Monday, October 10, 2016

New Journey

Instead of completing a goal this weekend, I'm beginning a new one. I shouldn't be, but I'm always surprised when my best laid plans go off the planned course. But really, isn't that what makes life interesting? 

I had planned, for the past 10 months, to run a half marathon this weekend. Instead, I injured my back a few months ago. Instead of running my race, I went back to PT...back to exercises that seem too easy, back to pain, back to frustration. I forget that I have limits and that I need to respect them and that there's work I need to do to increase those limits. So, instead of completing my half marathon goal, I have a new goal of rebuilding mileage while not ignoring core and leg strength. I'd like to be back up to 10 miles by the time there's snow on the ground. We'll see if the weather agrees...

Honestly, it hasn't been a good 6 months since Ella got sick and the back injury felt like the cherry on top. And it feels like it's only going to get worse before it gets better. I feel like there's this laundry list of things happening to me. I feel like a victim. I'm working on that separately, but today, I got a taste of feeling like myself again. Today I got out there and went running again. It wasn't my first run since the injury, but it was the first when I got back out to one of my favorite routes. I got myself out to the river and the trails. I felt free, I felt cared for, I felt light. Even as I'm rebuilding cardio and my throat burned as I gulped air into my lungs, it's the best I've felt in months.

One of my favorite running paths along the Charles River

That running a path is a journey is not lost on me. Clearly, I'm on a journey. I don't yet know where it's leading me, but all that's going on isn't just happening to me, or around me, but for me. This path is mine and it has a purpose. Somehow it's leading me somewhere new. Somewhere I am meant to be; perhaps to something I never knew I always wanted.

Just as a running path has a beginning, just as my new goals are beginning, so does this new journey that I'm on. New running goals are at once painful and beautiful. Only, it's often difficult to see the beauty through the pain and the blistered feet. I imagine this journey will be no different. I am fearful as I move towards this unknown and I am hopeful. I am fearful because I feel as though I have no control over the journey or outcome. I have hope because I know that I have a network of people to help me; my village. They will catch me. They may not even know that they're doing it, but they will catch me.

When I run trails, I can't see the end from the beginning, nor can I see the end of this journey now. I know it's there. I don't know what it looks like, just that it's going to be OK and that I should try to avoid tripping over the roots and rocks. If I do trip, I'm pretty sure that someone in my village knows first aid. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ella

Ella Patenaude
June 20, 2007 - April 8, 2016
Ella passed away on April 8, 2016. He was diagnosed with renal lymphoma that had spread throughout his chest. I had so many names for Ella, The Fuzz was probably my favorite of all those names. I told him from the day I met him that everybody loved him, even those who had never met him. I've said that Home is wherever Ella is. As much as a person can be a home, he was my home. 

The day I brought him home, he was this little ball of fuzz, like a fuzzy black marshmallow. He was brought to me at work, so I grabbed a small cardboard box to carry to him home in. My heart was his from those first moments. 



If you've ever seen me with him, you know that he owned me. Not the other way around. Ella was perfect and could do no wrong in my eyes. He loved jumping up into the window to have breakfast with the birdies and stalk the college kids. 

Ella was found abandoned in Southie, on L Street. The person who found him was calling him Elle, thinking he was a girl. I think a name should have at least 2 syllables and began calling him Ella. It was weeks before I discovered she was a he! I cried because now I had to live with a boy. It certainly didn't change my love for him, nothing could. From that day forward, the phrase 'Ella is a boy' was commonly heard from me.

As soon as he was grown enough, he discovered that he could get a better view of life from atop my dining table. Of course, I let him. It's pointless to try to stop a kitty from getting up there anyway. At 5 months old, he had his "surgery". They asked me to limit his movement until he healed. Ha! Limit the movement of a 5 month old kitten. That's precious. 


My favorite time of every day for so many years has been that moment when I would come home and Ella would greet me at the door. I'd pick him up and he would begin purring. He was a loud purrer!! And he was a social kitty. Whenever I had friends over, he was right there in the middle of the event, checking everything out, letting everyone pet him. When he was done, he'd go nap on their coats in the bedroom, only to emerge again later before everyone left. 

When he discovered the window and the birdies, he could be found there each morning for breakfast with his friends. He would nap there in the summer sunshine, and watch the snow in the winter. Perhaps my favorite time watching him in the window though, was each spring when it was warm enough to open the windows for the first time. He loved having all the sounds and the smells back!


Most people don't know this, but Ella and I would chase each other like crazy people around the apartment. He would race back and forth, I would chase him. When he ran into the bedroom, I'd follow and we'd both leap onto the bed. Then he'd dart out of the room, just like kitties do. 


When I needed a new bedspread, or couch cover, I always looked for dark colors. You know, cat fur. Even on vacation with my mom in Amish Country. I was excited to buy a real Amish quilt...and bought one in deep greens and plum. His fur was everywhere! There was no stopping it. Especially in spring and summer. I regularly had to vacuum that quilt, just to get the fur off of it. And of course, like so many kitties, he was terrified of the vacuum. Even this morning when I ran it, I called out to him that it was time to run and hide until Mommy was done. 


On occasion, I'd bring Ella to work with me. I'd schedule his doctor appointments in the afternoons specifically so that he could come with me. I'd shut the door and he'd spend the whole day with me in the office. He loved being able to explore a new place and look out new windows. I didn't really get much done on those days, but it was quality time with My Little Man.

I loved that Ella let me hold him so often. He didn't like to be held if I was sitting, but if I was standing, held let me hold him for ages. When he was a kitten, I'd hold him to my chest so that he could feel my heart through my chest. 


Almost a year ago, I discovered that Ella was a computer science genius. I bought a new computer and, like many cats, he loved sitting on it. More often than not, he would flip it into airplane mode. He would start different applications and programs and on a couple of occasions, he would do something so mystifying, that a straight up hard reboot was necessary to undue them. He even enjoyed sleeping on the closed laptop when it was powered down. Thanks to Ella, my personal laptop and my work laptop are covered in dried cat spit. Gotta love how he always helped me work.


I have many wonderful memories of Ella...how he had his spot on the bed, how he'd sometimes jump onto the side of the tub while I showered, how much he loved playing in the hallway of my building, how he'd play with the strings of my jammies while I peed. However, one of the funniest memories I have of him is when I was peeing and he climbed into my underwear and fell asleep! He was just a baby then, but he never stopped pulling my pants down to my ankles while I sat on the toilet.

I won't share any photos of him here from when he was sick. This is to celebrate his life. He carries a piece of me with him today and will always be my home. My memories of Ella are beautiful times. He was with me through every victory and every challenge. Just by being him, he made my life better. He made the good times better and bad times less difficult. Ella taught me about unconditional love and what a privilege it is to care for another. I am filled with gratitude when I think about how incredibly lucky I am to have known him, to be on the receiving end of a rescue kitty saving me. Yes, The Fuzz saved me. I love him, and the world is a little less for losing him. 

You and me, baby boy, you and me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ghosted

First, you've got to understand something. I'm a stalker. Not the kind that lurks in dark corners and follows you around several steps behind. No. I'm the kind who finds you online. There's a satisfaction in tracking down people who have left my life, either by my choice or theirs. It's a feeling of satisfaction that just wasn't possible in the pre-internet days. Or rather, an empty sense of loss and lack of closure? 

Well, there's nothing to compare to being ghosted. You know, that thing where someone cuts off all contact suddenly and forever. The person who is ghosted is left feeling confused, angry, lost, abandoned. You think the worst is not knowing...the worry, the dread, the fear that the other died and no one thought to tell you. At least that was how it was for me when a friend did this. 

To this day, I still don't know why. I have my suspicions, at least I have what others think are his reasons. Others think that he was in love with me and couldn't bear to see me dating other people. I don't presume so much...rather, I doubted myself too much to believe that anyone could be in love with me. Either way, I don't suppose to know his mind. I only know that I felt broken after. Someone I trusted and loved and admired left me. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't a boyfriend, just a very close friend when I needed one desperately.

Every now and again, I do a quick internet search for him. Usually, I find nothing, or at least, I don't find anything interesting. It's amazing though, the lessons we can learn from the rocks. Yes. Geology. It's been said that Geology is the study of time and pressure. I like to think of it as time and persistence. If I give it enough time and I'm persistent, I will always achieve any goal I set myself to. Finding my ghoster is no different.

And, he has joined the priesthood. 

Yup.

There's a part of me that wants to believe he was in love with me...and that if he couldn't have me that he wouldn't have anyone. Of course, I don't actually believe that. Who knows, maybe this sect isn't even celibate? I don't know. I don't suppose it matters. What does matter is that my friend finds happiness and peace in his life. 

I may never have the closure I want, but I know that the best I can do for him is to leave him be and hope that he finds all that he seeks.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Brilliance uncontained

The body does not die because it is not strong,
It dies because it can only contain the brilliance for so long.

There's no way that I remembered that quote correctly. I apologize. I do not even know the name of the poet, or of the poem. However, I find some small amount of comfort in this idea.

This afternoon I attended a funeral for a woman whom I had never met. Those who spoke of her, spoke of her intelligence, her wit, her "realness", her love and devotion for her family, her directness, and how if you were her friend then you were her friend for life. They told stories of lifelong relationships with their friend, their wife, their mother. They told of how she never gave up herself in throes of the disease that ultimately took her from them. They spoke of how she did not know the fullness of the impact she had on the people and the world around her. 

How I wish I had met her! I cried in empathy for the family and friends. I cried in mourning for my own Nana. Most every word they said, they could have been talking about my Nana. As I was sitting there thinking about my Nana, it occurred to me that I wasn't fully present when I attended her funeral. It was a very different time in my life, a time when I could not have been fully present. I realized that the same was true for my own father's funeral and how I grieved for him at my step-father's funeral. 

Grief and loss are strange animals. They never do go away entirely, but rather diminish with time and by celebrating life. While I had never met the woman whose loss we mourned today, she gave me a gift that I didn't know how much I needed. She gave me the gift of an opportunity to mourn loss with a presence and peace of mind that I did not previously have. She further provided me the ability to see that my step-father gave me the same gift. I only wish I could have realized what he gave me at the time.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The First Sighting

I was out running this morning, my new favorite route. The route goes into the area where my ex lives. I knew there was a possibility that I could run into him one day, but I always thought he would be driving by and in his car. Well, this morning, not only did I run into him, but he was out walking with his wife. Oh, too many thoughts in my head about all of this. I smiled, too big at first. I thought, she might realize that I know him, so I smiled less. I didn't say anything, just kept running.

When I got far enough ahead, I stepped aside and tried to assess what I was feeling. I wasn't quite crying, but wanted to. I wish I got a better look at her, but glad I didn't. I just remember that she was kinda plain looking, kinda pretty, and on the heavy side. I let it get to me...

I picked up running again, made my planned turn around and headed toward home. Lo and behold, they were on the same loop as me, just traveling in the opposite direction. I had to run past them both again. This time, she gave me a big smile. It was nothing, just simple recognition that runners, and walkers, give to each other when they see each other out exercising.

I couldn't let it go. A lump grew in my throat. The sobs came, the tears. I had no idea what that moment would look like when I saw him for the first time after we stopped seeing each other. I never expected that when I did he would be with her.

Then, the self-doubt. All the thoughts wondering what's wrong with me, why not me, what's so great about her? For so many reasons this line of questioning is just not fair to me. Some days I miss him. Some days I'd still like to see him. Some days I think he should have picked me, fought for me. It's not that easy, not that simple. For so many reasons. And at the end of the day, he's the one who missed out.

I can choose to live in that doubt, or I can continue my journey through this life. I can choose to be with someone who cares for me, who chooses me, who fights to keep me.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

What would you say?

I watched an interesting video the other day about what people would say to the one who got away if they had the chance. It got me thinking...

I've been in a strange place lately and haven't used writing as an outlet. I've mostly been focusing on running and achieving the goal of running a half marathon. I completed that race a couple weeks ago after working my way back from injuries. I met my goal of having a more comfortable race than the last time I ran a half marathon. Basically, I could walk after the race.

Well. Back to the one that got away. I think I'm pretty lucky to have had several that "got away." It's not everyone who can say that they've loved and been loved by different people they've dated at many different points in their lives. Some were healthy relationships, some were not. I can't say that I learned something from each of them, but I definitely learned something about myself from each relationship.

Each relationship fit for the time in my life, that much I am sure of. That wonderful all-American boy when I was young and "innocent"; what would I say to him. I no longer believe that an apology is appropriate to anyone but myself. Much time and space have showed me that. I can look back and be truly happy for him and for the life that he has built.

Flash forward to M. That one is so much more difficult. I definitely have something to say to him. The problem is, so many years later, I still don't know what it would be. There are days when I think I could be happy for him and whatever direction his life has gone. But then there are days when if I were to see him on the street I don't think I could trust my own reaction. I don't know if I'd want to hit him, ignore him, or cross the street to avoid him.

When I give it some honest thought, what I think I'd like to say is something more along the lines of telling him how he's affected me. Unfortunately, though, the way he's affected me is that I could never be that honest with my feelings. Since then, I either can't or won't allow myself to be vulnerable with another person. There's something about it that no longer feels safe, no matter what the reality. Since then, I've built a wall. Since then, I've been accused of being 'independent to a fault'. Since then, the things I fear most are complete honesty, vulnerability, and true intimacy. Since then, no matter how much I want to get closer to someone, on the inside, I pull back at the slightest sign that it may be happening.

My response to the relationship with M was to be broken. Rather, my response to my life, was to have the feeling that I was broken. Truth is, it wasn't him. It was me. My insecurities, my sense of worth and value, and my fears that put me in that place mentally and emotionally. It was me who entered into relationships that weren't right, for any number of reasons. When I look back, it's at that break-up when this becomes clear.

I can look back today and see that I wasn't ready. I was trying to make myself whole through becoming involved with another person. I know today that I am not a suitable partner for anyone if I'm not a whole person all on my own. Am I a whole person on my own? I'd like to think so. I don't always feel like it, but I'm working on it. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ebb and Flow

It's true, ya know. You'll never know the impression that you'll leave on someone. You'll never know what, when, how, or why they think of you. And that's OK. You don't need to know.

Over the past couple of weeks, I was lucky enough to have several people come back into my life. Lucky enough to find out that each remembered and thought of me in a positive manner. During this time, another person has made a step further from my life, as others surely will as well. This ebb and flow of people and relationships is part of what makes life interesting.

It strikes me that people enter and exit our lives at just the right times...and for a purpose. We don't always know what at the time. Sometimes we look back and can see, sometimes not.

It reminds me of the saying, "To the world, you may be one person. But to one person, you may be the world." Now, I'm not saying that I'm the world...but it's important to understand that the impressions we make on others can be great and long-lasting. For this, we must be gentle with others and with ourselves, else we be remembered less favorably.

When we succeed, reunions can be marvelous things!

10/27/14

beef stew, veggies, and an apple
mmm, chicken broth with many many veggies!









 10/28/14

steak strips, veggies, and an Asian pear
veggies mixed with one of my diet entrees...so delicious!









 10/29/14

lasagne entree (YUCK!) with veggies
BBQ chicken with veggies and fruit









 10/30/14

big giant salad
Thai curry entree with veggies









 10/31/14

beef stroganoff, oranges, and veggies
enchiladas and veggies









11/1/14

cheese ravioli, veggies and fruit







 11/2/14

BBQ Chicken, veggies, mango
steamed, not tempura'd...
yellowtail hamachi and salmon roll with avocado and cucumber
OK, I cheated on my diet...








11/3/14

mushroom rissotto, veggies, and fruit







 11/4/14

Thai curry entree with veggies and berries
Big salad!









11/5/13

steak strips, veggies and berries
savory chicken with veggies and pineapple









 11/6/14

steak strips, veggies and watermelon
turkey chili, cauliflower, and delicata squash









11/7/14

savory chicken, mixed veggies, and mango
BBQ Chicken, cucumbers, grapes, and apple slices









11/8/14

beef stroganoff, butternut squash and mixed veggies
savory chicken sauteed with veggies and pineapple