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August 28, 2012

What’s your plan…

…for your new life?

 

Jay asked me this question the Friday after we returned back home from Michigan. The question was a great one for me, in so many ways. I am living a new life now. An unfamiliar one that is so different from what it had been before.

 

When I left for Michigan on August 8th it was hot and dry in my hometown outside of St. Louis. As I drove the hundreds of miles toward Michigan it got noticeably cooler with each stop for fuel. The chill in the air was telling of what was ahead of me. After a long, hot and dry summer, my time in Michigan was filled with cool, rainy days—days my dad loved. He loved the wind blowing on his bare arms and legs, as he listened to the rain. Though his body was cool to the touch, he was comfortable, something he didn’t take for granted.

 

While I was in Michigan visiting with my dad and ultimately attending his funeral, summer vacation ended for my kids. In fact, they missed the first two days of school. We returned home to a new life in so many ways.

 

“What's your plan for your new life?” Jay asked me. He knew I wouldn’t simply go back to the way things had been before. My life was different now. But…what does this new life look like? Here is what I know so far.

 

I plan to bounce back. The first weekend I was back I read The Bounce Back Book by Karen Salmansohn. I picked up this book at Target at a time when I didn’t have anything to bounce back from. I simply liked the design of the book, and so I brought it home. I like this little book because it is filled with action steps—concrete things you can do to feel better if you’re going through a tough time. I especially love this bit of insight in the introduction. "In life, you always have a choice. Be weak or be strong." I choose strong.

  Bounce-back-book

 

I plan to be happier than ever before. This may sound strange as I sit here facing loss, but choosing happiness is one of the many things I learned from my father. The first few days after I returned home from Michigan, I decided to do things that made me feel better, in the moment. The good news is that most of these things are healthy activities like running, boot camp, talking to friends, taking naps, writing, and reading. I also found great satisfaction in mindless tasks like folding laundry. And reruns of Friends have also been my friend during this time—it feels good to laugh. It also feels good to focus on gratitude. Even in the darkest hours of this loss, I know I have so much to be grateful for.

 

I plan to soak-in and share kindness. If there’s one thing I will always remember about this period of my life, it is the acts of human kindness that I have experienced during this time. My Dad’s neighbors and friends shared kindness in the form of cookies, casseroles, chili, fruit trays, chips, salsa, and so much more, to nourish us during the days just after losing him. A Facebook friend shared her cell phone number with me so I could call any time (day or night) if I needed to chat. I have had friends send me heartfelt gifts, bring me flowers, and take me to lunch. I have received countless messages on blog posts, Facebook posts, via email and in the mail from people I know personally and people I have never met before. Every one of them shared kindness in the form of comforting and heartfelt thoughts. I plan to share this kindness with others, every chance I get.

 

I plan to take more time for the people and activities I love. When I think about my dad’s life and what made it work, I realize that he made time for the people and activities he loved. There are countless pictures of my dad sitting on the floor playing with my kids and doing other things he loved to do. My old life was busy. It is one of the things that really struck me when I returned back home. I was so busy. I plan to be a little less busy and create even more space in my life for the people and activities that make my heart sing. Creating and spreading joy—that’s the good stuff of this thing called life.

 

I plan to take it day by day. Each day is a gift. The good ones and the bad ones—they’re all gifts. Within each day there are good minutes and less good minutes, those minutes when the loss still stings. And that’s okay. Each day my heart heals a little bit more. Each day I’m feeling more and more like myself. Each day I’m getting more bounce back in my step. And each day the memories of my dad make me smile just a bit more…and cry just a bit less. It is good.

 

I plan to dance. The final song played at my Dad’s funeral was “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. My stepmom chose the song, which was a perfect summation of what I know my dad would want for those he left behind.

 

Aby-dad-dancing004



This weekend I’m heading back up to Michigan—this time for a wedding. My niece is getting married on the beach on Lake Michigan. I am really looking forward to this trip. It will be a chance to spend time with my sister and her family, my brother and his family, my mom and my stepmom. It will be a time to heal a bit more, to laugh and enjoy the good stuff in life, like happy memories and the hope-filled promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. And it will be a time to dance. Sure, I will wish I could dance with my father, just one more time. But, I know he would want me to continue dancing without him. And I will. That is my plan.

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Comments

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Alissa

Aby - you have such a gift for writing. Thank you so much for sharing this.It has helped me as I lost both my stepmom and aunt earlier this year. Your family has been in my thoughts all month. best ~alissa

Jen

Wow! What greatness. Priorities and what great ones at that. I think we always need to re-evaluate our lives and how we intend to live it. It's one thing to say how you want to do it, but sometimes "life" gets in the way and the hustle and bustle take over. Inspiring post!

Stephanie Garvey

Thank you so much for sharing your loss, but your journey ahead. Although there is sadness, and your posting brought me to tears, it is truly inspriational! I know your father is and will continue to be very proud of you. You were both lucky to have each other. He sounds like an amazing man who taught you many things to move forward with, and continue down the path of enriching your life. Thanks again!

krista colvin

I will dance with you...

So beautifully written... I understand completely... and I too purchased the bounce back for book for all the same reasons :)

Emily

This is such an inspiring post. Been thinking about you and your family.

Emily

This is such an inspiring post. Been thinking about you and your family.

Cindy Garvey

What beautiful memories you have of your father and your family. If you haven't ever heard the song by Luther Vandros "Dance With My Father Again"............please listen to it. It is one of my favorite songs.

Melissa

Aby - this is SO beautiful. You are so inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your journey - it's really empowering. Love, healing, and blessings to you ...

Sherrie

Thank you for sharing your heart in your recent posts, so loving and generous of you. It helps us all on the path of healing and living this amazing wonderful thing called life. Many blessings to you and your family.

Aby

Thank you all for your comments. I'm so grateful to everyone who is reading my posts about my dad. They are very healing for me to write and I feel so fortunate to have people to share my thoughts with during this time. Hugs to everyone who has lost someone close to them and is on a similar journey.

~ Aby

ShariNZ

Aby - thank you for sharing your thoughts in this lovely, and inspiring post. You have been in my thoughts and I hope each day brings you continued healing. Hugs to you, Shari

Ramie

Aby-Your way with words is amazing. I hope that this next trip to Michigan is a wonderful one and that each day gets easier. Hugs.

SuzieQ

I think it's a beautiful thing - you sharing and your journey.

Stacey

Thinking of you - love this beautiful picture!

Shannon

First of all, you were a very beautiful bride! Secondly, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your post was inspiring. I will pray for you and your family.

Nancy

I am so sorry for your loss, but am inspired by your strength and willingness to see this as an opportunity for growth.

I lost my father 20 years ago, my stepfather 8 years ago (on my due date with my youngest so my DS was a bright spot during a difficult time for my mom,) and now I am slowly losing my mom to Alzheimer's. It has been a challenging year, but I too have been taking it day by day and looking to spend more time with people and activities that I love. (Like Scrabble with my mom, but even that is slipping away.) Thank you for the reminders on greiving gracefully, mindfully and on bouncing back.

Gill

What a beautiful post. I am so sorry for your loss, but happy that you shared this post - it is so empowering and inspiring. I was going to wish you luck for the future, but I don't think you need it, you have everything you need within you. Take care, and have a lovely family wedding. Warmest hugs, Gill xx

Petra from NL

What a lovely post! Teary eyed at the end...
And such good advice. How come it often requires a sad thing to be reminded of the simple yet important things?
Thanks for sharing your strength and thoughts with us.

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Really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us.Great site and a great topic as well i really get amazed to read this.

Julie

Thank you for being a blessing to me! Your blog is a bright spot in my crazy world and I too choose to DANCE~
Hugs and Prayers to you!
Jules

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