life

Kicking 2017 to the curb…for the most part anyway

I have heard it repeatedly, so I know I’m not the only one gladly waving goodbye to 2017.

I didn’t make any resolutions this year. I already feel like I’ve been holding my breath for months. I see no need to add to that load of… (feel free to insert your choice of words here).

EXHALE.

It’s not that 2017 was all bad, it wasn’t, but this year has left me mentally depleted in a way that I can’t articulate, other than to want to desperately scream “WTF is happening here?” on a fairly regular basis.

Seriously.

January. I went back to school and without elaborating, we had a few unexpected and very heavy emotional moments.

Spring (but really this entire year). I am not deeply invested in politics. I know, I know…but I do vote and I did take a political science class this semester. I learned how much I didn’t know about our political history and structure in the United States and that I actually find the bare bones of politics very interesting. Hmmmph. Imagine that. The 45th president (along with a lot of other politicians) has left me scratching my head and truthfully, in some instances, rolling my eyes. His Twitter feed alone is more than I can handle. I consider myself a “Democrat with a bit of a Republican lean”. Meaning? I don’t agree with everything Democrat and I don’t agree with all things Republican either. I’m an idealist I guess. In the spirit of the Constitution; can’t we all just try to get along and do what is best for our country as a whole? Some people will say that is an impossible request. Maybe it is.

Maybe not.

Moving on.

Summer. We didn’t make a lot of headway in any realm. (head·way [ˈhedˌwā] NOUN 1. move forward or make progress, especially when circumstances make this slow or difficult). I didn’t check off a bunch of to do’s and we NEEDED to. We didn’t squeeze a vacation in and we NEEDED it. The girls had summer school and my other half had a double race schedule. I thought we would be able to take off in late July, but before I knew it school was starting again. If I don’t plan it, we don’t get it done/don’t go. I shouldn’t have been irritated by that, but if I’m being honest, a part of me really was.

Fall is normally a time that I really look forward to. The leaves, sweaters, crisp mornings, the sweetness of the upcoming holidays. This year, fall brought a succession of WTF moments slathered on top of a really busy semester. We lost our Ava girl in early September. That was a significant blow to the whole family. You can find my post about Ava here (I’ll warn, it’s pretty raw and I have been told it’s a difficult read. Just have tissues handy.) In October, our hometown was hit by a massive firestorm, triggered by winds I have never experienced. I remember laying in bed listening to the howling. It was spooky – 70 mph gusts – not the norm for Sonoma County. We were evacuated twice. We live about two blocks from the foothills. We can see the hillside from our backyard. Our home was spared and we know we are lucky. Had the winds been blowing in another direction that night, things most certainly would have been different for our neighborhood.

I have tried to write about it several times and I just can’t wrap my head around it all. I think I don’t want to. The devastation is unreal. Thousands of homes. THOUSANDS. Entire neighborhoods incinerated. We are talking about 4,658 homes wiped away – in a matter of hours – just in Santa Rosa and it’s immediate vicinity! Homes of so many friends. It’s still very fresh and yet, oddly, it feels like a lifetime ago. The photos, news stories and videos don’t do it justice. They can’t. The reality is truly so shocking and surreal that it takes your breath away.

SonomaThankful
Photo credit to @sonomathankful

That said, I must also add, the strength and sense of unity, born from the ashes of this disaster, will also take your breath away. Our city was covered in signs expressing gratitude for first responders and our community showed up in force to offer support to those affected. I have never been more proud to live in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County.

With everything else happening, the holidays came and went in a blink. We hosted Thanksgiving and I was grateful to be able to do so. For me, our Christmas tree was the bright spot. It is always about the small joys. That is especially true this year.

We usually visit a local farm and cut our tree, but this year we went to Tahoe and cut it down for the first time. If you haven’t done it, I highly recommend it. We had breakfast at our favorite spot (The Red Hut) in town, hiked through the forest in search of the perfect tree, and there was snow on the ground.tahoe_tree

It was a beautiful day!

I finished up school just in time to pull everything together and slow down to enjoy a few family traditions we have (decorating gingerbread houses, baking, Christmas movies, hunting for holiday light displays, and T’was the Night Before Christmas). I truly appreciated those moments more than ever this year.

I still feel like I am holding my breath a little, but I am looking forward to what the coming year has in store. I believe there are far better things ahead than those we are leaving behind.

Yes, I am purposely not using the exact C.S. Lewis quote. His was not about optimism.

My glass is still half full.newyear

EXHALE. I guess that’s my resolution for this year. Simply to #exhale. Then I can step back, breathe in all the possibilities for 2018, and see where they take me.

Wishing you all a bright and beautiful new year!

-Kim

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 makes 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 spilling 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