Have you ever made a decision you were 100% positive about? One that you knew without hesitation was the correct choice? I’m not talking about choosing not to rob a bank over robbing a bank, or choosing the fastest checkout lane at the grocery store. I’m talking about something that was hard, something that was gut wrenching. Before last week I would have said no. Most of my challenging decisions end up being more like 80% sure, with 20% left to look back upon with regret and questions. Last week I made a decision that I was 100% positive about, but it left with me, and my family, with 100% of sadness.
Duke was our first “fur baby.” When he was just a few weeks old, he was placed in our arms right after our wedding rehearsal. You can see the look of utter shock on my face in this picture. Two of my crazier uncles, whom I adore, decided this would be their wedding gift to us. Right there, right outside of the chapel, we became a family, the night before our actual vows. It was terrifying. We were now responsible for something else that was alive besides ourselves. Duke was a beagle, so his favorite activities were eating and sleeping (I can relate) and he did them very well. He was with us through all four of the homes we have lived in as a married couple, always making sure to find the sunniest spot to lay in all of them. In September we will be married for 15 years, so that put Duke about 105 years old in dog years. He was tired. He had lost interest in food and wasn’t walking well. He had always enjoyed car rides with his head out the window, a flurry of thousands of smells filling his senses. Last Thursday I tried to take him for a car ride to cheer him up. Then he looked at me.
He continued to look at me all morning. I mean, intently, look at me, in my eyes. He was asking me, begging me, telling me. It was time. Making that phone call to the vet was one thing, carrying him from the car into the vet was another. It hurt so bad that it did literally feel like all of our guts were being wrenched. It was 6:30 at night and our vet brought us into a small room I had never seen before. Reminding me of a meditation room, peaceful and serene, it looked out over the gorgeous rolling heels and trees. There were a few chairs, a beautiful soft rug, and an ottoman in the center, covered in a fuzzy blanket. This lovely poem was in a frame by the window. I read it quickly, through blurry eyes, but it was perfect. I took a picture of it because I knew I would need to reread it again and again after this time.
The four of us placed our buddy onto this comfy spot, tears flowing and hearts aching. He continued to look at each of us very solemnly, right up until we told him it was okay to let go. This decision broke my heart, and even worse I watched it break the hearts of the rest of my family. But I can tell you, with 100%, it was the right decision. When he looked into my eyes that day I was positive this was the choice he wanted us to make. No one tells you when you get a puppy that their love will leave a permanent paw print on your heart, one that will be bittersweet because their lives are so short compared to humans. The love from a pet is pure, and we were lucky to have that from Duke for 15 years. I’m extremely grateful that during my lifetime this was my most difficult decision, for I am well aware of how lucky I am when comparing to those who’ve had to make difficult decisions that I can’t even begin to imagine.
Processing his passing has been a challenge. Two weeks ago my doctor sent me the results of a recent blood test. I’m generally not a high energy person, if I was an animal I’d probably be part of the sloth family, or probably a turtle so I could hide if I want to, but recently I felt like I could fall asleep on a table while out to eat at a restaurant. My blood work showed lyme disease, which, in this area of our state, most people have or have had at some point. In fact, last year my blood work had shown an antibody from an older infection. I took a few months worth of antibiotics and just kept through my normal activities. I don’t fully understand lyme and I don’t fully understand the results of the test. I just know that since I started the antibiotics 2 weeks ago I feel like I’ve plunged deeper into a fog, which apparently is a normal part of getting it out of your system. My head hurts and my energy level is ground zero. My brain feels fuzzy and I am mad because I feel like I can’t be the wife, mother, friend, daughter and sister that I want to be. My family needs me right now, including Annie, our other beagle. She is wondering around our home looking for her best friend.
And Suzie Gaffney Styling? I’m in a bit of a panic worrying I have let people down due to my recent distractions. When you run your business, especially a service based business, your reputation is your brand. I know I am on point when I am with clients, working within their wardrobes and being face to face. My love for what I do kicks in and there is a bit of an adrenaline rush that gives me a buzz during the process. It’s when I go home and try to keep up with social media, invoices and administrative work that I start to feel like I failing miserably. Emails, texts, and phone calls, I am afraid of missing a detail. Technology can be a fabulous thing and then other times I fantasize about taking my phone and hurling it off a cliff. Facebook makes sure to remind you of your loser status with notifications letting you know that it’s been one week or more since you have posted. It is not the end of the world to get off the social media train, but it’s easy to get scared that the train is moving ahead quickly and you are getting left behind to be forgotten.
I often struggle with how personal I make this blog. I think I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with putting it all out there, partly because I don’t know how to keep it inside (this can be a problem), and because the feedback I have received regarding personal posts has been positive. What causes me to struggle is that this is supposed to be a fashion and lifestyle blog. The goal was to have readers come here to get some insider tips on where to find the best jeans and what outfit to wear for travel. As a reader my blog posts must appear, in the words of Forest Gump, “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” On the other hand, my entire business is based on getting to know my clients on a deeply personal level. Only when they really open up can I really help to discover their own personal style, and, more importantly, to feel good about themselves. The best way to get people to open up? You need to open yourself up to them.
Maybe it’s wrong but I love getting a look into other people’s lives. I’m curious and fascinated, interested in our similarities and our differences. I think that is what makes Instagram so addicting, it’s a quick peek into someone’s kitchen in the background, a little look at how things are behind the scenes. Maybe its human nature, or maybe I’m just nosy??? I’d like to think that at the end of the day we are all just looking to find ways to relate, to find ways that reassure us that whatever thoughts or feelings we have, we are not alone. I’m grateful for family and friends that hang through me with all these ups and downs. I’ve been known to become a hermit crab and retreat but they are always there for me, okay with letting me hide and knowing when to coax me out. There were lots of tears in between these happy pictures below, and spending time with lots of family under one roof always creates a bit of dysfunctional madness, but the bad only outweighs the good if we allow it. Choosing happiness sometimes take a little extra work, and I need to take more time to put in the effort because it’s well worth it.
I’m going to continue to write this blog in a way I feel is genuine. Some days I am genuinely excited to talk about shoes, other days I feel shallow in doing so. I believe what we wear is extremely important to what is going on in our lives, it can make things easier or more difficult. When it was time to take Duke to the vet I was grateful to have an old tie dyed maxi dress that is super soft and super comfy. Putting on this dress makes me feel better, and I knew it would feel good for Duke to be held against it. Struggling to find an outfit is not something I want to waste time on when driving our dog to that kind of appointment. Since I haven’t felt well lately comfort is everything when getting dressed. Wide legged linen pants, easy tanks and simple jewelry make me feel pulled together even if I feel like I am falling apart.
*Insider Tip – Clothes For Moods
A weekend away at the beach, with family and friends, was good for us. Packing was easy because I knew I wanted to my clothes to be easy, comfortable and casual. Wide legged pants, comfy tunics, and easy dresses kept things simple. People always talk about having the right clothes for different occasions and events, but no one ever talks about dressing for our different moods. Sometimes it’s not about where your going as much as it is about how you want to feel when you are there. We all have those feel good clothes that we reach for when we are sick, the threadbare t-shirts and comfy sweatpants, they make us feel better and they set the tone, confirming we are in shut down stay in mode. Just as clothes can complement our current moods they can also change it. On days that I feel scattered I have a perfectly pressed blue and white stripe shirt dress. When I put it on, especially when I wear it with my favorite chunky pearl necklace I feel pulled together, at least on the outside. This is where the whole “fake it till you make it” can ring true. When we look a certain way, it can make us feel a certain way. Take the time to take inventory of your clothes and make sure you have all your different emotions covered? A top that makes you feel sexy, a dress that makes you feel confident, pajamas that make you feel relaxed, a sweater in your favorite color for when you are grumpy. Your clothes are pretty powerful, they can complement your current mood or it can change it, and that is why I love what I do.