Death is breathing over my shoulder and he’s got halitosis

First of all, I do not have a sad, melancholy life.

I am generally a happy person and in fact usually quite giddy about life. I’ve been told by previous managers that I laugh and smile altogether too much and they are “important people” so they must know what they are saying. Also, I am healthy and have a great life in general (with the exception of the wacky bad events of this year).

So it is with some discomfort and a little bit of WTF that I feel like I am living in one of those movies where everything that can possibly go wrong is visualized in my head.

I am fairly certain that most people do not live this way.

You might see a kid crossing the street… I see how one careless driver making a wrong turn could make him fly through the air leaving his shoes behind.

Others see a dog on a leash… I see that leash having a manufacturing defect that allows the dog to break free and run into traffic.

You see a lovely tree to park under… I see how that big heavy branch with a little bit of dead leaves on it could suddenly heave its weight on top of my head.

It generally sucks to feel like death is breathing over your shoulder. I do NOT recommend it because the grim reaper eats pain and suffering for a living and needs some serious mouthwash.

SO how do I get back to that lovely state of oblivious happiness I had before? And better question still, can I?

My psychologist friends tell me trauma takes a while to get over. I am assuming I will also need a really long stretch of nothing going wrong to start to have faith in the general safety and goodness in life. I seriously hope that can happen.

I am worried that this state is the new normal. Maybe when you reach your 40s on top of everything sliding south (my face, my boobs… okay, my thighs too) you also encounter more in life that is tragically sad. Parents start to get sick, maybe they pass away. Pets that were babies when we were young are aging with us as well. Our kids grow up and start to take reckless and possibly life-threatening risks (not that this is happening… YET).

Oh, to go back to the delightful oblivion of no drama. Or where the only drama was whether or not my kid slept through the night or if they had a starring role in their first grade play.

Bottom line: I can’t undo what’s happened and I cannot un-see what I’ve seen. I just have to continue throwing good visuals in my head on top of the bad and hope eventually they out-weigh the bad.

Here’s my list of ideas (for October) to get death to back the hell off:

  • Celebrate Halloween. Ironic that a holiday that’s generally “dark” can make me so happy. Consider decorating (which could be epic) and definitely incorporate costumes.
  • Cook some Fall deliciousness. Pumpkin dessert anythings and chili cornbread loveliness. Whip that shit up pronto.
  • Watch my Fall favorites. I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me happier than watching the Harry Potter movies in the Fall. Throw in some Jane Austen films and I’m in heaven. Pride and Prejudice marathon… who’s with me!?
  • Gratefulness board. I want to get a lovely framed chalkboard situation and put a daily “what am I grateful for” message on it.

Do you have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them. As always, thanks for listening to my ramblingness.

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There’s a reason Dog is God spelled backwards.

It’s been three weeks since Mojo died. In that time, we’ve grieved heartily and started on the path to loving our new puppy. We laugh, we cry, we cuddle Joey, we miss Mojo.

Through all of this, I can’t seem to stop thinking about what this experience is teaching me on a spiritual level.

Ohhhh religion, run for the hills!!!

I’m not going to talk about religion, people. I was raised in religion, steeped in it like a teen-aged-size tea bag. My mom was a pastor for a large portion of my life – so I get religion. I think I can say I’m beyond religion. And I’m not trying to upset any readers that might love their religion. To each his own, I say.

No, I’m talking about what I BELIEVE. Spiritually, ‘n stuff. I’ve always believed in God. Although this year has made me rework how God operates. When I was growing up, I thought that God was this single entity with a big director’s microphone, calling the shots. The longer I live and the more I see of tragedy and loss, I definitely don’t believe there is a deity up there directing anything.

Let’s face it. The concept of God is a human construct. And us humans, we are flawed, flawed, flawed. So I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with figuring out your own spiritual beliefs.

It’s not like you have to pick from one of the 52 flavors of religion and then live with it. You can MAKE. YOUR. OWN. Wow. Look at Scientology… Just sayin’.

After the events of this year, I truly believe in randomness as a universal principle. Bad shit happens. And sometimes more than once to the same person. There’s no reason behind it other than pure randomness. God is not directing this shit.

As far as God is concerned, I am starting to think that the only part of God we can understand is love. In our spirits’ pure form, we are all love. Love connects us in the form of compassion and caring. It connects us to our friends, our families, the earth, to animals, to everything. Love lives in us and lives on after we die.

Toward this idea, I believe that dogs are the embodiment of love. They are God manifest in animal helper form. (That’s not to say that I don’t acknowledge that there are some broken dogs out there who would chew off your face in trade for a lamb chop. But most of those dogs were broken by people.)

The experiences that people have with how their dogs love them is mind-boggling. You see it everywhere: from the dog who cried and cried upon his owner’s return from a tour of duty, to the posts of people who have lost their dogs and are as heartbroken as I was. Stories of dogs saving human lives, dogs savings other dogs, dogs nursing kittens and squirrels.

Let’s face it: Dogs are freakin’ amazing, people! (I had no idea, because I used to be a cat person.)

I’m thinking there’s a reason that Dog is God spelled backwards. I think that’s supposed to be a clue for us dumb humans.

Dogs are love, God is love, and when a dog passes away, they return to the love pool that is God. When you remember your sweet dogs that have passed away, I’m sure you can still feel the love. I know I can.

Before I came to this realization, my kids told me that they were praying to Mojo. Not praying FOR Mojo, but TO him. I wasn’t sure what to do with this except accept it. Maybe they know what they are talking about.

Now I find myself praying to Mojo too, every once in a while.

Dear Mojo, I miss you and love you. I feel you with me all the time. …. Amen.

Getting into “The Zone”

So work is a little light today. Email for me is like the tide. It flows in, it flows out; at a fairly regular pace. Today, I’ve received a total of five work emails ALL DAY. I usually have 100-200 emails to sort through. I liken this to the way the waves get sucked out to sea before a tsunami. It’s the calm before the tidal wave hits tomorrow. You see, me and my coworkers think there is some BIG COMPANY announcement tomorrow and it’s been so very ominously quiet today as a result. SOoooo quiet. And not in a good way.

So I’m getting my mind off of what might happen tomorrow by writing this blog! What? Two blogs in one day? That is crazy-time! I know, I know, but I can’t seem to help myself.

As I mentioned in my last blog, Aging Well (blah blah blah), I’m really kicking my Paleo eating habits into high gear by putting them into the structure of the Zone Diet by Barry Sears. Because while it’s okay to eat Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies on a Paleo diet that doesn’t mean I actually need them. Damn, because they look REALLY good.

Thanks Detoxinista for the lovely visual!

Anyway, I’m using the Lose It app on my iPhone to track what I’m eating. It tells me calories and nutrition content all by scanning the bar codes on the foods. And seriously, almost EVERY food has a freakin’ bar code. I can also look at the progress I’m making through out the day.

Mr. Sears says we should keep our Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate levels at 30/30/40 respectively. With the Lose It app, you can look at the section called “My Day” and see how those levels are going at each meal. Then add or subtract items or quantities as needed to keep the balance the same.

Here’s what is surprising me: I am not getting enough FAT people! Say what? I know, it’s crazy. I’ve actually resorted to ADDING tiny portions of olive oil to my Greek yogurt and shit. I have to admit though, already I FEEL better. My stomach actually feels happy, Dare I say, satisfied? Maybe that’s what my daily addiction to ice cream has actually been about? I needed some fat in my diet.  At least now I am getting the good kind, not the dairy kind or the vegetable oil kind. Although pass me an avocado any day of the week. Srsly.

So, I was just reading some dumb web site that actually said that you can have any and all processed sugars on the zone diet? Are you kidding me? Did they even read the book? I think sometimes information gets so diluted that the truth becomes kind of fuzzy. I don’t know, maybe you can have sugar on the Zone, but you couldn’t have much of it and stick to the other “rules” Barry puts in place. Carbs should be something like  40% of your plate, tell me how sugar is going to do that for you but only remain 40% of your nutrition. Suck it misinformationists.

Man, I smell a little bit like olive oil right now from the yogurt with oil thing I ate earlier. And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

 

Aging Well: How to grow old without sliding the slippery slope into sloth.

Oh aging. You do suck in so many ways. This week I’ve been worrying a lot about my aging parents. Helping my dad out with recovery from a recent surgery was very tough, especially seeing how weak he really is. Then this last weekend, my mom experienced such extreme dizziness and faintness that she called 911 and spent the weekend in the hospital. It’s frustrating watching them use the emergency room as their health care plan of choice. I’ve been talking with them about ways to improve their health yet, I know, just KNOW, that nothing will change for them.

My parent are in their early 70s but live a lifestyle like they are closer to 80 (super sedentary, meh diets). And while I don’t see that they have any of the major health concerns of the elderly (cancer, stroke, heart disease) they do seem to be failing in health purely due to the simple act of not caring enough about diet, exercise, and lifestyle. They have been scholars their entire lives. Sitting in chairs for the majority of the day has served their minds well, but done absolutely nothing for their bodies. And now they are paying the price. It breaks my heart.

All of this has made me realize that while I can’t change them, I can change ME. I can choose how to age.

I’m in my 40s and there is still plenty of time for me to build up the habits and reserves I need to continue to be active in my 70s and 80s. And for the record, I plan on living into my 90s and dying suddenly while gardening. Face plant in the dirt with the smell of flowers and grass as my last memories. Sounds pretty good to me.

So it is with renewed focus and purpose that I am getting back on the Paleo bandwagon. I’m reading a fabulous book by Barry Sears called “The Anti-Inflammation Zone” which has a lot of great information about how to fine-tune the Paleo life-style for maximum health. I’m also going to take this time of working at home (due to my new puppy) to put a jump-start plan into place.

For the next four weeks, I am launching myself on a new regime. Here’s the details, in case you want to follow along:

  • Diet: Zone diet, paleo basics, 1200 calories
  • Exercise: Cardio (moderate eliptical) – 30 minutes/6 days a week; Strength exercises – 10 minutes/4 days a week; Walking the dogs – 20 minutes/7 days a week
  • Back care – (Yes, I have back problems, thanks to a roll-over car accident): Stretching every hour; chiropractic 2x a month; thinking about joining a yoga class
  • Sleep – in bed, trying to sleep by 10 pm, up at 6:30 am in order to work out
  • Nutrients – that’s probably a entirely separate post, but just because you are eating doesn’t mean you are getting all of the vitamin and minerals you need. So I’m going to make more of an effort to make my diet COUNT and to supplement where it cannot.

I’m not as concerned about losing weight as much as I am about not crapping out when I’m old. After all, HALF of our lives could be spent in this time of our lives called old age (depending on if you think 40s is old). I’m not going to waste any more time. I love this life and have seen twice this year how quickly it can/could be taken from me. I’m going to make it count.

Choosing life: a new puppy to honor our late dog Mojo

The death of Mojo has been very hard. But in the midst of all the sadness I am incredibly grateful for the lessons and graces that have popped up all over the place.

First, my relationship with my boyfriend has had some definite ups and some serious downs. I’ve never really been sure that he could be there for me when the going got tough. The death of Mojo rocked both of us to the core. Seeing Mike crying his heart out, while holding me, and then following it up with honest and loving conversations has brought our relationship to a new level of lovingness. I know now without a doubt when the going gets tough Mike will be 150% by my side, saying and doing the right things. He is an honorable, gentle, loving man. I feel like love is Mojo’s legacy.

Toward that end, we decided to honor the love and sweet energy Mojo brought us by getting another puppy. After searching the entire state of California for a mixed pug puppy, we finally found one in Bakersfield through Central Coast Pug Rescue.  It’s pretty hard to find true puppies these days unless you go to a breeder and we did not want to support that process. We were so very lucky that a rescue organization had puppies and had them in a mix, not the pure breed. It was meant to be.

Bakersfield is about a four hour drive from San Jose, but we gassed up the car, stopped briefly only at the rest stops and made it there in record time. There was a PetSmart and a Subway near where we were meeting the rescue lady Marsha so we were able to stock up on supplies for humans and puppy alike.

The puppy was so tiny! He could fit in the palm of my hand.

Joey is super tiny as you can see

The puppy is super small as you can see

Naming him has been tough. We have very strict criteria:

  • The name has to be able to end in a Y sound: such as Binky or Timmy
  • The name must have a one syllable version: such as Boo for Boomer
  • The name must have a variable that can be repeated: such as CeCe for Celeste

Most names can’t stand up to such stringent rules. I think we’ve settle on the name Joey (Joe, JoJo, Little Jo) even though I dated a guy named Joey once and I think that unsettles Mike a little. 😉  The name Joey feels right though. After all, it is the second half of Mojo’s name but a totally different name at the same time.

Joey already loves his daddy.

Joey already loves his daddy.

I surprised my kids by putting Joey into my purse when I picked them up from school. I didn’t say anything about the puppy head that kept popping out of my bag. It took quite a while for them to notice what was happening and then pure puppy joy erupted. I thought my daughter Lucy was going to pee her pants for sure.

Driving home from Bakersfield.

Driving home from Bakersfield.

Joey is a super sweet little guy. And he is doing what we had hoped: bringing joy to our souls.

Grieving Mojo

I am heartbroken. Earlier this week, my favorite dog Mojo was run over by a car and killed.

Me and Mo

Me and Mo when he was a puppy

I loved (no LOVE) this dog like nobody’s business, he was my fur baby… always at my side… my guardian, my guide to the bathroom, my lap warmer, my bed snuggler, my main fur man. He loved me so much that I even had a special voice for imitating him as if he could talk and tell me how much he adored me, “You are my master and I will love you and follow you where ever you go.” Sounds just like Dug from Up, and is much better in person, I promise.

Anyway, I hope you understand that this dog was special. In truth, he was everyone’s favorite. He didn’t bark, he was plain adorable, had the best smile and personality. He was truly one of a kind.

Picture 873

Mojo looked just like Scrappy Doo, I swear.

He’s gone now, due to a really stupid mistake and I am doing the best to forgive myself and others who played a part in his passing. Mostly, I am just trying to keep breathing because there are times when it hurts so much my chest feels like caving in. It hurts so much that I don’t want to think or be, I just want to disappear. That’s just the grief talking, so don’t get too worried about that statement folks.

Here’s what I’ve learned about grieving in this short time (I’m only on day three so be patient):

  • Uncontrollable sadness comes in waves, so stick close to home the first few days/weeks.
  • Wear the same clothes day after day if you want to. No one who loves you really cares how you smell.
  • Accept that grief feels a lot like the stomach flu topped with a ton of sadness and crying.
  • It’s okay not to eat, or to only eat the things that you can choke down, even if those things are ice cream and half and half.
  • Be mad, really mad, if the situation requires it. The anger is a feeling and it won’t last forever.
  • Protect yourself. If the situation involved boundaries being broken, you might need to establish some protection for yourself and your family, mentally or physically.
  • Cry and cry as much as you need to. And talk to people while crying. I’ve made several phone calls this week where all I did was gulp and sob to the people on the other end. It’s okay, the vet/your parents/best friends/boyfriend/brother understands.
  • When you are feeling up to it, eat on your very best gold-rimmed china to remind yourself that life is for living.
  • Shower attention/much snuggling on the other living things in your household out of desperation. They might even like it.
  • Stick together. If you have other people feeling the same grief, spend time comforting each other. It will bring you closer together and help the healing.
  • Sleep with a stuffed animal and possibly carry one in your car for protection. I recommend: Boo the dog.
  • Feel scared because life suddenly feels very dangerous/tenuous. You’ll feel safer in a week/month/year.
  • Try not to focus on the death event itself. Understand what happened, yes, but replaying it over and over in your mind might not be super helpful (more gut-wrenching, likely).
  • Remember the good times with your love. Create a way to remember them that makes you feel better.
  • Stay in the here and now. Time cannot be rewound. Events cannot be undone.
  • Focus on your healing. No one else can determine how bad you feel. Stand up for what you need to take care of yourself.
  • Find people to talk to. This might be tough if you hate crying in front of people. Get over it, you will feel so much better talking to someone who understands what you are going through.
  • Let people help you, let them in. I tend to want to shut people out and deal with my pain privately. But there will be people who want to help and understand what you are going through, open the door and let them in. Plus, they may be bringing chocolate or ice cream (see fourth bullet).

In the end, the only thing that really seems to help is time. Try to remember that each day you wake up is another day closer to feeling like life is worth living again. Hopefully you have the support you need to get through this process. I am very lucky that I have an incredible boyfriend, wonderful friends and family plus some kick ass coworkers to help me through it. Nothing will bring Mojo back (and that just kills me). But maybe someone can find solace in the points above. I’ve got to try and make something good come from this pain.

Sweet sweet Mojo, how I miss you.

Sweet sweet Mojo, how I miss you.