Over ten years ago I started a blog called Mabel’s House. It was my reason to wake up in the morning. I took photos, and decorated my house, and wrote. I had an outlet, a place I could be happy and funnel all my creative energy into one spot. I had a dog I adored. Her name was Mabel. She was a schnauzer-mix, a pushy, loving, hilarious, loud-barking, stranger-hating, couch-squishing baby. She was the queen of the house, so it was only fitting that she was queen of my blog as well.
But when major pieces of your life are not right, things tend to erode and fall apart, no matter how much you may immerse yourself in your “happy place.” This is what happened to me, and my old life, and to Mabel’s House. It finally fell apart. And it was sad. And I was sad.
But now, when I look back, I see parts of my “old life” for the cocoons they were. All the writing, decorating, house-living, and dog-loving – those things took care of me. It was a safe place when I wasn’t brave enough to face up to the hard choices that needed to be made in my life. And then, like all good cocoons, it released me into a new life.
It died back so something new could be born.
For reasons that baffle me, there are still a few people from the “Mabel’s House” days who have following me to this place. I took most of the “old life” blog down, and then went MIA, and yet some folks are still here reading, and to you, I say thank you. I feel especially close to so many of you, because as I’ve moved on to this new life, there aren’t a lot of folks around me who remember the “old” one. So it’s comforting to know that Mabel’s House doesn’t just exist in my memories alone.
Many of you have asked what happened to Mabel. She passed away, a year ago last summer. Leaving my old life behind, and Mabel, was complicated and heart breaking. But I’ve come to view my old life, old blog, and Mabel as cocoons that took care of me when I wasn’t yet brave and authentic enough to take care of myself. They cared for me, and then sent me out into the world.
I’ve encountered people in my life who have those “old lives.” They have in their histories those things that ended, or crumbled, or died. And those “old lives” become this kind of specter hanging back in the shadows. Those “old lives” become something they can’t seem to recover from. The “old life” becomes larger than their actual real life. They shut those “old lives” in attic boxes, or computer thumb drives, or burn piles, but they don’t move on. They don’t see the “old life” for what it was… a step to a “new life.” One step in a hundred steps we take while moving toward being and becoming something else, something new, something fresh, something brave, something… different. And you cannot have the “new life” without the “old life.”
I know people like this, and I have BEEN people like this. I did not instantly move on from the “old life.” I avoided the pictures. I cried. I missed Mabel more than anyone will ever know. I could not write. I missed who I thought I was, and the life I thought I was building.
But today, I am able to smile at my Mabel’s House photos. They no longer make me sad. I am grateful I was blessed with that beautiful cocoon. Because of that cocoon, I was gifted a new life, and a new opportunity to emerge into a more authentic and honest existence. And like all necessary things, it was painful.
Mabel’s House, and Mabel, they were my cocoon.
I loved them.
But they are gone.
This is one of the truest facts I have learned: you have to grieve the “old life” and then, if you are to transform, you have to move on. You must open your arms as wide as you can and embrace the “new life.” Because if you don’t, that old life, that cocoon, was wasted.
And one must never, ever, waste a miraculous cocoon.