Monday, June 30, 2008

Until then

Have you ever considered how random life seems to be most days? If I choose the turkey sandwich over the veggie... If I go down this street - for whatever reason - instead of that one... if I decide to stay home or not stay home - or whatever I decide to do or not to do. Will the bridge fail? Will the accident happen? Will a war start - or end - or never happen?

Life continues down its own path, whether we like it or not. Some of you may believe in a higher power, like I do. Be it God or Buddah or the energy of the universe. Others believe in nothing, just themselves and their moment on the earth. We all have our reasons for what we believe - be it faith or fanaticism or selfishness. Whatever drives us to be who we are will ultimately drive us to do what we do, good or bad, full of faith or full of mirth.

What happens when a decision you make affects the very length of another creature's existence?

Have you ever been drawn to someone or something, almost unnaturally so? Has there ever been a strong sense that you were supposed to do something, for whatever reason, and you fought it with all your will because you KNEW it was crazy, how could something so simple be destiny or the will of the world or anything more than a messsed up whim? Beyond that, what if you question the validity of the very act of wanting? You, after all, have no right to want. You have no reason to need. You have no destiny of hope, only sorrow.

Or maybe, just maybe, you had your sign. You were told what you were supposed to do. And you didn't do it, to appease someone elses made-up order that rules your world today. Or, to appease yourself, to not take another risk. No more risk means no more pain, right? And, hasn't there been enough, in the last year, for a lifetime? What bad would have come from taking a risk? What life would you be living right now, today, if not for that decision to NOT act. Not yet.

When the ruling and the order become more important than your soul, what happens next?

Friday, June 27, 2008


On this lovely Friday morning, with a very warm day to come and a sleepy attitude all around me, I started thinking about the past year - and more interestingly, what's to come.

I think we learn a lot about ourselves during times of crisis and stress. I couldn't tell you how many sleepless nights have left me exhausted, stressed out and hardly able to function - since I've been out of work, since Keith got sick and especially since Jessie died. But the last 2 nights have been something else. Bedtime comes and I can't seem to shut my mind off. I found some interesting new shows I'm not ready to admit I liked (ever seen Mobile Home Disaster? It rocks!) and have been without a good book to read when I get desperate - I've got to get to the library today.

But instead of feeling wiped out and cranky, I feel envigorated. My kids are finally healthy (for the moment - knock on wood) and my house is easier to clean now that I don't have piles of dog hair to sweep and vacuum. But something is missing, and it's an interesting phenomenon to have discovered, at 2am, what that is.

My dogs have always been company for me. Yes, I humanize my pets - that's why they always have human names. I do make sure I try to act like pack leader (thanks, Cezar!! - but you'll notice I said TRY. Got some work to do there...) and also have some pretty strict rules about puppies. No to the couch, the bed and the kitchen. No people food. You walk nice or I put on my angry mom face - don't even think about dragging me down the block!

So, at 2am this morning, I discovered that my friend Mary is right. I'm already thinking about the next one. If I listened to the little devil on my left shoulder, this would be a weekend for someone new in the household (His name's Hildago - isn't he gorgeous?!?!)

I have my first puppy crush in a very long time. He's a rescue and he has the most interesting personality, if you believe what you see on OnDemand. I love cable at 2am, and I love the idea that I can get a mini dog fix without having to go to the shelter - I'd come home with someone, and I'm not in a position where I can do that. Yet. Really. I know I can't, I know I can't, I know I can't. But yes, I want to.

But guess what else? A part of the grief over losing Jessie so suddenly seems to have been replaced by the joy of remembering the fun and exciting and exhausting days of her puppyhood. I was the one who sat up with her at night, I house trained her, I played with her, we sat in the backyard at 2am, watching the stars together, completely covered by a quits with only our faces poking out. When she couldn't sleep, I'd get her outside and run her around until she was sleepy and ready to go back in her crate. It was June of 2001 and it was so much fun to smell puppy breath. She used to sigh this really big sigh when she was happy. All the way up until that last really big sigh a few weeks ago, it was the way I knew she was content. She used to pretend she was annoyed and sigh... she was such an attention whore.... but I loved it, every time. I thought I heard it a couple times over the sounds of the tv last night. I'd like a cold nose pressed against the side of my face to wake me when I fall asleep on the couch at 2am.

Jessie knows she's irreplaceable, wherever her spirit hangs out. She is totally one of a kind. She also knows I might as well be missing an arm without a dog to walk and sit with and let up on the ugly old kids couch when nobody is watching. I figure when the time is right, she'll make sure I find the next dog I'll fall in love with. After all, next to Rosie & Jessie, when there is a next one, he or she is going to have some big footsteps to fill.

Now for the lecture - there are thousands of animals that are put to death every day in the US. If you have room in your heart, your house and your budget for a new pet - adopt someone. Make sure you know what you're getting into. Dogs have to be walked, fed and groomed. A healthy pet can cost $1000 a year. And that doesn't include emergencies. Invest in good pet insurance. Don't be in a position where you have an emergency and have to make a life or death decision about how much you can afford to spend. It's worth the investment. But if you can't do it - don't. Please, don't make another animal into a statistc because it's cute and cuddly when it's a baby - but you can't deal with it when it turns into a 150 pound great dane that you don't have time to walk.

One day very soon, we'll be sitting in an office at one of those shelters, picking out a couple new best friends. I'm told we're getting two... and I can't wait for that first walk around the lake.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Definition of Happy

The strangest thing happened yesterday... even with all the chaos and unknown in my life, I was... wait for it... HAPPY. I had coffee in the morning, helped my son make breakfast for his dad, enjoyed some silly laughter, got to see my daughter at 11am instead of 4pm, went for a walk, went for a drive, made a new neighborhood friend, pet 2 cute dogs, help my daughter make her dad an awesome dinner and dessert and even have a nap in the sunny back yard. I also mowed the lawn, filled the pond and trimmed some roses that are currently perfuming my kitchen.

Now, most people aren't going to be impressed by my somewhat boring day, but to me the best thing I can do on any given day is spend time with people I love and be outside. I live in a place that's so beautiful and I forget that sometimes. This place makes me feel calm and I'm lucky to be here.

I have friendship, a roof over my head, things to do to keep my mind sharp and lots of love. I think, for this week, my definition of happy is "life".

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just in time

After a very stressful week - interviews, a new part time job, the end of the school year including finals... I was a wreck on Thursday. A complete and total mess. Why? Because I lost sight of one major, important detail.

I am not perfect.

My feelings can be hurt, I can be pushed too far, I am just as susceptible to self-doubt, exhaustion and overbooking as everyone else in the world. Having a bad moment is normal for human beings. Having a bad day or bad week happens to the best of us. But, unlike me, most people don't have a strange string of luck that can seem all bad - until hindsight shows what it was all about. "Oh, NOW I get it..." Sorry it took me so long, universe, and to almost instantly forget the lessons I've learned since October. I'm here for a reason and I'm supposed to do good in the world.

There are no immediate solutions to some of my current issues. I need a full time job - desperately, since I want to be able to afford to feed my kids. I want a job that MATTERS. I lost sight of that for a couple days (thanks for the reminder, RK!!) Today may be the first day of the rest of my life, but I intend to live in the moment today. I want to celebrate my wins - and there are quite a few over the last couple weeks. New friends that give without wanting anything in return. Long time friends who come to visit me, bring babies to squeeze and buy me coffee. The world is beautiful today - sunshine and blue skies.

I will look back on this time in my life, some day, and hardly remember how it felt to be in flux, unsure of where the next step will take me. But I'm trying to love the unknown, embrace the constant changes and be true to me, just for today.

Care to join me?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Well then...

Days like today should never, ever, ever be thrust upon a weak, sad, discouraged person like me. Ever. I mean that. It's chaos in a barrel, covered in maple syrup.

Up too early, hardly slept, kept thinking I heard the stupid dog. Things are brewing but are they good or are they bad - who's to know? Does anyone care? Will this crazy spot in my life ever end? I've never had 7 months of crazy. Do they have crazy camp for big girls?

Dreams last night about Kevin Kline, tool belts, chaos. Watched My Life As a House last week - I should have prepared for my journey better than that. But, instead, I had strange, bizarre, ocean-filled dreams. Of Kevin Kline.

Tomorrow is another day. Another day for disappointment, discouragement, too much work and not enough money. But for tonight, I will head to the land of counting sheep, sleep my peaceful little 2 hour burst and dream about Him again. Why? Because he built a house and figured it out and made the important things important - before it was too late. If only the real world was more like the movies. Is it weird to think of Kevin Kline as God?

I, on the other hand, have failed. I made the stupid stuff top the list. I let the only things that really don't matter become the center of my universe, and I lost Rachel for a while. I wish it wasn't too late to fix it, but it is. So where do I go from here? The universe is sending something, it'll be interesting to see what sticks...

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Do you believe in ghosts? I always have, in a strange sort of way. When my great-grandfather died when I was 13, I went home to find a sixpence on my pillow. I was sure that someone in my family had left it there so I laughed it off. Throughout my life, on momentous occasions, I would often find a sixpence someplace. When Keith's dad died 10 years ago, I found one on the bedroom floor when we got home from his house. I found one at the hospital the day Sean was born. I was most surprised to find one at Multnomah Falls when Sara and I were driving up to my Grandfathers funeral in Carson, Washington. There were hundreds of people there and it was sitting right smack dab in the middle of the raining overlooking the falls. I laugh these things off frequently. I found one on my keyboard this morning.

Sean is adamant that Jessie is still here with us - and she brought a friend. Our dog Rosie died in 2006 and Sean thinks she couldn't find us in our new house until Jessie went and snagged her from whatever form of heaven dogs attend. Now, she and Jessie seem to be protecting the house in their newest form. It's probably just Jessie energy left over in the walls - she loved this place and it comforts me to think of how happy she was at the end. But ghosts? I kind of like the idea. I even heard a couple dogs walking down the street on Friday that sounded just like my 2 trouble makers. One was a sheltie (like Rose) and one was a basenji mix (like Jess) and it even yodeled the was Jessie would when she was happy. I had to smile, it felt like a visit from old friends.

Keith and I both dreamt of Jessie last night. He saw her at the screen door, hackles up because a cat was on HER patio. I walked into our huge, spa-like bathroom in my dream and saw her just sitting there, waiting for me to take her on a walk. When I followed her out and then couldn't find her, Keith reminded me (within said dream) that she's gone. I wasn't immediately overcome with sadness - I laughed. Because that is the gift Jessie gave me every day. A laugh as she chased the neighbors cat off the fence, when she treed another of the baby squirrels that live in our yard, and especially when she was annoyed because I wouldn't leave the 60" tv to "Meerkat Manor" and she wanted to bark at the 3' tall Meerkats.

Today, I will still miss my dog. But I also know that another dog will never replace her. I also know that just like my ability to love my people, I have the ability to love as many animals as I can afford to feed. When the time is right and I need a walking partner again, there are a number of awesome animal rescue organizations and I'll check them all out until I find my next foot warmer, entertainer and squirrel chaser. But for now, the hole Jess left feels less empty, more like a place I'll always save. I added her dog tag to my keys yesterday so even though my neighborhood walks will be solo for a while, I'm not alone - Jess is here with me, and she brought Rosie along for the ride.