Saturday, October 22, 2016

Surviving Year Two: Week 11

Facing Down the Holidays

This is Week 11 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

Halloween is coming, and that's always been the start of the holidays for me. My husband was an avid crafter and costume-maker and by now our house would be filled with fabric and hot glue guns and the sewing machine would be permanently out on the kitchen table. After Halloween, it's my husband's birthday, then Thanksgiving, then Hexmas.

Last year, the holidays passed in a painful blur. I know that I should be making plans to care for myself this holiday season, but whenever I try to think and plan, I immediately feel dead inside and can't move. I'm trying to channel my inner fierce goddess, and move through these difficult times with power — to gather up all the darkness inside my heart and use it for strength and clear vision. Is that even possible?

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Surviving Year Two: Week 10

Wearing My Wounds

This is Week 10 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

I spent some time with someone who is somewhat fresh in his grief. As we sat and shared our stories with each other, I saw us as two wounded animals — like two deer who had been shot by the same arrow. His grief is of course different than mine, and yet it was fascinating to see the similar threads that we shared.

While we sat together, I realized that we are all walking around with our wounds, every day. Some people cannot hide their grief, no matter how hard they try, and it spills out onto anyone that gets too close. Some can push their pain so tightly away that it becomes a rock in their heart, preventing them from loving anyone deeply again, because they are afraid of more loss and pain. And some people wear their wounds intentionally, like beautiful jewels. They say, "Look at what happened to me. My pain makes me beautiful and strong. I have lived through this and you can too."

I am learning to weave my wounds and grief into my being, and wear them proudly. I am hoping to empower others to do that same. This, I believe is part of my path.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Surviving Year Two: Weeks 8 & 9

Half in the Light & Half in the Dark

This is Week 8 & 9 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

It is Fall. The Summer is over, as is the One Year Anniversary of his death. I am now a solid two months into Year Two of being a Widow.

Just as the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, I feel like I am sitting at a threshold, between light and dark. I can look behind me and see the bleak blackness I have been living in for the last year. I can look ahead of me and see a lighter landscape, that has laughter and friendship and hope.

There are a lot of reasons why this shift is happening for me right now. First and foremost, time has passed. I have been forced to somehow get used to this new, single life. I still resist it every day, but I am also letting myself see some of the nice parts about being on my own again. I also got to spend some really great weekends with one of my dearest and best friends, and being with someone who has known and loved me since I was 18-years-old is very healing and empowering. Thanks to a very generous gift from a friend, I was able to have a phone session with a psychic healer who, while being a tad on the "tough love" side of things, did help me realize that my husband is present at all times and can be called upon for help whenever I need him. I am not "alone" in that sense. He is with me and I think I finally feel and understand that.

I still fall back in the darkness. It reaches out and grabs me at the most sudden moments. But more and more I am realizing that those dark feelings do pass eventually and I find my way back into the light. It is a process and a journey that will never end — it will only transform.

Justin Hunter Pageantry Award, Given out at the 2016 Petaluma Whiskerino

The wonderful Petaluma Whiskerino had their 58th annual Bill Soberanes Memorial Whiskerino yesterday and I was honored to be a judge. It was such a great time and a memorial award for Pageantry was given out in my husband's honor, which I know he is over the moon about. They gave out this award last year as well, and invited me to be a judge, but it was too painful, so soon after my husband's death. This year, it felt celebratory and healing, which is also a sign that my grief is transforming and healing.

I am looking towards the light, knowing that the darkness is right behind me.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Surviving Year Two: Week 7

Calistoga Dreaming
This is Week 7 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

I got to spend the weekend in Calistoga, California with one of my very best friends in the world. She's in the Bay Area, working on a project and was able to take the weekend off and have a soak with me in one of my favorite places in the world.

Now that I work full-time, I've learned how to shut my brain off very quickly for short bursts of time. This weekend I think I leveled up in this very important super power, because I barely thought about work once while I floated in the pools, ate sushi and giggled with my friend.

I am grateful to know the secret locations, both geographically and in my heart, that resonate deeply within my soul and make me feel better. I am grateful for old friends who knew me, not only before I met my late husband, but before I was even really an adult. I am grateful for soft moments that I can dip into and relish as deeply as I can.

My goal this week and moving forwards, is to keep the softness of Calistoga alive in my soul as I return to work, and weightlifting and grocery shopping and all the harder parts of my current, grieving, widowed life. Maybe that means taking more baths. Maybe that means buying a nice lotion for myself. Maybe that means wearing softer clothes. I need to learn how to care for myself in a new way, because the man who cared for me so deeply is gone now. I must learn how to do my own self-care in a way I think I never learned or knew how to do on my own. I am learning. I remain hopeful.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Surviving Year Two: Week 6

Bauhaus Moon Goddess

This is Week 6 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

Last night I went to my friend's Bauhaus-themed, 50th Birthday Party. It was a magical evening of amazing costumes, a lamplit garden, good friends and giggles. I had lots of ideas for costumes, but ended up needing to wear my Moon Priestess Self on the outside, for all to see.

I met many people last night, including a person who reads this blog. She said she felt "star-struck" by meeting me. I'm always stunned when I find out people read this blog and even more amazed when they like it. Blogging these days is like shouting down a long, dark well — it's startling when a voice calls back to you, from the depths. It was a wonderful reminder that this part of my life is precious. I need to keep doing this project and it's extra sweet and magical to meet new friends who appreciate my words and images. Thank you to all of you reading this right now. I'm so glad you are here.

I also sat by the fire with a friend who has recently lost his mother and is living with his grief. We cried and held each other as we talked about strategies to survive. Being with my brothers and sisters in grief is so healing and important for me. We live in the depths and while we are all hurting so deeply, we can keep each other afloat because we are surviving together. Those that truly understand this level of grief can really see me in a way that others cannot — just as I can bear deep witness to them — and that connection is so powerful and so healing for me.

Testing Out Googly Eye Gluing Techniques with my Feline Assistant

Working on my costume ideas this week, made me think of my husband so much. He loved crafting costumes and he always loved collaborating with me on new ideas and new concepts. As my friend whose birthday it was said, "imagine what Justin would have made for this night!" and it's true, he would have crafted something incredible for his 6'9" frame to wear. It felt so lonely, crafting without him, but I was also able to slip into that solo, spiritual crafting space that I so coveted when he was alive. I think my final costume choice reflects that space. I really need my priestess energy right now. The Moon Goddesses know deeply of death, of widowhood, of endings. They also know that the Moon is reborn every lunar cycle — life and death, forever in a dance with each other.

I am a Solo Priestess now. My Fellow Magic Priest has transformed into energy, while I am left on this earth to continue on. Last night, I felt him flitting around the lit lanterns in the garden. I felt his excitement at someone's elaborate and beautiful costume, imagining him asking lots of questions about how they made it, taking mental notes so that he could go home and try it himself. I felt him laughing at my joy — happy that I made it out of the house and am surrounded by friends.

I am grateful for nights like these. I hope there are many more to come.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.