All Dogs Go to Heaven

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One of my favorite songs is Into the West by Annie Lennox. The lyrics are, at times, gut wrenching and most often leave me with tears streaming down my face. It's haunting yet beautiful. I put this song on last Saturday as I aimlessly walked around Encinitas by myself trying to settle on the fact that my Roo was no longer with me. 

Lay down
Your sweet and weary head
Night is falling
You have come to journey's end
Sleep now
And dream of the ones who came before
They are calling
From across the distant shore

Why do you weep? 
What are these tears upon your face?
All of your fears will pass away
Safe in my arms
You're only sleeping

 

I'll never forget the last few moments as we sat on the warm blanket the vet technician had laid down for him, his head cradled safe in my arms. A friend had told me the last thing to go was their hearing so as I watched the Veterinarian inject the liquid that would inevitably take him away from me, I buried my nose in his ear as tears streamed uncontrollably down my cheeks and whispered over and over again, " I love you. Thank you for all you did for me. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you..."

And just like that, my sweet Roo drifted off to sleep for the last time, until his body was limp and he was gone. 

I looked up at my friend Oliver who dropped everything and drove down from Irvine at a moments notice to sit with me as I said good-bye to my best friend. Tears poured from his eyes too. Rocky touched many people's hearts. I knew that already. 

Rocky, or Roo as I so often called him, was more then just a dog. He was my best friend. He was my family. 

It's hard to explain what this kind of bond is like to people who haven't experienced it before, but in honor of my sweet boy and the love and life and protection he infused into each day for the short time I had him, I must try. He deserves that. He deserves so much more then that. 

Most people know that Rocky came to me on the heels of a cancer diagnosis that was vague and scary. The irony of that is not lost on me. God works in mysterious ways but also very obvious ones too. 

What people don't know is Roo and I didn't bond right away like I sometimes lead you to believe.  

I knew he was my dog the moment I saw him but he made me work for his trust because he had been severely neglected in his former life. 

I'm certain that God planned for us to meet just that way because as much as Roo came to me to help heal my heart through a traumatic time, I came to him to help heal his too. 

Roo was a special dog. Everyone, accept for maybe my neighbors who he built up a bit of a territorial thing against, loved Rocky. 

We couldn't get through a walk without someone coming up to us and asking to pet him and commenting on how sweet he was. But they didn't even know the half of it. 

My Roo was a gift. A miracle. The most incredible blessing. 

Roo was diagnosed with an advanced form of a very serious lung condition two weeks ago and as much as I want you to know the details of that, I'd rather you hear the details of his greatness instead. 

Roo was stubborn. It was one of my favorite things about him. He was strong willed and knew what he wanted, just like his mama I suppose. When he wanted something, he wasn't afraid to tell me with a serious stare down or a deep guttural bark. Sometimes we'd just stare at each other until one of us gave in, usually...almost always, me. 

Rocky had a sense about me. After I proved my worthiness to him, he watched me like a hawk, never more than a few feet away from me. Unless he was sun bathing on the front porch. My Roo loved the sun. Even then he had one ear alert, following my every move. 

One of my favorite things he did was guard the door of any room I was in. He'd walk in, even if it was just the bathroom, assess the situation and then turn around, sit down in front of the door and stare out. If I was standing at the bathroom sink brushing my teeth, his butt was sitting on my foot as he made sure nobody took me by surprise. It always made me laugh so hard but deep down, he made me feel so loved. So safe. So cared for. 

After I put him to rest Saturday, I came home and walked through the front door to pure and utter silence. I'd never again hear him jumping off my bed or the couch or the infamous sound of his collar and dog tag clanking together as he ran to see me as if it was the greatest moment of his day. I'm pretty certain it was. 

I stood in my entry way and felt a vulnerability I hadn't felt in very long time. Where was my boy to greet me? What would I do on those darker days when he'd make me get out of bed to take him on a walk? He'd act like it was for him but I knew it was really for me.

 Who would understand the physical pain I was in like he did and rest his head on my left hip in times when it was almost unbearable?

Who would gently lick away the tears and make me laugh when I was sad or hurt? 

Who would teach me about patience and slowing down and simplicity and stopping to smell the roses?

Who would dance with me as I cleaned the house or sit right behind me as I was cooking waiting for anything to fall on the floor? 

All of these little things were a part of our special bond. He just understood the things I needed. Things I never told him out loud. Things I rarely told anyone out loud.  

These are the situations where I truly don't understand God. Why would he take away something that he knows I need so badly? 

But at the same time, I feel so fortunate to have had over a year with my sweet Roo boy. All of our day to day moments and our great adventures will never be forgotten. I'm certain God knew I needed him just when I did and knew I was strong now, enough so to make it without him. I like to imagine his soul was needed for someone else going through something so grave that only my Roo boy could take care of them just the way he took care of me all last year. He's good at that. 

So, my Rocky was more than just a dog. Rocky was my best friend. He was my own little personal family. 

And now he's gone. And that hole he filled is empty and aching pretty bad these days. 

My sweet Roo boy, you were the greatest gift I've ever recieved and I hope you are running through fields of kibble and pain free once again. 

I hope you come to visit me in the breeze that kisses me cheeks and dries my tears and on long coastal drives as I sing loud to all your favorites. 

I hope you know just how much I love you and just how brave your fight was. I know it was for me. You tried so hard to be here for me. I'll never forget that. 

Until we meet again my Roo boy...

You're only sleeping. 

Liar Liar Pants On Fire, The Truth Shall Set You Free

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“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

When I started writing in this space almost five years ago, my life was going down a very different path. This blog was called The Savoury Soul and it was where I attempted to talk all things health and wellness.  

I say I was attempting to write about health and wellness but everything felt very sterile and forced. My writing was a mix of how to's and unwarranted 'do this and you'll be happier!' advice. 

What I really should have been writing about, what would have felt way more original and authentic, would have been, "do this and this so everyone you know thinks you have the perfect little life.” And under no circumstance whatsoever admit or even hint at the truth.

All I remember was feeling like the biggest fraud and that I had so much to say, so much to share, but what I was writing about was not even close to being it. 

Instead, I spent a lot of time fluffing up my life and pretending I had it all figured out. 

In reality, what I really wanted to share was the truth. I wanted to scream out, "Hey! I have no friggin' clue what I'm doing here and I want out of my marriage but I have everything I ever thought I wanted so why am I so unbelievably sad and miserable? And why is it that when I look in the mirror I have no idea who the person I'm looking at is? And does anyone else out there feel this way?"

That is the stuff I really wanted to write about. 

The truth.

Real life. Real stuff. Real feelings. 

Raw, gritty, honest to God truth.

I wanted to expose the complicated feelings I was experiencing from being married to someone who had no idea who I was nor really even cared to find out. I wanted to write about how I had no idea who I was either but was desperate to find out.

I wanted to talk about how I had everything I ever thought I wanted but all the stuff in the world couldn't fill the ever growing hole inside. I needed to confide in someone, anyone who’d listen, that sometimes I’d dream about telling my husband that I was going to the grocery store and get in my car and drive away. And just keep driving. 

I wanted to tell the story of how on my wedding day as I stood in front of my family and the two friends I was "allowed" to invite, I wasn't thinking that this was my dream day. I was looking around thinking about all the people I wished were there but weren't because my ex made a big stink about the fact that this was his second wedding and "nobody wanted to come to a second wedding."

"How do you think it makes me look Amanda?" He asked. I remember thinking, "But...it's not just about you. Shouldn't we compromise? Isn't that what love and marriage is about? Give and take? Shouldn't you want to see me beaming from the happiness and joy I feel from having all the people I love at our day? 

 Instead, I stood in front of the twenty people in attendance and said my vows while secretly wondering how long it would be before we got a divorced. Instead of being in ah of this person I was committing my life too, I stood there with a fake smile saying some of the most important words to a man who no more then two weeks later met another women on a business trip.

I wanted to share how the first time I learned of him cheating was before we were even engaged. I wanted to leave then but was terrified because I didn't know what I would do. And then he said all the perfect words knowing very well that I would cave from hearing those words. I'm sorry. You mean everything to me. I will be better. I don't deserve you. I love you. 

He promised he'd change. He'd get help and go to therapy. And I was a sucker for empty promises. I was addicted to the love you think you feel from being told that US was finally enough to create change. That you really mean something. That you are worthy enough for them to change. 

I wanted to share that not much about US worked and I wondered if others were living in marriages that felt like living in a glass house. Just one more lie and everything may shatter around you.

 Were others drawing the drapes closed tightly at night to cover the truth of their relationships too? Were others as desperate to keep their lies tightly sealed just like I was?

I wanted to write with such brutal honestly that when I reached the end of the page I would feel empty, cleaned out and purged of all the lies I was telling others and myself. I needed to shed the excess weight so I could stare naked in the mirror and see Amanda for the first time.

But I couldn't. Instead, I filled these pages with boring facts that made me feel inauthentic. All because I knew that once I shared, there was no going back. Once it was out there everyone would know I, Amanda Whitworth, was a big…fat…lier.

So I just kept quiet and kept writing about boring topics because I felt called to write but was too afraid to write about what it was I felt called to share. 

Those thoughts and feelings, those would stay buried deep within, folded into the layers of my heart.

But the truth will set you free they say and freedom was what I was longing for. So once I had a reason that was good enough, once I had been broken and beaten down just enough, I got up the courage to say "no more!"  And I ran 1200 miles away to a little beach town so I could give myself the space and time to finally open up my heart and share what it is I'm suppose to share.

The truth.  

And the most interesting thing has happened with being brutally honest. Every time I open up and share a little bit more of my truth I feel free.

I have given myself permission to peel back the layers and get down and dirty with the God honest truth and it’s become harder and harder to lie to myself. Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes it really sucks having to referee the battle between my head and my heart and make a decision that I know is best for me but I don’t want to make. Sometimes that decision brings about it’s own pain. 

I’ll tell you one thing though, the feeling I get when I’m honest with myself and take action upon that honesty is almost indescribable.

No amount of sex and drugs or food and exercise or shopping or anything else that temporarily fills those holes and stuffs down those lies can make me feel as high and full as the way the truth does.

And that, my dear, is why the truth shall set you free.

So that you can be.  

A Savoury Soul -- Morgan Day Cecil // Romance + Adventure

Morgan Day Cecil

If you believe that life would be more fulfilling with a little more romance and adventure then you should definitely get to know Morgan Day Cecil from Romance & Adventure better. I first met Morgan back in August when she found me from a comment I had written on someone else's website. She left a comment on one of my post and told me she was in the Portland area as well and we immediately became friends.

She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met and her mission is simple yet profound. She is in the pursuit of wholeness, freedom, and living life to the fullest in mind, body, spirit and in her marriage.

I'm in awe with how much Morgan cherished and adores her family. It's palpable and she sets an incredible example of defining your own rules for happiness in life.

Read on to find out more about this incredible women and my friend... I’m on the pursuit of wholeness, freedom, and life to the full, in mind, body, and spirit, and in my marriage.

Tell me more about Romance + Adventure. What is your mission?

I used to think romance and adventure were about marrying an Italian and living on a vineyard in Italy. But shifting my perspective and becoming interested in the beauty of life no matter what my circumstances has taught me that romance is anything I do in the name of love, and adventure is anything that requires me to be brave for the sake of love.

My mission is simply to help women live in the freedom to be who they are and become who they are created to become. I show women that right from where they are at they can begin to live an exciting, meaningful, and grace-filled life. What I do helps women connect to their heart and own their desires shame-free so they can respond to the call to do something awesome with their life, talents, gifts, and dreams.

The Romance + Adventure Guide, I love it. Tell us more about what inspired you to create it and how you hope it will change the way people think about their life and priorities.

I couldn’t not create it even though looking back on that season (my daughter had just turned 1) I’m still kind of in shock I pulled it off. (All credit for time-management goes to God).

Honesty, the material mattered so much to me that I couldn’t let the excuse that I didn’t have time to create the guide stop me anymore. Yes, there is so much grace in motherhood and no mom should feel pressure to do more than what they are already doing to love on and care for their family. But I didn’t feel pressure to get it out; when I got clear that yes this was something that my heart really wanted to do, I felt joy that I was finally giving words to the ideas inside my head.

For a couple of years I had been thinking about material for the book. I really wanted to create a program that shared the lessons I’ve learned that helped me go from single mom struggling with depression and anxiety to incredibly grateful, married mom excited to say yes to each day. I created this guide to help the lost and bitter girl I was find life, and joy, and hope again in her future.

I really believe we are each meant for a unique romance and adventure and the biggest obstacle keeping us from living it is ourself. The format of the Guide is to help people get out of their own way so they can start living the life they are created to live.

So, to you, what IS Romance + Adventure in your life?

Romance and adventure right now for me is about learning how to let go of insecurities (which have kept my life safe and small) so that I can open up, embrace, and step into all that God has for me and my family.

It’s also about getting motorcycles and soon going on date-night rides with my husband. (We just go our licenses!)

And it's about learning how to be fully present with my kids and invite them into all kinds of fun. Right now we are loving our afternoon sing-a-longs to Italian nursery rhyme songs.

Can you share something others would be surprised to know about you?

Let’s see...I love the wisdom found in the Eastern spiritual traditions (my master’s degree is in Eastern Philosophy) and I am a Christ follower (some people those to things can't go together--but they can!) I would say my faith has been the most significant and transformative and romantic and adventurous journey in my life.

What else? My resume makes folks laugh. I’ve been an aerobics instructor, a flight attendant, a tutor for foster kids, a “web-master”, a pole-dancing instructor, a boudoir photographer...and I used to consider becoming a nun.

Also...I’ve been to every continent except Antartica. Every summer for ten years I spent a month with my family traveling to an exploring somewhere new in the world. I love our world...and airports.

What do you do to stay healthy? Do you have any routines or rituals?

I love my green drinks! The day just seems to go so much better when I get a good dose of chrophyll in the morning. I also practice yoga and meditation, not just on my mat, but throughout the day. Simple, intentional inhales and exhales bring me back to the grace & peace my mind often steps ahead of.

In your words, what is A Savoury Soul?

A savoury soul is a soul rich in wisdom; a soul that loves much and gives love freely; a soul that feels right at home in the company of herself as well as with others; a soul that knows it’s own joy and delights to share it with the world.

Morgan 

Morgan Day Cecil is a writer and yoga teacher in training in Portland, OR.  She and her handsome man, along with their two kids, are pursuing what it looks like to live a life of romance and adventure with grace and peace.

She is creator of The Romance & Adventure Guide and (coming in 2014) the ecourse. Currently she and her husband are creating a curriculum to help married couples live a life of true romance and meaningful adventure together.

 

Hope, Wisdom, Love, Inspiration: The Simple Things That Get Me Through the Day

all three I bought the Ironman visor pictured above when I was on The Big Island of Hawaii in 2009. I was there to participate in my first Olympic distance triathlon, The Lavaman, and purchase the visor after finishing 9th in my age group. It was a symbol that even a girl who grew up quitting every sport she tried could still, one day, be a good athlete.

visor

I wear this visor now whenever it's sunny out and I am going on a run. These days, as I train for another triathlon with my husband, I wear the red ring of inspiration to not only keep the sun out of my eyes and off my face but as a reminder of what I am capable of doing. Of why I put on my runners, tie the laces, and hit the rocky dirt road at 7:30 in the morning.

When I'm in the middle of the run and I feel myself starting to lose steam, I simple touch the rim of the visor, adjusting it ever so slightly and I remember what it felt like to run in the blistering hot sun, hundreds of bystanders screaming and shouting anything and everything to help you across that finish line, and I'm back there, in that moment of pure bliss, of accomplishing one of the greatest goals.

That was a defining moment in my life. Not because I did so well but because I did something, for years, I said I would never do. I remember, very clearly, when my sister-in-law signed up for a triathlon and I has so much admiration for her because I didn't think I could actually swim, bike and run all in one event. At the time I didn't think I could do any of the sports in a race for that matter. Then in 2008 I hit a major life block. I felt stuck, sad, alone and completely unhappy with where my life had gone. I grew up with wild dreams of the amazing things I would one day do and here I was, 28 years old and I felt that my life was somewhat of a snooze session. I lived my life from a place of fear and let those feelings hold me back until that one day when I woke up and told myself that something had to change.

I signed up a few weeks later and after leaving my first Team in Training meeting, I drove home asking myself what the hell had I just done?

Wearing the visor is a constant reminder to push beyond my comfort zone. To step into the ring with fear and go head to head. Even if you are scare shitless, do it anyway.

Wearing the visor is a great source of inspiration for me.

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crystal

I keep a clear quartz crystal on my desk, sitting right under my computer monitor. It was given to me by my yoga teacher on our first day of teacher training as a constant reminder to look at ourselves and life from a clear point of view, from a pure perspective. I stare at it when I'm stuck in my head, in that place of stubbornness and holding on to beliefs and experiences that no longer serve me, and I try to look at the situation with unbiased, fresh eyes.

This, as you may know, is not always easy. Most of the time,  experiences from our past shape how we view similar experiences in the future which can prevent us from really seeing the moment or experience clearly.

I will carry my clear quartz crystal in my pocket or my purse so that when I'm faced with a moment of uncertainty or when I come up against confrontation, I can slide my hand in my pocket and be reminded that maybe I need to change my own perception and look at what is happening from a new angle.

I'm going to go as far as to say that most of us could benefit from looking at life a little different; looking at things that have happened to us, what people have said to us, and so on, from a different perspective and gain wisdom from this new point of view.

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ring

My husband and I have been married for a little over a year. When people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, well, they aren't lying.

My husband is my best friend, the person that knows me better than anyone, who can call me out on my bull%&$* and motivate me to try harder and be better. However, he can also push me into very uncomfortable territory, one where I am left feeling vulnerable and a little out of my league. And, I can do this to him as well. It's all part of growing in a marriage. If we always do what we always did, we will always get what we always got, and nothing would change, no one would grown.

My wedding ring is a simple band and symbolizes the unity between the two of us, the life we are slowly beginning to create with each other. The hard work and dedication. It prevents me from just thrown in the towel when things get too hard, something I've been known to do in my past.

Sometimes when I'm deep in thought or when I'm nervous I catch myself using my thumb to twirl my ring around my finger ever so slowly. Its comforting to know it is there. To know that I have a partner to dance with as I navigate this crazy, wild ride called life.

It reminds me of me. It's simple, quite, and can often go unnoticed, but the minute the light hits it, it's sparkles and shines, glistening in the sun. It's comes to life, illuminating a glow that is, at times, powerful.

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I share this with you today because I have grown to realize that having these few little reminders helps me get through the day. These constant reminders encourage me to push on, to go to places I may not necessarily feel comfortable going, and to wake up, show up, and try to live my life the best I can every day.

It's not always easy. Some days I  lack motivation, I  feel sad or have feelings pop up that were unexpected or even confusing. For me, having these few things to focus on encourages me and gives me hope that at the end of the day, I've done the best I can with what I have.

These three things remind me to push past my fears and embark on a life that is anything but ordinary.

Do you have anything that reminds you to do your best every day? Share below in the comments. If not, I encourage you to find something, anything that will remind to reach for the stars, reach for the impossible.

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