Shine

I HOPE YOU FIND A LOVE THAT’S TRUE
SO THE MORNING LIGHT CAN SHINE ON YOU
I HOPE YOU FIND WHAT YOUR LOOKING FOR
SO YOUR HEART IS WARM FOREVER MORE

— “SHINE”, BENJAMIN FRANCIS LEFTWICH (KYGO REMIX)

August 23, 2019

Ever since Ian passed away nearly five months ago, I’ve been working hard to keep my mind and heart open — to listen to what the universe has to say and allow it to guide me. This morning, it spoke so clearly.

My body naturally woke up at 5:30am so I had time to drink coffee and scroll through Instagram (like most social media addicts do first thing in the morning!) before my 6:15am yoga sculpt class. I stumbled across the post below from Mark Groves (@createthelove) about self-love that sparked my intention for today and the rest of this post.

Later in class, the instructor asked us to think back 10 years ago and identify something that we had wanted then, and had now achieved in the present. The emotions inside of me immediately started to stir…

Ten years ago was 2009. I had just graduated college and Ian and I had decided to take a break while I went to grad school and he went to China to kickoff his hotel career. While I had outwardly agreed to take this “mutual” break, inside my heart was broken. I loved Ian and wanted him in my life so badly. Why couldn’t we make it work long-distance? I had no interest in dating anyone else, so why break up? I wanted him.

But, the truth was that I did need time to date other people — other people being MYSELF! And, Ian felt that too. It’s not that we didn’t want to be with each other, we just needed time to love ourselves as unique individuals, separate from our other half. To grow. To develop. To figure out who we really were apart.

So I did. I took an unforgettable trip to Greece with my mom, earned my graduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University, moved to Miami Beach to work with the world-renowned Miami City Ballet, took drawing classes, dance classes, ran my first half-marathon and explored all that mattered to ME! I dove in to all of the activities, interests and passions that often get pushed aside when we devote too much of ourselves to a relationship. And you know what? Everything worked out. Five years later Ian and I were happily married — two independent, self-confident individuals whose mutual respect, sacrifice, and vulnerability culminated in a passionate, boundless love for one another.

So fast forward to this morning in yoga sculpt…

Ten years ago I wanted Ian. Five months ago, I had him. Now, I don’t. As my breath shortens and my eyes start to well up, I pause. Yes, Ian is no longer physically with me. But, I still have our LOVE. I have loved and have been loved and it takes self-love to make that happen.

Right now I feel a void in my heart reminiscent of the void I felt during our break ten years ago. I’m lonely. And, I’m sad. I had that type of love that Mark wrote about in the post above. That messy love that is so hard to come by and involves owning your bull shit, being vulnerable, communicating constantly, sacrificing your wants and desires, and sometimes putting somebody else first. I did that for Ian. And, he did that for me. We loved. I will always have that love. And, that love is a gift that I will treasure forever.

When Ian got really sick, we made a bucket list of experiences to do together. We crossed off most of them — family road trip to San Diego and a trip to Italy and Spain — but unfortunately we didn’t get to all of them.

Tonight, I’m going to see Kygo in concert. I’m crossing this experience off of our list. I’ve been listing to Kygo’s music nonstop to get pumped up for this experience and have now trained Izzy to love the following song “Shine.” I tell her that it reminds me of daddy. And I tell myself that this is Ian speaking to me in the lyrics below…

I hope you find a love that’s true

So the morning light can shine on you

I hope you find what you’re looking for

So your heart is warm forever more

-“Shine”, Benjamin Francis Leftwich (Kygo Remix)

(Click here to listen to the song. Seriously, do it!)

To me, this is Ian reminding me that I will find love again. And when I do find a second love it won’t take anything away from my first love with Ian. But for now, I’m devoted to self-love.

So, if you are already in love, hug that special someone tightly and kiss them with compassion and gratitude — because together you’ve created a bond that is so hard to come by. And, if you have not found that person or are struggling in a current relationship, maybe shift the focus within to loving yourself. Let your light SHINE!

The Cracks Begin to Show

LEAVE THE PAST BEHIND
JUST WALK AWAY
WHEN IT’S OVER
AND MY HEART BREAKS
AND THE CRACKS BEGIN TO SHOW

— “CRACKS” BY FLUX PAVILION

August 14, 2019

As the gooey yellow yoke infiltrated the glistening egg white, the lyrics from Flux Pavilion’s “Cracks” played over and over in my head. I looked at the pathetic egg and then totally lost it. The streaming tears, the shortness of breath, the intense feeling of loneliness and vulnerability that had been building up inside of me over the past week. It wasn’t about the damn egg yoke cracking. It was that Ian always fried his eggs to perfection and he wasn’t here to do it. Not only was he not here to fry my eggs, but also just to crack jokes at my poor cooking skills.

I immediately shared my grief on Instagram and thought to myself, “WTF are you doing Emily? No one wants to hear this!” I didn’t care. I posted anyways and luckily friends came to my side offering me readings on healing and grief and lunar justifications for my intense emotional reaction, but most importantly, they just offered me love.

Maybe my sudden wave of grief was triggered by the oncoming full moon, but more likely, it was an event that occurred just days prior that solidified Ian’s absence. Before I share this story please note that our house is BIG. It was too big when we bought it for the four of us, so with Ian gone, it feels even more ominous and empty.

I had been up late reading and talking to a friend in an ironically similar situation as me on the phone, when I heard a loud banging at my front door, followed by the door bell ringing repeatedly. My heart came to a halt. I was paralyzed. The thought of someone trying to break into my home — let alone just a stranger standing outside my front door at 11:30pm at night — shook me to the core. I couldn’t even get out of bed to look outside the window for fear that I might be about to experience one of my worst nightmares.

I called my next door neighbor who has a security system (yes, I’m getting one too now), to see what was going on. Their surveillance videos showed five teenagers messing around in the backyard and then doorbell ditching. Innocent fun, but to me it was sheer panic for five minutes that felt more like an hour. Without Ian there to help me laugh it off — let’s face it Ian and I both pulled pranks like this as teens — I felt vulnerable. Without Ian there to hug and hold me, I felt alone. And this feeling of loneliness caused by some innocent fun had been building over the last five days — all for it to implode as I broke the god damn egg yoke!

Ian had a way of putting a spin on any negative situation. I would rant. Then he would share his point of view. I would think, have my “ah-ha” moment, and immediately felt better. He could always talk me down if I was upset about the next door neighbor’s dog yapping loudly before the sun rose, the constant work place dramas and inefficiencies that of course I KNEW how to solve (don’t we all?), or my disappointment when I didn’t get the perfect cut and color after spending hundreds of dollars (and time) at the hair salon. Ian did not sweat the small stuff — even before his cancer diagnosis. He sought the best in life and squashed the BS. He was too busing laughing, living and loving every second of life. And when life handed him a terminal cancer diagnosis, he said “bring it on!”

So, my hard shell had cracked and my raw emotions were oozing all of the place. After I dried my tears, ate my less than satisfactory mashed-up fried egg (yes I took my fork and smashed that darn thing — it was the grief! #sorrynotsorry.) — I asked myself, what would Ian do?

Yes, this new normal is different. Yes, I’m alone. Yes, I’m a single mom who did NOT ask to be one (my apologies to any divorced single moms or dads raising kids, but this is different). Yes, I have no real job. And yes, I’m going to complain, cry, get angry, and feel what I need to feel. Embracing my emotions and letting the tears flow cleanses me. It allows me to recognize HOW MUCH I miss Ian and how significant our love was.

Ian’s friend Amelia sent me this passage during my cracked-yoke crisis (thank you Instagram and Amelia!!). Not sure where she got it, but it resonated:

That love [Ian and my love] goes somewhere. Some of it transforms into other emotions like sadness and grief. And we judge our emotions so harshly — sadness and anger are bad, joy and love are good. But they’re all emotions. They all deserve reverence.

So I feel. I process. I smash eggs. And then, I’m more capable of embracing Ian’s approach, which probably plays out something like this.

Yes, this is an entirely new beginning for me. It’s strange and scary because its new, but it’s also fresh start. It’s a second chance to really do something greater — something bigger than just me and my two kids. It’s an opportunity to make a real impact — connecting my experience, my struggle, and my pain to a larger narrative. I don’t know what that narrative is quite yet. But, I’m exploring and I’m open. And when that broader storyline begins to unfold, you better bet I’ll be ready to kick the shit out of it! So, bring it on.

A Special Reunion

THIS POST IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES ABOUT GRATITUDE. THERE IS NO DENYING THE UTMOST TRAGEDY IN LOSING MY HUSBAND IAN, BUT HIS DEATH IS A CONSTANT REMINDER TO BE GRATEFUL FOR ALL THAT HE HAS LEFT. POSTS IN THIS SERIES CELEBRATE THE EXPERIENCES, THE LESSONS, THE PLACES, THE THINGS, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY THE PEOPLE WHO IAN BROUGHT INTO MY LIFE AND WHO I HOLD JUST A BIT CLOSER NOW THAT HE IS GONE.

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