Tag Archives: Gratitude Friday

Gratitude Friday

1. Tiny altars everywhere. The one above is on the dining room table, my primary work space while Eric works from home. If there’s a space where I spend a lot of time, I start to build an altar without even realizing that’s what I’m doing. First it was the plant because that particular spot is the only place it gets enough light. Then I found the Buddha in one of the last boxes I emptied from my CSU office. It was the one that sat in about the same spot in relation to my computer screen when I was still working there. Then some dear friends dropped off a gift that included the rock, paw print on one side and “A forever friend, always in our hearts” on the other. And finally, another friend sent a card, and the picture on it looked so much like our Sam, that I added it too. In my “old” office at home, where the dog crates are, there’s also a little altar on top of the empty one with Sam’s ashes, paw print, and his collar.

2. Strawberry and ice cream season, which is good because I’m currently eating my way through my feelings — my sweet delicious feelings.

3. Practice. If I had to get up every morning not having a routine, a plan, a constant, I’d be so much more lost.

4. Peony season. They are abundant this year, as is the grief they represent (all of them were planted in memory of someone I’ve lost; I’m going to add a pure white one for Sam).

5. My tiny family, which is sadly a bit tinier this week.

6. I’m still here. As hard as things get, I haven’t given up.

Bonus joy: the love and care of good friends, seeing Chloe’ and Chelsey and Jon even though I couldn’t hug them, hanging out with Mikalina, Wild Writing, money to pay our bills and buy groceries, technology that allows me to keep in touch with people I love, resting in a dark room, Ringo (he likes Eric more than me and I lost my shadow, but there’s still a dog here), Sam’s presence which is still here or at least it feels like it in those moments I forget he’s gone, the new rubber broom we got to get dog hair out of the carpet (so satisfying!), good TV (I highly recommend “Work in Progress”) good podcasts (new episode of DYNAR this week), reading in bed at night while Eric and Ringo sleep.

Gratitude Friday

1. An easy death for Sam. Believe me, kind and gentle reader, I am as shocked to write that as you are to read it. As of this morning, my sweet Sam is no longer with us. We took him to the vet this week because his belly was distended and he was breathing harder than usual on walks. I took him knowing that many of the things it could be were bad, really bad, but I still thought maybe it could be an infection or even Cushing’s (what a strange thing to wish for) or maybe I was even overreacting. I sent him in while I waited in the car (COVID-19 protocol). His vet called me and said there was fluid on/in his belly and that she could feel a mass. She took x-rays and his chest was clear but there was most definitely a large mass in his abdomen. We took him to another office where they could do an ultrasound, not knowing exactly what they’d find but for certain it was bad.

There was a large tumor on his spleen and another mass on his stomach. We made the decision that we weren’t going to put Sam through any invasive treatments, as the ultimate outcome would most likely be the same no matter what we did. Anything other than some combination of surgery and chemo (only prolonging the inevitable) would have only bought us a bit more time but could have led to a horrible end for him, as his spleen could rupture at any time and he would bleed to death. So this morning we did the hardest thing anyone who loves a pet ever has to do, and we let him go.

The morning was very typical, perfect for Sam who loved his routine so much. When the birds started singing outside, he got up in bed and cuddled with me. A bit later, we got up and he had his breakfast. Then we went on a gorgeous walk, 4.5 miles along the river. When we came home, he “took a shower with me,” one of his favorite things (he comes in and sleeps on the bathmat while I shower). I was hoping he’d come to meditate with me like he does sometimes, but he got on his couch and took a nap instead. In our last hour, we all hung out in the backyard together.

The vet came to our house (we’ve been lucky enough to be able to do this for all of our dogs). I gave Sam a frozen Kong full of peanut butter and his favorite bison meal cookies. He worked on that while she gave him the first shot to sedate him. He tried so hard to stay awake, was so happy with his treat and all the pets, and it was so peaceful when he finally did rest. The very end was just as peaceful and quick, with Eric and I right there telling him what a good boy he is, was. After the vet left, Ringo was able to come out and see him (with the COVID-19 protocols this time, it was too much to have him out during). In typical Ringo fashion, Ringo sniffed Sam and then flipped over and rolled in the grass next to him. I’m still in shock, and my heart is broken. Sam was my shadow, followed me every where, and I’m feeling lost without him.

The sweetest photo bomber

2. Practice. As much as it saves me usually, as much as it’s done for me during this global pandemic, it truly is serving me now. When we got home from the ultrasound, and were clear about what the right choice for Sam was, before I made any arrangements, I went in my practice room and meditated, with Sam right beside me. I needed to process what was happening and wanted to be really sure, clear about the decision. It offered both clarity and comfort.

3. The love and kindness of people, both those who know and love me, and those who’ve never even met me. We are all dealing with so much right now, losing so much, collectively and individually. Having people support you, offer help and comfort, is what gets us through it.

4. Good food. Even though I haven’t had much of an appetite the past few days, I’ve been glad to have tasty, nourishing things to eat. And p.s., have you tried Beyond Meat Burgers? I like them WAY better than the real thing.

5. My garden. My first peony bloomed today. All my peonies were planted for those I’ve loved and lost, so it was appropriate. I supposed I’ll need to plant one more now. Also, if you are a gardener you most likely already know this, but weeding can be so therapeutic, so satisfying.

6. This morning’s walk with my tiny family. It was the last one we’ll take together, maybe the last one of the season along the river (there were a few mosquitoes out today and with the recent rain and this week’s heat, there will be many, many more).

Bonus joy: strawberries from our garden, being able to text and tell people what was going on with Sam, that he had a really good last week, that he died unafraid and happy and so loved, all the various professionals who are kind and wise humans and helped us through this, flowers on my doorstep (twice), so much love sent our way, a husband who loves our dogs as much as me and is as sad as I am but also willing to do the right thing for them even when it is so hard, that Sam will never have to hide from the washing machine or run away from someone coughing or get a bath ever again, that all my pain means he has none, even the tears.

I don’t want to press publish on this. There’s something really final and true about telling you all that Sam is gone, posting this here, and I know that next week there will be no more new pictures or news of him. And yet, may we all know as much love as he did and when it’s time for us to go, may we go just as easy.





Gratitude Friday

1. Yard time. I’m so grateful during this time that we have a back yard, that it has a privacy fence, that the neighbors have big trees. I’m also grateful that we live in an older neighborhood without any association rules so we can do whatever we want in our front garden.

2. Garden season. The risk of freeze and snow has finally passed, so Eric planted the vegetables he’d started from seed. We still need to get basil, pumpkins, maybe some watermelon and those japanese cucumbers I like so much. I’d also like more daisies and some chamomile. I’m so glad Eric likes gardening as much as me, because I certainly couldn’t do all this work on my own.

3. Morning walks. We’ve been taking the new trail they built, the section that allows us to walk down to the school and get on an extension of the trail that now connects to the main one, goes by the field of horses and along one of the ponds. The sky has been so amazing and the river is filling with snow melt. My foot is feeling much better thanks to some massage balls a kind and gentle reader recommended. I got a little sad the other morning because I remembered that soon the mosquitoes will come and we won’t be able to walk along the river until fall.

4. Getting my teeth cleaned. It was the first time I’d been that close to anyone other than Eric in 63 days. It broke my heart a little how careful we all were being with each other, wanting to keep moving forward but also stay safe. I get really anxious going to the dentist normally, so under these conditions it wore me out, but I’m still grateful for the care, for all those risking their safety so that the rest of us get what we need.

5. Good food. Sure, I’d love to eat out again, be served something someone else cooked, but luckily Eric and I are both good cooks and we have access to the supplies we need. Two standouts this week were pizza with spinach, green onion, and roasted sweet potatoes, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with toasted walnuts.

6. My tiny family. I am so lucky to have them, so lucky they are safe and well and we are together.

Bonus joy: writing with Laurie and Mikalina and Chloe’, the promise of so many peonies, my infrared heating pad, that Eric can work from home, his paycheck and health insurance, grocery pick-up, pretzels, ice cream, pancakes, crisp Gala apples, dependable and fast internet, good neighbors, texting with my mom and brother, Instagram, our whole house fan and our a/c, clean sheets, getting all the laundry done and put away, toilet paper, yeast, flour, the XM Chill station, lord help me even the Yacht Radio station, yoga, meditation, mantra, writing in front of my HappyLight while drinking a half coffee half cocoa in the morning, how well Sam is doing and all the people who help him do so well, Ringo’s sense of humor and lord help me even his independence, so many people who aren’t giving up, people who wear masks because they know it’s compassion and wisdom in action, the people risking their own safety for the benefit of others, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep.

Gratitude Friday

1. Working in the garden with Eric. I am so happy that Eric loves to garden as much as I do. We had to take a few days off because it’s been raining, but we’ll get back out there this weekend, keep at the weeds. It’s also getting close to time when we can put the seedlings he’s been tending into the ground. We still need to get Japanese cucumbers and basil, and I’d like more daisies and some chamomile, as well as some more bulbs. I also wouldn’t say no to more peonies.

2. Grocery pick-up. It’s not a perfect system, but so much better than having to go in. This week, I screwed up our grocery order. Let me explain: They do substitutions if something isn’t available, but it has to be a pretty exact match. For example, if they are out of the organic sharp white cheddar I like, they won’t substitute the Tillamook sharp white cheddar because it’s not organic, even though to me that’s an appropriate alternative. So, to “fool” the system, if I really need the cheese, for example, I’ll put both on my order, the one I prefer and the one that is acceptable, and in that way, I usually will at least get one of them, and if I get double, no biggie. Well, we had a hard time getting dish soap so in my initial order this week, I selected multiple options, never intending to leave them all in my cart. You can update your order up until midnight the day before, so my initial order when I reserve the pick up time is never the final version, but somehow this week when I updated the order, it didn’t go through so when we picked up Monday morning, we got a whole lot of dish soap and not much else. I tried again and did better. Fun fact: Dot’s pretzels and frozen pancakes and Caesar salad mix are my pandemic foods.

3. Online yoga classes. I miss being with people, in the same room as them, practicing together, but I am not complaining about being able to show up just a few minutes before class starts and still get a good spot, and being able to practice in my pajama pants and no bra because no one can see me.

4. Preparing and eating food. I feel really lucky that Eric and I are both good cooks, and that we have the supplies we need to put together things we are happy to eat. He made me English muffin bread this week and I’m going to make some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

5. My tiny family. Thank goodness we enjoy spending time together but also know how to give each other space in this tiny house.

Bonus joy: Being back in Laurie’s Wild Writing Friday morning class, figuring out how to make a meditation video and finishing it in one take (more on that on Sunday), hanging out with my aqua aerobics pal Janice, hanging out with Mikalina, singing with Ringo, cuddling with Sam, texting with my mom and brother, toast, clean sheets, so much good TV, good books, good podcasts, getting the garage cleaned out, laundry done and put away, stimulus checks, thunderstorms at night, how green our backyard is, dandelions, lilacs on my meditation shrine, naps, tacos, drinking a cup of hot half cocoa and half coffee while I write in the morning, tater tots, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep.

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks. It’s reached the time of year when we no longer need a headlamp, but not quite yet when we need to wear our sunglasses first thing. I sure wish my dumb foot would feel better so I could go more often.

2. Wild Writing, both with Laurie’s 27 Wildest Days (which is free and available for sign up until May 11th) and once again with Mikalina and Chloe’ in Laurie’s Friday morning class. Just like meditation and yoga, this practice is essential, both magic and medicine. I’m so glad to be practicing it regularly again. If this is the end of the world, this is one of the ways I want to spend it.

3. Lilac season, which also means flowers in the bathroom after a really really long time. Every year when I was working at CSU, I’d pretty much miss lilac season because it was also the two weeks of the year that were the busiest for me. It’s one of the things I was most looking forward to upon retiring, being able to really enjoy the lilacs with ease, to truly inhabit the moment. That is exactly what’s happening this year, although with the additional element of a global pandemic.

4. Practice. The routine of it each morning has always been a good thing, sacred, but now it’s also necessary, essential in a whole other way, an act of survival.

5. The comfort of cooking and eating good food. Eric and I can’t stop eating these pretzels. Last week I ordered two zucchini with our groceries because glazed lemon zucchini cake and ultimate zucchini bread with toasted walnuts. I also accidentally ordered THREE dozen eggs so there was also breakfast bake.

6. Yard time, sitting in the sun with the dogs.

7. My tiny family. There’s no one I’d rather be with right now.

Bonus joy: weeding the flowerbeds (I know, I’ve completely lost my mind), hanging out with Chloe’ and Mikalina on Zoom, texting with my mom and brother, how green everything is right now, naps, good TV and movies, good podcasts, good books, good music, people risking their lives to provide food and healthcare for the rest of us, the buds on my irises and peonies that will open into flowers, the worms working in my dirt, the honeybees, the hummingbirds, HIIT workouts with Eric, watching Antiques Roadshow with Eric, laughing so hard with Eric that I accidentally farted which only made us laugh even harder, cuddling with Sam, playing with Ringo, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, chewable vitamins.


Gratitude Friday

Image by Eric

1. May, a whole new month. This means pay day for Eric, paying bills for me, which gives me such a sense of calm, knowing that we still have an income, can pay our bills and buy groceries, get the dogs the care they need. It’s also the full shift from winter to working in the garden. Things are blooming and we are getting our vegetable garden ready for the seeds Eric started. This summer will be something other than we planned — we cancelled our trip to Oregon to visit family, the 10 days we were going to spend at the beach, and my cousin postponed her wedding — and yet, there will be summer.

2. Working in the garden. Weeding our garden at the start of the season takes at least a week, maybe two to get things under control, since the grass and bindweed are determined to own the front yard, and I have no interest in using poison to stop their spread. So that’s the focus right now, cleaning things up so we can cover it with mulch, which we got delivered this week. Isn’t it funny how you initially think you’ll be able to weed an entire flower bed, and you work on it for an hour but barely get anything done? I thought I’d do the whole front burm the first day, but only finished one small section. The next day’s goal was the center bed and I only finished one corner. Gardening definitely teaches you patience, but also a particular sort of joy.

3. My goofy sun hat. It’s kind of ridiculous, but I also kind of love it.

4. Morning walks. I haven’t been able to do as many of these as I’d like, as I have some plantar fasciitis in my left foot. Something exciting happened during one of them: there was a heron standing at the edge of the river fishing, and it caught one! Swallowed it whole and then bent over to put its beak in the river, shook it around like it was washing its face. I’d never seen one actually get a fish.

5. My tiny family. I’m so glad to be with them, to love them, to be loved by them.

Bonus joy: so much good stuff, still; such as a livestreamed poetry reading and Q&A with Andrea Gibson, Do You Need a Ride? podcast, Maria Bamford’s new comedy special, hanging out with Mikalina, texting with my mom and brother, comedy, music, poetry, movies, TV shows, food, books, podcasts, plants, water, animals, sunshine, sleep, practice. And the things I miss: swimming pools, eating food at a restaurant, coffee dates, browsing bookstores, group yoga classes, tea with Chloe’, other people’s dogs, the sauna, teaching yoga, going to a movie and getting popcorn, grocery shopping, the beach, hugging my friends, my family.

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks. One of the times when everything feels the same as before.

2. Good food. A mix of cooking and eating, a blend of what my body needs and what my heart wants.

3. Practice. As important as this was before, it’s even more so now. In a short writing class I took with Jena Schwartz these past few weeks, I said about it:  “For me, practice is about intention, attention, grounding myself in the present moment, as it is. It is calling my energy back to my core, letting go of the planning, of the remembering, interrupting the ways I’m always abandoning myself, getting distracted or trying to control and fix things. Practice for me is surrendering to what is, letting go of my resistance in the gentlest, kindest way possible, without losing my sense of humor.”

4. Books. If you remember, some months ago, Eric and I decided we needed new furniture,  bought a new sectional (keeping Sam’s favorite couch and Ringo’s favorite chair) and three new bookcases. Then the bookcases stood empty for a few months, until this week. I unloaded the books from boxes, stacked them in groups on the shelves, then proceeded to organize them. I found some books on grief, death, and joy I’d been wanting to read, spent three hours at it, had to take a break for lunch, got so so sweaty, but it was totally worth it. It took my mind off things for a bit, immersed as I was in my favorite thing: these tiny squares of magic and medicine.

5. My tiny family. I am so so so grateful for our tiny house, Eric’s job (money for groceries, health insurance, giving him something to focus on), how well the dogs have adapted to “going to work with dad,” how some moments feel totally normal, yard time where we hang out in the backyard getting some sun and fresh air without having to worry, the garden Eric is starting from seed, doing HIIT workouts with Eric, taking morning walks and naps, making each other laugh, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, the routine of our days when everything is so unpredictable.

Bonus joy: big salads, crunchy apples, laundry done and put away, clean sheets on the bed, warm sunny days, bird song, bees, the sunny dandelions feeding the bees, tiny green sprouts, my people healthy and safe, grocery pick-up, the internet, good podcasts (I’m working my way through Do You Need a Ride? and catching up on You Made it Weird), good books, (I sent my mom some, since she can’t go to the library or meet with any of the people she typically swaps books with, and we are both reading The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. I sent her some other ones that I haven’t read yet but sounded good, so I’ll be happy to hear what she thinks about those), writing with the videos and prompts Laurie is sending out through her 27 Wildest Days offering (which feels like writing with Laurie, which I miss so much), video chatting with Mikalina and Chloe’ and Carrie, texting with my mom and brother, new puppies and babies (even though I can’t meet them “in person”), the good humans who continue to do their work even as they risk their own health and safety.