Monday, May 26, 2014

The End

This blog must be laid to rest like my husband. It was primarily about my marriage, my life as a wife, and Rick's chronic pain. I will never stop writing, but the end has come for One Page at a Time.

You can now find me here at a The Cat Widow, where I will struggle to write through my grief and adapt to my new role.

Good Bye, My Love

Rick took his own life. My life is forever changed.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Quiet

There are days when I wonder how life became so complicated...but I am usually reminded that the Universe has my back...

The quiet comes and I receive
A message from what I believe 
Are angels and the Universe - 
Making better what's turned worse.

My heart is sore, but I return
To all the things I need to learn
And try my best to contemplate 
My actions and my thoughts of late.

And though I cannot always see
The mission that's been set for me,
I know enough to push on through 
And I'll learn what I thought I knew.

(c) Arielle Lee Bair 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013, You Taught Me Well

2013 brought me closer to myself. That strange, intense, and often imperceptible journey of self-learning is one I take every year. I take the journey because the eventual destination is always a new beginning, and the new beginning leads to new experiences, and those experiences lead to a new destination… and so the process continues…

This year was full of celebration and hardship, of love and pain, of lessons and gratitude. On the first Monday in 2013, a cold January day full of promise, I left my first anonymous letter for a stranger in a Panera Bread in Allentown, PA. My ever-buzzing mind concocted the idea of Letters on Monday, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. I liked leaving a letter for a stranger to find so much that I decided to make it a regular thing. And what better day than Monday?! The most hated day of the week was transformed into a day I looked forward to, and I decided to fill it with a good deed that's both tangible and meaningful. 

Every  Monday I left a letter somewhere for a stranger to pick up, read, keep, and cherish. The possibilities were endless. So many places. So many words. So many pretty notecards and envelopes. So many people (whom I don't even know) to love! 
I posted my letters here every Monday, along with the location where I left them and any other story bits that were relevant. The response I received via Facebook was wonderful and people began to tell me that they LOOKED FORWARD to Mondays, waiting to see my letter. People told me that by posting a photo of the letter I left, they had the opportunity to read my words and take them to heart. People told me that I sometimes gave them a message they desperately needed to hear at the exact right time. I'd be lying if I said this didn't thrill my heart a little. (For those new to this venture, you can see all the letters here - My Love Letters to Stranger - and read their stories too!)

In February, I spent wondrous friend time in NYC, making real the dream of meeting a long time friend from the UK and hugging her in person. I also got to meet other eating disorder activist friends who were previously friends through the internet world only. Hugs were had in person once again. :-) Also present was my magically special eating disorder activist friend who, though I had hugged her before, made the experience even better. 2013 was the year of our friendship in many ways.

This spring, I became an aunt for the second time and welcomed beautiful, smart, relaxed Harriette to the world. She makes me smile. 

In April of this year, I celebrated 5 years of marriage and just this Christmas, Rick and reached 7 years together as a couple. We have had our fair share of pain, emotionally and physically, from the death of his step-father and all the planning/stress that came with itto Rick's battle with numerous health problems that have had us crying, screaming, and pleading for help. My marriage is not perfect, but it is a work of art. It is not effortless, but the time, attention, and love that go into it continue to create something of which we can be proud. That is all I can ask for - progress, not perfection. The band The Eagles once sang, "Love will keep us alive." I don't know if that's true, but it certainly helps. One thing is certain: we can weather the storms much better together as Team Bair than we can apart.

In May, after 3 long years juggling a full-time job, 16 hour per week internships, tons of papers and reading, and late night classes, I finished graduate school and earned my MSW, followed by my LSW. Arriving home at 10:00 pm finally became a thing of the past and I was able to enjoy Saturdays again instead of working them to make ends meet. I count my graduate school experience as one of the most difficult and most enjoyable of my entire life. I learned, I grew, I did the impossible on more than one occasion, and I met some of the most amazing people whom I am now lucky enough to call friends. As nerdy as it sounds, there are nights when I long to make the drive out to Center Valley and sit behind a desk for 3 hours, just so I could see the faces of my peers and fellow social workers all in one place again. I ran around like a maniac as President of the Graduate Student Association, but truth be told, it seemed totally natural and I'd do it all over again. It made 2013 fun and fulfilling.

In July, Rick and I took our first vacation in over 3 years. Ogunquit, Maine was breathtaking and magical. We took amazing photos, lived like royalty for a week, and experienced many surprises along the way, including staying an extra unplanned night just to impulsively book a room at the way-too-expensive Cliff House resort and spa. 

In August, having put writing the manuscript for my book on Baby Emptiness on the back burner for now, I officially logged 4 long years of infertility in my personal book of disappointment. But… from disappointment (especially continued/renewed/deep disappointment) comes learning. I have mastered acceptance enough to recognize that. 

In October, I started a new job and I have been grateful for it every day since. While I work less hours than I originally intended when I began job searching, I enjoy my co-workers, my schedule, and my interactions. With all Rick's pain issues and doctor appointments right now, having the extra days off might just be for the best. Chalk it up to the Universe knowing what's best for me again. My eating disorder website, weekly ideas, and support group I lead continue to keep me busy and grateful. I hit 2,080+ Twitter followers this year, started an official public Facebook page which took off literally overnight, and reach thousands of YouTube subscribers and viewers. It's human nature that things like this boost the ol' ego, but more than anything, I am just so glad that I am reaching so many people. The emails I receive from people struggling with eating disorders, body image, or other recovery situations astound me on a regular basis. Sometimes they even make me cry through a smile. The greatest compliment of 2013 was when a viewer told me she used to eat dinner with me every night during her recovery from her eating disorder… She played my weekly videos for years while she ate dinner and they got her through. I'm not sure anything could make me happier.

The Actively Arielle website turned 6 this year and it's not going anywhere! :-)

As I recently heard a wise person say, "Tomorrow may bring pain, but it cannot steal my joy." My joy is here to stay. So, 2014, you better be prepared. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Letters on Monday: New Year, New Letter

Today's anonymous letter for a stranger, left at the Post Office on Union Blvd in Bethlehem. It's the last letter drop of 2014. I left a letter every Monday, to make Mondays a little better, during 2013, starting with the first Monday of the year. I missed about 3 Mondays during the year due to sickness or other circumstances, but even left one on a Monday I was on vacation.  Happy 2014, everyone! You can find all of the letters here: My Love Letters to Strangers

Monday, December 23, 2013

Letters on Monday: Coffee Break Advice

It's Monday, so I left another anonymous letter for a stranger. This time, it was short and sweet, left behind at Dunkin Donuts on Catasauqua Road in Allentown.  Only 1 more Monday in 2013! A year of love letters to strangers is coming to a close!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Letters on Monday: Positivity Over Easy

Well, it's Monday again...which means I left another anonymous letter for a stranger. This time, I left it at Perkins Restaurant & Bakery on Cedar Crest Blvd in Allentown. I saw a female server pick it up and keep it.  There are only 2 more Mondays left in 2013! I certainly left a lot of letters this year.