Another year older and a little bit wiser…sometimes

My butt is incredibly sore today. It’s a rather interesting way to end a birthday, but turns out sitting on it meant it needed massaging. And that hurt. But I think it’s going to be ok. With my flitting around the world this year it doesn’t quite feel time for my birthday to have come around again or that it’s been a year since granddad passed away. Charlie the cat is as weird as ever but he’s come around to sleeping on my bed and even thinks it’s fun to wake me up by standing on my head in the night. I spent the morning with mum at a spa for a detox treatment and I feel suitably loved and detoxed and filled with healthy chocolate. What on earth would the world do without chocolate?

The spa we went to gave me a little pink flower pot plant so I now have three living things that rely on me! I’m rather determined to keep it alive…the plant that is. I’m hoping the cat and horse can look after themselves a little because let’s be honest, I’m not actually that good at keeping even myself alive. But I’ve managed 22 years so that’s got to count for something!

I wanted to do a big post about how much has changed over the past year but sometimes there just aren’t words for things so here is a super brief recap:

I lost granddad, I brought a horse and sold a horse, Ivy had a baby horse and I sold him, I ran away overseas and travelled to nine countries in four months and absolutely loved it and learnt a bunch of life lessons, and I went from a four year relationship to single, I ended up with a cat. And here we are!

When I was a kid I always thought: “When I get to 21, life will be good”. I have no idea why it was 21, but I seemed to think life would stop there. I thought I’d have a car, a horse, a house, a job, and a degree and I’d be set for life. I have all that sure, but it’s nothing like I pictured and life is certainly not stopping here. I must chuckle at my much younger self and think, “Man, what am I going to think in another 10 years? Will I look back on my current self and think ‘how naive, if only you’d known’.” Yep, probably. But what I have come to realise is life never happens how you expect and even when it comes close to it, the feeling may be nothing like the one you’d anticipated. Walking away from my relationship was one of the hardest things to do. I wanted to fight, I wanted it to work. But I also hate giving up and sometimes I don’t know when to quit. Perhaps it was time to do so or perhaps I’m just stronger than I was four years ago, but I’m really quite ok. I’m sad in moments and angry in others but after losing people, seeing suffering in all parts of the world including my own, and having been diagnosed with a life altering health issue I feel like a break up is a mountain I’m well equipped to climb and with the support I have, there is absolutely no reason I won’t make a quick journey over the other side.

Anyway, instead of rambling on about all the changes I decided I’d instead write a list of all the things I’m grateful for in my life.

  • Amazing friends I’m not sure I’d be ok without
  • The chance to have worked at a great paper and have more experience under my belt than I ever imagined in my first 18 months of work.
  • A really cool, easy horse who is the bees knees
  • A not-so-cuddly cat who’s a bit weird but I like him.
  • Parents who are going to have to put up with my being at home a lot for the next few months
  • New work and volunteer opportunities
  • A body that functions properly 90 per cent of the time
  • A bed all to myself
  • Chocolate
  • The ability to travel the world on my own and all the incredible things I’ve learnt

I’d go on, but that’s the gist of it. In the past few months life has become an incredibly interesting and slightly frightening place to navigate. I spent several days standing on the top of mountains screaming “I’M ALIVE”, I spent days dragging a 20kg bag around with me, I’ve walked more miles than I ever thought was possible in four months, I’ve faced some of my biggest fears, I’ve eaten scorpions, I’ve seen suffering and heartbreak, and I’ve had the chance to change my world view.

Now I’m here and in my 22nd year I’m excited about what’s going to happen now. There are so many paths and picking the ‘right’ one seems scary, but it’s just taking that first step. And I’ll take it. Once I do, there won’t be any stopping me! For now the ‘to do’ list simply has one thing: keep climbing mountains and I mean that both figuratively and literally.

Tomorrow I’m heading up north with dad to celebrate the first year anniversary of granddad passing away. It’s a chance for me to revisit places Alex and I spent a lot of time and accept that’s part of the past, and it’s a chance to grieve but also acknowledge just how amazing granddad was and how mum we miss him, but also how ok we’re going to be.

So on that note, I’m going to leave this post with a bunch of quotes I found on this blog: http://thoughtcatalog.com/katie-wilkes/2014/12/20-quotes-that-all-20-year-olds-must-read/

“It’s better to have nobody than someone who is half there, or who doesn’t want to be there.”
Angelina Jolie

“You can tell so much about a person by the way they leave you.”
Redvers Bailey

“I will not be your sometimes.”
Anonymous, Six Word Stories

“The hours between 12 AM and 6 AM have a funny habit of making you feel like you’re either on top of the world or under it.”
Unknown

“I crave space. It charges my batteries. It helps me breathe. Being around people can be so exhausting, because most of them love to take and barely know how to give. Except for a rare few.”
Katie Kacvinsky

“The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.”
Alysia Harris

“Give yourself permission to immediately walk away from anything that gives you bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. Just trust what you feel.”
Sonia Chuquette

“Nothing ever happens how you imagine it will.”
John Green

“Suddenly you’re 21 and you’re screaming along in the car to all the songs you listened to when you were sad in middle school and everything is different but everything is good.”
Unknown

“There had been too much emotion, too much damage, too much everything.”
Ernest Hemingway

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new.”
Socrates

“If you don’t make time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a LOT of time dealing with a life you DON’T want.”
Kevin Ngo

“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
Carl Sagan

So just remember life is beautiful even when it feels like you’ve been sat on by a bus or a large horse. Always take a moment before you decided to get back up off the ground because the sky is pretty damn beautiful. If you’ve fallen face down though that doesn’t really apply, sometimes mud can be good for your skin. Just remember that. And if you’re lonely, get a cat…they’re remarkably uncomplicated, even the strange ones.

Now here’s a song.

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This is life

The thing I have come to realise about life, is you can’t chose which moments impact you the most.

There are things in life you think you’ll suffer from forever, then there are others you desperately want to move on from and just can’t. Too many people run, and hide, and refuse to admit just what’s really going on. Forgiveness has always been something I’ve found quite easy. Just move on, it’s that simple.

Nope. I’ve found it’s not quite so.

As I’ve said several times on here, I’ve been catching up with an ex. Sometimes a story doesn’t have an ending yet for a very good reason. There’s no spark so this is not coming from a place of those sort of feelings, but there is a lot of anger on my part.

I very rarely let my guard down for anyone, but he was part of my life in a particularly hard time, so I needed someone. Of course, as all great stories end, there was plenty of cheating. And because I’m like a dog with a bone I refused to stop asking the right questions until I understood just the extent of it all.

The problem is when I finally did, I couldn’t decide whether to laugh, or throw my soda water at him. Both probably would have been perfect…

I expected it to be easy to move on, but I realised last night, when I was angry at the world, and angry at myself for getting to a point where I struggle to trust anyone, that I wasn’t ‘over it’ and I wasn’t ready to forgive and forget.

I will be eventually, and it’s going to take a lot of strength to do that.

But words don’t describe the kind of hurt I felt over the whole situation.

I’m a grown up now (not by choice) so I’m going to have to deal with that hurt and move on in the best way I know how; lots of exercise until I’m too exhausted to be angry any more.

But there are certain things in life that drag up emotions we all like to avoid. Last year I lost my grandfather, the day after my 21st birthday. I also moved house and took on a greater work load at work during the same month. It was two days after he died I moved house, and the day before his funeral.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been so exhausted in my life.

But it was the one time I desperately needed someone to lean on. Anyone would have been okay. There is this awful sinking feeling when you look up, begging for help, and there is simply no one there to pull you back up.

I’m still struggling with that hurt. This ‘I am alone in this and I’m going to have to find a way out’ feeling. It’s perhaps one of the most daunting places to be in. And it’s going to take me a long time to forgive those closest to me for not being there, and expecting me to be ok with that.

So the reason for this long winded emotionally charged blog, is because I’m not holding back this year. I’m tired of watching what I say or what I share, hurt comes in many forms, and hiding doesn’t prevent you from it.

If there is a friend you haven’t seen for a while or someone who might be having a hard time, just take a few moments from your day and help them out.

You’d be surprised just how far a little love can go.

Break, here I come.

There are very few things better than climbing into a quality bed with fresh sheets and the fan going on a warm summers night. Especially when following a rather roller coaster week. This week is probably a very good metaphor for this entire year; the wins are constantly battling the losses and the pendulum of life keeps on going regardless of what happens between each tock.

That was deep.

Getting back to light hearted. This past week, I managed to get myself run off the road in the work car (not my fault) punctured the tyre, then the wheel bearing went. I also ‘disappointed’ a comms person. I seem to be very good at doing that. I also washed both my cars, kind of worked on my tan, managed a whole day with very little make up and lounging in bed (much needed!). I even watered the garden.

Oh and I sold my horse (Pip).

There are less than 10 working days between me and a holiday, and I am imagining myself in a slow motion movie scene, just a few more steps away from the finish line.

I have 10 days to get through and I can say I have survived one of the most challenging years of my life. It certainly wasn’t the worst, it probably wasn’t the hardest, but I have faced hurdles at times I felt like I was about to run straight at them, and then meet the ground with my face.

I can’t say I didn’t do that a few times. Sometimes I just stayed down there for a while, other times I managed to catch myself just before the fall, and most of the time I made it over.

I bought a horse, I sold a horse (the same one), and man am I glad I had that horse. Every difficult time in my life I have had a horse by my side, I’m not too sure how I would have made it through most days without one. I still have Ivy, but it will be the first time in 12 years that I have not had a horse to ride. I have three months to wait before I can jump back on her…but I need a break. I think at every point in your life you come to a stage where you just have to stop what has become the norm, what has become a crutch, and take a step toward the next ‘thing’.

There is this sad and scared feeling selling Pip, but at the same time it is excitement that I finally had the courage to take a step back and focus on me…who I am…and what my next step is in life. I can no longer identify myself as a ‘horse rider’ and to some degree that is freeing, it gives me a chance to explore what else I can be.

I lost a loved one. Watching granddad go slowly has been one of the hardest things I have had to face. And I still feel that loss, but I am healing. It is something everyone must learn to accept at some stage, and no matter how hard it is, it teaches you things about yourself you never thought you’d learn.

I understand the concept of ‘stopping’, I understand how important it is to reach out to someone in pain, I get what it’s like to be alone and how alone alone feels, I understand how people have mental breakdowns, I understand what it’s like to feel everything at once.

I started my first job. Wow, talk about jumping in the deep end. But I love it. I love every moment of the ‘pull my hair out imagine myself on a beach far away and not wanting to strangle that person’ madness that it can be. I understand why I chose this career; it is part of me. It is everything, it is how I define myself now. I might have been in tears, in fits of insanity laughter, glaring at my computer screen, drinking wine to ignore the burning need to tell someone what I think of them, the not drinking alcohol in fear I will, falling into bed convinced I may never get up again, but I wouldn’t change it.

I moved house. In amongst the madness I moved house, not just any move, but a move to live with my sister, and every moment since I have been thankful I made that decision. It has shown me I am finally getting the hang of listening to myself. It is hard to move for me, home is what keeps me stable, it is my centre where I can come back to when it’s all spinning out of control. So moving is big. But this has been a good one, and I am looking forward to the future.

I faced my past. It might not seem like a big thing to most people, but I have a delayed shock reaction to most emotionally threatening situations. If my mind doesn’t think I can cope with the sheer volume of emotion coming my way, it shuts it out and waits until I am in a place I can comprehend it. For me, Conrad was a part of my life I didn’t think I could ever deal with. But when suddenly he was here, in my city, in the place that had become my safe haven, I had to face some pretty big issues I never knew I had.

It’s moments like these you realise just how incredible the human brain is, how it can just blank things out it doesn’t think you need to remember. At the end of the day, it helped to realise how a health issue began, and how to fix it.

I resolved a long term and controlling health issue.
It’s not every day you get to defy the doctors and fix yourself with natural medicine. Nope, it’s not going to vanish, but it’s not going to even with the doctors medication. But it is pretty much consistently under control and it is no longer the centre of my life.

I ended up with a baby horse...this is the start of a new future with my darling Ivy. She’s been my best friend for the past six years, but our ‘team’ has changed its course and I’ve come to accept I won’t be competing for a while, Mardy is the final point of acceptance in that.

So this year has been a good one, and it’s not over! But it’s so, so close. I have a pretty incredible life, I’ve been on some amazing adventures and had some unforgettable experiences. And it doesn’t stop here.

It’s just another year in a roller coaster life, and I’m getting better at holding on and enjoying the ride.

But a whole summer with the freedom to get out on the weekends, to sunbath, to just take a deep breath and remind myself I am alive, and it’s ok to stop…it sounds like bliss.

Sometimes, I think you just get to a point where you need a break, need to just stop. Long enough to remember why you keep going and why the world is a good place.

A break…deep breath, it’s nearly here.

When death comes knocking

I’m not quite sure how to start this blog, but I wanted to give people an insight into something not often discussed, but often mentioned: cancer and death. People read about it, people go through it, people talk about it. But it’s actually really hard to discus it and not many people talk about the journey, just about the ending.

So this is my open and honest view of how my journey through losing someone so far.

I have never really had to deal with death before. It’s a strange topic in New Zealand; we don’t really talk about it. When someone says something about death it’s almost immediately after the ‘oh no, I’m sorry to hear that’ that you change topic and continue on with a conversation where no one will have to deal with emotions.

Perhaps that’s why whenever I bring up the fact granddad has cancer, I follow it with a shrug. I mean, I don’t even want to deal with those emotions.

But it’s been a year since he was diagnosed and I feel it’s time I wrote about my experience so far with someone dying.

It’s a matter of life. It happens. We can all count on that fact. Death itself doesn’t concern me, nor is it hard for me to comprehend. When my nana died she was 100, and had been in a home for a year. One day she was awake, the next she was not. There was nothing painful about the death, she just left. We knew it was coming and I felt sad, but not really anything else. Just like one less wonderful person was on earth, but sure she was off doing great things in heaven.

But with granddad it took us all by surprise. He had prostate cancer which has now spread to his bones and doctors say it could be months. I don’t really think it matters what sort of cancer it is. Cancer is a bitch.

At first I was in a bit of shock, my reaction was pretty cold to the news and I thought, ‘oh well that’s life’. What an awful thing to think when you’re told your grandparent is dying. But that was how I processed it. Matter of fact and with no emotion. After a few months I moved onto feeling awkward about it. Because it is my grandparent, at times I feel like I can’t be as sad as someone who is loosing a parent or a sibling or a partner. So I battled with my sad I tried very hard to be strong about it.

Strength like that is sometimes the biggest weakness. And that’s how I ended up crying in a bar in front of my ex, who very unfortunately happened to start talking about grandparents. It hadn’t bothered me before, but that particular conversation lead me to actually feeling the emotion of loss.

He is dying. And in that moment I had to accept that.

But now I’m just onto denial. I don’t want to hear about how he can hardly walk, or the fact his muscles have wasted away. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I am terrified I will forget how he used to be. I pretend I’m going up north this long weekend for a holiday. ‘Oh I might be going up north’ I said to someone today. What the hell? I said to myself. You are going up North, and you’re going to see your grandfather who is sick. But processing that fact is difficult. I am aware as to why I am going up, but it was not until I was standing in the shower thinking about this blog post that it sunk in.

I’m going to see my very sick grandfather who is dying, and this could be the last time I see him.

I battle with my sad because I want to save it for when he is gone. It seems silly to be sad when someone is still around. But it’s the waiting for what you know will happen, and trying to make every moment left count. And cling onto every memory I have.

It is through tears I finish this post, but it is not so much sadness anymore, as it is acceptance.

I have always thought I would be ‘good’ with death. But I’d never had to experience losing someone like this, and that makes it easy to think you’ll be ok. I don’t think anyone is ever ok with losing someone in any capacity. I always looked at death like ‘one moment you are alive, the next you are not’ it was something that happened to people, it was a statement, an ending.

In fact death is a series of things. It is the roller coster of emotion, it is watching other people you love hurt because they too are losing someone, it is watching someone you love suffer, it is trying so hard to remember the good times, it is wanting to make the best of what you can, it is a long process, even if sudden, death never just ‘happens’ it is a long road which every person must walk.

Death hurts even the people who aren’t dying.

And that’s really hard to learn to understand.

But I know now, it’s ok to just be sad.

Tie her up with red ribbons

Competition. It’s fantastic. It is… I’m not being sarcastic. I think it truly brings out the worst in people- the real person lurking beneath the face we like to masquerade around in front of people. Competition is something I am very familiar with. Once again I will point out I am a horse rider. One who potters around on my overly energetic, better cared for than myself, horse jumping brightly coloured objects and solid one’s when I get bored. Needless to say this post is written somewhat from a mad woman’s point of view.

I have won my fair share of first placings. Parading around in front of all the people who said I couldn’t do it with my pretty red ribbons. It’s a nice feeling. Until your horse spooks and throws you straight into the path of the people you were trying to impress. To put it simply: horse riding teaches you in a very literal way- pride comes before a fall.

I will never forget the priceless moment when someone I was rather jealous of won. Hands down a great rider. Then, as he was coming out of the ring on his horse with his nice shinny ribbon and no doubt large smile of pride on his face (rightfully so I might add). The next moment I turn around to see his horse go one way and him… well he kept going the other. 

Life is just like that. Horse riding just sort’ve puts in an example format that not many of us actually appreciate. 

I think we all earn our share of red ribbons. Those moments we can look back on and say ‘wow we actually did it’. But at the end of the day there is no time for pride. Take the wins, learn from the losses and congratulate the people who kicked your ass- even if you don’t think they deserved it. 

Because sometimes, you’re going to be the person who wins and sometimes you’re going to be the person who falls flat on your ass. And it’s going to hurt like hell. 

But that’s just competition for you.