Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year New Life

As you have read, the holidays weren't that great for me. I am glad that they are over and I am actually looking forward to New Year's Eve. I mean, new year, new life, new dress? Why wouldn't I be? 

I hate 2012 with most of my being although I have to say there were still many many good times. There is a saying that goes a little something like this; "things can't get any worse". I foolishly used this statement in a year known as 2010. I remember it crystal clear... I was sitting at a rehearsal for a friend's wedding who would be married the next day on New Years Eve. A friend and I were discussing life as Matt had walked down the aisle to take his seat. He had a huge scar on his head from his 2nd brain surgery. He had surgery only about a week and a half prior but the trooper that he was, healed quickly and still made it to all of our holiday plans. My grandfather had passed away only a few months prior. A lot had gone down in only a few months. I shared with my friend that I was looking forward to the New Year because really how could things get any worse? 

So as I stand at the end of 2012, I realize that although I suffered the greatest loss of my life yet, I still have much to be grateful for and things could always get worse since you just don't know what tomorrow brings. Sometimes I struggle with the fact that more bad things will happen to me. I know this sounds pretty depressing and I still sound like a fool in 2012. Really, what I mean is that when you have dealt with an incredible amount of hardship by the age of thirty, you think surely this is it for me! Or more simply I just can't take anymore! However, I know this isn't true because mainly life is impermanent with many many ups and downs especially when you put yourself out there in any sort of relationship. While 2012 was defined by a very giant down, there were certainly some ups as well. So below is my list of Top 10 accomplishments and moments of 2012 and I encourage everyone to do the same! 

1. Hawaii - I made the trip to Hawaii that I never imagined I would take by myself. I originally went with Matt to Hawaii when my grandfather took my whole family back in Spring of 2007. We loved it there and were happy to hear one of Matt's friends would be having his wedding there. We discussed attending this wedding many times together and I knew if it was possible, I would get him to that wedding. Unfortunately Matt did not make it to the wedding. I missed him greatly and it was tough but I am glad I went.  I also know that Matt was happy I went to celebrate with his friends in his place. 

2. Turning Thirty - Not that I had a choice with this one or it was really an accomplishment but I turned thirty this year. While I never thought I would be where I am at thirty, I think I am making the best of it. I embraced the day of celebration and found the perfect way to enter this new era of my life...  a hot yoga class with my friends and family followed of course by some boozy Popsicles!

3. Fixing Stuff - I still have the initial inclination to call the handyman but then I remember how expensive that is and I at least give the home repair a shot. Yesterday, I put my heavy glass shower door back on track. A month ago, I changed all the light bulbs in my house including the super tall one above my front door. I also learned that not only are those fluorescent light bulbs better for the environment, they mean less changing of the light bulbs!

4. Blog - I started this blog and love writing. Who knew I had it in me? During Matt's battle with cancer, I was always pretty private about it all. Expressing my feelings with many friends and family has helped me immensely. Blogs helped me in those early days of grief immensely. Hopefully this helped another young widow out there. Sometimes when you are suffering a loss, the best thing is simply to have someone to associate with. It's true, misery does love company. 

5. Headstand - I won't bore everyone again by going on more about this but remembering that I set this goal for myself last year (January 1, 2012) and achieved it makes me happy. Can't wait to go to class on New Year's Day and chill in headstand for 10 deep breaths! And today, I decided what my pose goal for 2013 is, Handstand! Got into it this morn with the help of the Instructor!

6. Zumba - Somehow during all of the commotion I still showed up for my students and taught with love and passion. Not only did I teach but I attended Convention which was life changing. Then I went on to host a Zumbathon with an outpouring of support from friends, family, and students. We were able to raise over $4000 to benefit the ABTA. I think one of the best moments happened to me just about a week ago when one of my students came up to chat after class. She shared with me that Zumba was a huge stress reliever to her as her sister battled breast cancer. Mission accomplished. 

7. Plan B - Despite my life plans being turned upside down, I created a new plan and found a way to look forward to each new day. I am so ready for this!

8. New friends - Loss and grief truly rock you to your core. It shakes up everything you thought to be true which includes relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. Some friends and family have simply stepped up to be by my side like I could have never imagined. I have made many new friendships that simply wouldn't have happened unless I was in this situation. I also know what types of relationships are healthy for me and which ones I want to maintain. Thank you... you know who you are! 

9. I am a Good Dog Mama - Matt did a lot of the caring for Lila. He fed her, walked her, and took her to the dog park everyday. However, he knew he would be stuck with this when we signed up to adopt Lila. I found myself in charge of all these responsibilities. I know, people do this everyday and Lila makes my life that much better, but nonetheless it was a change for me. At first, I would forget to buy dog food and would have to make a last minute run to the pet store for the expensive stuff but eventually I learned to just buy the bigger bag! Lila and I figured it out and she is a happy little dog. Lila is still a legend at Wigglyville but her Papa is still greatly missed there. 

10. I was a supportive wife that stood by my man. My marriage lasted till death did us part. 

Here's to a wonderful, amazing New Year... as with all years there will be some ups and some downs but hopefully we can all move through it gracefully and appreciate the downs for what they teach us and enjoy the ups with a smile on our faces!



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The After Christmas???

Well again I made it through another huge first by myself. I am feeling the after effects of Christmas but definitely not in the usual after Christmas blues or sales kind of way. More of an I just laid around and did nothing but ate, drank, and felt sorry for myself for the past five days. I certainly can't forget my acting as a grumpy Scrooge acts as well. I know being lazy and eating a ton is pretty standard for the holidays but I just haven't been myself. Typically I am pretty energetic and I at least get up and work out a few days over the holidays but not this year. 

After a sluggish Christmas Eve, I woke up on Christmas Day to volunteer at a homeless shelter for women and families. It was a nice way to start the day and I guess if this is the only real thing I accomplished over the past five days, then I should be proud. After that I hung around my Grandmas eating and hanging with my family. I have to admit I had to take some time outs to sit in my room quietly with Lila. We opened presents with the most fun part of the day watching my second cousin open presents with delight. She is the only little one in our family so she steals the show. After presents I headed to the movie theater to see Les Miserables with my Mom and soon to be sister in law. I had bought the tickets a couple weeks ago since it was opening yesterday and I was looking forward to it. I saw the play on Broadway when I was there on a high school trip but didn't remember much. It turned out to be the perfect dark love and war story for my own dark love and Christmas story. I know the songs had a lot of different meanings than what I attached to them but I certainly found myself lost in some of the lyrics of the solos. Below is an excerpt from "I Dreamed a Dream" sung by the character Fantine (played by Ann Hathaway in the movie); 

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Yes, this is really dark but it's where I was yesterday on my first Christmas without Matt.  

Today on Boxing Day, I am still sitting in Ohio as I was snowed in by the Midwest storm. Yesterday I was kind of hoping for another day with the family laying around so it was an added bonus although there was certainly some annoyance to reschedule appointments, missing another day of work, and not teaching Zumba. Really, I think it was just what the doctor ordered. But now I can safely say with the major family holidays behind me along with five days of being a slug... I am ready to pick up with life again and get back on track with the game of living. I know there is still New Year's to bear but I have a hot new dress and I need to get to the gym to look good in it! Then it's on to big plans for the New Year! So I guess the holidays weren't all that bad since I am getting back out there and thinking of the future but with all that said I still have to wish you a Merry Fucking Christmas! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cindy Lou Who?

Wow this sucks. No other words for it. No way to sugar coat it. This sucks and I just want it to be over. I know I know I should never wish away the days but I am done and ready to move on from this holiday season.

Last night I did have some Christmas joy as I visited an old friend, her husband, and her two adorable children. There were a lot of laughs, a few good cries, and everything in between. I brought the kids a couple of Christmas gifts which included How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess. I am sure you have all seen many forms of this beloved Christmas tale. It's a classic for a reason. The kids had seen the Jim Carey version many many times but this was the first time reading the book. I delighted in reading this to their little girl especially when she went on and on about Cindy Lou, you know the little girl that turns the Grinch's heart...

Matt used to call me Cindy Lou because of my love for the season. We met shortly before Christmas in 2005 at our work holiday party. He sent me a beautiful bouquet after our first date as a Christmas present. I will never forget this moment. The doorman called to tell me that I had flowers and I didn't believe him! Very good move on his part. My mom was there too so he earned extra bonus points by impressing my Mom. The next Christmas I lived in a little place that I had decorated and we celebrated Christmas before we parted ways and headed to our respective homes in the Midwest. The following year we were living in our first apartment together. Matt quickly saw my enthusiasm for the season as I pulled out the decorations and put on my Santa Hat. He dubbed me Cindy Lou and we went on to start celebrating Christmases together in Wisconsin or Ohio every year. There were many good times in both places. This year we would have gone to Wisconsin and I am missing his family in their very fun Christmas Eve celebration. I will never forget taking part in my first White Elephant there. I didn't know people bought good presents like OPI nail polish, BBQ sauces, and the ever popular six packs. My ornament quickly became the present left at the end of exchange. One year we went to Navy Pier to see A Christmas Carol at the IMax. We enjoyed the movie and afterwards Matt wanted to show me something and led me to the Winter Wonderland. An old hangar that was filled with tons of Christmas cheer and lights. He took me there simply to see my eyes get big with the glow of Christmas and revel in my joy of the season. Last year, we headed to Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. This was probably my last real date with Matt when he was somewhat himself. 

I am so thankful for all of these joyful memories but Cindy Lou is not doing so well today and I don't think she could stop the Grinch if she tried. I didn't hang up one Christmas decoration and didn't buy any gifts aside from those mentioned above. Very few Christmas cards were sent. I couldn't face Church tonight with all the families dressed up in their new sweaters and dresses and the overall merriness. This is probably the first time I haven't gone to Church on Christmas EVER... my Catholic guilt pushing me on in this downward spiral. Right now if I saw that Grinch slithering down the chimney, I would stay in my heap on the couch and watch him take it all begging him to leave the Baileys. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

One is the Loneliest Number

I have posted a lot about events, firsts, trips, and headstands and how these have impacted me. I don't think I have really discussed or could ever possibly emphasize enough the loneliness of being in this place. Perhaps I have in earlier rants but I am just feeling it so much right now that I have to dedicate a whole post to it. Losing your best friend through life is the worst part of this whole process. 

The past two weekends were full of celebrating including a friend's birthday , a wedding, and the holidays. All were good fun with plenty of friends and laughs but I missed Matt. I missed my date through life. I missed walking into the party with him... I missed talking to him at the party... I missed laughing about it the next day. Please don't take this to mean I am one of the those namby pamby women that can't go places without someone by her side, I am pretty independent woman and going by myself isn't the issue...but Matt, Matt I want by my side. 

On Sunday, the loneliness was eating at me. I basically walked around in a panic all day because I missed him so much and because I couldn't find my old Iphone which has tons of messages from Matt on it. It's so hard to go from sharing your life explicitly with someone to not. You come home everyday to tell the person what happened to you. I love to talk and tell a good a story so our evenings were typically spent discussing the day over dinner or TV. Sometimes I can't help but hang my head when I come home to see my place dim under the street lamps the warm glow of Matt inside with the lights on gone. Thankfully, I have family members that talk to me on pretty much a daily basis.... my three leading ladies; my aunt, my mom, and my grandma. They pretty much pick up the phone at anytime and always call me back. They have certainly helped to put my "I need to tell someone this energy" somewhere. As you can guess, it's not quite the same. 

In marriage, you are signing up for someone to become your life partner, your lives become quickly intertwined. Your day and your happiness is theirs and it all becomes one. It's the little things that you share on a day to day basis that are fun, sad, silly, stupid, your life. I miss it so much. I miss telling Matt everything. I STILL have things happen in my life and can't want to tell him. Honestly, these usually aren't big things... telling him that I saw the crazy guy at the dog park, that I got a free Potbelly sandwich, that I saw his buddy on the train. Of course there are the big things that I miss sharing too; that I had to have another laser treatment on my foot, that I turned 30, that I did a headstand. 

I miss him so much right now, its palpable (line stolen from Carrie Bradshaw). Like I said, all the celebrating hit me hard compiled with the holidays and the overall grief of the country, it's too much. The days are getting longer for me filled with lots of ups and downs and general exhaustion by bedtime. I am excited about my new life plans but I am tired of scheming. I have been agonizing over renting this condo so all can go as planned. I want to be talking about our plans for Christmas discussing what time we will take off on Saturday... not deciding when I will leave to trek across the country and move from our home... talking about when we will start trying to have kids not dreaming up the best way to start over.  

I have been reading a book a dear friend gave to me, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron and for the day I leave you with two paragraphs from her book although I highly recommend reading her book in particular the chapter on loneliness. I will certainly be working on this over the holiday season...

"Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It's restless and pregnant and hot with desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down."

"When you wake up in the morning and out of nowhere comes the heartache of alienation and loneliness, could you use that as a golden opportunity? Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling that something terribly wrong is happening, right there in the moment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart? The next time you get a chance, experiment with this."



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Comfortably Numb

Last night I did a quick Facebook check and a college friend had posted that he had just seen a good duo of Eddie Vedder and Roger Waters of Comfortably Numb. I asked what was going and he alerted me of the 12.12.12 Sandy Relief Concert and I quickly turned it on but had already missed the song. I hit record to enjoy the rest of the concert at a later date. 

As you know, Matt, was an Eddie Vedder fan so it obviously made me think of him. He would have loved this jam and would have loved this concert. As he was a fan of Palladia and Fuse, I am no stranger to the TV concert. One of the best presents I think I ever bought him was of a live Pearl Jam concert that he assured me was a rare find which I had no clue of when I bought. I quite enjoy TV concerts and I'll admit are a nice distraction from my normal squawky reality shows and make for some perfect background music. Matt would have known about this concert and had me watching it. I don't often find myself playing the "what would we be doing now" game nine months later but the game was playing me last night. I pictured us on the couch watching the concert surrounded by our Christmas decorations with Lila snuggled on her bed. 

Today, I pulled up the You Tube of the Comfortably Numb duo and quickly became entranced by the words. Lately, I have been thinking about how I have been seemingly doing better with this whole grief thing and finding the sunny side of life again. But I have also thought to myself... do you just at some point have to rise above it? I mean you simply can't live in that state of grief forever, it's just not possible. Do you have to stop thinking about it at some point to move forward. I haven't been crying as much lately (until today), I mean sure at any moment I could make myself cry if I thought about all this stuff but I don't so I don't cry. Have I become comfortably numb? 

Enjoy the video here...



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Plan B

I have been wanting to post this for quite some time now as I have been working on "Plan B" for awhile but I had to wait until a few more things were in place before I could. So here goes, my Plan B. 

The plan is to take some time off and eventually move out West. I love Chicago and it has been good to me but it will always be Matt and I's city in my heart. I met Matt about a month after I moved here and he helped me navigate the city at first which included numerous frantic calls wondering where I was and how do I get to where I am going. Then it became our home as we moved in together and eventually bought our first place and married. I could continue to live here and enjoy it but it's time for new surroundings and a change of energy. 

Eventually I plan to move to San Diego but not until I travel across the world for a couple of months. I will first head to San Diego to check out some places and then drive up to LA with my Mom to attend the LA Zumba Conference. From LA I will be flying to Australia to stay with one of Matt's best friends from Wisconsin and his lovely wife. Another friend from Appleton will be visiting while I am so it will be a trip down under Sconie style!  

After spending about two weeks there I am headed to Bali for a one month yoga teacher training. I will be staying in Ubud but I am sure I will be doing some traveling while I am in the training. I also have some time after the training to travel as well. 

Once I get back, I plan to make the journey out west and settle in San Diego. I am going to drive out there with Lila and I am looking forward to making stops across the nation. Matt once made the drive across our great country and I look forward to doing the same in his beloved Audi. 

As far as choosing San Diego? I have visited there a couple of times and always wondered, "why don't I live here?" The last trip Matt and I made together was to San Diego for a friend's wedding. Sitting on the beaches of SoCal with him are some very good memories and of course always hitting up In and Out Burger. One of my best friends from grade school lives there with her family and I can't wait to live in the same city as her again. A few of Matt's friends live there as well and hopefully they will invite me to a party or two ;)  

So that's it! I hatched this up many months ago and thought about it for awhile before putting the actual logistics in place. It's all set now, just need to rent out the condo so if you know of anyone looking for a 2 bed/2 bath in Chicago's north side, let me know!

Yep, it's a pretty great plan and I am allowing my heart take me where it wants. Having something to look forward to and organize has given me the gift of waking up excited about each new day again. I am so thankful that I have received so much support in discussing Plan B with family, friends, counselors, and co-workers. I am fortunate that no one has ever said, "are you crazy?" or "are you sure you want to do this?" because frankly, I have thought that a few times. I have been met with nothing but hope and excitement about this new adventure in life and for that I am truly grateful. However there has been a response that has made me cringe although I know it comes from a good place. Please don't say your jealous. I mean I get it... who doesn't want to quit their job to take off for warmer weather across the world? But I am only doing this because my Plan A, the life plan that I wanted and built with Matt didn't work out. I wanted the boring life of 1.5 kids and a picket fence but as we all know some of the best laid plans just don't happen. Right now, this feels to be the next best thing for me. So please share your excitement and your hope for me but please don't say your jealous because all I can think of is how much I had to go through to get to this plan. 

I simply can't wait to see where this takes me and I look forward to you taking this journey with me via blogspot. Heading out of the Windy City the last week of January... let the going away party planning begin! 


Your Soon to be West Coast Widowed Certified Yogi 

Matt and I in San Diego August 2011 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Zumbathon for the ABTA - December 1, 2012

I hosted a Zumbathon this past Saturday, December 1st to benefit the American Brain Tumor Association. I have wanted to do this for awhile but simply didn't have the time, energy, or power to put it together. Finally, I mustered up the strength to host this and I have to say I am beyond proud in how it turned out. On Sunday, I found myself thinking, when can I host my next Zumbathon? So between my headstand and the Zumbathon... I am still tooting my own horn and Zumbaing along as I do it! 

I loved every single minute of planning this as well, except the couple of hours leading up to it when I was nervous. But I kept it pretty in check throughout the planning process and told myself it was all for a good cause and if something, goes wrong... what's the worst thing that can happen?

I think the most amazing part of it all was how many people came together to support me and this event. And of course that we raised just over $4,200 for the ABTA! My friends certainly stepped up in many ways including; generating raffle prizes, finding photographers, asking how they could help, and of course showing up to Zumba even if they hate dancing or were incredibly hungover! Friends came from near and far and I was very happy to see so many of their smiling faces on Saturday. My family traveled from various parts of the country and not only made the journey but allowed me to boss them around the day of. Some family even brought their friends who were also quickly put to work. They had no idea what was in store when they rolled in for what was supposed to be a fun weekend in the city! The community also helped the cause by donating raffle prizes. Most of these were local business that I support so I appreciated them supporting me back. And of course my Zumba buddies came to help me instruct the whole thing! They were amazing to say the least and kept all 65 people moving the entire time! These are Instructors that I took my first class with, teach with, and met at Convention... I am so lucky to have the Zumba community by my side! 

The whole event was so moving and so much fun! It was wonderful to see friends try Zumba for the first see Zumba enthusiasts come to party their hearts out.. and to hear everyone talk about all the Instructors and who got them groovin to the music... it was all so so amazing.

Thank you to all who donated, contributed, showed up, Zumbaed, shared, led, and made the day one of the best I have had in a long time. Certainly wishing we could do it all again this weekend! This was all done in honor of my always smiling love, Matt, in hopes that we can find a cure so no family has to ever endure this heartache again. Matt would have been so proud. I wonder if he would have actually Zumbaed? It made me giggle when I thought about him dancing around that gym. One thing I know, he would have been damn proud that I had a local pizzeria donate free pizzas!

Please check out the list of donors below and some special shout outs of thanks. Enjoy the pics that were graciously taken by Craig and Cory Stevenson. Check out what their company can do for you here...

Raffle Donors:
State Restaurant -
Ravenswood Fitness Center -
Comfy Fitness -
Buddah Beads -
Goran Coban -
Naked Pizza -

Special Thanks:
Julia Ralston
Lisa Proctor
Ashley Bussen
Gloria Crawford
Laura Hunt
Heather Burkey

Zumba Luv!


Monday, December 3, 2012

The Year of the Headstand

For the past year, I have been obsessed with getting myself into a headstand. On January 1st, I posted this on my Zumbamel FB page (where I include all motivational fitness related it if you haven't already!)... Here's to a year full of health and fitness! Started my morn with a great yoga class at CorePower Yoga! Fitness goal of the year... HEADSTAND!

Some of the classes at Core Power include time to play with headstand and some don't. Then when I went to the ashram, almost everyone could do headstand including those that didn't seem to be in that great of shape (I know that isn't yogi of me but darnit I workout EVERYDAY). Then I became slightly obsessed with getting into this asana (pose).

This time of year has been difficult for me as I shared this is really when Matt began to change. He just wasn't himself, he held onto it as long as he could but it was starting to show. I regretfully did not spend New Years with Matt so I know this one will be hard. Plus at New Years, it was undeniable that Matt was very ill and would probably not make it to another New Years. I initially planned to spend the evening alone, I know boring as all heck but I was tired and looking forward to a night of relaxing on the couch. I had plans to meet up with friends on New Years Day anyways. Unexpectedly I got a call from a friend who had gotten engaged. I pulled myself out of my sweatpants, still didn't wash my hair but I made it out to celebrate her engagement. I was so happy for her. At the same time, I simply couldn't believe that while most people's lives were just starting together, mine was coming to end. 

I had an enjoyable evening and the next day, I woke early to attend a New Year's Day yoga class before I met up with my friends. When the time came in class, I tried to get into headstand which I was newly enthralled with after the ashram but wasn't close to getting up there. I was still excited about the prospect of doing a headstand and made it my goal of the year. Looking back, I wonder how the hell did I post this when my life was falling apart? How did I have the mindset to hope for something and set my mind to it?

Proudly, I can now say headstand is mine! And it's almost the end of the year! I have been practicing in class whenever I get the chance and sometimes when I stick around afterwards to practice. I started by the wall and slowly inched myself away. While at the beach for Thanksgiving, I asked my aunt to spot me in the sand. To my surprise, she didn't even help me up and I held it long enough to enjoy the view of the ocean inverted and snap a few pics. The next day, as I was practicing yoga by myself in the early morning, I decided to try it by myself and up I went! Soon I was acting like an inverted fool trying it whenever I could watching; the sunrise, the sunset, people walking by. The sand was the perfect practice place!  

I am elated that headstand is mine!  I am so proud! You see, it's all about getting over that fear. Getting yourself up there and realizing, that if you fall down, you will be okay! I feel backwards several times but landed softly and gave out a chuckle. It was even kind of fun to fall backwards and  I soon found myself envisioning a headstand to wheel maneuver. Perhaps my next conquest? I was so fearful to fall but once I did fall and realized I would be okay, it was on! Not only is it amazing to accomplish a goal, there are many health benefits from a regular headstand practice including; stimulating a face lift, decreasing gray (now ya got me here!), minimizing depression, and of course reversing your blood flow. Please see a list of more reasons here And as the article mentions, it is a darn pretty cool party trick. 

Somehow amongst all the craziness of last year, I somehow found the optimisim to set a goal for myself and accomplish it. I think I just had to find some sort of manageable goal amongst all that was uncontrollable in my life. Sorry for gloating but I am pretty damn proud of myself. Here's to fitness goals and to my next conquest! And be sure to check out a few headstand pictures below ;)