About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Broken open

"When we have been through a trial and survived it—or better still, transformed its terrors into revelations—then we begin to approach other adversities with a different attitude. Change and loss may still knock us off the horse, but soon we are back in the saddle, stronger and wiser than ever. As life progresses, and we continue to transform and refine our consciousness, we gain more insight and humility, greater strength of character, and deeper faith in the meaningfulness of life."---an excerpt from "Broken Open" by Elizabeth Lesser

I have been broken open.  I look back at my evolution from wife to widow and everything before and after with a profound sense of peace. Where once I wore the word widow as a scar that I feared would broadcast darkness to the world, I now see it as merely a fact of my life.  Where once I hid myself because I was too immersed in grief to embrace my confidence, I now make no apologies for who I am or what I have survived.  

Witnessing my husband's final breath changed me forever.  Hearing my young children begging me to save him and knowing I could not changed me forever.  Evolving through the trauma and grief has changed me forever.  Suffering through the loss of friendships during the grief process changed me forever.  The changes broke me open...open to who I truly am.  

I fought it.  I said from the moment Sean left this earth that I wouldn't let his suicide break me.  I didn't know what I was saying.  I didn't understand what it meant to be broken so I fought the process for a long time.  Once I surrendered...once I admitted that everything I had once known and embraced as my reality had been shattered...I could breathe again.  I could heal only after I surrendered to the breaking. 

Being broken open feels like the first rays of sunlight hitting your skin after a long thunderstorm.  Being broken open feels like reconnecting with that long-lost friend you never thought you would see again.  The greatest thing about being broken open is the coming back together in ways that are more magnificent than ever imagined. 

I like who I am now.  I like who I am becoming.  I wear my past like I wear my favorite writing sweater...with confidence.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Summit

Yesterday the kids and I decided to go to Breckenridge for the afternoon. Normally, the trip takes less than hour, but we decided to take a rustic route over Boreas Pass. In certain areas, the dirt road is wide enough for only one car with a sheer 1000 foot drop off to one side and a rock face on the other. Unforgiving terrain.

As we neared the summit, we saw patches of snow and my son wanted to hike up there. Ben ran up the hill while I walked. Slowly. At nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, I gasped for breath while he raced upward. But we made it to the snow.

After sliding and stomping around in the white stuff, Ben looked at me and said, "I'm so glad we took this way, mom. The road is a little scary, but look at how far we can see. It's almost like we can touch the sky."
We hung out up there for awhile and took in the view. Remnants of old mining shacks line Boreas Pass and we were lucky enough to see the crumbling foundation of one not far from us.  If we hadn't taken the scary, unpredictable road, we wouldn't have had that experience together. We would have still made it to Breckenridge, yes; but we wouldn't have stomped around in snow in July, hung out near the summit on the Continental Divide, or shared that moment together.

Yes, there is the saying about taking the road less traveled, but that sometimes seems so exhausting. It is exhausting. For some of us, we were sent on a life path we never intended and the going has been precarious if not down right terrifying. But when we catch our breath, appreciate how far we have come and realize we are standing where few others have ever stood, we can enjoy the view and celebrate our climb. 
Being on the top of a mountain is like touching the sky.  Taking a precarious road brings life into sharp focus. Pay attention, slow down or risk going off the edge. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

The elusive 'someday'

Someday. The word bugs me. Someday I'll hike up Machu Pichu. Someday I'll move to Hawaii. Someday I'll get my athletic body back. Someday I'll get a clue as to what the hell it is I'm doing. Someday is just another word for maybe, which we all know really means it's probably not gonna happen.

When I hear myself saying it, I know I am putting off making a plan. It's easy to focus on the mythical 'someday' and avoid making a commitment to change. Well, I don't want to wait for 'someday'. Waiting for 'someday' is a good way to go insane and I'm already on a slippery slope.

I am great at excuse making. In fact, in high school, the freshmen had to write little things about the graduating seniors. One of my freshman friends wrote that I was great at excuse making. My creative mind came up with some brilliant excuses, usually to get myself and friends out of some type of trouble. Over the course of time, however, my excuse making has been my biggest obstacle to living life to the fullest.

Yes, sometimes excuses are actually reasons. Sean's death is a reason for the grief the kids and I experienced. His traumatic exit from our lives caused us all a lot of anxiety and has taken a lot of recovery time. It is not an excuse. It is a reason. But using the fact that I'm not a size 8 right now to avoid going to the water park with the kids is ridiculous. That is an excuse to avoid living in the now.

What have you been putting off for 'someday'? What if 'someday' never comes and you realize that you have wasted life stuck in limbo? What if waiting for 'someday' is a complete waste of your valuable time?

I wish I could promise that I'll step away from the computer and never use the word again; but I can't. I will. We all will. But I hope that now whenever I say it I'll catch myself and revise the statement into something more proactive. Statements like: I will work every day to get into the best shape of my life. I will move to Hawaii when the kids graduate from high school. Of course I can always change my plan, but at least there will be a plan to change instead of an elusive concept that never had a shape or a true intention behind it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lessons learned from Lisa

An uncomfortable fluttering stirs in my chest.  My foot taps nervously beneath my desk.  I feel a determination coming from deep within that making me even more contemplative than usual.

I attended my friend Lisa's funeral this past Saturday here in Denver.  At only 41, she lived a life full of laughter and love.  Three hundred people attended her funeral, a tribute to her incredible spirit that profoundly touched us all.  She died an incredibly painful and untimely death; but she never gave up fighting to live or surrendered her optimism.  As I watched the video that summed up her life---or tried to---I realized how terribly I will miss her and how deeply she touched my soul.  

Life lessons Lisa taught me during our friendship:
  • Life is too precious to waste doing anything you truly don't want to do.  
  • If you want something, go out there and get it.  Don't let anyone or anything stop you.
  • Health is wealth.  Take care of yourself and stop making excuses. Now.  
  • Love is all that matters.  Love your family, love your friends, love yourself.  
  • Practice kindness and gratitude in every moment, no matter how challenging that moment is.  
  • Laugh as often as possible.
  • Be spontaneous.  
  • Never settle for less because you deserve to live the best life.   
  • No obstacle is too big to tackle.  
  • Always think "yes, I can" even when the odds are against you.
  • Dance and sing out loud as often as possible.
  • Seize opportunity without second-guessing yourself.
  • Cherish each one of the people in your life and let them know it.  
From now on when I feel stuck or challenged or frustrated, I am going to ask myself, "what would LDW do?"  And then I am going to do it. I am going to live life as fully as possible because I am able and I deserve it.  Lisa was denied her opportunity to continue living the life she loved so dearly.  I will not be denied.  

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Dancing Queen

Dressed in 70's clothes, wigs and feather boas, two friends and I walked up the ramp at Red Rocks Amphitheater for an ABBA tribute concert.  Our four inch high-heeled boots clomped against stone as we danced under the stars singing as loud as humanly possible while laughing as our sequined and feather covered arms swayed toward the sky.  That was three summers ago.  Now Lisa, who sang the loudest and danced the wildest of us all, has passed away at only 41.

For almost two years, she battled against one complication after another as she struggled to defeat aplastic anemia.  She always believed she would get her life back. She never once surrendered hope.  She always tried to make those around her happy and kept her sense of humor despite intense pain.  I know she is now at peace.

Today I listen to ABBA and remember Lisa's excitement for life.

Why does it always seem to take tragedy to make people say things like, "I should have taken more time to meet her for lunch" or "I should have called more often"?  I am saying these things today.  I wish I would have stopped in more often these past few months instead of always rushing to one thing or another.  But I didn't.  And I know Lisa of all people would be the last to judge.  She wanted people to live their lives, to cherish their moments with their families, to embrace the day.

If you are healthy, celebrate that today.  If your kids are healthy, celebrate that today.  Hell, if you are alive, celebrate that today.  Your bank balance doesn't matter; it can turn around.  Your small arguments with someone don't matter; you will regret the anger if they are gone tomorrow.  Stop what you are doing and listen to yourself breathe. You are alive.  Celebrate that today.

In honor of Lisa, I will wrap this up with lyrics from Chiquitita by ABBA.  Celebrate your lives, everyone!


Chiquitita, tell me what's wrong

you're enchained by

your own sorrow

in your eyes

there is no hope for tomorrow

how I hate to see you like this

there is no way you can deny it

I can see that you're

oh so sad, so quiet



Chiquitita, tell me the truth

I'm a shoulder you can cry on

your best friend

I'm the one you must rely on

you were always sure of yourself

now I see you've broken a feather

I hope we can

patch it up together



Chiquitita

you and I know

how the heartaches

come and they go

and the scars they're leavin'

you'll be dancin' once again

and the pain will end

you will have no time for grievin'

Chiquitita

you and I cry

but the sun is still in the sky

and shining above you

let me hear you sing once more

like you did before

sing a new song

Chiquitita

try once more

like you did before

sing a new song

Chiquitita



So the walls came tumblin' down

and your love's a blown out candle

all is gone and it seems

too hard to handle

Chiquitita, tell me the truth

there is no way you can deny it

I see that you're

oh so sad, so quiet



Chiquitita

you and I know

how the heartaches

come and they go

and the scars they're leavin'

you'll be dancin' once again

and the pain will end

you will have no time for grievin'

Chiquitita

you and I cry

but the sun is still in the sky

and shining above you

let me hear you sing once more

like you did before

sing a new song

Chiquitita

try once more

like you did before

sing a new song

Chiquitita