Where to begin… Milo is a crazy, energetic, and very colorful pup (he is actually a little older than a puppy, but definitely a pup at heart.) He loves the outdoors and can never have too many balls to play, especially tennis balls. He is very attached to those closest to him and loves with all his heart.
We adopted Milo on August 3, 2008 from an overly full shelter in Temple that had fostered his whole family just a few miles north of Austin. I will never forget that day because it forever changed my life. It was a new life in our family, specifically mine. His energy, his uncontrollable love, and his adorable personality has left a print like no other; a paw print that is forever imprinted on my heart.
Living in Austin was a whirlwind of outdoor adventures, but the beauty was limited to nature’s escape. As Milo grew so did the world around him. He was attacked and abused by too many to count. His love turned into defense, and his energy into anxiety. The whole sequence of events in just a few years was devastating and there was no path for return as the world he lived in seemed to grow scarier and smaller. We tried training, medications, and even reached out to behavioral specialist all over the country, but this was the new Milo.
As we grew, we grew together. He learned his fears, and I learned mine. I grew ill, and he followed close behind. It was as if our paths were meant to cross and intertwine. I feel responsible for the things that have happened to him. The attacks and abuse he has faced are my own. I wish I could take it away from him, and take him back to 2008, but they are as much a part of his identity as they are mine.
No Room for Defeat
We moved and hustled as life continued to pass us by. Then there was a break. Milo moved home, back to my parent’s home. He had a house, a backyard, a place to call his own. It was a sanctuary where no fear or anxiety existed.
As I worked away, he grew stronger, healthier, and happier. But then we hit a stump, it is called 2014. The year we both hit a wall. My sister moved away and Milo severed the side of his stomach with a loose nail while running in the backyard. It cost him close to 6 months, 50+ stitches, and a deep dose of painful western medicine to ward off all infections. He trotted along, and kept on with his silly and innocently happy personality while it consumed my sister and I completely with grief and helplessness.
With his injury came my own. I tried to trot alongside him, but mine wasn’t something that could be fixed with stitches. It was something deep and internal that only time had allowed to surface. It came down to 6 months of medications, tests, treatments, the full 9-yards. But no answer. I tried diets, restrictions, and changes in lifestyle and finally found a way back to a ‘normal.’ I guess it came too soon.
Really Hit Home
Our home was burglarized. The home we called a sanctuary, our new safe haven, was robbed on my 1st day of my new job. I was scared, panicked, and pushed beyond any measure I had ever experienced in my life. Milo was home, is he okay? Did they hurt him? Did he bite anyone? Did they traumatize him? What did they do to him?
The fear that consumed me for 2 hours as I rushed home after work was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. It will forever be the worst pain I have ever felt. I wouldn’t ever even wish that pain on my worst enemy.
I felt a deep burning and knotting in my gut as I drove closer each mile. The twisting and knotting turned to anger and rage, then to tears and fear. I didn’t know what was going on, and had no confirmation on where Milo was. Even in that moment, I knew I was never going to be the person I was before I started driving, the person I was at lunch time or in the morning when I left and kissed him goodbye. I also knew the pain I was feeling was a piece of me leaving. It was a piece of trust, certainty, and joy that I had taken for granted. It was something that was leaving because of the pain the world was giving me. I prayed, and I hoped.
As I ran through the front door, I could feel my heart in my throat, and my eyes full of tears. I didn’t feel anything, not the pain, not the fear, not the sadness, I was completely numb. I just ran up the stairs, past the officers, until I came to the door and saw that frightened face, and shaking body. I held on and never wanted to let go.
I knew in that moment, that nothing mattered, but him. Nothing mattered in world, but his safety, his health, and his happiness. My family’s safety, health, and happiness. It was my world and I didn’t need anything more.
Where to Now?
As the investigation moved along, no answer in sight and no justice to serve, we felt no relief. I realized it was going to be our, Milo and my job, to move on.
We still haven’t received a response, update, or any sort of assurance from our local PD. It will forever remain an unsolved case, similar to the one Milo and I live by on a day-to-day. But, this trauma left both of our health in shambles.
His fear grew, as did mine. I feared leaving him, someone returning, something happening to the people I loved. My health got worse. The specialist and doctors had no answer to my symptoms. They were blinded by the definitions and books of common medicine that clearly aligned symptoms with diseases and illnesses. I knew and told them it wasn’t medicine that I needed, it was safety, it was security, it was the fear that had consumed and wrecked-havoc on my body. No one heard my voice. I was in fact told that I was making up my symptoms.
With 20 pounds, 2 years, and no diagnosis, I became my own cure. My medicine was the courage of my pup, the strength of my family, and the love of those around me that gave me the safety I lacked in my haven. I changed my diet, began running and meditating every day, and used prayer to guide me the rest of the way.
Amidst my lack of diagnosis, I begin to feel a fear and pressure from my employer which brought me to the point where I was either leaving on my own terms or leaving on theirs. They didn’t seem to value my hard work and commitment even while fighting something no one could cure. But, with my health precedent over anything else, I knew it was best for met to leave.
I began to realize that my health was something I was going to have to work on rebuilding and no western medicine or doctor was going to be able to help (I literally was told that). I knew the root was the fear, the pain, and the anger I felt with what was going on with Milo multiplied by the stress and anxiety of the burglary. This made me realize what was most important in my life and that was my family and their health, living purposefully, and making a difference in the world.
As I worked towards getting healthier, I maintained small jobs to help me with medical expenses. One of the jobs I took lit a small torch within me, a small light of passion. The fashion company’s mission was to help women feel and look their best self. It felt like I had found a small piece of purpose. And, I began to explore that purpose deeper.
I realized that my passion and purpose was my cure. With my family’s health and happiness at the forefront, fashion somehow always making an appearance in my journey, and a drive to pursue what set my soul of fire while making a difference in the world, I began to see pieces of opportunities. With our love for the outdoors and having a lifelong passion for sustainability (previously in corporate America), the combination of these pieces became the formula for our mission.
And then it hit me. I was going to create a line that would allow me to inspire and empower other women to find what set their soul on fire while combatting the rapidly changing would we live in, where societal pressures and life changes merge.
milo+nicki is a cruelty-free, ethically designed womenswear line that empowers the ever-evolving woman to conquer her fears, take a leap of faith, never give up on herself, and live a life of color.
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