Last Monday at noon I went to my first yoga class in several years. For whatever reason my yoga practice vaporized from my agenda when I had my second kid. It went from daily to nada. I've missed it and blabbed about missing it but didn't do anything about it.
And then Alice died. I haven't hiked or ran since. Well, I did once and felt like an anvil sat on my heart the entire time, pushing buckets of tears out of my body. I am not ready to be up in these hills without her.
One late night last week I got out of bed to look up yoga schedules in Missoula. I found a class time that worked for me and promised myself I'd go. And then I saw the teacher. Marina. She's my old teacher. In fact, the last time I went to this particular studio I was eight months pregnant with a breech Margot. Marina helped me through giant-bellied handstands and headstands until my bug swam herself 180. Marina!
People say dogs don't live long enough. This statement is true in human brains. For dogs, I think they feel just right. Because they always do feel just right. Always.
Alice died on a Thursday night, November 20. It was a shock. We had just - two days prior - ruled out the kidney failure diagnosis we had mourned. We have a new vet we loved. We release ourselves into an ocean of relief and optimism.
She falls over in the living room. She recovers. My kids think she slipped on their paper snowflake scraps. A short while later, her back legs stop functioning. I am on and off the phone withe vets, neighbors, my husband. She wants to drink endless water, she wants to lay in the snow. She is scared. She looks into me for answers. All I have is love.
The day before - the day of the glorious blood and urine work news - we ran together. She gained four pounds back in two weeks. Moments before the episode I took a picture of my new boots to send to a friend. She pushed her wet nose into my hand. I called her into the kitchen for a treat and she bounced into me to be sure I remembered.
Four bucks stand 15 feet away, staring at us. One is impossibly noble. I see his breath in the cold air. Alice lays in the snow and can't get up.
Fuck. Is this happening?
I carry her back into the house. I felt calm and alert. My kids are playful and hungry. I manage it all and feel emotionless. Alice vomits everything she ate that day, undigested. I clean it up with a dust pan. I make dinner.
Andy walks in and says hey, girlie like he always does. Every day for 11 years. She softens. She wags her tail. Continue reading →
I keep coming here trying to decide what to publish. I've been writing. About the confusion and truth of life and death -- the dance of a life ending the day before a fifth birthday. About grieving with my husband and kids and without our dog. A friend pointed this out to me: the most unfair and painful part is that I want my dog's love, cuddles and walks to get over her own death.
I will share more here about Alice last day the the next day. Today I share seasonal bits that make me happy. It's complicated because the joy of cutting a tree is sad without our girl running up the hillside and the fun in the advent scavenger hunt is unbelievably quieter without our girl wagging and hopping beside the kids as they hunt. I've noticed that with every painful moment there is something beautiful to witness, that even the pain can be beautiful in its authenticity. And I've notice laughter. Man I love to laugh.
It snowed a few days ago. The big, meandering quiet kind. Margot said:
Wow. I like, FEEL Alice. It's like she is in the snow or something. Is that what you mean by her spirit? I really think her spirit is in that falling snow.
:: I do so enjoy decorating and arranging our home this time of year. It's a solid shot of brightness and levity. Plus we will have a huge houseful this year, making the jolliness extra amplified.
:: My favorite new addition is the tiny, sparkly peacock that I attached to our bird feeder. I wondered if it would detract the droves of finches, nuthatches et al that feed here but on the contrary, they are unaffected. I like to think they enjoy their new always-gazing-over-shoulder pal.
:: We always cut our tree on our friend's property the weekend after Ruby's birthday. This year we went on Thanksgiving day because we had our big feast with friends on Wednesday. Honestly, it was a hard day: the big exhale after birthday party, company, Thanksgiving. We settled into the distraction-free realization that Alice wasn't there. We all kept seeing her, looking for her, hearing her. On the drive home the strap that held the tree to the car whipped in the wind against the window. Margot pointed out that it sounded exactly like Alice's wagging tail against the inside of the car when she heard us approaching. It did. We drove under a giant full rainbow set against graphite sky. We saw mountain lion tracks and bushes that looked like dogs. Continue reading →
Last year we inaugurated Rainbow Friday
, a way to bring color and connection to the spirited days of shopping after Thanksgiving. This year is even better with every small, sustainable business not only offering a giveaway and great deal but also giving to a non-profit organization of their choosing.
I am blown away by the talent and big-heartedness of every business participating. This is your opportunity to shop; to vote for your neighbors with the purchase of unique, handmade gifts; to use your purchase power to lean in and give back.
I hope you will support their efforts and do some shopping this weekend!
* Each business is giving away an item. Leave a comment for a chance to win. Comments close on Monday, December 1 at 11:59pm. There will be 12 winners, announced here on Tuesday, December 2.
* Rainbow Friday deals run from Friday, November 28 - Monday, December 1.
* I will post the amount each business is donating to their chosen organizations on instagram and facebook next week. Let's make it impressive! Continue reading →
I took a master gardening class years ago. I took it after I was fired from a housesitting gig for killing all the plants and before I started my gardening business. I still consult my Master Gardening Manual regularly, its pages soft with dirt and turned corners.
Gardening is meant for writers. From the poetic words like meristem and apical and brassica to the generous metaphors in tending, troubleshooting, growth, harvest and nourishment.
I saw David Sedaris read this week. I went with my friend after we were offered tickets one hour before he was to take stage. We sat high in the balcony and listened to his familiar cadence deliver hilarious and shocking words. I noticed two things. First, when a person is funny, it gives their audience permission to laugh at anything, even the serious and sad stuff. And it isn't inappropriate to laugh at serious and sad stuff. It's a legitimate reaction to the discomfort of big feelings. Two, I need to read more books and look at more art. When another shares their genius, an energy field is cast. It's contagious in the most inspiring way.
I ordered a new computer yesterday. Mine is slowly croaking, keyboard and track pad kaput and the function straining at the smallest requests. Ruby says it sounds like it is sighing all the time. Yesterday afternoon I was on the mac help chat thing with Claire, trying to decide between a new or refurbished computer. I think those chat windows were made for moms. If I'd had to make a phone call, my kids would have immediately been starving, in great need of a glue stick from the top shelf and writhing from some ailment that required lavender oil and a bandaid. The chat allows me to get some questions answered while Ruby summits my body and Margot choreographs a jumprope routine to Frosty The Snowman in the kitchen.
October and September were bright and warm. Continue reading →
I wrote this piece two weeks ago. I have written and rewritten it several times, each time unhappy with the lack of direction and the rambling nature. I have felt doubtful and afraid of being misunderstood. Then I heard this:
The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. - Elizabeth Cady Stanton
And I realized that sometimes the truest way from point A to point B is a big ol' meandering zig zag.
:: :: ::
Sometimes I feel like I am letting feminism down. I am aware of the juxtaposition of my pre-kid ambitions and my current ambitions. I hear the roar of the Lean In Movement. I choose to lean differently and that can feel so isolating. I feel the criticism - whether legitimate or of my own imagination (I suspect it is a bit of both) - from colleagues; I wonder if I am a person they think of throwing away potential when they ask me what's new or if I am making art these days.
While I feel inspired by and sure of my choices and my lifestyle in the giant, oceanic sense, I indeed have waves of doubt and insecurity. It's remarkable that I can feel lost, when moving in right direction with a functioning compass.
I remain driven, although it feels so different from my ambitions, before child. For me, everything regarding my goals and perspective changed when my first daughter was born. Everything. I didn't want to admit it for over a year. I was still invested in my work but it was no longer what defined my success.
At a dinner party last summer, I talked with a group of friends about how remarkable it is that in this town - where nobody moves for a career opportunity - we have all found meaningful work. A filmmaker, communications director in local government, reporter, nonprofit executive director, artist, nurse and me. My friend asked if I'd go back into my old work (development director at an art museum), someday. Really, you peaked before your time, she said. She said it lightly, as a nod toward how young I was in that job. But I cringed. You can peak more than once. I am peaking now, I defended. I do believe that. And I do feel defensive about it. Continue reading →