Live for the Moments

Live for the moments you can’t put into words. This sounds like a beautiful sentiment.

But what if you are feeling sadness? Do you want to live for those moments?

DO YOU AVOID YOUR GRIEF?

I’ll be the first to admit l have avoided grief. But this time, I’ve arranged a trip whose theme is grief.

I drove over 700 miles from my home in North Carolina to the Airbnb I’d reserved. My dog, Sugar, is with me. I like to blame her for all my stops, but it’s my fault. And I made a lot in the early hours of the trip. Then as I crossed the Florida state border, I became anxious to arrive before dark. So, I stopped less. The thought of driving through the traffic jams in Orlando spurred me on.

Alas, Waze still had to route me around town via SR 429, also known as the Western Beltway. This part of the beltway was in the planning stages during my twenty-three years living in West Orange County. Being a country girl, I was not excited about the inevitable development and influx of people the beltway would bring.

AN UNEXPECTED GRIEF TRIGGER

Tears welled as I drove through yet another highway construction project amid high-density housing projects as far as the eye can see.

This is not a moment I want to live for.

But it is part of the grief I want to embrace during my two weeks in Florida. With this example, I’m grieving for what might have been and for the idyllic, natural countryside of my youth.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO EMBRACE GRIEF?

My experience with grief and sorrow has taught me that it is much better to deal with it than stuff it down. Since I allow my tears to flow, they are usually short-lived.

I’m not schooled in advanced psychology, but I am a certified health coach. So, I understand the value of talking, writing, and journaling about sadness.

SPREADING MY HUSBAND’S ASHES

Wayne was close to many of his students. It started with me in his first-year teaching. We had a natural bond that I likened to a father-daughter relationship in my high school innocence. But each time there was a reunion, Wayne came, and we sat together, sharing memories and our current lives. Another student, Stuart McCutcheon, also found a special place in Wayne’s heart. They enjoyed fishing, hunting, and all the associated male bonding. So naturally, Wayne chose Stuart as his best man at our wedding.

After Wayne’s passing, I arranged to send his ashes to Stuart because I knew they would be well cared for. Within weeks, we discussed the best time to complete Wayne’s request for his final resting place.

Long before Wayne’s cancer appeared, I initiated a difficult conversation. You know what I’m talking about, the discussion about funeral plans. Wayne was adamant about two things.

“I want to hear Amazing Grace at my memorial and spread my ashes from an airboat on Lake Kissimmee.”

The first request was carried out on March 25th, but Stuart wanted to arrange the second at the perfect moment. He chose November 19th for two reasons. First, it’s during duck hunting season, and second, it’s Wayne’s birthday.

SPREADING WAYNE’S ASHES

It was windy and cool when Sugar and I pulled into the Duck Camp. Stuart and I walked to the chairs encircling the huge firepit where many stories unwound with a can of beer or a glass of Jack Daniels. The container with Wayne’s ashes occupied one chair, and fellow hunter, Euwan and his girlfriend, Becci, sat nearby. Their airboat was moored a quarter-mile away on Lake Kissimmee.

We loaded up in Stuart’s pickup for the short drive to the lake. My face lit up when I saw the sturdy chair lashed to the deck of the airboat. Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to navigate the rungs to the usual high vantage spot. And Sugar would be easier to control, or so I thought.

Stuart called one more hunter, McCall, to join us in his camouflage bass boat. While we waited, Sugar explored the deck, curious about the tannic water and minnows along the edge. Suddenly, I heard a splash! Euwan quickly responded, pulling Sugar back onto the deck. She promptly jumped into my lap, shivering while soaking my jeans and sweatshirt. Although she shivered the entire time, her warm body shielded me from the brunt of the wind.

Stuart held onto the aluminum uprights behind my chair, Euwan turned the ignition, and the roar of the aircraft engine filled our ears. As we cleared the deck, Euwan cut the engine, McCall’s boat pulled up alongside, and Stuart lashed us together. This location is where Wayne started every hunting trip, full of anticipation. It was also the place he thanked God when they returned from one of his infamous fubar events. Stuart asked if I wanted to release Wayne’s ashes. I deferred. Although Wayne loved me dearly, I knew how close he was to Stuart. It was a beautiful ceremony, his ashes carried by the wind and the waves.

I KNEW WAYNE WAS WITH US

I experienced a few snafus too. Besides Sugar’s dip in the lake, I had a cell phone problem. Earlier, I tried to photograph the airboat at the dock. To my surprise, my phone screen was black, apparently inoperable. This was a critical moment, and I wanted to record it. I tried a few different tactics before giving up, assuming something terrible had happened to my iPhone.

After the ceremony, Euwan offered his hand as Sugar, and I stepped onto the sandy shore. He started the airboat as he and Becci waved their goodbyes. I let Sugar off-leash to explore the many trails left by odiferous lizards, her favorite prey. Next, McCall and I headed to a larger group of members of the Duck Club, gathered under the oak trees while Stuart walked out to a moored bass boat, retrieving two cold beers. Finally, we wanted to raise a toast to Wayne’s memory.

The reminisces started after brief introductions. Wayne was quite a storyteller, so many were familiar to me.

Still, I was concerned about my phone’s inoperability. So I sought the help of McCall. Then he realized the light level on my phone screen might be the culprit.

Wayne had a habit of accidentally dimming his phone screen, and Stuart or I would fix it. But, until that moment, it had never happened to me.

Wayne’s spirit dimmed my screen to tell me he was there. Perhaps he even gave Sugar a nudge. When I relayed my thoughts to McCall, a look of doubt immediately clouded his face. However, his disbelief didn’t fade my belief.

Since most of the gang was gathered together, I requested a photo. Everyone was happy to oblige. Then I heard the roar of airboats in the distance, and I switched to video mode. A random group of airboats flew by, indicating Wayne was with us. It reminded me of a Thunderbird flyover tribute. Finally, I captured Stuart on the dock, carrying our refreshments.

A Different Perspective

I felt sad and fully grieving when I started my trip down memory lane. The idea of living for the moments that can’t be put into words was clouded with tears. Now, as I write, I have a smile, proof that exploring grief helps dissipate it.

I’ve appropriately closed the book on the final chapter of my life with Wayne. However, beautiful moments replace sad ones, and there are new Wayne stories for sharing.

My heart is filled with love and compassion for you as you wander your path of grief.

Love,
Dawn

Finally, it seems appropriate to include a video of Wayne at the helm of his airboat. We had just completed an amazing ride around Lake Marion when I took this video of him parking in our boat slip.

My Walk on the Wild Side

My walk on the wild side spanned the past eleven days, encompassing not one, but three walks. How am I defining wild? I’m referring to a natural state, untethered by conventional rules. However, it doesn’t mean unruly.

The Basis for This

I’ve always been a very spiritual person, whether sitting in church as a child, enthralled by the light streaming through the stained glass windows or walking alone in the forest. I have a deep, abiding belief in God and His plan for me. This belief extends to a network of spiritual guides, helpers, angels, and loved ones who are always with me. Intuitive thoughts guide my life and brought another loving soul my way recently, The Healing Hummingbird, Meredith Johnson. She performs shamanic and reiki healings. Furthermore, I was led to engage her to heal three aspects of my life.

The House First

How did I know the house needed healing? First, it felt heavy. Second, there were so many electrical disturbances during Zoom calls and even phone calls, I felt the house needed  clearing. Although Meredith normally used Zoom for this, we decided a phone call was more stable. I have an app, Otter.ai, which both records audio and creates a text file. With my iPhone on speaker in one hand, I carried my iPad with my other hand. Otter on the iPad recorded all the information and messages Meredith relayed to me from Spirit.

One concern was the numerous animal heads on walls. The bull elk communicated to Meredith that he felt crowded and needed a space just for him. Afterward, I moved all the stuff elsewhere. I feel calmer and Mr. Bull Elk looks happier to me.

Consequently, now the house feels calmer, my electronics are much more stable, and it even helped me talk to Wayne, my husband, about his feelings during his stressful recurrence of cancer.

The Dogs Came Next

My second walk on the wild side was the shamanic healing of our dogs. We have three; Daisy, Dynamite, and Sugar.

Daisy – the American Bulldog

Daisy, a young dog, arrived in Wayne’s Georgia hunting camp years before we married. Her rear right paw had been mangled in a trap. Of course, Wayne took her in. He was unsuccessful finding her owners and brought her home with the intention of finding a good home.. You know where the good home is – here.

Daisy – Before her Shamanic Healing

At the time, Wayne placed her in the dog kennel with Dubba, the male Brittany. Being a bulldog, Daisy is a physically powerful breed, not the best choice for an elderly household. But the most difficult trait was her barking, almost nonstop. Meredith found all her chakras were closed, except the throat chakra, hence the barking.

Daisy – This morning I had to wake her up!

Since her healing less than five days ago, the barking has all but stopped. Furthermore, she is much calmer in all ways.

Dynamite – the Beagle

Dynamite was bred to aid deer hunting. Before coming into our household, she had lived in a communal, raised, kennel with a pack of beagles. Her name alluded to her incredible stamina and tracking ability. Dynamite is sweet and loving, especially toward me, but she appears to be stubborn. In actuality, she had energetically stopped up her ears to protect them from all the noise in her young life. Also, she showed Meredith that she was trained with a stick and hand signals. Now I use hand signals to direct her. She responds more quickly to my requests and seems even more loving.

Sugar – the Brittany

Finally, we have Sugar, our three-year-old Brittany. Although I knew she and I are very close, I didn’t realize how close. When I’m away from the house, if I am distressed about something, Sugar can feel it, becoming anxious too. We have an energetic cord that binds us, which was mostly healthy, but there were some dark spots in the chord that made Sugar overly anxious. It was especially noticeable when I arrived home. She would emit a little cry as she ran circles around me. Now, she is calmer, happier, no longer crying when seeing me after I come home from grocery shopping.

My Healing

My walk on the wild side was so healing and informative, I’m going to write a separate blog about it. I invite you back here next Friday for the full story.

Continuing to Heal,
Dawn

What’s on Your Bucket List

What’s on your bucket list? Mine was very loosely formed in the back of my mind until recently. Then a series of seemingly unrelated events coupled with curiosity, facing feelings and taking action resulted in hope found in a bucket list.

Radiation for Cancer

Yesterday, my husband, Wayne, and I met his radiation oncologist, Shravan Kandula, M. D. Dr. Kandula explained the reasons, procedure and side effects of radiation therapy for Wayne. This first appointment was upbeat, encouraging, and easy.

We also met the social worker, Maria. After reading all the information for patients and their families while waiting for the doctor, I noticed a lot of references to psychological difficulties surrounding dealing with cancer. It seemed it didn’t refer to our situation. No, emotional distress was for those dealing with the big ones; breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer. Wayne just had a rare Stage 3 cancer in his parotid gland. And the surgeon removed it completely, no cancer in the lymph nodes or anywhere else. But.. radiation will hopefully zap any cancer cells that escaped his scalpel.

But then I started crying today while writing this blog.

Wayne sat next to me, eating cereal, as I’m crying. He’s not into acknowledging feelings.

“Oh, you’re writing your blog. What does blog mean? I assume it’s an acronym.”

Great! Here’s an easy opportunity to turn my feelings off and search for the meaning of blog. It’s short for weblog. Remove the first two letters and you have blog. Phew! That’s better. Now I can get back to writing about these seemingly unrelated events.

Starting a Bucket List

Do you have a bucket list? When did you start it? How do you add to it? Are there completed items? Did your list start accidentally?

Right before writing this article, I was searching online within my local newspaper for articles about native Florida plants in the landscape. The results were so broad, I tried to narrow it down using the category where I expected to find the gardening column, Lifestyle.

The top link returned was an article titled, From Desert to Sky, See it all in the New Mexico Mountains. I saw no correlation with my search phrase, ‘Florida landscape native plants’. Rather the original purpose for my search disappeared when I saw the photo of desert flowers blooming with the Organ Mountains in the background. I immediately thought, “This should be on my bucket list!”

The stark reality of Wayne’s cancer coupled with the picture of the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument encouraged me to create a formal bucket list. Seems like life is so much more precious today than a few months ago before cancer became personal. Isn’t that what a bucket list is about – a reminder that time is limited, so get busy living it to the fullest? Does that sound a little negative or laced with worry? I see it differently. For me, a bucket list represents hope.

What About Your Bucket List?

What’s the coolest thing you’ve accomplished on your bucket list? What are you most looking forward to? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below or email me. Better yet, signup for my newsletter and we can have a weekly conversation.

Back to my list,
Dawn