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. 

a chance to breathe again, a chance for a fresh start to you

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And through it all, I stood and stumbled, waded through my thoughts and heart Yeah through it all, I fooled and fumbled, lost to the poet's frown.
I fought the wolves of patience just to let it lie down.

I've come to the conclusion that I am quite lousy at relaxing.

And it's never been more apparent than on this trip. 

Even with my deep desire of a life that is simple, I find myself wrestling with my inability to just sit and be and how much I feel the need to do all the time. 

But I need life to give me some answers to some things that have been heavy on my mind lately. And I know what I have to do to get those. Even when it means discomfort to get them. 

When we landed in San Jose, Costa Rica on Friday we found our way by taxi to a tiny little bus station that would take us on a four hour turned seven-hour journey to Puerto Viejo where we were staying for the night.  This is near the Panama border. 

After two plane rides on nothing more than a few glasses of wine and two green superfood bars I picked up prior to leaving, we found ourselves on a long, full bus ride listening to the unwelcoming sounds of an arrogant Polish twenty-something playing dubstep from a keg-shaped Bluetooth speaker in his lap. 

I only know he is Polish because my friend Raven and I sat for a good thirty minutes listening to these guys talking back and forth as they drowned themselves in some kind of liquor from a bottle in a paper bag.  Eventually, I needed to know and asked. I like to ask people where they are from when I travel. I like to hear their stories. 

After we had our brief conversation he turned on his speaker for the whole bus to enjoy. At first, I thought it was coming from the bus speakers but it became apparent, from the annoyance of other riders, both locals and travelers, that this was not the case and it was coming from the keg shaped speaker in the Polish guy's lap. 

I found myself growing irritated too. I mean, come on guy. Dubstep? Had it been mellow beats that is one thing but if you are privy to dubstep you know it's anything but mellow. 

I kept telling myself to just relax and go with the flow. Don't let this one little moment, this person, this blip on the screen of your life caused by someone else's actions annoy you. 

This is what travel is about after all. The unexpected things that happen. The laughter that comes for years that come from moments just like these. 

Little did I know, I was going to be saying this to myself often on this trip. 

As with everything though there is a great lesson to be learned. And what I've realized on this trip so far is that it has more to do with the fear of facing my myself and my thoughts and hearing that little voice inside speaking truth to me than actually not being productive

But  I don't want the dubstep noises of life to cause me to miss out on all the wonderful moments in between so I need to learn to relax and just go with the flow of life. 

I want to hear life talking to me and to do that you have to learn to slow down, open your eyes and your heart and fully take in what is around you. 

So I slow down and let things be and allow the thoughts and feelings to surface. All of them.  I allow answers to come to those questions I keep asking God and give thanks with gratitude in my heart. Even when it's not the answer I truly desire. 

And as the lyrics of one of my favorite songs goes:

And what we found
Down these coves of limestone and cockle shells,
What we found
Down these roads that wander as lost as the heart,
Is a chance to breathe again, a chance for a fresh start to you
My my a chance to breathe again, a chance for a fresh start to you
Oh my a chance to breathe again, a chance for a fresh start

And it's through this song that God gently reminds me that his hands are all over everything as rain pours from the skies and I have no other choice but to just sit and be with myself, my thoughts and my own heart and maybe, just maybe, it's a chance to breathe again, a chance for a fresh start. 

For once there is no dubstep to drown these out. 

These Waters by Ben Howard

I saw red and yellow flowers outside over the moors
And brightest sunrise ever to touched my eyes.

And through it all,
I stood and stumbled, waded through my thoughts and heart
Yeah through it all,
I fooled and fumbled, lost to the poet's frown.
I fought the wolves of patience just to let it lie down.

See these waters they'll pull you up,
Oh, now if you're bolder than the darkness.
My my, let these songs be an instrument to cut,
Oh spaces 'tween the happiness and the hardness.
My my, spaces 'tween the happiness and the hardness.

Oh, out the door,
The touch of morning, the burning of the frost
Out the door
My, strong hands to hold, good friends that I never lost.

And what we found
Down these coves of limestone and cockle shells,
What we found
Down these roads that wander as lost as the heart,
Is a chance to breathe again, a chance for a fresh start to you
My my a chance to breathe again, a chance for a fresh start to you
Oh my a chance to breathe again, a chance for a fresh start

Oh, no, see these waters they'll pull you up,
Oh, no, if you're bolder than the darkness.
My my let these songs be an instrument to cut here darling,
These spaces between the happiness and the hardness,
Oh my my, spaces between the happiness and the hardness
Oh my my, spaces between the happiness and the hardness
Oh my my, spaces between the happiness and the hardness

That One Time Last Summer I Almost Bought a Camper + What It Taught Me

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Last May, my longtime friend Katie and I almost bought a camper. It was $1500 bucks and had a retro blue strip down the side. It was pretty much a done deal. 

We were having a few cocktails at a local bar and a bit tipsy, both literally and figuratively. We were coming down from the high of spending the night in a tiny little cabin in the middle of nowhere Joshua Tree. We spent about eight hours in the car trying to get to this little cabin where we spent a total of fifteen hours there due to a miscalculation of timing and Friday Memorial Day weekend traffic.

But it's about the journey, not the destination right? We made the most of it fixing the world one conversation at a time and turning up the tunes as our voices echoed for the surrounding cars to hear. 

We were being adventurers and heading into unknown territory where showers didn't exist and neither did WIFI. A place we had to head outside to an outhouse to do our business.

And boy were we happy. 

On the return, we were buzzing from that feeling you get when you step outside of your normal and live from a place that feels the truest to who you are and we started talking about how fun it would be to co-own a camper or a van or something like that. 

Neither one of us necessarily want to van life it indefinitely but both of us want the freedom that comes with the open road. So, we came up with the idea of sharing custody of a small camper if we could find the right one. 

We had it all figured out. Since she lives in Seattle, I'd drive it up at the start of their three-month-long summer and then because summer's for me are basically endless in San Diego, I'd basically get it the rest of the time. It was perfect. The perfect shared custody of the cutest little camper.

As luck would have it we found one on Craigslist that was intriguing after said few cocktails and it just so happened to be the right price and down the street at a nearby campground. So we took the last sips of our bourbon and took the boldness it gave us and decided to walk to meet the current owners. We were giddy with excitement and laughing "Are we really going to do this?!

I felt like a rebel. I felt like I was throwing caution to the wind and living life to the fullest. I felt like a girl who was recently diagnosed with cancer trying to really live her best life. 

And I feel like these are the memories you never regret, even if they aren't the most thought out ones and involve one too many cocktails and emptying a small chunk of your savings. You just never forget "that one time you bought a camper with a retro blue stripe down the side with one of your best friends.' These are the stories you tell your children. 

Until maybe you wake up from your foggy night of Kentucky goodness and find yourself slowly putting the pieces together from the night before. And then you start to remember and jump out of bed running to the window to peek and see if you really did buy the cute camper with the turquoise blue stripe down the side.

But I really feel like it's just one of those memories, on your deathbed, you just never regret. So I was okay with it.

As we approached the camper my gut began to fire as I noticed a window missing. I shook it off and thought, well, I can fix that. Not too mention, I REALLY want to repurpose a van or camper. I mean, very badly on the bucket list kind of want.

 The current owner wasn't quite there yet so we, being the incredibly nosy and tipsy ladies we were, we peeked through the windows. 

I turned to Katie and said in a low whisper, "Well, I see why it's only $1500." We laughed as we assessed the horrific scene inside. We slowly backed away picking up our pace before the current owners found their way back to what looked like a crime scene. Or a small rager led by rats left to their own devices. 

My bourbon buzz started to wear off a bit and I looked at Katie, "Maybe we tuck this dream in our back pocket. Just for a little bit longer." She nodded and we ran back to the bar to drown our disappointment in more bourbon. 

What this whole experience made me realize more than ever though is how much adventure and travel and having the freedom to go where I want, when I want is vital for my sense of self and my happiness.

And I just keep quieting that part of myself with all the should's. But why? For what? 

When I was little I remember dreaming of traveling all over the world meeting people and listening to their stories and writing about them. I don't think I've told any one of this before. 

Recently though, on a day trip to Salvation Mountain, I saw a mile marker for Yuma, Arizona and it was only sixty miles away. And all I wanted to do was just keep driving. And with that it hit me. Why not? I have nothing keeping me here.

Why not start a life more on the road and less living in the should's?

Why am I still so stuck on thinking I have to live my life a certain way? When will I truly accept that I'm called to something different?

While driving up to Seattle in February, I slowly made my way up the 101 stopping whenever I felt pulled. I found myself fantasizing about the life I dreamt of as a child, about going down the road less traveled so to speak. I mean, there has to be something to it right? With the growing popularity of 'vanlife' and simple, minimalistic living? 

All I know is lately, I've been wrestling with some big questions about my life and what my heart really wants.

I've got stories to tell and people to meet and so many miles of open road. Maybe this was the way it was always suppose to be?

I'm not so sure if the 'vanlife' is 100% what I'm looking for. Or maybe it is? All I know is that I do think about it often. I think about selling all my things, packing up Rocky, my small miter saw and just leaving.

A traveling woodworker and her Pitbull named Rocky. 

I'm a conundrum though. A mix of massive wanderlust, free spirit and complete homebody. I like having a place to come back to. A home base. The false sense of safety of my things. 

But I think it's safe to say that a camper van may be in my future and a long, open road full of possibility, memories and lifelong dreams. 

For now, I've got my car and my puppy and an open road heading east. And something in side of me that says it's finally time. 

I'm not sure where it's taking me but I'll know it when I see it.

I have to go. I've got stories to tell. 

Sit In Your Shit

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Lately, I’ve been in this interesting emotional place. A lot of stuff from my past has been resurfacing. Stuff I believed, I had long ago put to rest. 

It's not that I'm in a dark emotional place, however. It is more like things are coming up so that I can finally shed them and release them. 

Lately, I've been waking in the middle of the night, shooting out of bed from a dream of a person from long ago I hadn’t thought of in years and the feelings it brings up linger for days. I know it’s not about the person. The person is just the messenger. It’s about the feelings.

In the past, I got really good at stuffing and dusted these feelings under the rug. I'd think I was acknowledging them with some spiritual jargon as if the words were magic and would erase the past. This is called spiritual bypassing and something I’ll talk more about soon.

I’ve conceded, however, that this stuff will never go away unless I really look at it face on.  I am being asked to finally and truly feel my feelings.

I am being called to sit in my shit so to speak. And honestly, who really wants to sit in their shit? 

I am also feeling called to take full responsibility for my part in all of the shit because even as I perceive things happening to me (hello victim mode), I know well enough that my perception, my attitude, they are all mine and at any moment, I can choose to see things differently.

Growth isn't necessarily easy, but I do know it's worth it. 

I also happen to be in an interesting place with my spiritual growth. Teetering on the line of wanting to dive deeper and deeper and finding safety in staying just where I am. Where I am is like a warm blanket wrapped perfectly around my naked body. Just enough warmth but not too much to suffocate me.  I’m scared if I commit to the call I feel deep inside, I’ll lose the grip of that warm blanket, exposing me in the most uncomfortable of ways.

I have no idea if that makes sense but put more simply, I’m scared of the vulnerability that comes with truly knowing and trusting in God’s plan.

But I don’t think I can stay where I am anymore.

And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hold back from sharing more of this growth here, in this space, out of fear that you will leave. I know for a lot of people, the mention of spirituality or God or anything in that realm can evoke a lot of negative feelings. That is not my intention.

But it is what I’m feeling inspired to talk more about.

And I wonder, instead of potentially leaving, what would happen if you stayed? I’ve been applying this myself to all areas of my life as well. As someone who habitually runs at the sign of any discomfort, in many areas of my life I'm exploring patience and curiosity instead of be-lining for the nearest exit at the first sign of struggle.

What if you play with the curiosity yourself?  What if you are being asked to sit with your shit too? Maybe the uncomfortable feelings that come up aren’t a bad thing but really, leading you to something you never knew was possible?

I understand very well, the feelings that may come up when talk of spirituality and God comes up. I’ve wrestled for years with these ideas and concepts myself and have said, many times, that I just don’t need God in my life. And I, by no means, am trying to push God on you. So please know that.

I know very well that if you are going to get down with the G.O.D, you gotta come to that on your own. 

It also doesn’t help that there is a lot of religious and spiritual contradictions out there that make you question things.

There are also some really big and justifiable questions that cause a lot of us to be confused. Like; why do really good people die? And why do bad people get away with doing bad things? Why is there starvation and horrific deaths and illness and so much suffering?

I’m not sure we will ever have those answers until we come face to face with the creator ourselves.

All I know for me is that for a really long time, I’ve felt a deep void in the middle of my chest. And I filled it with drama and shopping and food and sex and TV and drugs and alcohol and gossip and anger and selfish motives...all because for a brief moment, those things provided the relief I was desperate for.

Lately, however, I’ve been called to sit in the shit rather than numb. And in those moments when I am desperate to numb I resist and feel it instead.

And in full transparency, it 100%, without a doubt, most of the time absolutely sucks. Honestly. It does. Emotional pain is by far worse than any physical pain I’ve ever felt and I’ve been in some pretty excruciating physical pain. Try having a major pelvic and abdominal infection right after having two feet of your colon removed. It was like stabbing a dull butter knife over and over into my pelvis and slowly removing it each time.

And the emotional pain, at times, has felt worse.

But what's been happening when I sit in my shit is interesting. It’s really painful but then the shit shifts (say that five times fast!) and starts to loosen its grip and I start looking at the pain in a different light. I don’t feel it as intensely but rather, feel it leaving my body, just a little bit at a time.

The actual practices I’ve been turning to have been getting still and quiet, journaling and just being quite uncomfortable. I’ll literally feel it coming on and sit in the middle of my bed, close my eyes and feel into the area that hurts.

And then I pray but not in the way I use to.

I used to only talk to God when something bad was happening and it usually amounted to me desperately begging for some kind of salvation. Or, I’d just curse God altogether for said situation.

I didn't realize at the time that God is seeking to know me deeper too. And how do you know someone? It takes time, good communication and opening up in a vulnerable way. 

I also didn't ever think God really wanted to hear me talk about my dating life or my money problems or something I deem less important because well, doesn't God have bigger things to worry about? 

But that is not the case and has become very clear. 

Lately, prayer has been more of a question and answer series or just a conversation. If someone was watching me, they might think I was crazy because I literally walk around my house talking to God as if He's just sitting on my couch having coffee with me. 

But those are the kinds of relationships I love. When I sit around with friends and family and just hang and chat for hours over tea or coffee and I thought to myself, maybe this is the kind of relationship God is asking of me too?

So my conversations with God have been more of me asking a lot of questions and listening for the subtle ways in which God responds. Sometimes it’s just a knowing inside. Other times it’s a song lyric or book that falls into my lap. The other day I was walking Rocky and came across a box of free books. I perused what was being offered and a couple jumped out and I knew this was one of the ways in which God was gonna shed some light on a few of my questions.

If you are curious, the books were When God Writes Your Love Story (because let's be honest, I should NOT be left to my own devices in the area of my love life. I always muck it up on my own) and Blue Like Jazz.  I’ve already read Blue Like Jazz a few times but Donald Miller is hands down one of my most favorite writers on faith and God and this book has so much to offer. I'm constantly in a state of "AH-HA!" when I read his work. 

And then God often talks to me through seeing the same random quote multiple times in the space of 24 hours or a Hummingbird flies right in front of my face and just sits there flapping it's wings staring at me for a good long while. As if to say, "I'm right here with you Amanda."

It's always a feeling, a deep knowing, that God is answering. 

Lately, I’ve been praying that God helps me deepen my relationship with Him (or Her) in ways that only I will understand. Not that my relationship with God is any more special than yours. I just know I can be incredibly stubborn and that I’ll only hear him if he talks to me in ways in which I can see, hear and feel. And then I ask that I be open to all that I discover.

A Course in Miracles, which is a spiritual text I’ve been reading lately, teaches a prayer I use often, “I am willing to see things differently.” I’ve written about this before but I’ve never felt it working more in my life than right now.

You see, A Course In Miracles states that God is waiting for the slightest invitation to help us heal and return to a place of love. We just have to ask and then surrender and let God do His work. And know that it may not come in the way we think it should, but it will come.  

So this is what I’ve been practicing.

Sitting in my shit, surrendering and chit-chatting with God in my kitchen while I make coffee. Oh if these walls could talk!

And let me tell you, it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes I feel a little crazy but mostly I feel a new sense of peace and like I'm shedding extra weight I've been holding onto for years.

I’ve been known to be a little neurotic when parts of my life feel out of control but what’s really interesting, is ever since I’ve started this practice, I’ve felt more peace and a deeper sense of trust that everything will work out and even better than I could craft up myself.

And that my friends, is how miracles work. They are not some big, self serving boom in your life. Miracles are a willingness and openness to finally change. Miracles are a willingness to see things differently. 

And God works in mysterious ways. Like nudging me to finally sit in my shit. 

Beginnings, Endings and the Space In Between

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“Sometimes what you think is an end is only a beginning."

What I know about beginnings and endings goes a little something like this.

Beginnings are euphoric. They hold a mysterious quality that feels like an opportunity. Anything is possible. Your imagination goes wild and the world is your oyster. 

Your heart flutters, you walk a little bit lighter, you smile bigger, your optimism is palpable and it’s as if you could take on the world.

Beginnings are full of life. They make your blood pump and your palms sweaty. You feel unstoppable. You feel, alive. 

Endings on the other hand, often feel like a death.  For many of us, a deep mourning sets in and we wait and feel and sometimes, we can’t figure out why we feel the way we feel or how we even feel for that matter.

And we even go to great lengths to numb those feelings that start to surface. 

The ending, or death, of a relationship, a job, a friendship, a lifelong dream, a hope can impact us all the same.

We must say goodbye to something that once was a beginning. Sometimes it's bittersweet, and other times, it hurts. A lot.

Here is the thing I’m learning about endings; there is an exponential amount of learnings that you can take and bring forth into the new beginning that is right around the corner.

That is not to say that endings are not excruciating and you can't always see or are even ready for that growth. Especially when it involves saying goodbye to someone you loved deeply. I do know from my own experiences, and what I have heard from some people closest to me, that eventually, with time, you start to wade through the fuzzy waters of pain and start to see beginnings again.

It does come, eventually. I promise. 

And you can’t have a beginning without some kind of ending and you can’t have an ending without some kind of beginning.

That's just life. It's cyclical. Look at the span of a year and the beginnings and endings that come with each passing season. You not only can see if physically but you can literally feel it within you. 

This one little notion has helped me wade through some pretty dark waters. After my divorce, even though it was my decision and felt like an empowered one, I was struck by a grief so thick and so unexpected, at times I could barely scrape myself off the playroom floor which was my temporary bedroom. It was one of the most confusing times of my life and some of the most excruciating pain I've ever been through.

And coming off the year I just had, again I found myself in the depths of so much heaviness and fear, at times I didn't know which way was up and which way was down. 

As I felt my way through the darkness, I eventually saw a glimmer of light that gave me hope.

And then, there it was. A beginning...  

But I've been wondering lately if putting that much meaning and weight and waiting for beginnings and endings actually create more suffering? Wouldn't life be more peaceful if we learn to find more balance in the in-between places?

It seems to me we are in love with the beginnings and deeply fear endings. When we are so focused on either, or, aren't we missing the beat all together? Aren't we missing what life is truly about...LIVING. 

Ask anyone who has lost someone by death or someone who they themselves are dying and they all pretty much say the same thing; I wish I would have lived more in the moment, especially with those I love. I wish I would have held their hand longer, watched more sunsets with them, forgiven sooner, let go of more and held their gaze longer. And I definitely wish I would have said I love you way more. 

For me, my current lesson is letting go of expectations that come with new beginnings and not fear unavoidable endings. Because again, life is cyclical. Beginnings and endings will always be apart of all of our lives. 

I'm learning, every day,  to just live right where I am at. And it is not easy. Believe me when I say this. As someone who struggles with horrible anxiety, I have to remind myself of this so many times throughout the day. "Just sit with this Amanda. Just be here right now, Amanda. Take a big breath Amanda You will be okay Amanda."

 I'm learning, slowly, to appreciate every person and experience for what it is teaching me. To trust that whatever is meant to be in my life will be. And not fear those things that feel are coming to an end.

Because... there will always, and forever, be another beginning right around the corner.