Author Archives: Theodora Blanchfield

Thankful For…

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I’m not going to mince words: this was the shittiest year of my life. Losing my mom, my job, my dog (he’s alive but the super long story short is he got kicked out of my building and now lives with a friend’s mom in Georgia) and, oh yeah, let’s throw a breakup in there because why not? That. all. sucks. really. hard. 

And if I said that I’m not feeling pretty depressed pretty often, that’d be a lie. I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can at least hide it or push it to the side when I’m with people…but I’m having a pretty hard time.

With all of that being said: I do still have a lot to be thankful for.

I wrote two years ago how thankful I was for my mom and that her prognosis was good. I never thought I’d be writing two years later about her death, because I never thought she’d die that soon from ovarian cancer. It still feels like I’m talking about someone else. Because I can’t possibly be talking about my mom not being here, right? She was so strong and stubborn and healthy before she got sick, and thankfully my parents were able to afford the best care for her…and it still didn’t matter. 

But, as people sometimes remind me — I had 34 great years with her. I got so much love and beautiful memories in those 34 years — more than some people get in a lifetime with their moms, so I am so so grateful for that. She gave me so much of herself that will live on in me.

I’m grateful she gave me resilience. And a will to just keep fighting. Because of that, I’m still standing (even if it’s barely.)(JK I’m lying down on the couch writing this, as always.) 

I’m grateful for the lighthearted spirit she gave me. She loved watching Disney movies and called herself Tinkerbell. Meanwhile, when I’m sad, I turn on Finding Nemo or Frozen (you can tell that I don’t have a kid because I choose to watch Frozen.)

I’m grateful for the giving spirit she gave me. I mean, yes, I love gift-giving, but I mean that she would do anything in the world for those she loved, and so would I. I give a lot of myself to those I care about.

Grateful doesn’t feel like a strong enough word for how amazing my friends have been this year. Just before my mom died, a dear friend texted me “when you fall apart, we’ll be here to help put you back together.” And my friends have, crack by crack, step by step. I will never be the same person I was before I lost my mom, but I’m slowly getting back towards a new “normal.” 

I’m grateful for my relationship with my dad. I love him so much, and I admire how he cared for my mom day in and day out and didn’t leave her side while she was sick. We hadn’t been super close in my adulthood. I had a strong relationship with my mom, and we had a strong family dynamic, but my dad and I didn’t often call each other for no reason. Our relationship has come leaps and bounds since losing my mom.

I’m grateful for my therapist. I don’t know how I would have weathered this storm without having her as a resource to listen to me, to offer advice, to help me reframe some situations and look for the good amidst all this shit.

I’m grateful for running, and exercise in general as an outlet.

I’m grateful for writing: the writing I do here, the freelancing I’m doing, the journaling. 

I’m grateful for YOU all. I started this blog to document my weight loss (about that…), but the advice I’ve gotten from you at major hiccups in my life journey (looking at you 2017) 

And I’m most grateful for the strength this year has given me. While I’d gladly swap my mom for this strength, that’s not an option, and so I’ve had to stretch myself as a person, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done on myself.

What are you thankful for this year?

(I’m also thankful for yoga pants. Every single day.) 

My Big Fat Solo-Cation in Ireland

As a housekeeping note, I’ve extended the giveaway on my last post until 9PM 11/17.

O'Brien's Tower Cliffs of Moher

I survived my first solo vacation.

It was everything I expected.

It was nothing I expected.

I found power not in getting on a plane alone to fly 3000 miles away to a country where I knew nobody; I found that strength in driving on the other side of the road. Alone. At night.

I found power switching hotels when the AirBnB I’d booked sort of on a whim didn’t work out for my goals (…of being able to walk to a pub.)

I found power not having a plan and allowing the days to take me where they may (no easy feat for a crazy New Yorker.)

When that meant returning to the Cliffs of Moher on a sunny day (even though I’d already been there two days earlier), I honored that.

When that same visit brought me to my knees in tears from beauty and grief, I honored that.

I spent a good amount of time enjoying my own company and curiosity, and I spent time frustrated with my own company, spiraling and reflecting on what I didn’t have in my life.

But I let that spiral pass, as they may. And it did.

Doolin Cave Preppy Runner

(Also, in a totally last minute decision, I realized I should probably bring some sort of raincoat with me…and, like, probably not a Burberry trench kinda raincoat, so I grabbed my 15-year-old ski jacket and took out the liner. Smartest thing I did all trip.)

The keys, I found, to a successful solo trip:

  • a journal. I’m a pretty introspective person to begin with, but good lord, a lot of feelings come up on a solo trip, and it’s nice to be able to get them down on paper and out of your head sometimes. I was hoping to reach some level of clarity on professional goals while I was there…but I actually found it on the 7-hour-flight home. WHY are flights so good for getting stuff done?! BRB looking for next flight.
  • a good book. Sometimes I talked to other people when I was eating, but when I didn’t, it was nice to have a book to keep me company. There’s only so much time you can spend attempting to memorize the labels on bottles in the bar…
  • sitting at the bar, rather than a table — that way I could talk to others at the bar, the bartender, etc
  • having someone at home to check in with when I was feeling lonely. Because, yeah. I was alone, so I did feel lonely sometimes. My dad called a few times, because I think he was pretty worried about me traveling alone after so much had happened this year, and I think he’s developing that same sixth sense my mom had — he called to check in just as I was starting to feel really sad and lonely walking down from the Cliffs of Moher, and I had a few friends who I think were equally concerned, and I checked in with them a few times, too.

But I’m proud of myself for doing this first solo trip, and I know I might not have had the guts to do this a year ago. This year has sucked, but it’s given me so much strength — and perspective. Traveling alone to another country (with no language barrier) is hard? Nope. Watching your mom die is hard.

Have you ever taken a totally solo trip like this? I’ve traveled alone on business or to a wedding or something, but that’s not the same.

I can’t remember if I’ve linked the piece I wrote on grief travel, but here it is if not. One of my favorite things Claire Bidwell Smith, my expert for the piece, told me in our interview: travel feels good during grief because everything in your life feels new anyway, so it can be comforting to experience those feelings in a place that’s new too, rather than a new reality in your same surroundings.