Wednesday, January 28, 2015

week 3

one good deed a day

an ongoing journal of a few good deeds throughout this year

15. jan 15. take a walk, looking as far into the distance as possible » This was our first walk without our sweet Grace…  Really just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other right now.  Remembering the way she would run ahead, but always look back, as if asking… mom, are you coming?  I miss her sweet goofy face so much.
16. jan 16. offer a kleenex to a person in need » We decided to try and visit the local theatre as a little distraction, try to clear our heads a bit of this horrible week.  I brought an entire box of kleenex with me, just knowing I would go through them… And instead ended up offering it to the woman next to me.  (Although this example was not written in my book's pages, I found it to be the perfect good deed for today.  I added to the blank pages at the end entitled- what else can you do?)
17. jan 17. talk about what you're grateful for » This was so hard, yet so important.  As we are trying to find ways to cope with our loss, we are really striving to focus on all the good & wonderful things we have shared with each other and with Grace throughout our lives.
18. jan 18. choose the longer walk home » On all our daily walks, I would always let Grace choose which path to take… somedays it would be the shorter route and on others she would surprise me by picking the longer route.  But those routes were still just a bit shorter than the one we used to take… She hadn't been able to take it in a while because the distance proved to be just a little too much for her tired legs.  So today my hubby & I chose this one once more… And we talked & we smiled while thinking of her.
19. jan 19. make up your own family holiday to celebrate » There are two girls in our neighborhood that met & visited with Grace over the summer last year. They would ring our doorbell just to pet her & love on her… And I just knew the day would come when they would come knocking again… And I dreaded it. Just the thought & telling their innocent smiling faces, made my stomach turn. I assumed we would have plenty of time, it's winter after all… But you see… It has been the most beautiful day. 72 degrees… sunshine, and only the slightest breeze on your face. And guess what, our doorbell just rang. "Is Gracie taking her nap?" "No honey, she is in Heaven now… But she loved you guys coming by to visit her." So hard. We had a moment & said okay, and she left. And only a few short minutes later my doorbell rang again. She was back with her siblings… And they asked us… "Since she's gone already, would it be okay if we have a birthday party for her every year to celebrate her life?" My heart is so full.
20. jan 20. take a long bath » I may be the only woman on earth that doesn't do this… pretty much ever.  I always choose the practicality of the shower instead.  Today however, this proved to be exactly what I needed.
21. jan 21.  offer your respects, always » I need to remember I'm not the only one hurting & that all the support we have received should be shared in the hopes of comforting other friends experiencing the same hurt and loss.

I never meant for my good deeds to feel sad, or be about myself… however these were all in the book.  I've always believed- we can't choose what will happen to us, or when it may happen, but we can choose how we react to it.  Right now my heart needs time… it continues to ache for my sweet Gracie girl, & I know it may need a lifetime to heal.  It's been comforting to know that as I am going through this project, I am realizing good deeds for yourself are just as important as those that you choose to do for others.  --  Recently, we have been blessed with beautiful days, completely uncharacteristic for January, including record high temperatures in the 70s & 80s.  This was our first sunrise without her (after weeks & weeks of grey).  Lately, I find myself strolling our usual routes & I can't help but look to the sky, seeking the sun's warmth… and it brings me such joy to picture my pretty girl's smiling face.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

week 2

one good deed a day

an ongoing journal of a few good deeds throughout this year

8. jan 8. leave your mail carrier a thank-you note » something as simple as, we just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate you delivering our mail everyday… a very heartfelt thank you for all that you do & to the others that help share in the responsibilities as well! -Nelou + Brad
9. jan 9. floss » because it's important to do small good deeds for yourself too…
10. jan 10. figure out how to print double-sided » another good tip is to reuse your scrap paper, especially if you have one of those printers that likes to recalibrate the ink cartridges… no need to waste a perfectly clean sheet of paper!
11. jan 11. bring your own bags to the store » a few grocery stops today, since tomorrow we are starting a kind of cleanse called the WHOLE30, a diet of unprocessed foods… (no bread & cheese may make for a little whining, let's just be honest)
12. jan 12. say hello to strangers, especially to the elderly » and especially when they are toughing it out at the gym!!  You GO!
13. jan 13. listen to your heart » even if it means breaking it
14. jan 14. take a deep breath. now take two more. repeat » remember, this is enough.

The past few days have been the hardest… Our Gracie girl has been with us nearly half our lives on this earth… She has filled every moment of our lives with goodness & joy, love & understanding.  Everything around us & every part of our being contains a piece of her…  

On Tuesday, January 13th, we opened our hearts up just a little bit more.  Daddy brought you breakfast in bed, and we sat in our little circle of three, our sweet family… enjoying the life we've made together, realizing it was long & completely full.  As the day went on, we snuggled, shared stories… enjoyed plenty of cookies & sweet potatoes & lots of turkey.  We spent a few moments outside, looking towards the sunshine, just letting it warm our faces as the cool breeze gave us a soft embrace.  We said I love you… over & over & over again.  We laughed & cried and hugged each other, and we watched you fall asleep.  And we stroked your fur and said everything's gonna be alright, that you were the best of us, and that now, sweet baby… you are free.  Daddy carried you, mommie right beside him… and we cried a little more.  And as we laid you to rest sweet girl, we saw the most beautiful sunset.  And we knew with all our hearts… you were now smiling down from above.

Gracie Zikas » July 12, 2000 to January 13, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

dear grace,

Oh our sweet sweet girl.  Well okay, maybe one of those sweets should read stubborn… after all, we remember the day we picked you out of a bunch of furry little weimballs.  You were the one that ran away… went to hide under a car…  And we said yep, that's the one!  We held you in our arms for the first time & your pretty blue eyes gave us a hesitant glance.  And we gave you a good squeeze and named you Gracie.  On the long drive home, you snuggled in, deciding to trust just a little bit more…  Those puppy days were such fun, watching you play in a bowl of water… You would just bounce around the house looking like Dumbo with your huge paws and your flying ears.  You gave us your whole heart and we gave you ours.  The nights proved a little harder when your cries to be with us broke through the darkness, and we'd turn to each other saying… it's your turn.  But eventually you tugged just hard enough at our heartstrings, and our attempt at not in the bed with us, pretty much went out the window.  And weren't you excited!?  In the bed with mom & dad, yippee!!  Of course you took it a step further and went for sleeping on our pillows (and occasionally on our heads).  Oh but we were smitten!  Over the years, the queen size bed got upgraded to a king.  And even though you were strong and still jumping everywhere, eventually we eliminated those boxsprings, and brought that mattress closer to the floor… all so you could- Be. with. us. -make things a little easier… because we sure did enjoy a little cuddle time (and maybe the occasional kick in the ribs).  You may not even know it, but you gave your daddy a jump start on learning how to lay tile, you little linoleum eater!!  We shared birthdays & holidays & everydays… We lit off fireworks every year, and you were never scared… it was always enough for you, just to have us by your side.  We got dressed up for halloween and went trick-or-treating with your cousins, wasn't that such fun (especially when you got to eat the cookies later, right!? wink wink).  We took in the colorful turning leaves each autumn, listening to the crunch they made beneath our feet… during long walks through neighborhoods or forests or just anywhere we could wander together…  We even visited Santa Claus & experienced the merriment of thousands of little twinkle lights…  We loved watching you grow and having you near us.  Your separation anxiety turned into our separation anxiety.  Because you see… you didn't just need us, we needed you.  You were always there… through every deployment and TDY, missing daddy, but loving on mommie.  And then we got to see your big goofy grin every time daddy returned home.  You would run and jump and make all these cute funny noises… I don't think I've ever seen you smile so big.  So when his job moved us to Germany, we packed it all up.  And we got through all the time away from family and even more time away from daddy.  You became mommie's constant companion and best friend.  Someone to explore new places with everyday…  A space heater during the cold and lonely days & nights…  Your ears were always open when a happy chat was needed, and you could always be counted on to press your big nose to our faces or put a paw in our lap anytime we needed comfort.  You. just. knew.  You may have been 8, but middle age be damned… because you got to enjoy schnitzel & bratwurst and a French baguette or two.  Got to go on your first ride in a little red convertible…  I mean, we traveled… and you got to see the world!  From wandering those quaint little German villages, to stepping your paws in the sand for the first time in the Netherlands… you absolutely loved it and we loved watching you!  Riding through the snowy Swiss Alps, your nose taking in the scent of the crisp wintery air, your ears flapping freely in the wind.  Gosh you looooooved your car rides…  Exploring Italy only to return to our villa and soak up the rays by our private pool in the Tuscan countryside…  You did it all.  You were there.  Sharing in the joy and the wonder of it all…  Our little bean.  You have about a thousand little nicknames… even the silly ones, you acknowledged them all, you always came running with your sweet little face.  You have shared our life completely, from our wedding, to moving across the ocean and back.  And even as we went through the heartbreak of realizing we would have no children of our own… you just laid your little head in our lap, and somehow we knew it would all work out and everything would be alright.  Because you were ours… You filled our life and the lives of so many others with such joy.  You gave our lives meaning, taught us how to love each other and ourselves, and you filled us with up with- So. Much. Goodness…  So you see now, don't you?  Our sweet Gracie girl… there has never been anyone loved as much as we love you.  So sleep easy now baby.  You did good.

And until we meet again, we'll be seeing you in our dreams.
-with all our heart… mommie & daddy

Thursday, January 8, 2015

kicking off twenty-fifteen with...

one good deed a day

be the change . 2015 . kindness is contagious

an ongoing journal of a few good deeds throughout this year
1. jan 1. line dry your laundry instead of using the dryer » Glad it was a small load, since we are experiencing freezing rain right now, which means I had to use my laundry room to hang dry… but can't wait to do this again with a little sunshine.  I just love the smell of a line-dried blanket!
2. jan 2. schedule your annual physical » done.
3. jan 3. bag your own groceries » this one's kinda easy for me, because I've been doing this since we lived in Germany.  It still makes me smile when the cashier looks at me like I've lost my mind when I tell her- don't worry, I'll do the bagging… teamwork.
4. jan 4. bring your neighbor's newspaper to her doorstep » perfect for today since it's only 25 degrees out… will hopefully be a nice little surprise when they open their door & discover their paper on their doormat!
5. jan 5. start a update your birthday calendar to help you remember to mail cards » I actually started my calendar a long time ago & I used to be so good with mailing cards… however I really do try to wish everyone in my calendar a happy birthday or anniversary- whether it's in person, by phone call, social media, or in a text.  Hopefully this year I can get out a few more wishes via snail mail!
6. jan 6. wish your cashier a good day » & with a smile too!  Everyone should do this.  All the time.
7. jan 7. carry a safety pin in your bag- someone will be so grateful you have one » good reminder!  I used to always carry one, but pretty sure it was passed on to someone in need & I forgot to throw another one in my bag… so now it's there for the next person!

I'm looking forward to watching this list grow as the year progresses, along with a few of my thoughts & daily reflections.  I believe even a small act of kindness can turn someone's day around, hopefully causing a happy little chain reaction…  It's my wish that you will join me & that this will also inspire you to be the change you want to see in the world.  Just one good deed a day.