I’m currently sitting in THE most beautiful place I’ve ever been. It’s the EXACT same veranda where JFK wrote his inaugural speech in January 1961…Cottage #25 at the prestigious Round Hill in Hanover, Jamaica. It is a complete understatement to say it is exquisite. We have an uninterrupted view of the ocean, hills and mountains so green in the distance, beautifully crafted furniture, a gentle Caribbean breeze, lush plant life, private pool, and two of the sweetest housekeepers you can imagine (that even made us breakfast this morning)! Joy and Verona haven’t the slightest idea of what’s been rumbling in my mind today, but their sense of calm and serenity washes over me, and I am thankful for the conversations I’ve had with them.
We have been here for just over a day. We arrived yesterday, July 31st, with amazement in our eyes and gratitude in our hearts. We had a double whammy – few are lucky to experience this luxury (especially as a work incentive trip) and even fewer on their birthday!! Todd turned 38 the same day as our arrival! My spirits and energy were really high yesterday! We had a fantastic day exploring the property, lounging in our pool, and rocking in the rattan chairs on our veranda. As the sun set, we geared up for a spectacular evening of dinner and entertainment on the Hanover Terrace. We sipped on champagne, swapped stories with new friends, and let ourselves drift away into the night. It was a day that I will cherish forever. I felt so honored and so proud to be in great company at such a magnificent resort.
Today, August 1st brings a new myriad of emotions. The anticipation and anxiety over this day had me wavering on even attending this trip for several months. Today marks the one year anniversary of losing my beloved brother Dion. It still seems surreal. I miss his antics, his laugh, his jokes, his mannerisms, his dares and bets, his ability to sift through BS, his outside of the box thinking, his refusal to follow the path of least resistance. In short, I miss everything about him.
Over the last year, I have been on a complete roller coaster. It’s quite ironic that I’m on an awards trip for the top 12 sales associates when, from my perspective, I had so little control over myself this past year. The ups, the downs, the anger, the depression, the guilt, resentment, desperation and the overwhelming feeling that I was falling apart almost every day. Often, I could feel the overwhelm building up and knew it would come crashing down in some form of an angry tantrum or wild crying spell. I can barely even recall the past year – much less the details on how I landed myself near the top.
I’ve lost complete motivation over my health and wellness. I haven’t weighed myself, but I’m sure I’m near the same weight I was when I was nine months pregnant. I could probably count the times I’ve worked out on my fingers and toes. I’ve started goal trackers – and quit them. I’ve started a mindfulness practice – and quit it. I started a new work out program (two actually) – and quit those as well. Yoga? Started and quit. Morning Walks? Started and quit. You can see the trend.
And I’ve pretty much relinquished all homemaking duties as well. Todd does most of the cleaning, shopping, and cooking. He manages all of our finances – I don’t even know when I get paid or when the house payment is due. It’s safe to say I’ve been a functioning zombie the last year. My apologies go to those who may have felt slighted or lost in the shuffle. None of it has been intentional.
Which brings me to my next topic – intentionality. If you’ve read a prior blog post or two, you know that we’ve made some major changes to our lives the last several months. To allow us to live more intentionally, Todd quit his job and now stays at home with our children. We bought a travel trailer and are on a quest to visit all 56 Missouri State Parks this year. We’ve purged piles and piles of unwanted or unnecessary items from our home. ALL of this has been a direct result of my brother’s untimely death. Somehow, on this elusive island my husband so perfectly described, we have found a few shiny rocks – rocks that had been there before the volcano erupted, but perhaps needed to be searched for and showered with love and attention.
So many individuals live intentionally every single day. Those who have done the hard work of listening to their authentic selves, really digging deep, and have truly defined their values. I once heard Ryan Nicodemus (of The Minimalists Podcast) talk about how he used to say family and relationships were so important to him, yet his mother lived a mere 30 minutes away, and yet he saw her only a few times of the year. Were his actions matching his words? Are mine?? How can I be living intentionally if I can barely recall the entire past year? How can I be putting family first if I’ve worked more hours than ever before? How can I expect my father to adopt a wellness regimen if I’m not willing to adopt one for myself? How can I honor my brother by creating the life we want to live when it often feels like we are living the life created for us?
As I sat down to write this, I was filled with angst and tears. A sort of somberness filled the air. Todd even retired to the bedroom to give me some time alone. But this alone time has been partly therapeutic this evening. The time to sit with my feelings, try to process them, and then attempt to let them go. For now, at least, I have a renewed vision of purpose and a mind that wants to continue on this journey – not only in honor of but out of honor for, my brother.
I pledge this to you Dion, wherever you are: I will wake up each day and venture down the most authentically “us” path. I will search high and low for what ignites the passion in me. I will allow my children to become who THEY want to be and not force them down the path of least resistance. I will continually check in with myself to make sure I haven’t gotten pushed off or veered from the path that makes us feel whole. In your short 27 years, you exemplified living authentically, and it hasn’t been until the last year that I’ve come to realize just how difficult that truly is. You inspire me every single day. With all my love,