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Follow the Yellow Rope

There are five more days left in July and I am hoping they pass quietly into August. For those who know my July, you know it is fraught with loss and love and hope and an underlying tide of grief more evident in other months.

Granny’s passing was just another notch in July’s belt. I refuse to buy July a bigger belt.

I’ve been working hard my July’s. Giving them credit and remembrance where it is due at the same time allowing myself space and grace. It’s been a process. And it has been work.

Conscious work; journaling, allowing time for myself, checking in on my emotions, my Hubs, my relationship to this world and the people in it…….I don’t think any of this comes to us without a conscious effort.

Thursday after we lost Granny, I met a dear friend for a swim in a lake.

I love open water swimming. I love how small I feel in the middle of something so much bigger than myself. I am vulnerable yet strong. I am at the mercy of the elements. I have no choice but to swim. And so, I swim.

I think of Samantha when I swim in open water. The sense I rely on are gone. I can’t see more than four feet in murky water. My hearing is compromised. Samantha’s senses……all connected to her brain, never worked the way they should. I believe she lived her life navigating through murky water- vulnerable to the world.

I swim. In this murky lake and suddenly evolved Heather no longer exists. I am prehistoric crocodile Heather whose only concern is breathing.

This is the best way to navigate July. To Breathe.

I usually veer way off course when I swim in open water. I am right side dominant which leads to swimming in a circle. But this lake has a yellow rope. The yellow rope lies six feet below the surface- I never clearly see it…I just kind of see it. Following the yellow rope requires concentration- I stare into a deep abyss of murky water and search for the yellow. And that is all I think about- the yellow rope.

And breathing. Breathing is good too.

And suddenly, I have swam across the lake. Evolved Heather realizes she now has to swim back. Crocodile Heather jumps back in thinking about the best place to get a breakfast burrito.

I try to look beyond what I can see in the water- I think of Gran and her last days….Sammers and her last days…..and I follow the yellow rope and I breathe.

Back on land, my senses jump back into place. I smell like a lake. I hear my phone. I see the sun reflecting off the flatirons. Crocodile Heather forgets how to start a car, find there is no room for her tail and so I stop.

Stop. And breathe. And search for the yellow rope. And a breakfast burrito.

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The Way You Make Me Feel

On February 14, 2021, I posted that I was changing jobs in the middle of a pandemic. Here I was, all giddy and nervous….leaving something familiar that I knew well for that bright shinny penny at the bottom of the pool.

You know what that experience was?

It.

Was.

Awesome.

It was fun, terrifying, a bit out of my comfort zone…..I learned something new but offered expertise as well. It was humbling to work with such super smart people. Crazy that they chose me…..it was a lovely gift.

And then I quit.

I KNOW right???? I’m not a quitter. Only quitters quit. But that’s what I did. I up and resigned after four whole months.

Because this job market is crazy. And us 50-somethings think it’s only crazy for those young whippersnappers in the global digital space. But you know what? It can be crazy for us subject matter experts 25 years in the industry too.

It was funny being courted for another job after four months. I felt like I was on job Tinder. This is not me. I don’t leave. I have been at the same job for 15 years. Only quitters quit. What about insurance? I just qualified for my 501K match. I just learned the Apple IOS system and GSuite….kind of.

And after years of committed job history, it was terrifying to tell my new manager that I was leaving after four months. They took a chance on me.

And so we talked. We talked about this opportunity, this job market, the lovely gift I had been given during these four months.

And my manager said, “You were meant to work here so we could get to know each other. It’s okay. Our paths will cross again.” And then she told me how great this time has been and how fortunate SHE felt to have worked with ME.

Well Hells Bells. Butter my biscuit and call me for dinner.

I will always think of this interaction with grace. I will always hold this person and her leadership style in the highest regard.

In a time when people are leaving their jobs in record numbers for other opportunities……in this super hot job market where a 50-something gray haired lady can change jobs twice in the first half of 2021, it’s important to remember who we are as employers and employees.

How do you make me feel? When I hand in that resignation, you as a manager are in charge and represent the entire company- after four months of service or after many years. We all remember that last interaction.

How lucky am I?

It was a lovely gift.

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Grief Baby Toe

My baby toe hangs out with the rest of my toes. Most of the time I don’t consider my baby toe. It is not an outstanding, necessary, appendage. At the same time it is not problematic but it is there ….it is a part of me, just like my big toe, my pinky, my ear lobe, my back molar, my grief……

My grief.

It is July.

And for those of you who have known me for a couple trips around the sun, you know that July is a complex, bittersweet month for me. I can be as testy as a cat on a hot tin roof or introspective and welcoming…..almost manic at times and under the covers the next.

Hello July.

To give myself grace……(a practice I have embraced lately), July saw the births and the deaths of my Littles- both Jack and Samantha. We ride for Children’s in July, we raise money in the name of our kiddos….it is a month. A month of Love and Loss.

What is grief if it is not Love and Loss?

And as time moves further from my loss, I struggle to find it’s place. And my place.

Yesterday our son would have been 16. I did not know Jack beyond the 9 months in my belly but I miss the wonder of who Jack could have been. Who he would have been had he time in this world.

The medical world says he would have been sick. Sick with mitochondrial disease. But we didn’t know that….in my wonder-world he could have been anything…..stinky, lippy, driving, tall….so tall given his genes. A great skier….

Amazing. I can wonder him as amazing. And so I do.

As the calendar turns to another July, 16 years have softened the loss. Time has weathered my response- there is nothing dramatic or catastrophic but the time must be recognized for me. For my Hubs. For our own relationship.

In 16 years, Grief is now a part of who I am and how I move through the world. It is not good or bad but my natural history. It is me….just like my baby toe or my pinky. It is not my whole lens of my eyesight but a part of my cornea that can dull or sharpen my perspective.

And like any body part, sometimes it needs attention.

Happy July Grief Baby Toe. I embrace you.

And Happy Birthday Jack….you amazing, tall, stinky, awesome skier. I miss who you could have been.