I finally rewrote the Dog Mom Jill about page. It had needed updated for a long time, so much had happened. Dexter got cancer, then died. Sam was sick and then well. Ringo Blue came to live with us. And yet, it was so hard, because to rewrite it meant to change “Dexter is” to “Dexter was.” Still, it felt like it was finally time.
1. Sometimes having a puppy is boring. You have to watch them constantly when they are awake and loose, and even though they sleep a lot it’s in short bursts so you can’t really get a lot done. You are cautioned by your vet to not take them anywhere until they are 16 weeks and have had all their shots, so even if you cheat on that so you can socialize them, you are more isolated than usual. You get cabin fever, go stir crazy, and this particular puppy came in the middle of winter, so there was even more of that. After weeks and weeks of this, you kinda wish they’d grow up already. They are impossibly cute and loveable and sometimes hilarious when they are small and you know you’ll miss it when they get big, but at the same time they are making you crazy and boring you to tears.
Danielle LaPorte posted last week about being so sick she’d had to cancel lots of important things, stuff she’d really wanted to do. She said about it, “Sometimes life will bind you so you can feel how free and loved you are.” I feel the same about this moment in my life, this brief moment that I keep wishing away even as I work so hard to be here, to stay present.
2. “The days are long, but the years are short.” I’m not sure who to attribute that to, as I’ve seen it assigned various authors. Whoever said it, it’s so true. These puppy days feel like they’ve gone on forever and might never end, but the almost eight years we had with Obi and the barely ten we had with Dexter felt impossibly short. I still have trouble believing they are really gone, struggle to understand how that could even be possible.
3. You have to be a particular kind of crazy to raise a dog. It’s so much work and your time with them is so short. And the love sneaks up on you. One day you are fantasizing about running away from home or giving them back, and the next you are hopelessly and irrevocably bonded to them. There’s nothing else in my life I put so much effort toward only to have my heart broken in the end, knowing that’s the only possible outcome.
One wish (okay, more like many wishes): To keep my heart open and stay present no matter what arises. To not give up, no matter how hard it gets. To lean into love and joy as an antidote to suffering. To be gentle and forgive myself when I make a mistake. To know I am doing the best I can. To relax and stop trying so hard.
I am wishing the same for you, kind and gentle reader, in whatever way you need that in your life.
This is Ringo Blue, Boy #4, our fourth boy, our therapy dog, our new puppy. He was born on purpose. It was a different way for a dog to come into my life, a difficult choice after having rescued three. But it’s so clear that the way this happened is exactly how he was supposed to come to us.
Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for long know that we have lost two dogs to fatal cancers in the past four years, and now our Sam has a mysterious neurological issue. We’ve had a rough go of things. It’s been so hard that when Dexter died and then Sam started getting worse, I even considered not getting anymore dogs, ever.
At the very least, we decided to wait. We were hoping with time that we’d stop feeling like we were just waiting for the next bad thing to happen, that we’d be ready in invite another dog in, even knowing that eventually he would break our hearts. As we were waiting, I posted this status update on Facebook,
I’ve rescued three times, give a monthly regular donation to my local no kill shelter, and believe in rescue with my whole entire heart, and yet… lately both Eric and I have been looking into Cattle Dog breeders in Colorado. Two reasons: Dexter was one of the best dogs ever and we believe it was due to his Cattle Dog-ness, and we have had two dogs with fatal cancers and other health issues and another who has a weird tick that could be something neurological or at the very least unexplained, so the idea of getting a dog from a healthy, known line is pretty appealing. And yet, even with all the heartache, I’m not sure I can go through with it. So, dear Universe, when we are ready, please, I am begging you, put the right dog for us and for Sam at the right place, make it easy for us to find him. And please could he be joyful, playful, and a cuddler. Love you. Love, Me.
The Universe got on it almost immediately. Just a few hours after making the post, my brilliant dog friend sent me a message introducing me to a local Cattle Dog person, suggesting we keep in touch in case she knew of any available dogs. This new person immediately responded saying she was going to visit a litter of puppies that weekend, and maybe I should connect with their person. I did, and looking at puppy pictures, talking with their person, I knew.
It was the same feeling I had when I saw Dexter listed on Lifeline Puppy Rescue’s website. All it said was “11 week old male, German Shepherd mix,” didn’t even have a picture, but I told Eric he was our dog. He said “we’ll see when we get there,” but I knew. Same thing with Sam. We were planning to go to Lifeline that weekend, but I was home sick midweek, looking on Craigslist and saw a post about Sam and his brother, two siblings rescued through Animal House Rescue. I sent the link to Eric and he said it wouldn’t hurt to email the foster mom. As soon as she responded, I knew.
Same thing this time. The new friend who went to visit the pups said they were amazing, told me about one boy in particular. When we went to visit, it’s the same boy that came over to me and sat at my feet. As soon as I picked him up, I knew. However their person still wasn’t sure who was going home with who, so we had to wait to know for sure, but I told Eric, “Boy #4 is ours, I just know it.”
This is me holding him for the first time. Do you see how he’s looking at me? I think maybe he knew too.
Sitting in meditation, a dog outside barks. It’s a sound filled with joy, excitement, energy. It must feel so good to bark, to open up and release the full measure of your voice — feeling it rise from deep in your belly, fill your chest and buzz past your heart, through your throat and out your wide open mouth, your body and mind for that one moment focused completely on the music of your own voice, the energy of your own being.
On the small shrine on my writing desk is a white ceramic Bodhisattva with two dogs. I found her first and the bigger dog two summers later at the Flea Market in Waldport, Oregon. The tiny white plastic poodle with her is one of the only toys I ended up keeping from when I was a kid, my Barbie Doll dog.
I look at the three of them and it reminds me who I am, where my power rests. The feathers she holds remind me that softness is strength. It is also not lost on me that the same form that allows flight can also be dipped in a well of ink and used to write. The card I pulled this morning, a ten of cups, urged, “do not doubt this power.” This is who I am.
1. Good stuff from Patti Digh: your daily rock : give comfort, your daily rock : transform, your daily rock : you make a difference, your daily rock : you know the answer, and your daily rock : feel good now.
2. Write A House Is Giving Writers Free Homes In Detroit on Huffington Post.
3. A little preview for you, an update about the You are Beautiful book by Matthew Hoffman that I helped fund through a Kickstarter project. Can’t wait to get my copy.
4. Let Everything Happen by Rainer Maria Rilke:
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
6. The Five Things Our Dogs Want for Christmas from The Other End of the Leash.
7. Love from Be More with Less.
8. Truthbombs from Danielle LaPorte:
If you measure your success against someone else’s results, you will never be free – ever.
Do not give your past the power to define your future.
9. how to keep the spirit of christmas all year long from Positively Present.
11. Wisdom from Robert Holden,
One new perception,
one fresh thought,
one act of surrender,
one change of heart,
one leap of faith,
can change your life forever.
12. the magic is in the mess from Brene’ Brown.
14. What Christmas Is Like For A Working Poor Family Earning $10,000 A Year (And How To Help) on Huffington Post.
15. No one reads a comic strip because it’s drawn well from Seth Godin. Something like The Oatmeal is proof of this, which leads to an interesting post he made on Facebook, which shows what an amazing artist he really is.
16. Wisdom from Anne Lamott on Facebook.
17. Here Are All The Movies Expiring On Netflix As Of January 1st, in case you want to do some binge watching over the next few days.
18. Wisdom from Marianne Williamson, “The most powerful step is when we move from “Ain’t it awful” to “Let’s make it not awful.”
19. Wisdom from Rumi,
Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you,
As a fish out of water hears the waves …
Come back. Come back.
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.
20. 12/26/13 on 3x3x365. Beautiful.
21. Maitri on Elephant Journal by Waylon Lewis, in which he says,
But it is also the essence of maitri. It seems to me in my experience and also in talking to other people that we come to a body of teachings like the Buddhist teachings or any spiritual path, to meditation in some way like little children looking for comfort, looking for understanding, looking for attention, looking somehow to be confirmed. Some kind of comfort will come out of this.
And the truth is actually that the [meditation] practice isn’t about that. The practice is more about somehow this little child, this I, who wants and wants and wants to be confirmed in some way.
Practice is about that part of our being finally being able to open completely to the whole range of our experience, including all that wanting, including all that hurt, including the pain and the joy. Opening to the whole thing so that this little child-like part of us can finally, finally, finally, finally grow up.
22. Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing on Brain Pickings, in which she says, “Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.” Word.
23. How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More: Highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love, a really great series on The Atlantic.
25. A Forest Year.
27. Mindful Writing Challenge – Jan ’14 from Writing Our Way Home.
1. Loyal dog won’t forget his best friend on Dog Heirs. *sob*
2. House Rule: In These Bodies We Dance from Brittany, Herself. I love the picture at the end. This is what joy looks like.
3. mary jo hoffman :: still from Lisa Congdon. So beautiful.
4. Meet Darcy, The Most Famous (Flying) Hedgehog On Instagram from Bored Panda. So cute.
5. 27 Days: Writing Prompts to Grow Your Powers, for FREE! Here’s an excellent gift you can give YOURSELF for the holidays, 27 Days: Writing Prompts to Grow Your Powers, Laurie Wagner’s 27 Day writing prompt program delivered daily to your inbox. It’s a simple way to keep your writing practice alive during the holidays, and an excellent opportunity to start a practice if you don’t have one. You’re welcome.
6. Architect Bypasses Mortgage Payments, Builds a Tiny Home on My Modern Met. My obsession with tiny houses is not that I want to live in one, (my house is only a little over 1000 square feet, so I’m in a pretty small space already), but that I want something like this in my backyard, to use as a studio, class, guest space.
7. 9 ways to cope with loss during the holidays from Positively Present.
8. Maybe there is really only ONE story in life – the story of learning to be real on Unabashedly Female. (P.S. I haven’t watched the video at the end).
11. ‘Tis The Season To Be… Mindful on Huffington Post.
13. Nathan loves Bella….(sweet little boy loving a special pitbull), a CNN iReport.
14. what if girls were rewarded for being authentic instead of being thin? from Justine Musk.
15. Indoor S’mores on Dessert for Two. Oh my…
16. ‘Christmas Jammies’ Rockets Holderness Family To Viral Video Fame on Huffington Post.
17. 139. BRENÉ BROWN: The Woman in the Arena from Zen Pencils.
18. Magical Photographs Follow the Lives and Friendship of Two Argentine Girls on Feature Shoot.
19. What I’ve Been Reading: 2013, a great list from Marianne Elliott.
20. The Daring Interview Series: Meet Elizabeth Gilbert from Brene’ Brown.
21. When is the best time to create? from Paul Jarvis.
22. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: 10 Ways To Scare Your Friends & Family Away From Yoga (Funny) and Want To Find Your Purpose But Have No Idea What It Is? Read This.
24. The Year’s Best Books on Writing and Creativity from Brain Pickings.
25. Gift to the Soul: The Space of Presence, Tara Brach on Huffington Post, in which she says,
When we’re speeding along, we violate our own natural rhythms in a way that prevents us from listening to our inner life and being in a resonant field with others. We get tight. We get small. We override our capacity to appreciate beauty, to celebrate, to serve from the heart.
26. Want To Quit Blogging? Read This First! from Gala Darling, in which she says,
A blog isn’t just a blog: it is a chronicle of your life, and just like your soul, it is constantly evolving.
27. Short answers to big questions from Alexandra Franzen.
28. 10 Artists You Should Have Known In 2013 from NPR.
29. 5 Lies You Were Told about Grief and A Self-Made 12-Step Program for Living an Authentic Life from Rebelle Society.
30. Wisdom from Kris Carr on Facebook,
Fear contains powerful messages. When we’re courageous enough to be with what scares us, we can awaken our intuition and create a new path for healing. Whether you’re worried about getting sick, you’re currently dealing with a health issue, or you’re scared and struggling in other areas of your life, don’t judge your fears, invite them to tea.
It’s common to belittle our fears and try to pre-maturely cleanse them away. But just because we’re afraid, doesn’t mean we’re toxic or failing or falling off the spiritual wagon. Fear is one of the many colors in our emotional palette, and it’s often there for a reason. There’s nothing weak or less evolved about being frightened. And guess what, you’re not alone. We’re all scared. No one is fearless.
31. Wisdom from Rumi,
So wild flowers will come up where you are.
You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different.
32. Family Gatherings: The Ultimate Mindfulness Training Ground from Zen Habits.
33. Me, the universe, and Javier Bardem from Judy Clement Wall.
34. 3 Ways to Prepare for Career Change on Create as Folk.
35. All feelings are mutual on Superhero Life.
36. 15 Best Photos of the Day of 2013 on Tree Hugger.
37. Wisdom from Rilke,
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
38. Teachers, writers, speakers: On confidence and owning your true authority from Susan Piver.
39. Wisdom from Cheryl Strayed,
Nobody’s going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things have befallen you. Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.
40. 34 Examples of Installation Art That Don’t Suck on Your Daily Media.
41. How to Visit Your Family Without Going Crazy on Purple Clover, which shares these quotes,
“How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?” asks Stanley Kunitz in a poem.
Thomas Merton, the great Benedictine monk, captured this paradox succinctly. “Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and heart has turned to stone,” he wrote.
43. 8 Ways to Encourage a Meaningful New Year on Be More With Less.
44. In Marriage, Beware of Big Boxes on Modern Love from The New York Times.
45. Fortyhood: Why You’re Too Old to Have a Baby After 40 on Huffington Post.
46. Wisdom from Roy L. Smith, “He who has not Christmas in his heart
will never find it under a tree.”
47. friday’s confession: I’m slowing down. from Tiffany Han.
48. Belka (Alaskan Malamute/Siberian Husky), our 20 day old pup howling.
49. Shared by Susannah on her Something for the Weekend list: Life from One Foot Up by Derek (which made me realize Fray is back online), and Quinoa & Brussels Sprout Salad recipe, and Favorite Job Interview Questions, and this video, ‘Female Freedom Has an Expiration Date’ – Being 35 and Single,
51. The Answer to All Your Questions…the First Four Words You See Describe You on Elephant Journal. My words were passionate, peaceful, thoughtful, and genuine.
52. 10 Things You Can’t Do AT CHRISTMAS While Following Jesus and 10 Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus from The God Article.
53. What You Believe About Homosexuality Doesn’t Matter from In the Parlor, which says,
So whatever you believe about homosexuality, keep it to yourself. Instead, try telling a gay kid that you love him and you don’t want him to die. Try inviting her into your church and into your home and into your life. Anything other than that simply doesn’t matter.
54. Homage To Rae Kline, My First Yoga Teacher on Recovering the Body.
55. A Bundle of Joy and Peace: 21 Inspiring Quotations from Thich Nhat Hahn from Always Well Within.
56. Wisdom from Sakyong Mipham, “Open hearts, kindness, and care – these are our most precious gifts.”
57. More wisdom from Rumi, “Don’t think the garden looses it’s ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.”
58. iPersonic Personality Test. My result was “The Good-natured Realist” which was pretty accurate.
61. Heartwarming Photos of SF Zoo’s New Baby Gorilla and Her Doting Grandmother from The Modern Met. There is almost nothing cuter than a baby gorilla.
62. 12 Easy Ways to Make Life Simple Again from Marc and Angel Hack Life.
63. “In an abundance of caution” from Seth Godin.
64. Truthbomb from Danielle Laporte, “Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?”