Putting the best paw forward: #PawsForReaction gets personal

Putting the best paw forward
Paws For Reaction Saint Bernese Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez

Welcome back Paws peeps! Or I guess I should be welcoming myself back. I’m taking a rare moment to get a little personal, after taking a near six-month hiatus from Paws For Reaction. While I do see many of you still reading (thank you!) I haven’t been active and I even skipped Halloween on PFR- and Halloween is my jam! I don’t often get personal on my blog. PFR has always been a fun place for pet parents to learn, laugh and share- so getting personal is not something that makes its way into my editorial calendar. I really don’t feel comfortable with it, but I do believe that sometimes it’s necessary to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

In a lot of ways, 2017 has been a life changing year for me. I celebrated five years on PFR and created some of my most engaging content to date. I travelled to Colorado to train with Al Gore to become a Climate Reality Project Leader, which was an incredible experience that has allowed me to partner with amazing non-profits, collaborate with activists and educate about pollution and sustainable solutions. I found out I will become an aunt next year, which is the most incredible news! I advanced my career in ways I never thought possible. 2017 has been an interesting year all around- especially for food and fashion. Don’t even get me started on unicorn food, colourful arm pit hair and squiggly eyebrows! I can’t even!

This year has also been a life changing year in many less positive ways. The main reason for my hiatus is that I ended a seven-year relationship last July. While I won’t get into details I will say that it hasn’t been easy to return to my life in some ways. I have been writing since I was a child, and any time something heartbreakingly emotional has happened, I usually suffer a writer’s block that prevents me from processing things on the page. Writing has always been a way for me to truly connect with the authentic person I am deep inside, but sometimes life shatters my ability to deal with my emotions in written form. When a relationship ends it’s difficult- but when you own pets and property together everything takes double the time, effort and pain. I’m happy to say that I have kept both my home and my pets. For anyone who may be in a similar situation, I want you to know that sometimes you need to put yourself through temporary misery to secure your future happiness. It’s okay- it gets better. I’m now in a relationship with someone who shows me everyday how much he cares about me, in ways I didn’t think possible. As my mom always says, everything happens for a reason.

This experience has taught me many things. It reminded me how supreme and powerful (and special) my mother is, as she became my literal life support over the past six months. It also showed me that I’m a lot more independent than I ever believed, as I now run this home on my own (minus the Ted jobs). Friends, family and co-workers (work family) have fortified my faith that love is real in a way that no man ever could. I’ve been reminded how amazing my true friends are, as they still find ways to check in on me everyday to insure my sanity while not making me feel like I’m breakable. I’ve also learned to let go and feel a little, because a little emotion can go a long way. It’s pushed me to stop compartmentalizing everything and allow myself to feel, grieve and in turn, grow.

Paws For Reaction cat Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez

This year I suffered another difficult loss. I recently said goodbye to my cat Chaos, who has been my baby girl for almost 13 years. I believed that because I work in a veterinary practice that I was more equipped to deal with the loss of my pet, since I support countless clients and patients when they have to let go of their fur-family. While I do grieve in my own way, it was still one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do- and by far the biggest heartbreak I’ve endured over these past six months. The truth is, this is the first pet I’ve ever had to euthanize. Chaos began to show her age in ways that I could not manage, and I had to make the very difficult decision to let her go to the rainbow bridge. It has been a devastating loss to our family.

Fortunately, I was able to let go of Chaos in a way that was private and discrete, with a group of people who allowed me to grieve quietly but were still there for me if I needed the love and support that they are always willing to give. I was with a doctor that I trust; who showed us nothing but love and compassion- completely free of judgment. I’ll never forget the kindness I was shown. Saying goodbye to my baby girl was not easy, and it’s not something I’ve been able to talk about with most of the people in my life.

Paws For Reaction Saint Bernese Photo by Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez

Finally, after six months I feel free of fear and ready to write again. I can see a future. I have a lot of catching up to do! I’m so appreciative of your continued support, patience and readership over these difficult months. 2018 is going to be an exciting year for PFR! After all that has happened in my life, I have never been more certain of and grateful for the unconditional love of animals. Hazel, Keira and Chaos gave me a reason to get out of bed everyday and face the world. They filled my heart with love and my days with laughter. They snuggled me on lonely nights and showed me love like I’ve never felt before. I hope that, going forward, Paws For Reaction captures the spirit of that unconditional love. Because there’s nothing else in the world like it.

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