On July 6th, our lives changed permanently when we lost our sweet dog and fur-baby, Gracie Lou. She was only 1 year and 7 months old, and I gave her to my husband for Christmas in 2011. She grew to be the smartest, and most well-behaved dog I’ve ever known, and won the hearts of neighbors, friends, and especially family – being easily considered a grand-kid by our parents. It has been a little over a month, and I’m now realizing that the effect both her life and death have had on my life are without question one of the main motivating forces behind the direction my life and businesses will now take.
The day she passed away, we were playing at the lake (her favorite place in the world), when we believe she had a sudden seizure or stroke. We’re unsure of the cause, but I personally believe it was brought on by either a congenital condition, too much water ingestion, unknown toxins in the water, or a combination of them all. Despite our best efforts in rushing her to the vet when she looked sick at the beach, she passed away in the arms of my neighbor as I drove to the overnight veterinary clinic.
There really aren’t words that can describe who she was to me and my husband, other than being my first dog, my best friend, my little shadow, and a REALLY really smart little girl. She knew dozens of awesome tricks, and was so incredibly well behaved that we constantly knew we were spoiled to have her. She was more like my child than anything else, and she grew up on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where hundreds of my friends and followers knew and loved her too.
Gracie passing away was my first experience with death. No one close to me has ever died, and I have never been to a funeral. Ever. So having the one companion that was closest to me be the first experience was jarring. I was scared I wouldn’t handle it properly, or that I would forget her, or that I would go off the deep end never having to deal with grief.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I began to take note of each feeling as it happened, and tried to just allow myself to do what I needed to do, when I felt I needed to do it. When I wanted to cry, I cried. When I wanted to write down my feelings, I did. When I wanted to talk about her, I rambled on and on to anyone who would listen. I even Googled the stages of grief in order to make sure I was doing everything “properly,” yet knowing there was no “right” way to deal with death.
As silly as it sounds, when Gracie died I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to make a big change. Not a change that made me deviate from who I am, and where I wanted to take my business and my life – but a change that was within me the entire time I’ve started blogging and doing business online. A change that I’ve been postponing, and too afraid to make until truly understanding the fragility of life and how the impact we make on the world is all that is left once we are gone.
Sure, this is a pretty deep realization considering that it was a DOG that made me come to the light. Not my wise grandmother, or infant son. Not my husband or mother. It was my dog. However, that’s the perfect premise for introducing the first and most important lesson Gracie taught me:
Lesson #1: Be real.
Normally, I wouldn’t admit that the death of my dog had such an impact for fear of what people would think. But now, it’s different. When I first started blogging back in 2008, being real wasn’t my goal – yet it happened anyway. I blogged my feelings and thoughts, and was 100% ME. I wanted to be real, tell the truth, be honest, and relate to anyone else who thought the same way I did. Well, 5 years, 3 businesses, and a few blogs later…I’ve progressively become more opaque and more concerned with my online image than actually connecting with people. Unfortunately, so many other business owners and web designers I know have done the exact same thing, omitting their entire personal identity in favor of ensuring a cookie-cutter brand and online persona based on who they WANT to be perceived as. In all reality, the business I built long ago (April Showers) was tremendously successful because I was REAL, and I blogged nearly every day. I connected with my readers and actually had FUN getting to know people online, and still maintain many of those relationships now. While I’ve grown as a business owner and learned a lot about professionalism and running a company, it’s time to merge these ideals together to build a brand and business I’m both proud of, and that people can relate to.
This brings me to the reason why the title of this post is “Inspired to Move in a New Direction.”
As of this post, I will be taking an indefinite blogging hiatus here at Delightfully Inspired. Instead, I will be blogging regularly at Creative Girl Media.
The nature of the posts I will be writing there won’t be about my personal life. They will be about my many passions, which range from being an entrepreneur to social media, and will DEFINITELY have a more interesting twist than the dry, and borderline boring content I’ve posted since Creative Girl Media’s inception. I’ve always wanted to TRULY connect with my readers, and share SO many thoughts I’ve had, yet have been too afraid to post about. Posts like, “The Feast and Famine of Being a Web Designer” where I finally tell the truth about what it’s like to rely on just 2-3 clients per month to pay the bills. Another blog series I have planned will highlight some big changes I’ll be making as a web designer, including why I’ve decided to offer “real-people” prices, rather than continually hiking them up to stay competitive with other designers. Or why I used to hate taking phone calls, but now encourage it. Knowing when to stand your ground, and when the customer is right. Or why it’s sometimes completely worth it to hire help, no matter what business you’re in (including being a mommy.) This business is my PASSION, and so is my life. I just want to LIVE my life, more than talk about it, and instead channel all that energy into who I am as a business owner, and a brand, so that everything I work so hard for and am passionate about are all working toward the same goal.
So this is why I’ve decided to focus my energy where I feel it’s both needed, and wanted most. It will be my outlet to help people in all the ways I know I can, and also share all the thoughts and feelings I once was too worried would tarnish my image in years past. The beauty of being a business owner is that I can try new things, experiment, and decide what works best. For me, sharing my personal life on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is more than fulfilling.
I’ll keep this site up for awhile, rather than redirecting it to CGM so that I (and maybe you, if you’re interested) can look back at all the years past of shenanigans! It’s nice to see how much life has changed, and how much I’ve grown.
I’m so grateful that we had Gracie for as long as we did, and that her passing has impacted Bradley and me in positive ways. A long time ago, when blog awards were popular, I received that award for “making lemonade when life gives you lemons” multiple times. It seems the hand my husband and I have been dealt is a little more challenging than many we know, and may continue to be that way (if history has taught me anything) for the rest of our lives. Everyone has their challenges though, and no matter the severity of what we all are going through, it’s the way we react to each challenge that determines our fate and our ultimate happiness.
The challenge of my little companion passing away has taught me SO much, but mainly that I can control the direction my life takes if I choose to. Giving up that fear that keeps you from following your dreams is one of the hardest things to do, but can open up an entire world of possibilities once you realize YOU are the only one holding you back.
Here’s to making the choice, to take a chance, in order to change!