Celebration of Life

On Thursday, May 3rd, I celebrated the beginning of another decade of life – 30. This birthday to me, represented the ending of 10 tumultuous years; a mixture of beautiful and painful moments, realizations, friendships, loss, and much more than I can even begin to recall.

Throughout the past 10 years, I learned a lot about one sentiment in particular – love; what it is and what it is not. When I stumbled upon this quote the other day, I believed it was not simply a coincidence, but a reminder of the insight I’ve acquired over the years. To me, love is not simply words; it is not simply telling someone they are loved, but showing it, whether it is by leaving the light on, preparing a mug of coffee in the morning, writing out a reminder; acknowledgements of love can be in the smallest of ways, but mean more than words can explain.

What Love Is

On my birthday, I felt more love than I can begin to express. Having the opportunity to celebrate and commemorate another year of life with my family is a gift of love in itself.

IMG_4619                Age quote

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Memories in Paint

Yesterday, upon arriving home, I was greeted by a surprise that not only captivated me, but brought me to tears which persisted the entire day. The tears I shed were tears of mourning and grieving, but also tears inspired by a touching, genuine and kindhearted act by a company I’ve come to know and love. Therefore, the following is a post on my personal Facebook page from yesterday, detailing the monumental event:

It’s been just over two months since my family and I lost our beloved Oliver. In that time, the healing and grieving has been slow and painfully difficult. For me and I’m sure also my family, it’s still surreal to accept his absence, given he was the heart of our family.

A pet food and supply company, Chewy.com whom many of you may be familiar with recognized our loyalty and deep loss. Shortly after Oliver’s passing, a bouquet of beautiful crimson roses arrived at my doorstep and just today, a beautiful custom-made painting arrived of Oliver, bringing tears to my eyes. For those of you who might have known him, this painting truly captures his uniqueness and true self, right down to his characteristic pink nose.

Oliver painting                Chewy roses

If you’re a pet owner or might be one someday or know someone who is, Chewy.com is not only a pet food/supply company, but a sense of family and a community. They pride themselves in reaching out to their customers in all situations and circumstances with heart and understanding.

I just wanted to share this today because companies like Chewy.com are often hard to find.

*In memory of our beloved, Oliver, forever in our hearts – 3/10/2002-11/22/2017

An Insatiable Longing

It’s been several days and I feel the loss as though it is continuing to happen again and again. Sometimes, the thought of you is still there, but will fall deeper into my mind, but other times, it will arise with a vengeance and often without warning, summoning tears to flood from my eyes. My entire 29-years of life I don’t believe I’ve ever felt a loss as profound as this, the void seeming to grow larger each day. Where I often sit at home, in the living room with my laptop, I’ll look to the right, expecting to see your dog bed sitting there, with you inside, sleeping or relaxing. Other times, I’ll look up across the room at the other sofa, half-expecting to see you sleeping on the arm on the sofa, as you did years prior. Every time I look at your usual spots, however, it’s not you, but the memory of you I see, a memory I carry so deeply in my heart and mind. The longing sometimes increases with such intensity and I can think of little to quell it.

Grieving Quote

These days, some of the only things providing me solace are the several quotes I’ve found in relation to grieving, such as these:

“Grief is like the ocean, it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

More so than anything, I hope for my loved ones to heal; watching them hurt and me not being able to take away their pain is one of the hardest parts. Grieving is a process, an individual one for all of us, but I hope they know I’m recognizing their pain and hoping for a healing for all of us and that our Oliver knows how truly loved he was and will always be.

Dog Grief

 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Today is Thanksgiving and this year, as I do every year, but even more poignantly this year, I have so very much to be thankful for. For the past 15.5 years, I’ve held the honor of being an owner of dog, my sweet Oliver, who I’ve written about countless times before. He was not a dog to me, but my family, my support, my strength and my constant companion. This morning, because I was unable to last night, I shared on my personal Facebook about his pathway to the Rainbow Bridge, where he plays today, free of pain and discomfort, delighting in all of his favorite foods and toys. The following is my post:

Yesterday, as the sky cleared and the sun began to emerge from the clouds of darkness, you were carried over the Rainbow Bridge, the bridge where you are greeted by the others waiting for you, where you can run, where you are free of pain.
 
As you departed, I held you in my arms as you nestled your body close to mine and I could feel your soft, curly fur and your shallow breaths. For a moment, your eyes fluttered open and gazed into mine and it was then I let you know you were safe and it was okay. For a moment, I could feel your dry nose against my skin and I could still hear the familiar sounds of your breathing I heard for 15 and a half years.
 
Then as you lay before us, we held your paws and each other, as you departed just as we first met. We didn’t say goodbye, but rather see you later, as we know we will.
IMG_4493
 
Oliver (March 10, 2002-November 22, 2017)
“Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
When you’re broken on the ground
You will be found
So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
If you only look around
You will be found.”
Happy Thanksgiving to whomever may be reading this today.

Wearable Words: The LWP Collection

Good afternoon, to you! We’re approaching the end of the week and in conjunction, the third and final blog post in The Little Word Project series I’ve been detailing this week! As promised, this blog post will fully detail the vast collections and products LWP offers. Though I’ve exclusively discussed their bracelets, which is the heart of their company, they also offer several other pieces, which are important to note and share. Also, as I stated in my last post, I’ll be sharing with you today the second LWP bracelet I own and how I came to receive it! Therefore, without further adieu, let’s take a deep “breath” (you’ll see what I mean in the next paragraph) and dive into that very bracelet!

My Second LWP Bracelet – “Breathe”

Given my intrigue and interest in The Little Words Project as a company after first receiving the Confidence bracelet in the prize package I won, I was overjoyed to receive a bracelet from the Beaded White collection with the word – Breathe.

LWP Believe          LWP Bag

The band, as you can see, is encased in Swarovski crystals with pink undertones. To me, the word Breathe was fitting, as I recall years ago while in college taking vocal lessons, my voice teacher informed me of my inconsistent breathing. While observing me sing, he often noted my lack of taking in deep breaths and came to understand that when under stress or when anxious, I tend to breathe inconsistently and can often walk around feeling even greater stress, as a result. Breathing deeply and often, without needing much explanation is crucial to all aspects of our lives, especially when under stress. People often remind each other in these times to remember to breathe. We can often become upset to the point, where our breathing is labored, clouding our ability to effectively communicate. Since receiving this bracelet, I often find myself glancing down at it during my times of stress as a constant, friendly and welcome reminder to do just that – breathe. At times, when stressed or anxious, I can forget to do something so seemingly simple – breathe. During those times when I can feel incapable of doing much else, there is always one thing I can do and that is to take in a deep breath and begin again. Now that I have this bracelet as a constant reminder, it’s a comfort to me. Many, many thanks to the wonderful team at The Little Words Project for their generosity in gifting me this bracelet.

The Little Words Project Collections: As previously noted, the LWP offerings are vast and include the following:

  • Beaded White or Gold

LWP beaded gold     LWP Beaded white

  • And Symbol

LWP and 2

  • Love Symbol

LWP love

  • Leather White or Gold

LWP Leather

  • Woven

LWP woven

  • The Sorority Collection

LWP sorority

  • Bridal Collection

LWP bridal

  • Little Extras (i.e. t-shirts, gift cards, gift wrapping, inspirational booklets, a mystery bracelet, & chokers)

LWP ChokerLWP tshirtLWP booklets

  • Bracelets That Give Back (25% of proceeds donated to designated charities/nonprofit organizations)

LWP Purple Elephant

  • Last Chance (in limited quantities)

LWP last chanc

Note: Choose the color of your bracelet beads, leather/woven/bead material, then choose your word(s).

Words to Chose From: Here are some of the many words you can choose from for your bracelet:

  • Dream
  • Believe
  • Breathe
  • Hope
  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Brave
  • Inspire
  • Fearless
  • Sparkle
  • Smile
  • Good Vibes
  • Blessed
  • Faith
  • My Person
  • Fierce
  • My Family
  • Be Happy
  • Laugh
  • Sister
  • Wanderlust
  • Free Spirit
  • Live
  • Namaste
  • Be Kind
  • Pray
  • Dance
  • Let Go
  • Love
  • Friend

My Favorites: Now that you’re familiar with the overall collections and offerings of LWP, I thought I’d conclude the three-part series by revealing some of my favorites from the product line-up:

We Rise By Lifting Others

Bracelets That Give Back: As I discussed at length in my second post, the Bracelets That Give Back collection deeply resonates with me for more reasons than one. An avid volunteer, firm believer in giving back to others and with a personal connection to one or more of the organizations benefiting from this initiative, this collection affords customers with not only a beautiful bracelet, but also serves as a donation to a worthy cause.

Spread Kindness Quote

Love Symbol Collection: This collection also stands out to me for a variety of reasons. True, genuine, romantic love is something I aspire to. I’ve noted several times on my blog, I have yet to experience it for myself, and for me, love whether romantic, platonic or through family, is a source of contentment and fulfillment. To know, feel, receive and experience love is the greatest gift.

Love Quote

The Words: Many, if not close to all of the words to choose from speaks volumes to me. As someone who has struggled with self-esteem, body-image and self-image issues my entire life, being able to see and wear words such as believe, brave, strength, breathe and courage on my arm, provides me with awareness and comfort. It also serves as a constant, visual reminder of my self-worth and bravery and that I am truly deserving of happiness and achieving my dreams.

Also, I think it is important to note my sister’s name is Hope; which is coincidentally, one of the words as an option for a LWP bracelet. Since birth, Hope has been not only a sister, but my best friend. She and I always say, “Sisters by chance, best friends by choice.”

Hope and I at her wedding:

0309

Well, there you have it! To whomever may be reading, thanks so much for following along with me on this journey as I detailed The Little Words Project! My sincere gratitude goes out to The Little Words Project for their generosity and kindness.

Kind Quote

 

 

Paw Prints on My Heart

I’ve never known romantic love. I’ve never felt that deep connection or pull propelling me towards a man.. yet. I’m not a mom and have never experienced what it might be like to mother a child.. yet. One feeling I do know, quite fondly for that matter, is the love between a dog and it’s owner. Since days before turning 14-years-old, I’ve been able to proudly identify myself as a dog owner, or “dog Mom,” more appropriately. I’ve known what it is like to care for another being so profoundly. To be sitting at school or work, wondering what he’s doing, thinking or feeling and if it’s he’s okay. I’ve known what it is like to worry for countless hours as he was rushed into emergency exploratory surgery after a grave, life-threatening surgical error on part of a veterinarian. I’ve known what it is like for my entire family to gather together during this moments as we anxious and nervously awaited word from the veterinarians regarding his status.

Oliver in his shirt.png                       Oliver smiling 2

Throughout my entire adolescence and adult life, Oliver, my 15-year-old Bichon Frise has taught me more than most people probably could. He’s taught and shown me the meaning of resilience and strength, even when he’s in pain. He’s stayed by me because he knew I needed him and still do. He’s been my one constant in my life – my only consistent co-worker, sitting beside me through the pain, the happiness, the turmoil, the challenging moments, only separated for brief periods of time throughout the course of his life.

Paw Prints

He fills the house with energy and light, even when he’s fast asleep in his bed, I can still feel his presence, clearly coloring my life and being my constant companion. When I reflect on his life and all the moments we’ve shared together, I only smile, as I remember him as a puppy, laying on the grass with me as a young teen, as we helped put together a swinging outdoor chair in our former house. He’s been through more than many dogs probably have their lifetime and yet, he epitomizes strength and courage. He looks to me with his eyes filled with emotion, almost telling me he is holding on, still filled with much life inside of him. How I hope he knows each and everyday, I’ll always fight for him, always stand up for him, because he’s always done so for me, looking to me for guidance and direction. Him and I have never given up on each other, holding on through love and courage.

Animal Eyes

I’ve come to know through Oliver that often times, the best cure and treatment for most anything is love and companionship – two remedies that are never too costly for anyone, because they are priceless. The greatest gift I’ve ever been given is Oliver, it is because of him, I know I’m capable of loving another.

Dogs Feel

 

Reach for Hand, Lend a Paw

Today is National Love Your Pet Day and I find it particularly fitting in that in a mere two weeks, I’ll be celebrating 15 years of pet ownership, or more specifically, when Oliver, my bichon frise, joined my family. Ever since the early years of my childhood, I’ve been a fan of dogs, enthralled with their pleasant, spunky nature, their ability to comfort, inspire a smile and simply maintain a calming and joyful presence.

oliver-after-eating            dog-quote

Several weeks prior to my 14th birthday, my mom announced she found an ad in the newspaper for bichon frise puppies, just having been born. Once the phone call was made, my mom, sister and I ventured to the short distance to the woman’s home whose dog had recently birthed several bichon puppies. The puppies fit in the palms of our hands, their white fur just starting to take on their signature curl. Too small to leave their mother, we waited several weeks until we ventured back to choose our new family member.

oliver-alone

From the moment I spotted him, I knew he was the one. The smallest of the bunch, he was a bit timid, but inquisitive, and I knew, there was something special about him. At first, my family questioned why I was so set on him when his other siblings happily frolicked about. For me, though, perhaps there was something about Oliver that resonated so deeply within me. From that moment on, I knew it was him; my co-pilot, my friend, my companion, the one constant in my life, who would be there through it all, always waiting for me at the end of the day.

oliver-busy-bone

So today, a day when we commemorate the love our pets, I’d like to share a montage of photos I’ve accumulated through the years, showcasing Oliver in his happiest moments, adding joy and light to my life and my family, showering us with love and care. He is truly loved and that love has persisted through his 15 years and will always continue. Here’s to you, Oliver, thank you for being you, thank you for your love, your presence and your guidance. Thank you for teaching me the meaning of resilience and strength and that sometimes, love is the best medicine we could ever give.

oliver-busy-treats              Oliver in his shirt.png     oliver-tongue