Tuesday, January 3, 2012

From My Heart - A Birthday // A New Year // A New Life

Happy 2012 everyone! I hope you had a wonderful New Year's Eve/Day and that your year started out on a bright and beautiful note.  2012 may just be the newest sort of new year I've ever had, for many reasons.  My mind is swimming in thoughts, ideas, revelations and uncertainties.  Throughout the posts about Bubby dog's passing that I've made over the last week and a half, I've made sure to emphasize that this is a creative living and design/style inspiration blog - not a personal one.  Looking at pretty pictures and DIY projects and fashion and art is an amazing way to feel creatively fulfilled.  But real life, real ideas, real thoughts, and real questions can be inspiring as well.  So I decided to share some personal thoughts with you guys today.  In today's post, hidden within the ramblings of a brain in overdrive, are some very real, pure reflections from my heart.  I hope that through these reflections, those of you facing big changes in the new year are able to find some inspiration of your own. 

New Year's Day happens to be my birthday as well, which sort of makes it a double fresh start for me.  I remember being a little girl and thinking how lucky I was to have such a unique birthday, and how wonderfully strange it was that I was the only person I knew who was always the same age in any given year.  As I got older, I developed a love-hate relationship with being a New Year's baby.  In my twenties, I adored the fact that I always had something fun to do and a group of friends with whom I got to celebrate on New Year's Eve, but I felt a little frustrated with the fact that I was sharing my birthday party with the biggest party of the year (and subsequently spending my actual birthday at home because everyone was partied out!).  Now I'm at a point where my birthday is just a birthday.  It's fun to celebrate, but I don't think much of it.  I don't have any expectations; I just try to enjoy whatever comes my way.

My husband's band plays a three-night run of shows for New Year's every year, and because he is the Stage Manager, he goes back to work two days after Christmas to prepare.  They usually play locally in Chicago, but this year they decided to change things up and play St. Louis.  Bubby's passing has been pretty rough for both of us, so I flew down with him on the 27th because neither of us were quite ready to sleep alone.  I had big plans to get out and explore the city while he worked, but I ended up not doing much aside from lying in bed at the hotel watching Mad Men and walking to the venue next door for the shows.  I went shopping one day, I slept, and I ate a lot of food.  I also looked at pictures and watched videos of Bubby.  With Christmas over and much more time on my hands than I'm used to having, the reality of the loss set in, and I thought a lot about where to go from here.

Leary ("Bubby") was a huge part of my everyday life, both logistically and emotionally, and there is an undeniable vacancy in his absence that can't be ignored.  (Pssst... New readers, you can learn more about our life together in these past posts).  It crossed my mind many times over the last year about how much things would change once he was gone, but it wasn't until we really had to say goodbye and I had a little time to think that it really hit me how different things will be.  From the time I got him almost 16 years ago until the day he passed away (12/22), he was involved in almost everything I did, almost every single day.  When I met Robbie 5 years ago, and I had to get used to a new lifestyle where my partner was away for work almost half the year, Bubby and I grew even closer.  He filled the void when I felt lonely, was my snuggle pal at night, and kept me busy on a regular basis (until the very end, that dog had energy!).  Between Leary, my two businesses, the blog, and Robbie's schedule, there has been a constant need for structure in my everyday life.  Admittedly, there have been many times over the last few years where I longed to have a little of my past freedom back.  But now that I have some of this freedom again, I'm feeling all sorts of scatterbrained.  Knowing that I no longer have Bubby here to care for and preparing for Robbie to go back on the road for two months for the band's winter tour - combined with the "fresh start" mentality of a new year and another birthday - has left me wondering where to go from here.

This particular new year is, in many ways for me, the start of a new life.  It's not that 2011 wasn't full of new beginnings.  In fact, Robbie proposed to me one year ago on New Year's Eve, and we got married 9 months later.  But even before we signed the piece of paper, we were already married in spirit, and life itself didn't change much.  We did, however, have a lot of discussions in 2011 about making big life changes.  More than anything, these discussions involved a lot of questions.  The winters here sure are cold - should we move somewhere warmer?  We're not getting any younger - should we start a family soon?  I've been designing clothing for 11 years, and the fashion industry has become such a challenge for independent designers - should I venture down some new paths in my career?  The funny thing about asking yourself these kinds of questions among the chaotic structure of everyday real life is that they are just that - questions.  There don't need to be answers to them, because you are soooo busy, and your dog is like your child and needs constant care, and it's just too hard to uproot when you combine these things with your husband's job's strict scheduling/time spent away from home.  Then suddenly, one of the biggest parts of that "everyday real life" disappears (in my case, taking care of Bubby), and you're presented with an abrupt and unavoidable shift in direction.  And whether you like it or not, the time has come to face those unanswered questions.  In a flash, there appears a hollow that needs to be filled, and no one can fill it but you.  There is no more ignoring or procrastinating eminent changes by allowing yourself to be swallowed up by the bustle of your everyday life.  Your everyday life has, in fact, just closed its door, and it's not going to open back up.  In its place, there stands another door, open, with a path in front of it waiting for you. Standing still isn't an option.  You have to make the first step.

Yesterday we went to pick up Leary's ashes, and as we pulled away from his vet for the last time, I swear I heard that door close.  So now, I sit here, staring at the new one that has opened for me, realizing how much I need to figure out.  The sadness of our loss still lingers, and my brain feels tired, but I am aware that over the next few weeks, I will start making the initial steps down this new path that lies before me  One thing about getting older is that the closing and opening of doors doesn't occur with the frequency of your past, and you actually become thankful for that.  You get more and more set in your ways, and as you fulfill the goals of your youth (moving away, college, exploring the world, establishing a career, settling in with a partner, etc.), you have less of a desire to start over.  An appreciation for comfort and stability creeps in, and when a major life change creates a severe shift, it can be a little daunting.  I'm not quite as eager to venture down this new road, and I feel a little confused about how to do it - which is an entirely new sensation for someone who used to thrive on constant change.  Thankfully, I know in my heart that whatever awaits me is meant to be and full of new lessons and adventures.  Once I can make sense of everything being thrown at me, I'm going to march right down that path with my head held high, ready to be all kinds of bad ass as I write the next chapter.  Even if right now, it feels a little overwhelming.  And even though I really, really miss my dog. 

Sigh.  Are you still here?  That was a long one.  And awfully serious.  But it felt good to write it, and to share it with you guys. Robbie and I try to keep a semi-private life separate from our often very public careers, but this blog has brought with it such an amazing group of readers, and I've grown to feel comfortable sharing bits and pieces with y'all.  In fact, I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to do so, and equally grateful for your comments and insights.  You guys really are awesome.  I can't tell you how much I look forward to all that 2012 has to bring to Bubby and Bean.  I actually have some ideas, goals, and surprises for the blog that I'll be outlining soon, but we'll save that for a post later in the week  I'll also be finishing up part two of my Reflections on 2011 post this week, and I plan to write a very special tribute post to Bubby dog that will involve all of you as well...

Before I (finally!) let you go, there are just a few quick things I want to mention -

1. I have a pretty fabulous group of new and returning sponsors for January.  Be sure to take a minute or two to check out their shops and blogs by clicking on their banners in the right sidebar. 
2. Just a couple of days left to enter our current Giveaway!  You can win two gorgeous photos - of your choice - by our featured sponsor, Heather Liebler Photography.
3. If you haven't read it yet, I posted about my one birthday wish this year right here.  I want to help out homeless senior dogs in Bubby's memory...  And you can help too!
4. The pictures throughout this post (with the exception of Leary's sweet face) were taken last week and weekend during our trip to St. Louis. They feature shots of our beautiful hotel (The Moonrise), the band's shows, and my birthday adventures.  Photos not taken by me were taken by Bliss Studio and Chad Smith Photography, and are marked with their respective watermarks.  Both of these photographers are incredibly talented (Amy from Bliss also photographed our wedding!) and good people too.  Pay a quick visit to their websites if you get a chance.

Phew!  That's it!  You guys are saints if you made it all the way through this one.  I guess I figured out a way to make up for my sporadic posting over the last week (via post length, if nothing else!).  Have a wonderful day, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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  1. I thought that this was such a beautiful, honest post. Thank you for sharing it :) <3

  2. That was really beautifully written, I especially liked this part:

    "There is no more ignoring or procrastinating eminent changes by allowing yourself to be swallowed up by the bustle of your everyday life. Your everyday life has, in fact, just closed its door, and it's not going to open back up. In its place, there stands another door, open, with a path in front of it waiting for you. Standing still isn't an option. You have to make the first step."

  3. Oh my gosh, this post was amazing!! I can totally see how you have a new life in front of you with Bubby gone, it's almost like you took care of a sick child for a couple years and now they are gone :-(. You are strong spirit!!! And inspiring!! I wish you the very best this year!!!

  4. Oh yeah and happy happy belated birthday!!

  5. Hey! It's been a while since I've had a chance to catch up on your blog but I'm glad this was the post I got to read first. I'm so sorry to hear about Bubby's passing.
    I think it's 100% normal to feel daunted by major life changes but with your attitude there's no doubt you'll succeed, no matter which door you choose to walk through.
    Here's to a wonderful 2012! x

  6. It is scary when the big life changes you've only contemplated in the past are abruptly at your door and you have to make a decision. Just know that whatever path you choose will be the right path because you will make it so. <3

  7. You would not be a normal person if you did not feel like you do about your dog's leaving you - but don't dwell on it, for your own sanity!

    You seem to be beginning to come through the fog of loss - hope it happens quickly and that your future plans take over the empty spaces.

    Your life is before you - you seem to have to travel about a bit, and animals, no matter how much loved, are a dreadful tie. Embrace the freedom you now have and use it to good purpose!

    Now that's enough of a lecture from an old wrinkly (who has said goodbye to several beloved dogs!). Have a really Happy New Year in 2012 - oh, and by the way, a Happy, Belated Birthday to you as well!

  8. Bubby was as much a part of your life as my 4 year old is part of mine, and because I know your personally and know how much you are always giving to others, I think I can say take your time with this one. I can't imagine what you are going through and wish Robbie was going to be home for longer so you could take some time off together. You work so hard girl! You are probably the most driven, motivated person I've ever met and I know you are gonna kick ass in 2012 just like you do every year. For now, I think you should just take done time for you. With Leary's picture in your pocket and his spirit by your side. Love you.

  9. loved this post, and the honesty you expressed as your shared your beautiful, sweet heart. so, so sorry to hear about bubby. i tear up just thinking about going through that one day. new roads are scary, that's for sure, but once we turn onto them, we find ourselves more capable than we realized to grab the wheel and drive. you'll do fine, and look back on this time of transition with a smile xoxo

  10. I know what you mean about how the new "freedom" makes you scatterbrained. I think that's why I ended up with 2 new dogs within 1 year of Cy's passing. I don't like that feeling :) Happy Birthday too! <3

  11. aww Mel! Love reading about you life! To think I feel so close to you and I have yet to give you a hug in 3D! You have been a friend on this box for 14 years can you believe it!? I hope the next year is full of wonderful surprises! Love you moonmama! Xoxo rosegardenc

  12. I know you're going to come through these changes to an even better place then you can imagine. When I finally made the decision to leave my husband as a stay at home mom with a three year old, I was terrified and resistant to the change.

    Now, a few years later I see it was the best thing that I could have done...to embrace that change and take the new path that I saw ahead of me. I was scared and sad, but I am so glad I took the chance.

    Like you said, as we age...life presents us with less and less opened doors. I am terribly saddened but also extremely excited for you!

    Much Love,

  13. i guess i hadn't thought about what you would do when robbie went back on the road, without leary beside you. geez that's a lot to deal with. just know that we love you. we do. man that sounded totally lame, but i mean it.

  14. Beautiful post. Never apologize for going personal. You're right - our emotions and lives fuel our creativity, so it can actually be nice to see where that creativity comes from.
    And whatever paths you choose to follow from now on, you can do so knowing you've got the most beautiful dog watching over you (when he's not running around playing) x

  15. Beautiful post Melissa, Wish you the best for this 2012, i follow you on twitter too and really broke my heart read about Bubby, thank you for sharing his story with us and in some way let us know how wonderful he was.
    I can't wait to see your new tattoo!

  16. Oh man. Thank you guys so much. I'm really lucky to have such kind + compassionate readers, that's for sure. You guys are the best. And I'll be sure to keep you updated...


  17. Loved your post. Maybe exactly because it was long :) I appreciate you sharing so many private emotions with us. Slow down and take each moment as it comes. Bubby will always be your inspiration. And although time doesn't heal our wounds it helps to give us perspective and hopefully experience to deal with what bothers us.

  18. Don't worry about getting "too personal" around here. It's half of what makes blogs so amazing. Without the emotion behind it all, we might as well be sitting around reading corporate websites. And nobody wants that. :-)

  19. I'm glad you had such a great birthday and new year! This year will definitely be different without Bubby, but I think it will be beautiful still. He lives on through all of your memories of him and he'll always be a part of you :) And thanks so much for the honest things you share on your blog. Sometimes sharing personal thoughts is the only way we can all relate.


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