ever really fit in as a tween or teenager anyway?) Protecting myself in the only ways I knew how, because there was nobody to protect me. Proving that I didn’t need anyone and letting go of several good people that I should have valued more. Proving that I could make peace with my childhood. Refusing to self-destruct. Proving I was worthy of love. Proving that being independent doesn’t mean I’m a bitch. Proving I wasn’t “just another pretty face”. Proving I wouldn’t live my life angry. Proving that I could be a young mom, a wife, and do them both well. Proving I would not allow alcohol or drugs to consume me, the way they had consumed several people in my life. (Honest and very humble horn toot: I have bad genetics with regard to drugs and alcohol, so I never took the risk. I have never tried drugs and with the exception of a margarita on my 21st birthday, and a few sips of champagne at our wedding, I stopped drinking at 18.) Proving that I could learn how not to repeat past mistakes.

Proving I am a good person with good intentions.

I do not expect anyone to abandon their personal convictions, but I value open-minded thinking and empathy. So while I respect the idea that we are all entitled to an opinion, if you are only interested in your own, I ask that you kindly stop talking. Listen. Listen and try to hear.

Bill Bullard said, “Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.”

That passage speaks to me in a way no other has. Ever.

What you discuss within your personal space is your prerogative. Outside of those walls, the world isn’t black and white. There are circumstances you know nothing about, things that have happened and are still happening to the people around you. e_rooseveltquoteShaping those people. Your own circumstances and choices have shaped you. Shape has a different meaning than define.

You might consider looking it up.

Who are we to make another person feel as though they aren’t enough, based on opinions derived from what we see on the outside.

We need to understand that our opinions are the product of our personal experiences. There is no personal growth when we hold on to our opinions and believe them to be the only possible truth.

There will be times when our personal experiences are the truth, but we must make the conscious choice to try to understand this world from other people’s perspectives. To be open to knowledge and growth. If we do not open ourselves to knowledge and #empathy, we risk ignorance, and sadly ignorance just breeds more ignorance.

Forward movement is one of my personal themes for 2017. Part of my forward movement is continuing to acknowledge that I no longer allow space for anyone who makes me feel as though I am not enough. I love to see people succeed. When I give, I don’t keep score. I am a fan of quiet contemplation. If I say that I envy you, stop and take a moment to listen. I promise you it’s not in the way you might think.

Envy:  verb (used with object), envied, envying. To regard (a person or thing without malice) with envy: He envies you for your hard-earned success. I envy your writing ability.

Do not make the mistake of thinking I envy who YOU are, or your material possessions. I envy the ease in which you make decisions, or your ability to consistently live with a carefree nature. I will not purposely place myself in anybody’s crosshairs, but I will advocate for myself loudly when forced. I have learned to speak my personal truths gently, because I know what it’s like to be misunderstood, or not to be heard at all. If my attempts to be genuine aren’t taken at face value, I’m not malevolent or angry, I just change the amount of space I allow that person to occupy in my life.

I know who I am. I have worked long and hard to become the person I am today and today is what matters. Happily, I am still evolving.

-Kim

life

The difference between a father and a dad…

They say you either gravitate in the direction of a partner who is very much like your father, or you choose someone who is the complete opposite.

I grew up with a semi-absent father and when I was young, I had no idea what kind of impact that would have on my life choices.

When I was old enough to understand, I didn’t walk, I ran, as fast as I could, in the opposite direction.

Looking back, I know now, that my father did the best he could with a very limited set of tools. I have made peace with the past and I wish him peace as well.

When I first met my husband, we were teenagers. There was something about him. He was intelligent, funny, devastatingly handsome, outgoing and just a little shy (it was his friend, not him, who came back to ask for my phone number).

His smile still gives me butterflies and I’m not exaggerating!

We were young when our first daughter arrived. When you have children with someone, you hope they will be a good father. I didn’t have to hope. I already knew. It was something deep within my soul. I can’t explain it.

He took on fatherhood with every ounce of himself. TT was his little sidekick. In the beginning, we worked opposite schedules so that we could be home with her. I started work at 6AM and he worked a swing shift. We were like ships in the night, but agreed we wanted to do what was best for our baby girl. When Fred came along to complete our family, his love spilled over in buckets.

My husband is a dad.

He loves and lives for our family. He is brilliant and funny and ambitious and stubborn and supportive and tender. I can close my eyes and vividly picture our future. I can tell you exactly what he looks like when we are in our 90’s. His work ethic is inspiring. He ducks life’s monkey wrenches like a ninja; he can figure it out, fix it, make it happen, and presses forward through everything. He is the voice of reason when PMS takes over our house. He hugs and protects like a bear, but you can still breathe. He is witty and his laughter is contagious. He is generous with his time. He hates the limelight and will brush it off as though he’s no big deal, but trust me when I say, HE IS EVERY BIT A BIG DEAL! I am regularly in awe of him. #soluckytohaveyou

So to my husband, with all my heart: Thank you for being the best dad to our girls, my best friend, everything I knew I needed in my life, and so many things I only hoped for.

I love you. Happy Father’s Day!

-Kim

 

 

 

 

life

I work hard, but I’m not ambitious

Happy Friday! Whew. It’s been a whirlwind since finals.

I spent last week in Texas, with our youngest daughter, to surprise her best friend for graduation and then celebrated my birthday yesterday.

I’m 44.

My husband asked me if I woke up feeling any different. Nope. I looked in the mirror; no new wrinkles or age spots, so that was a relief. Still, it’s funny how some birthdays sneak up on you.

It’s not a monumental number or anything. It’s just 44, but it comes with the acknowledgement that 50 really is just around the bend, and frankly, I have a lot of things on my personal “before I’m 50” to-do list!

I have been tossing around what the future looks like for awhile now. Dangling ideas in front of myself and allowing each one to hang in the air for a bit. I kept wondering why it’s so difficult for me to pinpoint. I’m the donkey with the carrot on the stick, but the carrot isn’t working its magic. Mostly because I’m stubborn and (beyond carrot cake) I’m not a huge fan of carrots.

Then, while visiting Texas last week, my friend Kim made a comment about working hard vs. being ambitious. Our husbands are both very ambitious people. Their brains are always working on the next great idea.

On our flight home, I realized it was how I had been trying to explain who I am for years.

I work hard, but I’m not ambitious. Does that make sense?

Ambition is one of the qualities I admire most in my husband. I also think one of the reasons our relationship thrives stems from the balance we bring each other. It’s not that I don’t have hopes and dreams. I definitely do! There are many things I want to accomplish and experience during the remainder of my (our) life, but I don’t aspire to be Bill Gates or Oprah.

Maybe that’s why I have only ever been able to clearly picture myself as a mom and not the CEO of a major corporation. I work hard, but I’m not ambitious.

Maybe that’s why I can’t always understand my husband’s point of view when it comes to taking time off, or saving instead of splurging. (He’s really good at saving. In fact, he’s too good sometimes.) I work hard, but I’m not ambitious.

I think it’s ok to be someone who is willing to work hard, but doesn’t necessarily feel the pull to work 80 hours a week and climb the corporate ladder. There are plenty of people who want the corner office with a view. It’s just not me. I’m “too old” for that now.

I want to be successful in my own right, doing something that allows my husband to take some well deserved time off. I want a career that brings me joy 90% of the time. I want to help reach our life goals, while still having some flexibility to enjoy time with my husband, daughters, and eventually, our grandbabies.

I want to find the balance. Is that too much to ask?

Around this time last year, I set out to reach some goals. My theme was “You can do this”. I am well on my way, so I decided that this year the theme will reflect how I feel in this moment.

whynot“Well why the hell not” seemed the most appropriate.

I plan to figure out my career path and take some of the financial pressure off my other half. I want do more things that scare me. I want to travel to places I haven’t seen. I want to continue learning. I plan to spend more quiet time and go on more adventures with my husband.

I want to make balance a priority.

And I WILL have it all.

Here’s to 44!

 

-Kim

life

I survived! 12 things I learned about myself this semester!

You guys!! I took the last of my finals for the semester today! I can’t believe it’s already May! When I clicked submit and the grade came back on my anthropology final, I exhaled. In celebration, I thrust two fists triumphantly overhead as I crossed the finish line!

I remember pulling the door open to my Intro to Social Media class that first Monday night. I had been looking forward to taking the class for months, but when I walked in, all I could think was, “Holy sh**! What am I doing here!?” Looking around the room, I suddenly realized I probably wasn’t the only one thinking that. In fact, there’s a good chance some of my younger classmates might have even wondered what they were doing in a class with a bunch of “old” people.

Fifteen Mondays later, here’s what I’ve learned about myself…

1) I waited and waited to take the leap, and go back to school, because of fear. It turns out that ALL those fears were unfounded. Yup. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

2) I’m even stronger than I thought! My combination of classes meant that I had A LOT of homework each week. One class in particular really tested my resolve. By the end of the first month, I was so frustrated, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through. No joke, it felt like I was learning a foreign language and it wasn’t even a language class! My instructor was a fantastic resource and I finished that class with an A!

3) My family and friends are even more patient and wonderful and supportive than I realized! They cheered me up, cheered me on, and they even let me whine when I really needed to. I appreciate all of them so much!

carrotcake4) Education is more valuable now that I am an adult. I have always loved learning, but as a young adult I never considered its value. School is so much more rewarding the second time around!

5) Anthropology is not as riveting as I thought. I used to say that if I could get a degree in anything I wanted, just because, it might be in anthropology, art history, or geology. Truth? I love fossils. If anthropology was just the study of fossils, I’d be all over it. It’s not, so today I crossed anthropology off that list.

6) Carrot cake is my favorite homework treat. Period.

7) I need to invest a little bit of time and energy in myself and my environment every day. The more time and energy I spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control I will have over my #lifelist.

8) Not everyone is happy for you. I know, right!? WTH? That realization was really hard to swallow at first. For every congratulations I received when I told someone I was going back to school, I was faced with, “Wow! Why would you want to do that to yourself?” Here’s how I handled those inquiries. I would say: “Well, it was time to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.” Of course, I would be thinking something snarky like: “Well, I’d explain it to you, but I’m all out of puppets and crayons.”

9) Procrastination has no place at this table! I have said before that I can be a bit of a procrastinator by nature. Uhh, that’s a no-go. I have begun to learn how to better manage my time. Better time management lowers stress levels too, who knew! OK, probably everyone but me.

threecquote10) I have talents that I didn’t know about!

11) Stepping out of my comfort zone was the best thing I have done for myself! I challenged myself this semester. You can’t hope to change yourself  if you aren’t willing to move outside of your comfort zone!

12) I really love to write!

I started this blog as an assigned project for my social media class. I had considered blogging before, but was too overwhelmed to try. Where do I begin? What would I blog about? What if no one reads it?

In the last few months, I realized that I can do this and I plan to continue writing my blog!  I’ve made new friends through blogging and writing has given me an outlet. An outlet that I didn’t know I needed in my life. So thank you Professor Laird, for assigning this project, and thank YOU for following along!

-Kim

life

A Costco bag of tortilla chips: My life in a nutshell…

The gigantic $3 bag of Costco tortilla chips has been sitting on the floor, in the corner of our kitchen for three weeks. If you have a Costco card, you know which bag I’m talking about. THREE WEEKS! Why you ask? Why, indeed? For starters, it doesn’t have a home and nobody is interested in eating them. In spite of my protests, my other half insisted the chips were a necessity during one of our weekend dates to Costco. That said, I have walked right past that damn $3 bag of chips, dozens of times, pretending not to notice it. Hmmmm…What chips?

tortillachips
Chips? What chips?

I adore my husband and I’m not kidding when I say this is exactly why he isn’t “allowed” (his rule) to have a cart, when headed out on a trip to Costco, alone! It had to be this way. We just don’t have the room for 48 different types of frozen snacks. The box of individual servings of hash browns that just (Ew!) need you to add water. The case of fizzy water he wants to try. A 12 pound package of hamburger. The vat of Que Bueno nacho cheese, and (unless you operate a snack bar) who needs a 26 pound bucket of red vines anyway!? I’m exaggerating of course, but not much.

I digress…

We all harbor something. When I was young, we lived in an older neighborhood of mostly turn of the century homes. Our house was always in process, construction cluttered, and unfinished – not unlike the famed Winchester Mystery House, only without the rogue spirits, hidden passage ways, and other oddities; and our car (a 1970 Pontiac Tempest) was always breaking down.

In this season, many parts of my life feel cluttered. Unfinished. Out of order. Under construction. Clutter gives me a certain level of anxiety. In fact, while we are on the subject, unfinished home renovations and unreliable cars are right up there too. Call them “leftovers” from my childhood.

I am a creative brain, so I can be a bit of a procrastinator by nature. It’s not always a trait that I appreciate, but it’s part of who I am. In spite of all the growth I have experienced in the past year, I have not stopped to do a full review of my “life list”. Maybe I didn’t want to until now. There it is, procrastination.

The truth is, the more you have to manage, the more clutter you end up having, and you can unwittingly carry it from place to place. I suppose you have to put it all somewhere, right?  So while I am very aware that the clutter makes me anxious, it’s all I can see! End of semester paper piles. Stacks of clothes that don’t fit in the dresser. Kid piles. Piles in the laundry room. Piles on the nightstand (mine and his). Bags of tortilla chips on the kitchen floor. There are four pairs of shoes scattered around the family room right now, and none of them belong to me! What is happening here?

All those physical piles eventually become mental weight. Do you ever feel like that? Weighed down by mental clutter? What do you do to start cleaning it up? Lately, I simply shuffle all the clutter from one task to another and one thought to another.

Procrastination is a fine line and I’m teetering on the edge! One more pile might push me over, and there I would be, lamely dangling by one foot, like a cartoon character in a booby trap, nose to nose with everything on my life list that I’m trying to ignore.

This is the culmination of too many half completed to-do lists. Lists that I just can’t seem to sweep into one tidy pile. Why is that? I know many people feel this way in different phases of their life. We started a home renovation, several years ago, that we can’t seem to finish. The garage needs to be cleaned out (heaven forbid we throw away that one sliver of sheetrock, or scrap of plywood we MIGHT need). I have cabinets and closets that need to be emptied, projects that need to be completed, and life decisions that need to be made. Our cars have finally aged to the point where it’s probably time to give them up, but I can’t seem to wrap my brain around the idea of car payments (and I’m pretty sure my other half doesn’t want to), so we keep dumping money into them. It’s all mental clutter.

Holding onto clutter is often a manifestation of other unfinished business. It’s never really about the piles, it’s about why all that “stuff” is there in the first place. So I will begin by asking; what is keeping me from doing or deciding? I need some answers people!

I am a glass half-full kind of girl, who has the procrastination gene, so I already know there’s really only one solution. DIVE IN! The first order of business? I’m going to throw away those damned chips! Then I’m headed into the garage to yell “PLOT TWIST” at the top of my lungs, sweep all those to-do lists into one giant (forget tidy!) pile, and wait for the dumpster to be dropped off, so I can move forward!

Do you have your own #lifelist that needs so be pared down too? Just do it! I’ll be here to cheer you on!

-Kim

 

life

Our first Hollywood premiere!

I’m going to stray a little bit today from my normal writings because, well, yesterday was just too much fun to not write about it!

Last night my husband and I were lucky enough to attend the American Wrestler: The Wizard premiere in L.A.! Yes, a movie premiere; red carpet, celebrities, cameras flashing, the whole nine yards! American Wrestler: The Wizard is set in a small town in 1980. It’s a story about struggle and perseverance, and being able to put aside differences to find common ground. It will be in select theaters May 3rd, and you can check for local listings at Fathom Events. #AmericanWrestlerMovie

One of the actors and producers, Ali Afshar, is a long time friend of ours (we’re talking 25+ years here) and most of the movie is shot locally in Petaluma and Tomales, California. Ali has invited us to several of his L.A. premieres, but either our kids were busy, or my other half was travelling for work, so we hadn’t been able to attend. Until now.

americanwrestlermovie A few weeks ago, my husband decided we were going. “We never get out and do stuff like this. Let’s just go” he announced. I was all in (I’m always all in for date night with my guy), so I booked a flight to LA and a hotel just a block from the theater.

Then it dawned on me that I had no idea what you might wear to something like this…Uh oh! I scoured Pinterest for ideas. The only thing I knew for certain was that I would need something a bit more sleek than my traditional jeans, a t-shirt, and converse. For those who don’t know me personally, I’m a pretty simple gal and I am NOT a shopper! Not even the teeniest tiniest little bit. It takes every ounce of my being to force myself through the store doors. So I talked my sister (who always looks really put together) into a “quick” shopping trip. She was a really good sport while I tried on EVERY. SINGLE. THING. in Nordstrom and Macys. Far, FAR too many hours later, I thought I had an outfit mostly figured out. Why do the department stores never have exactly what I need, when I need it? I know I can’t be the only one that has this problem? Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with my tendency to ALWAYS shop at the last-minute?

Moving on…

awpremiere
A quick photo op (thanks Jim Pera!) to end the night. In all the excitement, we forgot to take pictures! We should have used my phone instead of my husband’s!

When we arrived at the theater Wednesday night, the event was in full swing. Actors and guests strolling the red carpet while posing for photos, camera flashes in every direction. The people watching was a blast! Before the movie started, Ali (who is truly humble and genuine) stepped up on stage and told us a little about the filming of the movie and then thanked everyone who was involved in the process (my husband included) personally. Everyone was invited to the after-party to celebrate. So we dropped by for a bit, to congratulate Ali, and then we made the short walk back to our hotel.

I really loved to see Ali in his element. He’s worked so hard to get where he is today, and we have watched as this part of his life has evolved over the years. Finally being immersed in it, up close and personal, was exciting.

American Wrestler: The Wizard is definitely a must see! If you’re local, it will be in Petaluma May 3 – 6. For everyone else, it will be in select theaters next week. The Fathom Events link is up near the top of this post. Check it out!

And that’s a wrap!

-Kim