Sober in Spain?

A personal story about going booze-free (and eating clean and working out all the time) for a month ... while living in Spain“So, my good friends are leaving tomorrow, and then it is basically just me … alone in Spain,” I explain to my therapist. “I know I’m going to be so lonely.”

She listens patiently, casting a sympathetic glance at her computer screen, thousands of miles away from me. I sit, sprawled on my bed in Madrid, Lucky in my lap, as I fight the fear of once again being alone in a foreign country.

It’s a shitty feeling, sometimes, being an expat and starting a new life in a foreign land.

“What are you going to do?” she asks me from Las Vegas.

I ponder for a moment, looking down and stroking Lucky’s soft orange and white fur. I sigh.

“I guess I can just focus on me,” I announce. After reading The Power of Now, I’ve had a reawakening of sorts, getting out of the mindfuck I constantly let play out in my head. “I can work on being the present and working on me and becoming comfortable with me.”

I quickly calculate how long it will be until my friend returns to Spain.

“So, it’s like 40 days of really only having one or two people in my life. And they have lives, so I need to learn how to operate without looking to anyone else for entertainment or my happiness.”

“I love it,” she says, smiling. “Like 40 days and 40 nights … of just focusing on doing things for you.”

We disconnect from Skype and I feel … better. Not great, but better. Resolved. The next 40 days will be about me. If I’m alone, it is because I choose to be alone. Not because I am alone.

That night, over wine, I tell my Madrid friend about my plan.

“That’s good,” he says. “I like it. What are you going to do?”

“I guess I will just focus on me?” I muse, sipping my wine.

The next day, he messages me. “I’m doing this with you. Let’s not drink starting now. Eat clean. Work out. I’m in.”

Wait. What? Not drink? Eat clean? Work out?

A personal story about going booze-free (and eating clean and working out all the time) for a month ... while living in Spain

Me and my best friend. And the guy who works at Hedonism in London.

I think to the pizza I was dreaming of ordering in a few hours. The wine I was going to buy to wash it down. A weekend of lazing around … because I can. Forty days with no pizza? With no wine? What the actual fuck is that?

“We’ll start Monday,” I type back.

“No. Now, or you won’t do it.”

And, he’s got a point. Over the weekend, I teeter. I don’t drink, I don’t work out, but I order pizza as my parting comfort food for the next bit.

Can I really go a month without drinking? Since I’ve been of legal drinking age (and before), drinking has been a part of my life. Going out with friends? Beer. A girls night-in lamenting about being single? Wine. A party? Shots. Hell, the longest I have gone without booze was a few months earlier, and that only lasted two weeks. And that was because I was in Delaware with my parents and they don’t really drink. A month? In Spain? Yeah, right.

That Sunday night, my friend and I meet at an intercambio. I arrive early.

If I get one glass of wine before he gets here, he won’t know. Plus, it’s an intercambio. Everyone drinks. I have to have a glass of wine if I’m going to be social.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown more introverted. The idea of massive gatherings with people talking from all directions actually gives me a knot in the pit of my stomach. I’ve never done a gathering like that without alcohol to alleviate that feeling. Even in small groups, I tend to go off in my own mind when things get too hectic. The idea of being at an event like this without alcohol makes me not want to even be there.

Yet, for some reason, I don’t order the glass of wine. I’m not sure if it is because I don’t want him to disapprove, but I know part of it is we’ve got a deal, and I want to hold up my end … even if I don’t want to.

When he arrives, he asks if I’m getting wine.

“No,” I sigh, scowling. “I’ll have a stupid fruit smoothie.”

You know what? I make it through that intercambio without a drop of alcohol.

Three days. Done.

Getting through the week without going out to drink is pretty easy. I’ve got him, and he’s not drinking, so instead we go out and drink water and just talk. It’s a weird feeling at first. People look at me when I decline a drink.

“Seriously?” They ask, and then try to convince me to have just one glass of wine or beer.

“Nah,” I always respond. “I’m not drinking this month. I’m getting healthy.”

The more I say it, the more I believe it. Suddenly, I’m hitting the gym five days a week, doing at least a spin class every day, and then arms/legs a few times a week.

I’m eating clean. I’m eating vegan. I’m going to bed at a normal hour. I’m learning Spanish. I’m declining invites out because I’d rather (gasp) stay in and write. Or work.

I look in the mirror and watch as my face grows thinner. As the alcohol padding around my stomach begins to whittle away. As my arms become more defined.

About half-way through the month, something strange happens. One day, while I’m sitting on a spin bike, getting ready for class, that feeling of embarking on torture for 50 minutes disappears. I’m excited. I look forward to the class. To getting off the bike, covered in sweat, walking outside into the Madrid heat and feeling it evaporate in the air. To going home, to writing, to hanging out at home, making a smoothie …

Then, it isn’t about counting down the days until I can drink again, it is celebrating how long I haven’t drunk and marveling at how easy it has been.

What have I learned about myself the past month?

For starters, I have willpower. When I want set a goal, even if it is hard (like not drinking, eating clean and working out five days a week), I attack it. The people who tell me I have “amazing willpower” make me smile. Part of it is willpower, but more of it is how incredible I feel being so kind to myself.

It’s the first time in, well, ever, I’ve been so incredibly good to myself. I feel energized. I feel strong. I feel … happy.

I’ve also learned I can be social without alcohol. Granted, I don’t really enjoy being around super drunk people and having them ask me the same question repeatedly because they are too drunk to remember they’ve already asked me a billion times, but I can go out. I can sit around as everyone else sips wine and enjoy the refreshing, cold water I drink.

Even better, I’ve learned I can live in Spain and not drink. When I first arrived here, when I told another friend of mine I wanted to stop drinking, she looked at me with shock.

“Um, it’s Spain, that’s impossible,” she had said. “Everyone drinks.”

It basically gave me permission to just go out and get shit-faced. Because Spain.

So, today marks one month of being sober. Am I going to go celebrate with a glass of wine? Or go catch a nice buzz? Nope. I’m going to hop in the shower (because I’m gross from my two-hour workout), make a fruit and veggie drink in my NurtiBullet, and then do some writing.

Will I drink again? Sure. But, after this month of not drinking, I’ve decided it doesn’t need to be as big part of my life anymore. I’m so much happier feeling good. And not hung over. And knowing instead of hurting my body, I’m doing something good for it.

Will I continue to work out like a fiend? Yup. I love it.

As for the pizza … well, I had one slice the other day. Hey, there are some things I just don’t want to give up.

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Diary Featured Get Your Shit Together

Yes, I am a Travel Blogger. No, I Do Not Piss Glitter.

Yes, I am a travel blogger. And no, I do not piss glitter. A look at what life as a travel blogger can really be like.

“Glitter close up” by Inkwina – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Huge disclaimer: This is most definitely a rant.

This post has been a long time coming. But, life got in the way.

And, I’m not talking about my life of travel and unicorns and rainbows that for some reason the general public seems to think we travel bloggers live. I’m talking about the cold, hard world that REALLY can be life.

Waking up and wanting to get through the day, just so I can go to sleep and start another day. Working with my laptop perched on my legs, leaning against a pillow on my bed, wearing a bra and shorts because I just can’t be bothered with getting out of bed. And, when I do get out of bed, it is to smoke a cigarette, go to the bathroom, or go and heat up some crappy food. Oh, and to grab a corkscrew and pour a glass of wine or 10.

See, people talk on the interwebs about what a glorious life they lead as travel bloggers. Seeing the places! Eating the food! Drinking the drinks! Sleeping in that 1 billion thread count bed. They don’t talk about the struggles. They just spew the idea that everyone and their mother can do it, too. Can live some kind of life where they can see the world, make a shit ton of money and go to sleep with a smile on their face and start the next day all sparkly and rich.

I call bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

Yes, there are definitely a select few who are able to do this (and the ones who really do damn well deserve it!), and make enough money to live (likely not in the States. Or Australia. Or maybe even parts of Europe.) And, my hat goes off to them because they work their asses off. And I mean it.

But, the rest of us? Nope. Not even close. Some will tell you they are successful (and you can be, too!), but if you look closely, it is because the post is littered with affiliate links directing you to often-times pricey resources to DIY, of which they get a nice cut.

When I tell people I’m a travel blogger, I kind of mumble it. Or, I don’t even tell them. I just say I work online. Because I know what words will follow: Oh my god. You are sooooooo lucky.

While I don’t disagree, I am lucky, I always tell them I am luckier that I have the ability to travel because I work really hard to make money. That I am lucky I have friends and family who support me. That I have enough money behind me to pay for annoying visas to live abroad. To cover the cost of rent. To ship my cats from Thailand to Europe.

Yes, I am a travel blogger. No, I do not piss glitter. I do not get to travel the world for free. Hell, I don’t even make an income off of my blog really. Unless you count that $30 that Amazon has that they won’t release to me until I hit the ever-looming $100 mark.

I work. All of the time. For everyone … but me. I do social media. I do PR. I copywrite. I ghostwrite. Hell, I have even toyed with starting a dog-walking service in Madrid just to cover rent. I dream of simply working for myself. Of writing that one great novel. Of hitting the Amazon Affiliate jackpot. Hell, of writing an e-book that sells millions … or at least 100. But, right now, that isn’t my reality.

So, please. If you want to get into travel blogging, do it because you LOVE TO TRAVEL. And, love to write. Not because you think it is some cure-all. For some, it is. But, for many of us, we do it because we love it, not because we are in it for the money.

Also, welcome back to The Comfort Zone Project. More news to come soon.

Diary Perspectives

Fear.

Fear

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: OC Always

[Ed. Note: For purposes of dramatic intention, I have included many swear words. If you are offended by a potty mouth, this isn’t the post to read. Then again, this post is designed to challenge readers, so maybe give it a read and just self-censor. – DE]

Fear.

Fear is a motherfucker. It is the shit which paralyzes us. Which turns us from wide-eyed, 20-something go-getters, to older, less riskier versions of ourselves.

It keeps you from doing things. It keeps you from engaging. From taking steps. From saying, “you know what, I am scared shitless, but that is OK.”

Fear roars in our heads when we can’t sleep. It keeps us from those eye-opening moments wherein we have honest dialogs with ourselves.

Those inner conversations can often go something like this:
“I’m really unhappy in my job. I know XYZ would make me happier, but I have security. I have vacation days. I have health insurance. I’m not prepared to turn my back on that, even if it means I’m not happy where I am.”

Or …

“The place I live isn’t really for me. I think I would like to live in XYZ. But, I don’t want to start fresh and not know anyone. Therefore, I will stay here, even though it isn’t really what I want or what I think is best for me.”

And …

“My dream is to do XYZ. But, there is a lot of work to accomplish this. Maybe I will start later. Today isn’t the right day. I need to get ABC sorted first.”

Maybe even, fear keeps you from realizing the possibilities of relationships. Something like this:

“I’m scared shitless of getting into a relationship with someone. What if it doesn’t work out? Then what? I’m alone.”

Fear keeps us from taking chances. From accomplishing our things because we can think of a million reasons why we shouldn’t.

Fear keeps us from saying stuff like:

“I am unhappy in my job. I really enjoy XYZ and think I need to make a change. It won’t be easy, but I want to see if I can make this dream a reality.”

Or …

“The place I live isn’t really for me. I think I would like to live in XYZ. Sure, I have to start fresh, but it will be challenging and the reward will mean I am in a place I truly want to be.”

And …

“My dream is to do XYZ. I know it is a lot of work to get from Point A to Point B, but imagine how amazing it will feel once I do!”

Maybe even …

“I’m scared shitless of being in a relationship. But, this one? What if it can work? Not everything ends messy … not all kisses are throw aways. And, if the relationship doesn’t work, I think I am a better person for having experienced it.”

The truth is

Fear keeps us from moving forward. It keeps us from taking the steps we so desperately need to take to have the lives we want. It keeps us from our goals, from our dreams, from love … because sometimes it is easier to just accept.

To say, OK. This works. Even when it only kindofsortof does.

Fear.

It can immobilize us. Keeps us stationary. Even if we think we are moving forward, the truth is, we are just spinning those fucking wheels. Taking each day like we did the previous. Doing the same things. Having the same routine.

Why not change your career?

Why not pick a new place to live? Or to travel to?

Why not love?

Struggles are a part of life, but if you never swallow that fear, the only true struggle you will own is that of regret, later, when you look back and realize the error of your ways. When you look back and say to yourself, I could have … I should have … I didn’t.

Open your eyes.

Open them fucking wide.

See what is in front of you. Beside you. Embrace it. Love it. And take that step. Open your heart wider. Open your mind wider. Love larger.

Look fear in the eye and say:

“Fear, I give zero fucks about you. I’m going to try. I’m going to give. I’m going to learn. And, if things don’t work out, you know what? It wasn’t fear that kept me from living. I tried opened doors I never imagined. I experienced something I never would have had I kept living in my mind, kept listening to your shitty, seductive words of staying stationary. I fucking lived.”

Featured Perspectives

A penis does not equal desire

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Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Christina

Tonight, I would like to write a PSA of sorts to the men. Actually, not men. If I actually had a desired audience for this evening’s rant (and it sure is a fucking rant), me thinks the actual audience would be boys, because only boys would have this juvenile thinking of “penis = girls want me.”

Take a step back in time with me, if you will. To about two hours ago. Beth — my American friend who is hot, awesome and takes shit from no one — and I are sitting at my new favorite pizza place in London, Franco Manca (trust me, sour dough crust, numerous locations across town, it’s the best and cheap!!!) as we finish off our bottle of red wine.

“You want to go out for a bit?” I ask, feeling like at 7 p.m., with an upcoming trip to Madrid, it is far too early to call it a night and head back home.

“Sure,” she agrees, polishing off the glass. We pay our check and then begin to walk out of Brixton Village (my favorite spot for cheap eats and awesomeness).

Wandering along the main road in the cold, we finally pop into Prince Albert (don’t laugh) and place ourselves in front of the taps in the dimly lit — nearly empty — bar.

“Look at those guys,” she says, gesturing to a table of four just outside of the bar. The table — all men — are clad in animal onesies.

We both look and giggle. I mean … why on earth does anyone go to the bar clad in a onesie unless they want attention in the first place? You certainly don’t go wearing a lemur costume to blend in.

“I’m going to ask them why they’re in costume,” I say, grabbing my cider, because why the fuck not? “You cool with that?”

She agrees and we walk up to the guys.

“Onesies?” I ask. “Why?”

Guy 1  — the only one not wearing an outfit — launches into it being Australia Day tomorrow and his friends — all Irish and in town from Dublin — wanting to celebrate.

For a few minutes, we laugh about their costumes and then he invites us to sit.

I feel like at this point I need to better set the stage. Beth and I are out randomly. I’m wearing a plaid shirt, ripped jeans, my hair in a ponytail and no makeup. She’s wearing a camo sweatshirt and makeup-free face and hair back, too. We are most certainly not out to get laid. Or even meet men. Shit, we just stuffed our faces with pizza and wine.

“You want to sit?” Non-Dressed-Up-Guy asks.

Why not?

So, we scoot into the wooden booth and start chatting with the guys. They are from Dublin, flew here on super cheap flights, and were out and about tonight with others. They play guessing games as to where she and I are from. We chat about random bullshit.

Then, when a few of the guys get up and it is just Beth, myself and a physicist, he breaks it down for me:

“We are all engaged or otherwise taken,” he informs us, solemnly, hands wrapped around his beer and looking me dead in the eyes.

Wait. What?

I look at him, completely shocked by this information.

“And you are telling me this because …”

I look over to Beth who blinks and glares at him.

“Well, because you should know. In case you’re trying to pull one of us …” (ohmygod, so British.)

I look back to the guy, with thinning red hair and a thin beard.

“Wait,” I say, formulating my thoughts. “Did you think either of us were trying to hit on you?”

He smiles.

“What?” I ask again, taking in this information he has decided is pertinent information in our lives.  I look back over our conversation. There is nothing that would have ever even given him the slightest hint we would have been even trying to hit on him or his onesie-wearing friends.

“Was it my foot that rubbed up against your leg and into your crotch that gave it away?” I ask (note: I did nothing of the sort. In fact, I had not even touched him, batted my eyelashes or undone the top button of my button down shirt), disgusted that by us simply accepting his friend’s invite to sit with them that it automatically means the following:

1. We find them attractive.

2. We are interested in them.

3. We have done anything, other than be friendly, that would justify his statement.

He stares. Clearly caught off guard, knowing there was nothing blatant at all about our interactions that would have led him to make any sort of statement about his relationship status.

Meanwhile, his friend, dressed as Red Riding Hood laughs. “Ooh, I like her,” she giggles.

“Really?” I ask again. “What made you think we would be hitting on you? You are wearing costumes to a bar, we asked you about it, you all invited us to sit down. At what point did we ever give you the idea that we were interested in you?”

He laughs it off and then begins to droll on about this Web site (because at this point he knows both Beth and I have sites) and asks for advice.

But, Beth and I are done.

Since when does sitting with someone mean we want to fuck them? Since when does friendly equal attraction? Since when does simply sharing a conversation mean we want to have illicit relations? And since when do men feel it is vital to tell women they are otherwise occupied without the slightest hint of interest?

Mind. Boggled.

We excuse ourselves from the table and sit on our own, free from judgement because we are friendly. Is it just an American thing to talk to people? Or does going up to the opposite sex in a public place automatically mean we are interested?

And, what on earth makes any guy think we are interested in them unless we actually make it a point to communicate that (read: “Hey, you, cutie, I dig you. Let’s have a beer, flirt, be all touchy and then go home together? Okkkk?”)?

I think back to the past month I’ve had in London and my interactions with men. Is that how it is here? Being friendly = “I want to fuck you”? Engaging in fun conversation and hanging out means “I am in love with you and want to be in a serious relationship”?

I shudder at even the thought.

Boys, get over yourselves. This is 2015. And last I checked, not every girl wants to fuck every boy. Some of us are actually capable of just being friendly gals. If you so happen to be so caught up in your own bullshit and can’t see that, shame.

By the way, have I mentioned lately how much I don’t like dating??? Man.

(And, to you Mr. Physicist, no, we were not interested in you. Sorry.)

(And, Comfort Zone is back.)

Diary The Dating Life

A change

d-travels-round-elephant-nature-park

Breathless with life and Chiang Mai, my friend and I walk to lunch.

I’m fresh from London, fresh from attending World Travel Market, being around like-minded people, people I genuinely like, in a world that isn’t fueled by plastic-chair-sitting and cheap beer guzzling.

I’m invigorated. I’m inspired. And, I’m done.

Done with Chiang Mai.

Not because it isn’t special to me. Not because I stopped caring about the elephants, the animals … but I’m done with feeling like I’m walking on eggshells with people. With a culture I have strived to assimilate into, but never quite did.

“D, you have to leave Chiang Mai,” my friend advises me under the late fall sunshine. “Leave now. Leave while you don’t hate it.”

I ponder this.

Leave while you don’t hate it.

I quickly sum up the history of my past moves: Vegas to Atlanta (hated Vegas and hated myself), Atlanta to Europe (hated Atlanta and hated myself), Europe to Vegas (out of money and needed a job), Vegas to Thailand (loved Thailand).

The fond cities — Vegas (the second time, but only by a hair) and Europe — stand out far more than Atlanta in terms of pleasing memories.

I look at where I am: in the heart of northern Thailand in an exotic place, in love (ok, like) with my life and definitely loving who I am.

It’s a far cry from the running away I’ve done in the past.

Leave while you like it.

Originally, I had planned to stay out my visa and then head over to Europe, but those words. Those damn words my friend has said roll around in my head. Bounce around. And sink deep into me.

“I guess I could …” I begin.

“You should,” he corrects me.

That night, before he heads back to Spain, he pulls up Skyscanner and looks at flights.

“Look,” he says, turning his screen to me. “A flight from Chiang Mai to London on Christmas Day. For 450 euro.”

Glowing in front of me is my future. A chance to talk about responsible elephant tourism more freely. A chance to boost my writing career. A chance to explore more of the world.

So, I do what any wanderlust-filled person who is (almost) ready for a change. I look at the possibilities of a future not in SE Asia. A future where I feel like a woman again. Where I don’t get tangled in cultural issues. Where I can speak and help without danger.

I book the flight.

Diary The Dating Life

Why I’m still single (also known as the top first-date no-no’s for men)

d-travels-round-lucky-cat

I get asked a lot why I am still single at 35. Other than waving my arms in the air pointing to a sign lit-up above my head with flashing lights that practically screams “I live in Thailand,” sometimes it leaves me befuddled. (Heh. I like that word.)

In other words: I am funny (or so I think). I am compassionate. I am passionate. I am kind. I am warm. I have my shit together. I know what I want. I love myself. I love other people. I’m pretty. So … what. the. fuck? RIGHT?

WELL.

The thing is this. I go out on dates. Even in Thailand, I go out. Despite swearing dating in Thailand off a couple of months ago due to one too many horrid experiences. I still go out, mostly because I have entirely removed the pressure of it being a date in my mind from the table. I only even communicate these days with people who seem to have their ducks in a row and have something in common with me (normally they are here long term and embrace a life of travel). The best laid plans.

And yet, dates never go past the first round. Now, I’m not saying I am the bee’s knees (OK, I am), but really, what is going on here is these first dates are so fucking god awful there is no way I would ever go on a second one. I have been on a string of really terrible first dates for years now. Perhaps I just have the world’s shittiest taste in men, but jesus. I mean, at some point there is supposed to be a second date, right?

I’m not saying I am perfect, or God’s gift to men, but also know a shitty date when I see one.

What makes these first dates stab-your-eyes-out terrible? The men’s antics.

In no order, these are some of the worst experiences I have had on dates, and the what-not-to-ever-do tips for you men if you EVER WANT A SECOND DATE.

1. Push back the date so you can continue drinking with your buddies. If you can’t curtail the booze for a night, why on earth would your date think you value her enough to go on a second one?

2. Show up to the date drunk.

3. Tell your date you would have looked nicer — and you normally do look nicer for first dates — but you got invited out before you had a chance to change. Or comb your hair. Or shower. Or brush your teeth.

4. Show up to your date 30 minutes late because the cab you took long-hauled your ass — even though you live in town — and then, when it comes time to pay the bill, inform your date that because you had to pay so much for the cab, you won’t be treating her to dinner or drinks.

5. Show up in a dirty white suit that reeks of stale cigarettes and BO.

6. Chain smoke in front of your date who just quit smoking.

7. Talk about all the weird first dates you have online.

8. Talk about anything do with jerking off, erections or weird boy things.

9. Stare at your date’s boobs.

10. Talk about your date’s boobs.

11. Get super drunk on the date. Unless both are getting super drunk, then it is ok.

12. Leer at the hot server.

13. At the end of the date, and your date doesn’t want to kiss you, trying to convince her to do so.

14. After the date, messaging her and asking on a scale of 1 – 10, how the date would be rated. And then telling her it was a 9. Then, the next day, when she says maybe the second date won’t work, you tell her you didn’t feel it anyway.

GUYS: we want to be treated like we are valuable. Like you actually WANT TO BE ON A DATE WITH US. And, we respect ourselves enough to not put up with bullshit when we feel like you don’t.

“Hey, this was nice. Want to go out again?”

Fuck. No.

|| End rant ||

Diary The Dating Life Uncategorized

Gracefully letting go

let go

 

In the two-plus years I have lived in Thailand, there is one woman I have marveled at continuously — for her strength; for her passion; for her never-ending love; for how gently she lives; and, for her ability to gracefully let go of things not meant for her, for us, for this world.

Lek Chailert.

Despite all of the things she has seen, how much she has experienced, there are few moments I have ever seen those instances eclipse the smile on her face.

She is a person I strive to be like, a person who I admire with all of my being.

For the first time in two years, I did something I didn’t think I would ever be able to do because of her: I sat with an abused cat, Belle, as she was released from this world. It was one of the hardest, most uncomfortable things I have ever done. That ache in my heart, that spread to my stomach and made it tense. The tears that flowed without apology, without regard for being in a culture which does not encourage the showing of emotions (even though I desperately tried to reign it in).

All my life, when animals I have loved have reached the end to their time in this world, I cried. I sobbed. I bawled. I said my thanks, whispered love into their ears, hugged them for the last time, and then stepped away. I could never bring myself to go with them to be put down. I could never let the thought even replay in my mind more than a few minutes without becoming paralyzed with emotion for my loss.

But, yesterday was different. Something inside of me has changed. Maybe it is this project. Maybe it is this job. Maybe it is this life. Or, maybe it is just being grown up.

I knew it was coming with Belle. The poor girl, who had been brought in to the vets and was the team’s treatment for a month while she was rehabilitated from a brain injury and back fracture from her owner, had shown promising signs. So much so that she was released from the vets and taken to my office where I quickly fell in love with her clumsy, timid steps as she learned how to put paw-to-ground and walk again. Late last week, she started to become stiff and lost her ability to stand. And then, she began to have seizures. Multiple seizures which destroyed all of the hard work she had accomplished in the month she was being cared for.

Saturday when I went to the vet to see her (she had to be readmitted because of her seizures and to try to control the attacks), she could not walk. She was not eating. Then, yesterday morning, the vet called me to tell me she had another one and that I should come in.

I went immediately and what I saw broke my heart. The little cat I had been with the week before was gone. Her eyes were empty. She laid in her cage, not being able to move anything but her head. I sat with her and the vet and tried to wipe the tears from my eyes as I gently stroked her face.

I thought of Lek and how she would handle this. With grace. With love. With compassion.

“If you have to put her down today, please call me,” I said to the vet. “I would like to be with her when the time comes.”

She agreed and said I would get a phone call later in the evening.

The call came earlier than I expected. Belle had suffered another attack and was suffering.

“You need to come right now if you want to be with her,” the vet explained to me on the phone.

“OK, ok,” I said through the tears I could feel, that choking of my throat, “I am on my way.”

I stood over her as her spirit left her body and moved on. I stroked her face, apologized to her for the life she was given here, and told her she was loved and that I could only hope her next life was better. I hated being there. I hated having to put this memory in my head. But, she deserved it. She deserved to have that love bestowed upon her after all of the pain she suffered. It was the least I could do.

How gracefully you let go of things not meant for you …

Yeah, I cried. Hell, you should see the tears spewing from my eyes right now, but I want to feel this. I don’t want to forget her. Her story, her life, deserved better and who am I to not honor her because I simply don’t want to feel pain?

It wasn’t about what I wanted, or what I didn’t want; it was all about her and giving her the respect and love she deserved. I finally got it. I finally understood why it is important to be with animals at the end of their lives. Because it is about them.

In loving memory of Belle.

Diary Get Your Shit Together