Sunday Rambles

With all the LotSF stuff I’ve been doing the past few days, I had pretty much zero time to think of what I was going to write today. I mean, I spent the afternoon trying to come up with a suitable subject, and I did eventually settle on one that I like, but it’s a topic I want to invest a couple days’ worth of work into. So I shall save it for Wednesday’s post, and use this post to wrap up a few thoughts.

Firstly, I’m glad I did that LotSF chapter. I believe the story is an important one that I would like to continue telling, and it’s really good for me to have something like that to work on that I know I can really see progress with. I have lots of stories that I’m working hard on, but LotSF is special in that I am able to share it as I go along. It makes it feel more tangible, something I can say, “Look how much I’ve done,” and it’s great motivation to keep working hard and keep getting words on the page.

Secondly, I am so glad that spring finally seems to be arriving (knock on wood). This weekend was lovely, sunny and something resembling warmish, and it’s such a wonderful mood-booster. Despite spring signalling the start of the crazy stressful heartworm season at work, it also means that soon I’ll be able to spend more time outside without freezing my butt off. That means more LotSF inspiration and more opportunity to feel like myself.

Thirdly, I’ve been looking through old photos and drowning in happy nostalgia (more on that in my next post) and I am so grateful for the people I’ve met in my life. Especially my elementary school friends–people I’ve grown up with who are still so close to my heart. I’m very fortunate to know them and get to spend time with them, and it’s such an amazing thing to see them out there living their lives and figuring out what makes them happy.

And while I’m at it, I’m also grateful for people I’ve met through WordPress. I need to get a bit better at keeping in touch with all my digital friends, but I’m still so happy for the opportunity to have met them and gotten to know them. There are a few in particular who have influenced my life in all the best ways.

I dunno, I’m feeling so sappy tonight. I hope you guys had a good weekend.

Talk soon.

-Alex

TRIALS: Learning about Love through Loss

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[ABOUT YOUR STORY 2015]

This first story is from Heather over at yourhappyplaceblog. It’s an emotional story about the loss of a friend and the overwhelming love that can come from it.

[The original version of this post is here. She’s also written this great post about the trials that the composer of My Fair Lady went through.]

Enjoy.

***

Learning about Love through Loss

It all began last Thursday during a rain storm in Disneyland. My sweet friend who was taking care of our little dog, Buddy, called to let us know she was worried. My heart sank as every scenario went through my mind, maybe he is just missing us, maybe he has slept so much that his little legs are sore and he can barely walk, maybe…  I had so many emotions fill me: worry of what might happen, denial that he would leave me before I got home, sadness for my friend that she was even having to worry about the burden & situation she was in, frustration that I could not just blink myself home and be there for my little friend…  Within the hour my husband received another call, his face said everything. I was walking off the Pirates of the Caribbean ride when I knew my best friend had died. I began to sob outside. There were people everywhere, but my heart was broken. I looked over at my sweet daughter who never cries & has a hard time showing her emotions, but tears filled her eyes. I grabbed her and we just hugged.  We kept hugging as the rush of people passed by in usual Disney fashion.

My sweet friend continued conversing with my husband over the details of where to bury our little dog. My mind raced of what we could do, I just then realized her husband and oldest son had just left for Sturgis & my dear friend was six months pregnant. I felt immense sorrow that she was in this whole situation. That is where my lesson of love came from. To see my dear friend emotional at the whole situation handle everything with such genuine care was a true testament of unconditional love. She stepped right in and did all she could to not have us worry about anything while we were away. She did all she could to take away the sting of our loss. She was the greatest friend anyone could ask for.

Our trip continued on with my entire family, so we were not able to return home for a few days, but my anxiety began to set in as we got closer to home. I would have to face being home, seeing his bed, seeing the spot on the couch that was his, seeing his dog bowls empty, seeing the many places he would be, the doors he would scratch for my attention, the top of the stairs where we would do our yoga stretches together, his sun spots…but most of all I was worried about missing him as we walked through the door. I would miss his excitement that we were finally home, his loves, his kisses. As we pulled in I noticed his face wasn’t in the dog door, my heart began to sink with sadness. I walked through our garage door and before I could begin to cry, I began to see big, colorful hearts taped throughout our house. They were hand cut hearts that had words like JOY, LOVE, You are Loved, Happy… I smiled and felt the love of dear friends. Then I noticed a beautiful flower arrangement left on our table. My heart welled up with gratitude for such kindness. I looked down at Buddy’s little bed (the spot where he had peacefully died) and I wanted to go find the spot he was buried. We walked to the back of our yard and looked around. We couldn’t miss the spot because there was a handmade, beautifully stenciled name plate made out of a small cut of tree wood. On the top, the word BUDDY with little paw prints circling it. I couldn’t honestly believe the love that was so freely given to our family. I couldn’t believe how genuine kindness could be so lovingly shared. I instantly called my friend to give her my heartfelt thanks through the tears that wouldn’t stop from such a beautiful gift. My friend said, I knew you would miss your little dog when you got home, so we wanted to fill your home with love. It was so sweet and truly touching.

I truly learned such a beautiful lesson through our loss—LOVE is given freely, especially when you need it most.

Thank you Rasband family for lovingly giving so freely in a time of genuine need. You are all a beautiful example of what we all can give, be, do. Love you so. Thanks for being there for us.

Big LOVES to all, especially my sweet Buddy. Peace to you my Soul Buddy. Love you.

-Heather

The Company of Coworkers

All right, this is it.

One way or another, I’m going to blog tonight. I don’t have anything prepared but let’s roll with it.

I guess I can talk about life, since life is an adventure and all that. Life has been pretty interesting lately. I feel like I’ve done nothing but work, write, and sleep these past three weeks. It’s been difficult, that’s for sure, dealing with the new job. Some days have been better than others.

But today was quite the rollercoaster ride. It started out rough, with me getting extremely frustrated with myself, and at a certain point I just lost it. I broke down, tears everywhere, which didn’t make me very happy with myself. They had to pull me off the line and send me to the washroom to recover. But when I came back to where I was training, all the guys working around me felt the need to cheer me up. It ended up being the stupidest comment about someone’s bellybutton busting through their shirt that set me off. I ended up laughing so hard, I was crying all over again. And then the rest of the shift was fantastic.

That’s pretty much what it’s been, working there. 50% misery, 50% I honestly can’t handle the absurdity of my coworkers. They’re what’s been keeping me sane these past weeks. There are a lot of kind and goofy people on my line and I’m so grateful for it.

I think that’s why a lot of adventures are done by groups of adventurers, rather than just one lonely hero. I don’t think there are too many people who could handle the adventures they’re given without aid from someone else. Whether because they need someone to save their butts, or just need someone to keep the boredom away, I think companionship is a vital part of any adventure.

(*coughcough*the Fellowship of the Ring*coughcough*)

That’s certainly how I feel, anyways. It’s been touching, how much some of the people there have done to help me. One guy got me two rolls of finger tape because I complained that my fingertips were sore. And when I got put on my first job by myself and was dying of nervousness, he gave me constant reminders throughout the day to breathe, which I honestly really needed. Then another guy, the one who was training me when I started crying today, gave me a much-needed pep talk to get me back on my feet. And yet another guy, one who says the most hilarious things in the most serious of voices, cheered me up the one day by telling me a deadpanned story of this one time he made a wax model of his thumb.

I think that having people with me as I go through hell is keeping me grounded. I was furious with myself for crying today, feeling so embarrassed and frustrated by it, but they just kept going as if I’d never broken down at all. They stopped me from being too serious and got me past the frustration. They helped me regather my strength and face the dragon of the day, and I’m so grateful for it.

If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be working with lots of people all summer, I’d have turned up my nose. “People? Ugh. I don’t like people.” But boy, has that changed. I like these people. These people are good. Even people on the internet who have offered endless support as I give day-by-day updates via Twitter or Tumblr have helped enormously. The incredible companionship in my life right now is keeping me going. Truly.

And speaking of people, hello you lovely people who are honouring my blog with your readership. I’d like to get back into blogging more frequently, keep updated and connected with you guys, and so I may be doing more of these journal-style blog posts. Hopefully I can make something out of them and not just turn them into diary entries. We shall see.

But I propose that something we should all do (me included) this weekend is write out a list of all the people who you know have your back if you need help. All the people who will listen to your hardships, offer advice, do what they can to help you out. Who are the companions in your adventure? Who are the ones keeping you grounded, lending you strength when you are weak, turning your tears of frustration into tears of laughter?

Who is there to fight your dragons with you?

May your list of companions be longer than you think.

-Alex

LotSF: The Banishment of Isolation

There was a knock on the door and I opened it to see a windswept Nolan standing on the doorstep. Dressed in a white blouse, a hawk-feather vest, and with white gull feathers braided into his wild black hair, he looked liked he’d just escaped years of living in a bird nest. The fact that he had feathers sticking up at odd angles and was already covered with the dust of the road didn’t help either.

“G’morning,” he greeted me cheerily, sounding out of breath but bursting with energy.

Raising my eyes briefly to the sky, I said more soberly, “Morning, Nolan. You run here?” He nodded eagerly as I shut and locked the door behind me and I chuckled. “Why does that not surprise me?”

“I don’t know,” he said with a good-natured shrug. We walked side-by-side down the front path and then to the left, towards the trees that surrounded my little house. We hopped the fence of an enclosure built just a few feet within the trees and made our way through a relatively clear space. There was a compact, barn-like structure at the other end of the pen and a horse stood grazing outside it.

Nolan whistled and the brown and white paint mare raised her head and nickered, the sound rumbling and welcoming. Reaching her, I put my hands on either side of her nose and rubbed her fondly. “Morning, Faith,” I said quietly, patting her on the neck. She nudged me, hoping for a treat, but there were no pockets in my armour with which to carry carrots or apples. Nolan, on the other hand, had stuck a bright red apple in his backpack and pulled it out to give it to her. Faith bit into it happily, spraying Nolan with juice, and he laughed with pleasure and scratched her behind the ears.

I grinned as I went into the barn-like shelter to get Faith’s tack. Nolan loved horses with all his heart, and yet he didn’t want to get one of his own for some reason. Instead, he took every opportunity to spoil my young paint. I loved watching them together. Though I knew that Faith was loyal to me first, she had an incredibly strong bond with Nolan and they shared a mutual understanding that I didn’t think even I had with her. And seeing the broad smile stretch across Nolan’s face was one of the most heart-warming things I could think of.

Nolan hadn’t always smiled so freely. I had met him in the marketplace of the nearby town about eight years ago. He’d looked lost and alone, wandering without purpose, and had almost thrown a fit when he accidentally crashed into me while trying to avoid a passing horse. I remembered being irritated that he’d run into me, but my irritation had soon turned into confusion when he stuttered apology after apology, tears dribbling down his cheeks and a look of panic on his face. When he’d finally fallen silent, staring at me helplessly, I’d asked him softly, “Are you all right?”

That was when he’d truly dissolved. He’d sunk to his knees in the middle of the street, running anxious fingers through his hair, and had babbled incoherent words–the best I’d been able to make out was that he was lost and his home was gone. Embarrassed on behalf of this stranger blubbering on the road, I’d yanked him up by the arm and started pulling him down the street, back towards my home. At first, he’d done nothing but sob and jabber, stumbling along behind me. But as he’d calmed and caught his breath, his story had slowly begun to come out of him.

Nolan was an exile and an outcast. Eight years ago, before I’d met him, he had made a grave mistake. While out in the forest with a hunting party, searching for a stag to bring home for dinner, Nolan had been given the task of holding the leash of the big black hunting dog. Excited by the smell of prey and straining at its leash, the dog had suddenly rushed forwards when one of Nolan’s companions had walked out of some nearby brush, deer scent heavy on his clothes. Nolan was taken by surprise at the dog’s sudden movement and let the leash slip between his fingers. The other man had been badly mauled by the frenzied hound and was crippled too badly to hunt any longer.

Nolan had been thrown out of his village immediately. I had eventually come to understand that he hadn’t been very well-liked before the incident, apparently too clumsy for his fellow villagers’ liking, and so they had been looking for the first opportunity to banish him. I thought it was harsh punishment, but he had come to accept it, with time. It was for the best, he later told me. The pressure of living up to their expectations would have crushed him sooner or later, and at least this way, he was free.

Free or not, he’d still been a wreck, out in the big world all on his own, and I’d taken him to my house in town and let him stay with me for a while, secretly hoping that he would get over his grief and move out and I would never see him again. But in the few weeks that he’d lived with me, he had proven so comic and happy-go-lucky, it was hard not to enjoy his company. We’d soon become friends, and moved out together from the town to the surrounding countryside. Though we now lived apart, we had become as close as family.

Bringing Faith’s saddle and bridle from the barn, I came back out and started tacking up the paint. She stood patiently, nuzzling Nolan as he stroked her neck. His smile was gone, replaced with a straight-faced expression of calmness. I smiled to myself as I tightened the girth and buckled the leather straps. The best gift I’d given him, Nolan had told me once, was an end to the loneliness. Of all things, the loneliness had been worst for him. I’d told him then that he wouldn’t have to be alone anymore, as long as we were friends.

From that day on, I made sure it was true.

***

Just a little insight on Nolan’s background. You’ll know the whole story eventually, one snippet at a time. It just takes me a while.

How long have you known your best friend?

May your friendships be strong and dispel all of life’s loneliness.

-Alex