Suicide Aftershocks VOL V: Synchronicity and Windows of Opportunity, and How a Canine Helped Unpack my Heart and those of my 3 pups!

Early this year, about seven months post suicide; I was sitting at my computer aimlessly wandering through emails.  My late husband’s email address was still active and receiving as I had not yet dismantled his accounts.  He had an account with a site called NEXT DOOR.  It’s a website that allows you to connect within your neighborhood to promote community, communicate real time with neighbors and happenings and go local.  (www.nextdoor.com )

As I was scanning through the mail, a post on this site came up of a neighbor looking for a daily dog sitting situation for his very large and active Belgian Malinois.  I clicked the link and responded that I was interested and gave my phone number before I even realized I’d done it!  Once I clicked SEND, it hit me that I’d put myself out there. My mature, fear based response was to immediately delete my husband’s account and pretended it never happened!  I didn’t think I wanted any kind of commitment plus I had three dogs of my own.IMG_0595

A couple of days went by and the matter slipped my mind (or I blocked it out) until I received a phone call from the guy looking for dog sitting.  This was one of those synchronistic situations where I decided to roll with it even though my mind was screaming “DON’T”.  Coincidentally, he was immediately able to bring the dog by my place for a meet-and-greet to see if we would all be a good fit. My “normal” at that time was far from normal.  I was on edge, defensive and anxious a lot of the time, in relatively deep grief and quite scattered.

I have about ¾’s of an acre fenced on the water which is essentially my own dog park.  The owner and McLovin’ the dog arrived (names have been changed to protect the innocent!) and things went great.  We decided to give it a go which meant I would have McLovin’ daily for an hour.  I was weirdly excited and scared at the same time.  My heart recognized that this was a window of opportunity for me but my mind was telling me that it was a mistake to have a mid day commitment long term.

Our first day I thought—I LOVE this dog AND I’m remembering why I don’t want a puppy!  But my heart was singing!  This dog was a giant, pain-in-the-arse dose of presence! He’s smarter than me, curious and full of vitality which in dog speak equals trouble, opportunism and loads of adventure.  He needed eyes on him at all times.  This meant that my routine went out the window and I had to be fully alert and engaged while he was with us.  This shift of focus was powerfully transformative.  It allowed my mind to relax, my edges to soften and my heart to open again.IMG_0621

IMG_0504McLovin’ and my biggest dog, MacTavish, became best buddies instantly and my 2 little ones were equally captivated by him.  He clearly liked us too, and his very being-ness created an entirely new dynamic in my home. IMG_0631

This giant puppy engaged my dogs in a playful and experimental way, bringing out the inner puppy in them and effectively eradicating the grief and pain that they’d experienced in the loss of my husband, prolonged exposure to his depression, as well as my grief and diverted focus.

I kept him in general 2-3 hours daily simply because it was so much fun. He brought a joy and lightness I needed desperately in my environment—in my home.  This is so relevant because most of my friends were uncomfortable coming to my house as it’s ground zero for my husband’s suicide.  I nicknamed him “McLovin’” because he’s the definition of unconditional love on four legs.  He’s silly and affectionate in a full body, roll all over you and against you kind of way.

My mood never mattered to him—he was forever happy to see me and even more so to come to my house and play with the pack.  If I stopped and sat, he’d immediately be on me—literally!  He would sit or lay on me instinctively knowing what I needed to lay down my guard and navigate back to my heart.

Daily, when I left to get McLovin’, my dogs would wait at the window patiently for our return and then pine away for him when I took him back to his house.  On days I would leave and come home without him, my dogs would howl and cry—berating me for coming home alone!

This is the beauty of synchronicity and taking chances—the willingness to go beyond fear and just roll with it!  It obviously didn’t occur to my rational mind to bring in a new puppy pack mate as “healer” for my dogs, my home and my heart, and yet that is exactly what happened in the most unexpected, fun and joyous way.

In short—a situation I was scared to enter quickly became one of the most profoundly transformative opportunities in this very difficult year.   A window of opportunity that I allowed myself to open, for which I will forever be grateful.  And it came in the unexpected package of a very big puppy, who, to loosely quote the following song, “shone a light into my darkness”.

So here’s to leaping through windows of opportunity with reckless abandon!

Joyfully unpacking my heart,

Kim

The Year of the Agenda-less Voice –I just said what??? Perhaps silence is golden.

At the turn of the year a mere 6 weeks ago my husband and I were joking about resolutions. In general, it’s not a practice either of us participates in but he laughed heartily when I seriously informed him that 2014 for me was to be the year of the AGENDA-LESS voice.
Not much else has been said since then, primarily because I don’t like to arm him with my apparent failures!! While I can’t truly classify this 6 weeks as a catastrophic failure, nor can I shine it up and call it a success.

vintage-romance

vintage-romance

Agenda, as defined in Webster’s is; an underlying personal viewpoint or bias. The true spirit of my year of the Agenda-less voice was to not use my language in any way to convince, manipulate, guilt, shame, nudge, sway, influence, win over or induce others with my wording. As these weeks have passed, I’ve become uncomfortably aware of how difficult it is to be 100% transparent and direct. Not because of intent to manipulate, but because of pure un-examined habit in communication. Not to mention the addictions to particular dramas and role adaptations we’ve adopted as defense and/or coping mechanisms. Yet, these too, are still simply unexamined habitual responses.
In our relationship this more often plays out in seemingly innocent ways which sound like statements inflected as questions, half sentences, open-ended statements or questions. For example;
B: “Where would you like to go for dinner?”
K: “I really don’t have a preference—you pick!”
B: “Okay—let’s try that new Swedish place.”
K: “Do you really want Swedish?” (Note the agenda being I didn’t want Swedish)

 
Options here could include laughing and acknowledging I did, after all, have a preference, or conceding that I had given up choice for that meal. Instead, I gave the power to my husband and then just as quickly took it away in a somewhat passive aggressive fashion!

Other innocent forms come out as statements meant to evoke a response like;
My computer is broken; You know my birthday is coming up; The dogs haven’t been fed. With no agenda, theses are simply statements, but if they are agenda filled and the transmitter’s expectation doesn’t get met, the receiver better look out!  

 
Some of the most soul-crushing displays of agenda in relationship include using any current hurt as an excuse to drag up the tattered laundry list of all past hurts. Using language that shames like, disappointed, should, really?, or comparing to other people or situations. A devastating use of agenda in relationship is the withholding of our words, our good opinion, our smiles and our love, just because we might not like something or agree.
So the old adage of “Say what you mean, mean what you say” applies to this year of the agenda-less voice as I mindfully learn to communicate just that succinctly.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I seem to be keeping my mouth shut when in doubt of my intention and clarity of response. A silence I believe my husband is grateful for.

In mindful silence for a good cause,                                                                 

Active Listening!

Active Listening!

Kim

Tighten up that Corset—Keeping my word—to myself!

Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once.  ~Norman Vincent Peale

Scarlett Tightening up!

Scarlett Tightening-up!

Oh—personal integrity.  It’s so easy for most of us to keep our word with our friends, family, at work and in the outside world.  We make a commitment and follow through without too much thought. 

I’m sitting at my computer doing the tasks that I committed to do two weeks ago and didn’t.  I didn’t, simply because they are less than thrilling for me and “I didn’t feel like it”! The tasks that have gone undone are not truly life changing or time sensitive, but because I made a commitment to do them, and then chose not to, they’ve been a serious energy drain every time I’ve thought about them for 2 weeks!

My friend and neighbor—who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent—called a bit ago and commented on my demeanor that “obviously computer work left me less than energized”.  When I told her, “Yeah, but I’m keeping my word to myself”, she laughed and told me to “Tighten up that corset girl” and get on with it!!!  (Yes, she’s spectacular and I have a whole list of “isms” with her name before them!)

So as I sit here with corset suitably tightened and actually enjoying myself now, I’m remembering a lesson by spiritual teacher Carolyn Myss, www.myss.com .  Myss correlated self-worth directly with our ability to keep our word with our self.  She asserts that when we lie to ourselves, we are basically training our soul to know that we are not trustworthy, and thus weaken the connection between our humanity and our divinity.  Even though no one else will ever know that we didn’t exercise like we decided, or give up sugar, write that report, or mail the package, etc. our soul, our higher-self, does.

 I believe that this relationship between our humanity and our divinity is the most important relationship we are here to experience and cultivate, so it makes sense to me that when I feel the emotional, mental and /or physical drain of not following through, that I am undermining my own foundation.  That foundation of how I feel about me.

My own opinion of myself matters more than anything, so I will keep my corset tight, re-examine all commitments I have left incomplete and either complete them or release myself from them and I will thoughtfully consider taking on any new commitments before making them!

Joyfully and with warmest aloha,

Kim