Ill-advised life decision or healthiest thing I can do?

A week ago, I started the next chapter of my career. Three weeks before that, I chose to return to a life as a full-time freelance editor and writer, turning in my notice to resign from what some would call a comfortable position and choosing instead to find contract work on my own.

Don’t get me wrong: On a scale from 1 to Nightmare, my job as a Marketing manager at a nonprofit association was no slumber party on Elm Street. But it wasn’t serving me, or my health, either.

In my nine months behind that desk, I regained 25 lbs. I lost serious stamina, as evidenced by my half-hour slide in half-marathon time last winter. I slept poorly, I ate poorly. My allergies became almost as bad as they were on the East coast. I visited the doctor half a dozen times — more than I had since I took control of my health five years ago. I’d seen this decline before, and I couldn’t ignore the signs: Working in an office was killing me. Again.

So, I’ve decided to do what I must to regain my health. In my first week of not being in an office, I’ve slept better than I have since moving to the SoCal coast. I’ve eaten better, worked out more consistently and felt better overall than I could ever have expected.

Is the uncertainty stressful? Certainly. Is money a concern? Of course. But you know what? I’m ok with that uncertainty, as long as my health is certain.

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Too hard to write

I’ve tried to write this entry a dozen times in the last 17 days. I’ve tried to be witty, honest, reflective. I’ve tried to unload the weight of my grief, I’ve tried to toss it completely from my chest and pretend. But none of it changes the facts.

Two hours after my last post, I got the call from my mom. Dad had two heart attacks. The doctors revived him from the first, but they couldn’t bring him back from the second. He passed away at 1:35 a.m. July 9, 2013.

If you’ve never lost a parent, let me tell you — nothing can prepare you for the pain. My dad is the center of my world. I can only imagine the pain my mom is in, losing the only love of her life, her husband of 40 years.

I’ve never gone this long in my adult life without talking to my dad. Even when I was in college, I’d call home and make sure we talked at least every week or two. But 17 days? Unheard of. A part of me keeps waiting for him to call to make sure I’M alive.

Of course, my family and I are leaning on each other and our friends to get us through our pain. Dad was a well-loved, open book of a man, and at the celebration of his life (we refused to have a “funeral” — he didn’t want us “blubbering over” his body) we saw just how much of an impact he had in every facet of it. People he’d worked with for years, my childhood friends, his church friends, even the pastors shared deeply personal, hilarious stories about my dad. He added so much to so many lives that it felt selfish to cry over my loss.

After the ceremony, our surrogate Native family blessed us in our traditional way. More than half the congregation stayed to watch and support us as we honored the side of our dad most people didn’t know — his Iroquois heritage. We are so blessed to have our family to help us maintain dad’s traditions.

Each family member received prayer ties to burn for 7 days, to ask the Creator to send his helpers to guide my father on the path to meet Him. We honored him in our rites, and each prayer made it a little easier to accept the truth that dad is on the path to the Creator, and his energy is still all around us.

This blog is about the health journeys of our family, and I intend to keep it going. Part of losing someone we love is remembering to live, continuing to take care of ourselves and learning from those who have gone before us. While I am grieving my father, I have a renewed focus to stay the happy, healthy woman he got to see me be again before he left this earth. I have a mother whose arthritis and other conditions need attention, a brother who is on his own journey to health.

My brother’s eulogy — which I wish someone had caught on video, darnit — focused on my dad’s pursuit of not only answers, but the right questions. He said conversations held the key to dad’s life and legacy, and through us he is immortal. So dad, these conversations, these connections are for you. I know you’re listening — I haven’t felt you leave yet — so may you live forever in these written conversations.