Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thank You

Dear You,
This blog is about therapy for me. It is me just working through whatever is on my mind, to get it off my shoulders so my friends and family don't have to sit and listen to me constantly analyze every aspect of my life. It is essentially my journal, documenting this life change called Yoga Teacher Training. When I started it, I never really thought about the publicness of it. I just write for me.

However, lately an interesting phenomenon has been happening. I sit down to talk to my friends and they say, "yeah, I read about that in your blog." I meet random people through friends who say "you're the one with the blog!"  I have been getting emails and comments from people I don't know, cheering me on. Relating to me. Appreciating me. It is such a weird feeling, to think about others reading these words I write. To me, I just start typing into a blank white box and, upon hitting "Publish Post" my words get carried into a black hole somewhere. Never really thought about what happens next. But somehow, these posts are finding each of you. 

I just wanted to take a moment to thank each and every person who has read my blog. What started out as a selfish act is now connecting me to people on a level I never knew existed. It is such an amazing feeling, sharing with you all. Some of you share back - in terms of emails, comments, and the like. And I hang on every word because I want to know you as well as you are getting to know me. Some of you just read it and I never know unless you bring it up at some point. Some of you are helping me to grow by passing it onto friends and family. Some of you may read it once and never come back. Whatever group you fall into, thank you. Thank you for giving me a chance to come into your life, whether on a daily basis or for a fleeting moment. I appreciate every single person and hope I can deepen the connection with each of you. 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Here's a sample of my day yesterday:

3:45am - Wake up to make plane for a 1 day trip to Boston
5:30am - Park car at airport, grab shuttle and navigate security
6:30am - Board plane
7am - Told my connecting airport is grounding everyone due to weather so we wait, unable to leave plane
8:45am - Finally take off for my connecting flight in Philly
10am - Land in Philly and wait for next plane to Boston
12pm - Land in Boston
12:30pm - Finally make it to 11a site survey with the clients
2:30pm - Back at airport. Original flight back through Philly leaves at 6pm so get booked on earlier flight through Washington DC - should get me home by 7:30p (instead of 10pm)
5pm - Land in Washington DC
5:30pm - Wait in Washington DC for delayed flight back to Detroit
6:30pm - Still waiting in Washington DC for delayed flight back to Detroit
7:30pm -  Still waiting in Washington DC for delayed flight back to Detroit
8:30pm - Still waiting in Washington DC for delayed flight back to Detroit
9:30pm - Finally board buses to take us to aircraft about 100 yards away on tarmack
10:15pm - Still sitting in buses in front of aircraft as they check out some issues
10:30pm - Finally board plane home
12:30am - Crash into my bed

Here is what yesterday taught me - this yoga stuff is sinking in. 16 hours of my day were spent either at an airport or on a plane - all for 2 hours of actual client meetings. And never once did I feel agitated about it. My old self wouldn't have made a scene, but I would have been bitchy and impatient. I would have huffed and puffed each time they announced another delay. I would have rolled my eyes or something similarly passively aggressive. But I had a strange calm the entire day. I just went with the flow. It was what it was. It didn't occur to me to regret getting on the earlier flight home - even though it ended up bringing me home even later than had I taken my original flight. I made a choice and I was okay with it - truly okay with it. 

I passed the time doing some yoga homework - thankful for this time where I could catch up since I had fallen behind. I read a book, which felt SO good since I hadn't had time to just read for fun in so long. I listened to music. I people watched and analyzed "beauty" in my own mind (interesting observations - possibly a future blog?). I meditated, which was extremely easy when strapped to a plane seat unable to move anyways.  I barely said two words the entire day besides at the client meeting. I found all of these ways to get in touch with myself that I had been too busy to do recently. This day, instead of being a horrible trial in patience, instead was a blessing. 

I am so thankful for my yoga training. It is changing the way I view every day occurrences for the better. It is giving me the blender to make the lemonade. To take "bad" situations and just live through them, hopefully finding a lesson in there somewhere. I titled this post "B+" because I feel like that is what I earned on the test yesterday. I know we aren't supposed to grade (AKA judge) ourselves but I like to know where I have "got it" and where I have room to grow. If you were to give yourself a grade on how you handled the last difficult situation in your life, what would it be? Would it be a grade you were proud of? Or something maybe you could work a little harder on next time?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mind Matters Most

Today one of our homework assignments is to write an essay on the statement "Mind Matters Most", so I'm knocking out two things by posting it as my blog today as well :)

The expected route is to tie this statement into yoga and talk about how your mind is what allows/limits your body's movement and when your mind is unfocused your breath/movement suffers and so on and so forth. But since I have written lots of previous blogs on these topics, I think I am going to go a different direction. Instead, let's compare and contrast two extremes unrelated to yoga....or are they?

My grandma was an amazing lady. She came over from Slovakia as a child and doted on being a wife, mother and grandmother. Her family meant everything to her. She never held a job that I knew of, but slaved for weeks before any holiday to celebrate in true Slavic style - meaning miles of food (and butter!) and rooms crowded full of relatives. She would teach us children some Slovak (jeden, dve, tri, styri, pat...) and tell us stories from her childhood. She lived for family.

Then it all changed. I am not sure how fast it happened - being so young I am sure my parents tried to hide it from us for quite a while. But I will never forget the time we visited her and she no longer knew who I was. I learned a big word that day - Alzheimer's. Something had come in and stolen the very essence of my grandmother - her mind. At first, it was her memories. Than one Christmas she couldn't remember how to unwrap a gift. Her body was still healthy, but her mind floated in and out of recognition of the life she once lived. I remember witnessing random moments of clarity, when she suddenly remembered something. It was almost worse because of the intense sadness she felt in those moments, knowing what was happening to her.

On the extreme opposite, is a man I am sure everyone has heard of - Stephen Hawking. Having lived a fairly normal childhood, he was diagnosed at 21 with Motor Neurone Disease (a form of ALS). This meant as the years went by, his mind stayed clear while his body deteriorated. Slowly his entire body worked itself into full paralysis and pneumonia even stole his ability to speak. Yet he used technology to overcome this physical handicap. His mind not only remained cognizant, but continued to sharpen as his body went the other direction. He is an esteemed author, professor, and researcher. His efforts have greatly advanced his field of physics. He is a certified Mensa genius as well as a husband and father. All of this accomplished without a working body.

Putting these two extremes side by side, I believe that Mind does indeed matter most. Your mind holds your memories. It gives you your opinions and connects you to other people. Without it, you become a shell.  Yet, so many people put priority on their physical body over their mind because it is something tangible they can touch. People take time to exercise and diet so they look good on the outside, yet can't imagine stopping to meditate for 20 minutes ("I don't have time for that!"). They let their mind get stressed - saying "no" to  something isn't an option. In a previous blog, To Scratch or Not To Scratch, I even found a study showing that just going through life with your brain on autopilot instead of actively engaging it can be a leading factor in Alzheimer's later in life. But to most people, their mind is just their mind - they either don't care or don't know they can proactively do things to make it healthier.  If they did, meditation, yoga and the like would be in every school and blasted from every billboard.

Take a moment to think about the above examples, and decide for yourself: does mind truly matter most? If you believe it does, what are you going to do to keep it nurtured and healthy in the coming years?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Raining Men!

Today in my 6:30am hot vinyasa class, I looked around and was astounded by what I saw - men. Lots and lots of men. My yoga center has always had more guys in a class than any other place I have been to, but never before had I noticed them outnumbering the females. We were in the small room that fits maybe 15-20 people, and I counted only 4 girls in the packed room, including myself. Huh.

So why was this such a surprise to me? I certainly don't think yoga is just for girls. But I do believe others feel that way, which is why I was so pleasantly surprised. I think there is a big misconception that yoga isn't truly a "workout". Most people in my life think it is just stretching - like something you do before or after a "real" workout. And since guys like to lift the weight of a small gorilla over their heads, that image just doesn't mesh with a graceful Pigeon Pose. This morning I was so grateful to see this stigma changing. 

In reality, yoga is whatever you make of it. It is probably the only form of exercise that truly every person can do. Not only can everyone do it, but they can alter it to a level challenging enough for them - wherever they are at. When you begin yoga, it is pretty "easy" at first. This isn't because yoga in itself is easy, but because people new to yoga don't yet know what to do with it. It is like giving an accountant a set of paintbrushes and a canvas. At first, it is easy to just slap some paint on the canvas and say you painted. But only once they start challenging themselves to create a masterpiece can they see how much more practice and skill they need to really do something great with these tools they have been given. 

In yoga, it is the same. At first, you move into each pose and say you did yoga. This might be the case for weeks or months or even years. But at some point, your mind stops thinking about what color you should paint your toenails and instead you can actually feel the heart pumping blood to different areas of the body. You start to recognize something inside yourself - that point where you resist and where you surrender. You start to differentiate between your mind resisting and your body resisting. You begin to understand the concept of "your edge" that the teacher keeps talking about. Maybe one time you notice your body stop at a certain point. You inhale to expand then exhale even deeper into the pose and feel a new sensation, something you have never felt before. When you release, a euphoria comes over you as the blood rushes into the space you just created.  You learn to use the poses to make your body stronger. You learn to use the poses to make your mind stronger.

The problem is, so many people give up while still in that "toenail paint color" phase of yoga. At that point, it IS basically stretching - which is where I think everyone gets that notion from. Until you engage the mind in yoga, it is no different than doing a few runner-stretches before getting onto the treadmill. Since guys usually need to feel it deep in their muscles - as with weight lifting - and they don't get to that point in their first few classes of yoga, they discount it as not a "good workout."

It is obvious by the amount of guys in this morning class that my yoga center has found the "secret sauce" to make people give yoga a chance to move beyond just stretching. I am so grateful to be learning how to teach from a place that has figured out a way to bust through that misconception. Their teachers have broken down that learning curve with a mix of flows, wisdom and music to expedite the process of engaging the mind. It is because of amazing teachers like the ones I am learning under, that yoga is becoming mainstream again and more and more people are benefiting from it. I am so excited to become a part of this community and to possibly, in the future, help someone cross over from thinking of yoga as "stretching" to realizing what an intense mind and body workout it really can be. 


Monday, April 18, 2011

I See You

My boyfriend and I like to debate things. I am not using the word "debate" to mean argue. We really enjoy picking sides on some silly topic and giving it our best shot. It helps us learn new points of views (even though mine are always correct! :) ) and a little more about each other.

The other day we were watching the movie The American where George Clooney was playing an assassin. That brought up the topic of taking human life - heck, taking any life. We were debating the price it would take to get to that point. My boyfriend mentioned he could probably take a life if it meant world peace - sacrificing 1 innocent person in exchange for no more suffering for everyone else on the planet. Then I questioned what if the person he had to kill was his son. He did a 180 saying there was nothing so great that would cause him to do that. His son was worth way more than to ease the suffering for people he had never met.

It got me thinking as to the value of life. Why is it that we view everything so selfishly? A life is a life - it shouldn't have any more or less value based on how close we are to the life in question. A person is not more important to the world just because at some point we sat next to them on a bus and struck up a conversation that lasted 30 years. I am not saying my boyfriend should not have changed his tune, just that it is really interesting how we value someone based on what they are to US, instead of valuing life for the sake of life.

Just to let you in on a secret - this is the exact place most vegans/vegetarians are coming from. It isn't that we are crazy or weird or much different than you. Just that we try to remove ourselves from the equation and appreciate life for what it is rather than what it is to us. For those of you with pet dogs, imagine for a moment eating your dog. Slitting his throat, cooking him up and placing him on a bun, because you "need the protein". I bet at least one of you cringed. Yet someone in China wouldn't hesitate. They see your dog and don't think about how much joy he brought you. They don't consider the times he curled up with you when you were sick, or licked your tears after your last breakup. They choose not to see the obvious intelligence and emotion you have come to know and love in your four legged "kid". They see lunch. To them, it is "just an animal" whose life has no meaning itself, except to feed humans. The only difference between them eating a dog and us eating a cow is societal acceptance. Remove the judgement you grew up with, and it is the exact same underlying scenario. Choosing to sacrifice another life (as long as you don't personally know it!) because of your "needs".

I am not trying to convert anyone here. I just want people to understand where the vegan mentality comes from. People look at us like we are crazy, simply because we choose to step away from our own paradigm of "what does this animal's life mean to me personally" and instead look at "what does life mean in general".

The movie Avatar said it best. When she had to kill an animal that was threatening her, Neytiri knelt beside it as it was dying and said "I see you". She saw its value. She mourned - because even though she was the one that killed it, she recognized it as being just an important as herself. Every being deserves to be seen for what it is, a unique life that brings something to this world. I'm not suggesting you become vegan, but maybe next time you are having a steak or a ham sandwich, just take a moment and think about the animal that gave its life. Maybe send up a quick "thank you" of appreciation, to show you understand a sacrifice has been made. What could it hurt, besides to move you just a tad outside of that selfish paradigm?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Permanent Impermanence

Everything is impermanent. This is the lesson that has slowly started sinking in around the 150th time I heard it in yoga teacher training. And it is starting to affect my life in dramatic ways.

First, let's define what it means. Impermanence means not permanent.  It means everything will continually change. There is not one thing that will come into your life and stay exactly as-is throughout your entire life. Or maybe even throughout your entire day. Not understanding this with our entire being is what causes the suffering we feel. Instead of being grateful for something during the time it exists, and then letting it go once it is ceasing to exist, we often hold on tighter and tighter once we feel it slipping away. We fight. We grasp. Yet, it still slips away, because nothing can stay forever. This is the root of much of our unhappiness. This attachment to something that will inevitably leave us.

This concept of impermanence played a huge role this morning. Last night I got home from Yoga Teacher Training around 11pm. Throw in a conversation with my boyfriend since I hadn't seen him all day, and suddenly it was after midnight. I set my alarm to make the 6:30am Hot Vinyasa without really thinking I would actually get up for it - not with going to bed so late. Almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, my alarm went off. How did 5 hours go by so quickly?!? I groggily hit snooze. I debated in my head about getting up. I was SO sleepy. It felt so good to be warm and comfy. Then, yesterday's lecture about impermanence popped into my head. At some point, I would be getting out of bed. And at that point I would still be feeling warm and cozy and sleepy. I wasn't going to stay here forever. So I could either get out of bed now and do something I knew would make me feel amazing (go to Missy's morning yoga class) or hold onto this comfort a few moments longer but probably regret missing yoga once I had to get up anyway. I got up.

Within a half hour I was laying on my mat enveloped in the heat and silence of the yoga studio. There, I proceeded to slowly open my up my body. Lazy stretches turned into an energetic kickass flow. Then we took our mats to the wall and did an entire section on my favorite topic - inversions. I'm not good at them, but for some reason turning upside down makes me feel almost giddily drunk. I just enjoy that stacking feeling and immense upper body strength (that I don't yet have but am working on). Every time my arms began to shake I would smile - so happy I was there. My body felt marvelous and I knew it was going to be a good day.

Impermanence was what got me out of bed this morning. It is what convinced me not to cling to the comfort I was feeling and miss out on something even better.  When you feel yourself craving something - just a few more minutes sleep, just one more cookie, just one more phone call to an ex - remind yourself to let go. Be grateful for what you had, and acknowledge that something better might be just around the corner, whether it is an incredible day, a tear-free bathing suit shopping session, or the partner of your dreams. Let go of your cravings, your attachments. And open yourself up to the next wonderful yet impermanent thing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coincidence, Right? Not So Fast....

For probably about 10 years now, I have noticed more and more unexplainable things happen to me. Skeptics would say I have an awful lot of "coincidences" in my life.

Sometimes it is silly things. I have an addiction to Faygo Orange Sparkling Water. Not many places carry it. One day I was really craving it all day and that afternoon I saw it at Meijer. I got so excited I bought out the stock. Then next time they didn't have it, Then they did. Since then (about 9 months ago) I have an on-going experiment that I am actually writing down: if I remember to think really hard about the water before I go to the store, 90% of the time it has been there. If I just ran in and didn't give it a thought until I was in that isle, 100% of the time it has not been there. I rarely go same day/time each week. Sure, could be coincidence. But seeing as I go to the store every 1-2 weeks that is an awful lot of coincidences!

Sometimes it is a bit more intense. Lately I have been questioning a lot about my ability to be a parent to Alex. Just normal insecurities coupled with the fear that he isn't even mine so if I screw him up it would be much worse. An intuitive friend randomly told me someone with tattoos popped into her mind and expressed extreme love and gratitude towards me. I found out later that Alex's mom (who is deceased) was covered in tattoos. I didn't previously know this so when my friend initially told me I was like "I don't know anyone with tattoos" - so there was no way my friend would have known to say that. But now looking back I like to think maybe it was Alex's mom just trying to let me know she approves of how I am helping to raise her son.

A few nights ago I had a dream about a friend who lives across the country whom I hadn't spoken to in many many months. Probably hadn't seen in about a year and easily been 7 or 8 months since we last communicated at all. The dream was very real, that much I remember, but the details are a bit fuzzy. There was extreme joy and I think we were wedding dress shopping with her. There was something of a wedding feel to the whole dream, although I can't remember the specifics. I woke up knowing I had to contact her, so I sent her a message in the morning just asking her about her life and how things were going. I got a text that night with a picture of an engagement ring on her hand - her boyfriend had proposed 2 days before!

Things like this happen so often to me now that I can't help but have some belief that there is more out than just what we can explain. I am not trying to pinpoint it - saying beyond a shadow of a doubt there are such things as spirits or ESP or that I am bending the universe to my will. But just being open to the possibility that the universe is not random, but rather bringing us what we individually need is very exciting to me. I have stopped trying to find rational explanations and instead, just feel blessed to have witnessed some of the extraordinary things I have. Doesn't matter to me if people label these coincidences or miracles, these are my own experiences only so all that matters to me is how I feel about them.

I just wanted to share because so many people want to believe in things, yet feel like they are a freak if they do. Try being open and not immediately judge or dismiss something. Next time you hear that perfect song on the radio that you really needed to hear - let yourself believe it was put on there just for you. Or when you're thinking about someone and they call - its ok to believe they called because on some subconscious level they knew you needed them. Try living your life for 1 day believing everything you see and hear was created for you. It is a powerful way to live.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Significance of Insignificant Items

I was checking out my Twitter feed today and ran across this quote:

The moment one gives close attention to anything, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself ~Henry Miller
I decided to put this to the test. What could I choose? I didn't want to go easy - like a tree or animal or car. The complexities of such things surely made the fact it was "magnificent" common knowledge. So I closed my eyes in my kitchen and spun around a bit. What would be the first thing I saw?

A plastic grocery bag. I know I know, I'm not supposed to have them. Let's move on. 

So how can a plastic grocery bag be a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself? I started really considering this bag in front of me. 

How did it get here? I mean, I know I brought it home from the store, but what sort of journey has this bag been on? In fact, I didn't even really know what it was made from. What is plastic? So I headed to the Internet. Looks like this bag started out as crude oil! Black Gold. Texas Tea. The oil is heated to release ethylene gas which goes through more transformations and manufacturing to become a plastic grocery bag. Huh. Wonder who was the first to come up with this? Was it by mistake? 

Once manufactured, this bag got packaged with millions of other bags and flew from probably China or India to a US distributor. At this point it is only 2 steps into its lifecycle and already more well-traveled than I am! From there it may have gone to another factory who imprinted a logo on it, then probably headed to a grocery store warehouse somewhere. Maybe it sat in a box for months, maybe it was put at the end of a register immediately and overheard all of the good cashier gossip. It finally got its 15 minutes of fame when I forgot my reusable bag during a quick stop. 

Now it is sitting in my house. I ponder what fate awaits it. Will it help me clean up after my dogs during our next walk?  Will it sit in my bathroom garbage can for weeks collecting discarded Q-Tips? Will it make it into the recycle bin before it is reused in some fashion? After that - what will happen to it? How many people, animals, places will touch this bag over the course of its lifetime? What IS its lifetime?

The point of this exercise was not to bore you with the history of my plastic bag. It was to prove this quote true. Every single thing in your life came there from somewhere and will be heading somewhere else once you're done with it. The amount of work that was taken to get it in front of you is overwhelming in and of itself. Next time you turn on the tv, pick up your yoga mat, put on your favorite tee-shirt, cut up a cucumber, etc - just take a moment to appreciate the truly magnificent and mysterious world encompassed by this "insignificant" item. Careful, it might just change you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ever Changing

I always used to blow off when the yoga teacher was like "this isn't the same body you had yesterday" or similar lines. It didn't mean anything to me - of course this was the same body. I didn't have a transplant overnight. But doubling up classes yesterday has suddenly opened my eyes to the meaning of this.

I have been going to 6:30am classes regularly now. Wakes me up with a good stretch and gets me moving for the day. But yesterday I decided to also hit a 7:15pm class. The difference in my morning and evening practices is AMAZING. It is like I am a whole different person. In the morning I cannot balance for the life of me - a simple airplane pose causes falling and shaking almost immediately after take off. But last night I felt so solid. My tree pose felt as if I had actually sprouted roots. I also noticed a difference in my motivation. In the morning I often do 3 breaths one movement (instead of 1 breath one movement) and take it slow and easy. Last night all I wanted to do was push myself deeper and faster - it felt SO good to push the limits. There wasn't really a "good" or "bad" practice, just two very different experiences. 

The definition of insanity was once quoted as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But it is impossible to do exactly the same thing more than once, because the world (including yourself) is ever-changing. There are so many external factors that play a part in how something turns out, that a previous experience is not a guarantee of the future one. So keep going to those piano lessons, or reaching out to that estranged sibling, or pursuing that client, or training for that race. Maybe in 10 minutes, or an hour, or a day, or a month your external and internal environment will shift to line things up differently.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Death :)

I have been contemplating reaction to death a bit this week, but not in a dark, sinister way (hence the smiley face in the title - trying to keep it a bit light). In a truly-trying-to-figure-out-how-I-feel way. An honest way. 

14 years ago I was in my third year of college and living in an apartment. I had grown up my entire life with a menagerie of animals, and suddenly didn't have any. I tried hiding some hamsters while in the dorms but my roommate turned me in so they had to go. I was lonely. Animals had always given me such a greater comfort than people. I could sit with them and just feel their presence. There didn't have to be small talk or conflicts or really anything. Animals are the epitome of empathic listeners. They can sense how you are feeling and give you what you need in that moment. Be there without intruding. Luckily, my mom noticed how lonely I was and bought me Gulliver. Gully was a gray and white cockatiel with an attitude 5 times his size. It took me 6 months of patience to even be able to pet him without his beak puncturing my skin. But I loved him. He filled that void.

Over the years we became a team. He moved with me from place to place throughout my 20s. He was a constant in my ever changing life. He would greet me in the morning, sing to his heart's content when it was sunny out, squawk bloody murder if someone startled him (better than any watchdog, that's for sure!). More recently when I began working from home he found it funny to talk only when I talked - as in, perfectly quiet so I forgot about him until I began a conference call with clients. Then all hell broke loose as I'm trying to remain professional on the phone while chasing him around my office getting him to either be quiet or leave. But then his sweet side would come out, and my heart melted. His soft little clucks as I was scratching his neck, his "pretty bird" when he wanted my attention.

After 14 long years, he passed away last week.  I am normally a tough cookie. I haven't had much death in my life, and when I have, it wasn't deaths that truly affected my day-to-day life. I am usually the one trying to force myself to cry at a funeral because I don't want people to think I'm cold-hearted. In reality, I just have always felt we are all going to die, so why it is always such a shock to people? Shouldn't our lives be reflected upon instead of our deaths at that final moment? What is the big deal? Everyone dies.

Seeing Gully lying there in his cage was a bit of an eye opener. It wasn't simple sadness I felt. It was guilt that he was alone when it happened instead of having me there to comfort him. It was regret that although he got out of his cage a lot, maybe I didn't give him all of the freedom and attention he craved. It was fear that maybe he wasn't really dead but I wasn't picking up on the subtle movements. It was shock that one moment he was here and the next he was gone. All of these different emotions intertwined together. I now understand that grieving isn't always about just being sad. It is way more selfish than that. It is about accepting your part in their life before death - were you good to them? Do everything you could? Be there when they needed you? It is about how it will affect you in the future - what will I do without his morning greeting? Who will cheer me up with his silly songs? Although I dislike being selfish, I let myself fully grieve for a day without judgement.  

Death by itself is just death. Something that will happen to every one of us. It is not good or bad, it just is. What makes it so dreaded is when we put ourselves into the equation. Why didn't I spend more time with them while they were here? What will I do now that they are gone? Realizing this has given me a new outlook on my efforts towards the living. Instead of it being too cold to take my dogs for a walk, I will bite the bullet to do it so I don't regret it later. I will plan more activities for my little family unit so I know I am doing what I can to give them my time. I will make the effort to be the best person I know how to be to everyone in my life, so I might feel peace in my own actions once they are gone. It might sound twisted, but to live in a way that is preparing for someone's death is going to make me a better person. Thank you, Gulliver, for such a huge lesson :)