Monday, April 29, 2013

{Thank You}

With Jeff away more, and all the travel time I have myself, I've had a lot of time to be left to my thoughts. I've been particularly introspective about the supports that have been there for me over the past few years as I've gone through huge and difficult changes in my life.

Jeff has been a rock the past couple of years, and has truly become my best friend and the person that I can rely on and tell just about anything to in confidence. Then again, that's what a marriage is. But he's not been the only one to lift me up, and show up in moments of need.

First, I have some amazing family members. Although we have our dysfunctions just like the next family, I've always been able to rely on my Aunt, Lori to be there as a supportive and creative outlet, and mother figure, particularly after Mom's passing. We've always had similar interests in movies, literature, and design, and when I got married she stepped up and created a wedding dress that I adored, and really all of the dresses that went with the wedding. Always tolerant and accepting of others, she's always been a positive and encouraging factor in my life. I'm really grateful for that.

My mother and grandmother, both gone now, were strong and singular women who made an impact wherever they went. I often clashed with what I wanted to do and what they thought was the right thing for me to do, but regardless of my follies, they stood by and supported me, and were driving forces in my life. While I think I've done remarkably well handling the void they've left behind. I really, really miss them pushing me, and life has changed dramatically without them in it.

My immediate family has as if over night turned completely male. With that said, I have three amazing men to rely on day to day. My father, who has always supported me unconditionally, my brother, who probably understands me better than anyone in the world,  and Jeff - the worlds most steadfast husband, have created a wall of protection and support that has become the new familiar, and evolving family unit.

Then, I have some amazing friends. and  I think this is where my biggest reflection has been lately. To be honest, I've been secluding myself away the past few months. I've been trying to keep up with work, missing Jeff, and really lacking the energy to put myself out there to interact with others. There have been a few that have been consistent in trying to drag me out of this, who reach out and check in, and I really, really appreciate you. Please don't give up on me. I  really do want that girls night.

When Jeff and I moved to China, we had friends that jumped in and helped us move, helped us learn Chinese ( well, gave it their best - I'd liken it to teaching a box of rocks, though. They never really stood a chance), and then a special few that even came to visit us. In a foreign place where one stands out as much as we did, seeing a familiar and friendly face made life easier, and renewed downtrodden spirits. We were just as grateful for the friends we DID make in China. Without them we would never have been able to order food, navigate the transit system, haggle the best deals, find the best pearls, discover places out of our comfort zones, and most of all, we would have been very, very lonely. Seriously, we look back extremely fondly on our experience in China, and it is entirely because of the network of people that surrounded us while we were there.

Coming back for my mother's funeral was surreal. I put all of my focus on getting out of China, getting back, getting a job, getting a place to live, that I didn't really allow myself to absorb the whole thing. The visitation and the funeral were tough. I had family not speaking to me, people I had never met or barely recognized striking up conversations with me, and exhaustion from the week of chaos. It was such a little thing, but two friends who I had not expected to see, showed up at the perfect time, sat on either side of me, and ran interference on the well intentioned, but overwhelming condolences. I don't think I ever expressed to those two how much that meant to me, but I don't think I would have gotten through as well as I did without that.

As we grow, evolve, and transition to different phases of our life, different people enter and exit, having left their mark. I think it's understatement to say that I have gone through several periods of deep immaturity, and it has been a refreshing comfort to rekindle friendships with the most unlikely people, and to gain a better insight into myself, as well as what I was too self involved to realize at the time. Being able to reflect, apologize, and move forward with more humility has been a great gift, and I'm so grateful for the friends that have allowed me to grow through knowing them.

I'm not the best version of me I want to be - yet. I have a lot of growing yet to do, and look forward to the journey. Still, it is amazing to have the ability to look back and recognize points of growth, and the individuals that have made a difference along the way.

Thank YOU, for making a difference in my life.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

{Catch Up}

 Jumbled thoughts in no particular order:
1. I'm cold. I really do alright with winter. considerably more so than with the summer heat, ESPECIALLY better than the summer we spent in Suzhou. I don't know, something about this lingering cold weather has just seemed to affect my mood, my behavior and my motivation to get up and do. There have been a couple of spectacularly mild days sprinkled in and I have taken full advantage of the vitamin D and serotonin boosts that the sun has to offer.  Maybe that's it, I'm just not getting enough sun.

2. Jeff's gone... a lot. Every time I get a twinge of frustration about it I remind myself that it was MY brilliant idea to encourage him to take up this job, and that it is benefiting us. I do get to keep regular contact with him, and I'm doing fine, but it has been a decided adjustment. After two years of nearly constant companionship with the same person, I'm almost having to re-learn what it's like to be independent again. Not to say that I was too co-dependent - but there is definitely a change to how you live and behave when you're in a partnership as opposed to living wholly on your own 3 1/2 weeks out of the month.

3. Cooper has a case of the clingy. Even the trainer that we work with made a comment the other day that she found it remarkable the bond he's been forming with me as the weeks progress. He's very particular, although friendly with everyone. He really does have a hard time listening to others, and if someone gives him instruction, he always looks to me for approval first. It's made training both easier, and much more difficult all at the same time. He is generally eager to please, but some aspects of training, like staying as I walk away to a good distance, is a continuing struggle and forces him out of his comfort zone.

4. SO.MUCH.MOVING. At the end of February as Jeff left to start his job, I moved back into my parents home and out of our town house, and moved all of our things into a storage unit. My dad bought a farm in Monticello, and was supposed to move out a month ago , but due to an oversight didn't move until this weekend. Poor Jeff was home for three days and each of those days was spent helping load, unload, load some more and unload, and set up right up until he had to leave again. He's a good sport. We managed to get the majority of Dad's belongings to the farm, as well as get everything of ours out of storage and into the house. It was a long, tiring weekend for everyone and left us all more tired than when it began. Over the next couple of weeks I'll finish purging, unpacking, arranging, and returning the house to a state of normalcy.

5. WE got a new bed. I'm positive this isn't half as interesting to anyone else as it is to me, but I'm elated. After spending a year as two fat people in China, Jeff and I have developed a deep respect for well made mattresses. They certainly weren't built in China to handle our size... and with Jeff's dilapidated back, it was a long year of mediocre to restless sleep. It has been a markable difference to have a solid, supportive, and comfortable bed that makes for substantial and restful nights sleep.

- Ashley