Friday, May 27, 2016

You Can Go Your Own Way

When we started out on this adventure I never anticipated it would be the place where I would crack wide open and find the innermost pieces of my soul. Only this place could have brought me to that exact place, and for that I will forever be thankful. It sounds crazy. Thankful for the: hard, crazy, crushing depression, psychosis, the healing, friend making, visiting, hiking alone in the woods (well, with the dogs), and exploring deeper layers of myself than I ever thought possible.  Exploring meditation, essential oils, incense, healing music and general relaxation.

Recently I have come to a new level of healing that requires I be around more people (and family/friends), attend group therapy, art therapy, swim lap after lap after lap in the pool, hike, eventually run again, get on my road bike and ride, socialize with friends, get a new psychiatrist (scary, I really like my current psychiatrist) and a new therapist (not so scary, I have a great referral from my great therapist: the person who trained her).   Win!

The other things that have been calling us back to Los Anchorage have been the schools.  More kids, more friends, more diversity, more opportunity for extracurricular activities, seeing grandparents and other family members and friends.

So we put an offer in on a house that backs right up to a good elementary school, has trail (real trail with mud and roots and rocks) access within a half mile, has paved trail access that connects up to the Campbell Creek trail, onto the Coastal Trail, and then on to Kincaid. A fantastic bike training route!   Our offer was accepted, our home inspection and appraisal went great and we are on schedule to close on July 1st. 

Currently I am up to my elbows in packing tape, boxes, and sharpies.  Sorting and organizing as best I can as I go through our belongings once again.  The moves (since 2012): Lupine House, Moose House, Labrador House, The Moose Lodge, and now Our New Home, yet to be named ;)  After 4 family moves I feel pretty competent packing and moving, but it's still stress.

So there you have it: Follow your dreams and when you get to the end of a dream build a new one and keep on running, never stop running wild when it comes to your dreams.  

This is Your Life, You Can Go Your Own Way! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Unique: A Eulogy Delivered; Three Years On

July 23, 2002 - April 18, 2013 

Said good bye to my very best friend today. My heart feels completely broken. I miss my girl so much. Breathing.

Looking back at her pictures I am reminded of how happy she was, how radiant, youthful, shiny - new.  I look at the photos I took of her three weeks ago, and I see a tired, relaxed, calm, happy, and ready dog.  No longer shiny and new, but worn and well-loved. 
She saved me. She made me who I am today.  With her by my side, I could navigate any situation - I could survive, because she needed me, I had to survive. While in her care, I transitioned from a teenager - 19, rather shiny and new myself, into a woman, a wife, a mother...a little worn, but with an endless amount of love in my life.  I have that love because of Unique. She was my rock. My anchor. She held me together when all I wanted to do was fall apart.  She fixed the broken parts and made me whole.  The bond we shared - our love, our deep connection, gave me the confidence to shed fear, to love another person - to have heal and be whole.  

Unique came to me on sunny, crisp September day, the sky an intense deep blue.  I nervously anticipated her arrival, I counted down the minutes until I she would be there - 4:15 PM, Tuesday, September 10, 2002.  I knew, before I ever met her, before I saw a picture -- that she would change my life.  She was sent via Alaska Airlines Goldstreak and we met in the parking lot at Alaska Airlines cargo.  There were two kennels, each kennel had two puppies, one black and one yellow.  I looked at both kennels and pointed to Unique and said “that’s my baby”.  And it was. The first few nights she would wake up in the middle of the night crying, and I would scoop her up and wrap her in a soft green towel, swaddle her - like a newborn baby.  She was my newborn baby.  She was my first child. My daughter. My baby. My girl.  

I fell, deeply, instantly - madly in love.  The pain and sadness I felt with the passing of Crayonie nine months before, eased, and my love Unique was powerful, from the start.  The loss of Crayonie was still fresh enough in my heart to remind me how much losing Unique would hurt someday, so I spent every moment of her life loving her deeply - with everything I had, knowing one day our time together would end, and I would feel crushed and lonely without her by my side.  I cherished her.  I celebrated our bond and I loved her with every ounce of my being. 

A week or two after I brought her home I moved into a new place and was unpacking. Boxes were everywhere, I was unpacking clothes and the room was a mess.  It had been quiet for a while and I looked around and couldn't find her. I panicked.  I searched. Then came back to the bedroom and shuffled clothes around and there she was asleep in the middle of a pile of my clothes.  Later that same day she used my hope chest as a teething toy and I couldn’t bear to punish her in any other tone than a soft “No”.  I looked at the tiny teeth marks on the rich dark cedar chest, paused a moment - and smiled to myself, knowing someday she would die and I would be without her, but that I would always have those tiny teeth marks on my hope chest to remind me that she was here.  

When I would get sick - say a stomach virus, she would get sick and throw up.  She and I became physically intertwined.  I could feel her - and know what she was thinking, even when I wasn’t right there with her.  The bond we shared was like nothing I have ever experienced.  We were two separate individuals, but it felt like we shared the same soul. 

Yesterday, before I knew - I knew. Intuitively.  Around 11 am, my stomach became knotted, nausea hit and I felt clausophobic.  I couldn't breathe.  I dry heaved on the way home. Rushed in the house, had Maya let the girls out and rushed to the bathroom where I dry heaved until I threw up bile.  My head was throbbing.  I was shaky.  Then Parke came home and he helped me see what I couldn't see, and we eased into the pool of grief, one slow step at a time, hand in hand.  I knew this would be hard. I knew I would feel sad, and lost, and confused.  I didn’t know I would feel destroyed - distraught, overwhelmed with sadness and grief.  Physically ill.  How could I know?  With her passing, I feel like part of my soul - my self has died, or is missing - or maybe it’s right here in my heart.  Perhaps its like a puzzle piece that has been removed and turned around.  I may need help sorting it out and figuring out where that piece goes.  Unique wouldn’t want it any other way.  She would want me to be whole, and happy.

I have a photo of her on my desktop - taken the day George learned to crawl, he crawled to “Sneeker", because he was so in love with her.  The photo shows George crawling towards her, and she is just staring straight at me, her eyes completely reflective - white dots on a beautiful black lab.  Piercing.  I know that a dog who can look at their best friend like that, would never leave, I know she is with me.  She has to be.  Because I am not me, without her.  So I am going to be thankful.  Thankful for her presence in my life.  Lucky for the extra time we shared - I feel like every time she went through another illness (food allergies, cancer, etc.) that death was knocking on the door of my heart.  I feel like she prepared me, God prepared me, several times over for yesterday-for today and all the days that follow.  I feel like I am experiencing this loss with such depth and pain, because I need to feel it.  I need to wallow in it.  I need to accept that it hurts and I am sad.  I need to just feel the pain.  

I just loved her so much. Words cannot describe the kind of love I had for her, and they cannot describe how I feel now that she is physically no longer with me.  I just want to hold her.  I want to curl up on my king sized bed with her in my arms, youthful - happy and carefree Unique, she would snort and shimmy in bed when I would snuggle her until the got comfortable.  When I would sleep at night, in bed next to me - she had her own pillow.  I would often wake up with her next to me, our spines aligned.  In the darkest days of my life, she gave me a reason to get up - she demanded it.  I actually remember her - rousing me up out of bed, forcing me to get up, to keep living.  She needed me.  She was the only one who could reach that part of my soul, she was exactly what I needed to heal.  I feel forever in debt to her, for all the gifts she gave me.  I feel in awe, amazed, and fortunate for the love - the bond, our life together.  

I find myself working through the stages of grief.  Acceptance - it happened, it was real, she is gone.  Denial - I cannot fathom it. It isn’t real. What happened to the last 10 years of our lives.  Where did it go? How can I slow time down?  Anger - at myself, even though I loved her with everything I had and did my best to give her the best life I could, I wish I could have been more and done more, I wish I didn’t have allergies. So many nights she has needed me to hold her, because being old and blind, and being old and blind is hard and confusing and she needed me and I was here, but I couldn't give her all the comforts she needed because being so close made me so sick.  It is one of my life’s greatest tragedies.  I don’t know what that life lesson means. But I am upset about it, I have been upset about it for years. I may never understand.  Maybe I do.  Timing.  Life.  Curious.  The Universe.  God.  Breathing. I work through bargaining, wishing - for one more day, then I think about her being in pain for another day, even if she were medicated, with me - crying, hysterical, it would have been so upsetting for her.  I wish I could re-do yesterday, and cancel swimming lessons, lay on the blanket with her, alone - no kids, or Petzl, just us, feed her sliced apples, and icy cold water. Just us. One more time. I wish...I wish...but if she had been well enough to do that and enjoy that, and be there - in the way I wish she had been, she would still be here today.  Yesterday she was not that dog.  I watched her slip - scared, in pain, and hard to comfort.  

I laid down next to her, held her neck and face cradled in my left arm, with my right wrapped around her underside, my hand opposite her heart. I sat there, wishing - wanting to scream - I had to make that call, and say it was time, I cannot believe I was able to do that.  I don’t even know how I managed to nod or say something to initiate the process.  When the medicine had been put halfway in, I wanted to scream, “STOP- DON’T KILL MY BABY”.  I held it back, I tried not to sob - I wanted her last moments with me to be with me comforting her, staying strong, for her -- so that she would know it was okay.  She was fine, then a brief moment where she just relaxed, not dead - alive, but pain free and okay and thankful, and appreciative, and loving, and then she was free.  I have to keep going back to that moment in my mind, that pain free moment, where I swear I could hear her, feel her say “Thank you for helping me”, even though I know she didn’t know she would die.  She trusted me. It is hard to feel like I didn’t betray her trust, but I also feel like I would have betrayed her trust if I had made her suffer so that I could have more time.    If I had done that, she would have been okay - she would have allowed it, and stayed with me, she would never leave me, I had to help her cross over, because her loyalty and dedication wouldn’t let her leave.  I had to help her, to do something, I did my best. I feel so sorry.  So sorry she suffered a moment, that the cancer ravaged her body and made her life harder than it needed to be. I am sorry I didn’t know, but if I had, I wouldn’t have dealt any better - I would have days or weeks filled with this kind of pain, but she would have known that I knew, and it would have upset her. It was our time to say good bye,  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tree Hugging Dirt Worshiper

Icy droplets of frost scattered across the frozen ground, illuminated by rays of early morning sunlight casting the illusion of glitter across the early winter landscape.  The temperature hovers around 13 F, our coldest morning so far this fall/winter.  Pancake ice flows down the slow, winding river.  I move across the frozen earth, one slow step at a time, searching for answers to questions that haven’t been formulated yet. In the meantime I am cultivating a sense of inner peace and stillness by literally embracing trees, grounding myself to the earth, and getting in touch with nature, one tree at a time.  

Last fall the landscape visually overwhelmed me (and my camera) in such a way that I could barely step outside without snapping a dozen or so pictures.  This fall the landscape is no less inspiring, but I find it hard to take photos or be creative in my approach to life. It is the price I am currently paying for being medicated steady and balanced. 

The dogs have no trouble easing into nature and being in the moment. They are my role models in a sense, I love to study the way they move and explore nature; wondering what it would be like to smell the array of scents scattered in every direction. 

It’s hard to believe we have lived here for fourteen months now. This place feels old and familiar: comfortable. Our old life seems to be a lifetime away and it’s even hard to imagine that we lived in the cul-de-sac de perfection.  The nights here are quiet. Sounds of jet planes overhead are absent, and the occasional traffic that moves by is hardly noticed.  

Every day we watch the sunrise over the mountains, sitting at the kitchen table sipping coffee and eating breakfast.  Life moves at a slower pace and the daily chores get done in an unhurried, mindful way. Being away from the buzz of the city impacts every facet of life. 

Solitude is part of the experience and I am adjusting to it now, after fighting it earlier this spring. I am learning how to be alone with myself: learning how to be me again.  I worked my way from the ground on down, now I am building myself back up again, taking new shape, slowly integrating the lessons I have learned into the life that I love.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oil Can

Rapid heart beat, sweaty palms - the thud of heavy feet hitting the treadmill; step after step moving forward while standing still. The perfect description for “how I am doing” in any given moment.  Treading water: working hard to stay afloat.

Out on the trail the golden leaves crunch beneath my feet as I shuffle across the trail, bear spray in hand, while our dogs Petzl and Honey pace around me darting after squirrels, birds and other scents that catch their attention while I do my best to keep my body in motion.  The distinct fear of standing still has been with me for the past few years, as if standing still, pausing for a moment, would result in total self-destruction.  

The depression I have been in has left me out of words and out of energy to do most anything that would normally bring me joy.  As a result I haven’t been very active.  My return to running by way of hiking, walking and shuffling has left me feeling rusty.  Like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, muttering “oil can” from rusted lips. Oil can.  This process of recovery is teaching me several profound lessons, the lessons are the oil, the juice I so desperately crave.

Today I ran, it was slow, in spurts, but I did it. I took those steps and moved forward while standing still, muttering "oil can" in my brain, feeling all the feelings that come with being rusty from spending time sitting absolutely still learning how to balance stillness and motion.  Oil can, please.  

"A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop." - Robert Hughes

Monday, June 23, 2014

Running Wild

When I started Honey Mama Runs Wild last fall I never anticipated it would be about me, running wild (with bipolar mania).  I envisioned the trails I’d run and write about or the wild experiences I’d be having at The Moose Lodge and the captivating narrative I would share with my readers. I never would have guessed that the blog would take a turn and be about my mind running wild.  Honey Mama: Runs Wild.  Life is just full of surprises.

“I feel like I'm a snow globe and someone shook me up and now every little piece of me is falling back randomly and nothing is ending up where it used to be.” ― Amy ReedCrazy

I never fully appreciated the phrase “easy does it, one day at a time” until I had my breakdown spiritual awakening, but here on the other side of my life it is the only way to live, one day at a time.  More often it is: one moment at a time.  The depressive side of life that I am currently experiencing has sucked the wind from my sails and simple activities like walking and yoga seem impossibly hard, running has taken a back seat as I “easy does it” through my reality, living in the moment, slowly, slowly.

“Bipolar illness, manic depression, manic-depressive illness, manic-depressive psychosis. That’s a nice way of saying you will feel so high that no street drug can compete and you will feel so low that you wish you had been hit by a Mack truck instead.” 
Christine F. Anderson, Forever Different

I was on the phone with one of my best friends the other day and we came to the conclusion that this experience is like being a foreign exchange student who has returned to their home country only to find they feel foreign at home.  Knowing the rules and social customs, but feeling a disconnect from moving fluidly through life is what I am experiencing as my present reality.  

I stopped driving any distance over 5 miles back in early May on count of this disconnected feeling and I had anticipated by now I would be back to “me”, now I am realizing there is no going back once you’ve had a break awakening like this, only forward, one day at a time

“I actually stopped talking. I actually listened. So I knew that I wasn't all the way manic, because when you're all the way manic you never listen to anybody but yourself.” 
― Terri Cheney

Friday, June 13, 2014

Smoke and Ashes

Last night I built a fire fueled by old magazines, egg cartons, tear stained kleenexes to burn my forgiveness notes, sending the smoke up high to the Mentasta mountains, to the rising full moon.  Each note a strong, clear declaration of something I was offering: self-forgiveness.  As the fire grew I added in old dry wood to the fire and one large bunch of grass that smelled like sweet grass when it burned.  Then one by one I read my notes aloud, clearly declaring my intention to forgive and let go and watched each one get caught by fire, turning black, the edges curling slightly before it was engulfed by flame and in one brief moment transformed into smoke and ashes. 
When all the notes were burned I read two closing notes:

"I forgive myself for letting my ego go, but I had to let it go so that I could move forward to my higher self, Me."

"I seek to be whole not perfect and I invite joy into my life. <silver linings>"

I added a few heaps of grass, one at a time, spreading them out across the fire watching them burn and enjoying the sweet aroma of the scent of burning grass smudging the great outdoors.  

I went inside the house and brewed a healing cup of herbal tea: rooibos, peppermint, and chamomile teas with honey and ate two dark chocolate squares, and a piece of gluten-free peanut butter toast with honey.  I finished my snack and felt grounded, whole, solid and ready for the next step. 

I ran a hot bath carefully measuring the baking soda, epsom salt and lavender bubble bath and sank in slowly.  Sipping my cup of tea, taking in the heat, scent, and feeling of being surrounded by water.  I sat in the tub and used a cup to pour water over my third eye, 3-4 cups of water at a time splashing over my face, running down the sides of my ears, my shoulders, breasts and back to the water. 
I repeated this motion with the water hundreds of times, until it became hypnotic then I heard George calling me from downstairs. He’d been outside playing but found his way inside the house and came upstairs and said “Close your eyes”, I complied, then said “Okay, open them!” he was holding a single tiny blue aster flower, he presented it to me and I said “How did you know this is exactly what I needed right now?”, he said “I just knew in my brain and in my heart. I love you, Mommy.”, then he kissed my third eye and went back outside. 
As the water washed over my body I had an image in my mind of my soul, it was a dark shadowy figure and as I washed the water over my body the image grew lighter and lighter and when I finished it was pure white, like freshly fallen snow.  

I stepped out of the tub and gently dried myself off and laid my towel out on the bed. I picked up my “angel stone” heart (selinite) and Unique’s ashes necklace and meditated, breathing slowly, methodically, in and out, and thought of nearly nothing for a full half hour before I brought myself beneath the covers where I placed a tiger eye stone on my third eye, turquoise in my left hand, amethyst in my right, and selinite on my chest, with my Unique necklace placed carefully across my throat chakra.  I laid there and breathed deeply, fully, with clarity. Letting go to move forward, one day, one page, one step at a time. Better than yesterday. 

"Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world." 
- Oprah Winfrey 

Thursday, June 12, 2014


"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." 
At the urging of two of my advisors I went to work with the earth, grounding myself in the dirt to the sounds of Motzart playing on my iPod as I cleared the dead raspberry canes with my new pair of garden clippers.  Plucking out the dead matter from the garden is the perfect metaphor for what I am doing with the processes, functions, and thought patterns that no longer serve me.  Piling up the dead matter and disposing of it permanently, leaving behind only fresh, new growth ripe with possibility -- with enough care these canes will bear fruit.  

“Sometimes a breakdown can be the beginning of a kind of breakthrough. A way of living in advance through a trauma that prepares you for a future of radical transformation.”     - Cherrie Moraga 

My personal breakdown breakthrough is a second chance to rework my life and take time to do things in a slow, patient, and careful manner. Thoughts come slower these days and my actions are broken into baby steps; each task broken into micro steps.  I take time to stop and admire new growth, to water the raspberries and appreciate the warm rays of the sun shining down on Mt. Sanford and the Copper River basin. 

“The person who can combine frames of reference and draw connections between ostensibly unrelated points of view is likely to be the one who makes the creative breakthrough.” - Denise Shekerijan 

Marathon training prepared my mind to endure, rise above, and most importantly to carry on.  These three lessons have carried me through the past few months as my life unraveled and I spiraled into a manic-psychosis where I stepped into a childhood literature inspired world of my own creation.  

“We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world” 
Helen Keller

As I drift back into my life, in to my body, I endure, rise above, and carry on with each breath, each step, each moment.  I am relearning how to live life and it’s harder than I can explain, but the support of my husband, children, parents and friends have made the impossible possible and every day is truly better than yesterday.  

"We are stardust, we are golden and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." 
Joni Mitchell