Tag Archives: Walking

Gratitude Friday

1. Sam is getting better. I’m almost afraid to outwardly celebrate, but inside I am all “praise Jesus!” I don’t even know how to communicate accurately what a big deal this is. I lost my first two dogs to cancer in the past four years. Two of those years I spent knowingly caring for a terminally ill dog. So when Sam started to get sick and no one could figure out why, I feared the worst. We took him to doctors and specialists for a year and no one could give us any answers. They were all stumped.

sleepysam02We started having conversations about how bad it would have to get before we’d let him go. Last week, we had an MRI scheduled to see if he had a brain tumor. He’d gotten to the point that he’d go an entire block at the beginning of our walk shaking his head, his back leg scratching at the air. We couldn’t hardly ever let him play with Ringo because that would trigger the same. He was so uncomfortable, and it was difficult to watch.

Finally, we took another approach, looked again at the possibility of a skin issue. Our vet found an overgrowth of yeast on his lips where he’s lost the pigment, using a testing method we hadn’t tried before, and we decided to take a chance, cancel the MRI and treat it for two weeks with antifungal cream. And it’s working! He hasn’t air scratched for at least four days. We can put on the medicine, really rub it into his lips, and it doesn’t bother him. He an Ringo roll around in the back yard playing, knocking teeth against teeth, biting each other all over, and nothing.


We plan to take him to see a Dermatologist at CSU’s Vet Hospital, to follow up and make sure that there aren’t things we could do, supplements and such, to ensure this won’t happen again. I am so so so grateful he’s better.

2. Daycare and training for Ringo. I’ve said it before, this boy is challenging. I am working harder than I ever have with a puppy, knowing it will all totally be worth it. We took him to his first day of doggie daycare Monday and even though he was a little scared and barking too much, he got invited back, called adorable and sweet, and he’s doing really well with training, which is most likely more about teaching us than him.

training3. The noise of birds in the morning, a sure sign that spring is here.

4. The sound of the grade school playground at recess. We live just down the street from an elementary school and I love how at certain times of the day, if we are in the backyard, we can hear the play, the screaming and yelling.

5. Grapefruit juice. I’m obsessed with it right now. And lest you think I’m getting all healthy or something, I’m also obsessed with two bite brownies made with Belgian chocolate from Whole Foods.

Bonus joy: Walking together, all four of us.

It's all about the sticks when you are a puppy

It’s all about the sticks when you are a puppy

Gratitude Friday

ericwinterriver

image by Eric

1. Christmas cards. I’m not so good about sending them, but I sure like getting them.

2. Pine Ridge Holiday Project. I am only now remembering that I forgot to blog about this so you could take part too, if you wanted to — although, my guess is that if you email Julie, she might have some last minute people she needs to get gifts for that she’d love you to help with. I was able to get the same kids for the third year in a row, and this year I got their Grandma too. I love having enough that I can share.

3. Clearing stuff out, being able to let go — which is good, because there’s a lot that needs to go.

4. Warmer temperatures. Especially because that means I get to go on the walk in the morning (it’s a whopping 16 degrees today!). When it’s below 10, Eric takes Sam so they can run and stay warmer, which means I haven’t gone on the morning walk all week.

5. Intuitive Eating group. We had our last call this week, but there’s a longing to continue working together, supporting each other, and I am so grateful for that, for those women.

hiking yesterday with Dad, looking for deer

hiking yesterday with Dad, looking for deer

Bonus Joy: Sam, how he barks at stuff when I’m the only one home, and how when I come out to see what it is, if I say “shhh,” he stops barking. We are two different species who don’t speak the same language so the fact that we can communicate so effectively seems like some kind of magic.

Gratitude Friday

1. Getting everything that needed done for the weekend finished by 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

2. Breakfast for dinner while watching new episodes of HGTV’s International House Hunters on Hulu.

3. Walking at City Park with Eric and Sam.

4. The community in my Intuitive Eating book group, the bravery of those women, their sense of humor and compassion, Rachel‘s gentle guidance. It’s so good to have their support, to know I’m not in this alone.

5. A wise and kind animal card reading from the wise and kind Rachael Maddox, full of deep insights and things worth contemplating.

reading

Bonus Joy: Sam. He’s trying so hard to be a good boy, to be brave without Dexter, but it’s been hard on him. He’s more afraid, more nervous than he used to be — the other night he was making me so sad, sticking right next to me like a velcro dog, afraid of the vegetable steamer and the noises it was making. A few days before that, it was the washing machine. Hang in there Dude, you won’t be the only boy forever.

samtrail

Day of Rest

*sigh*

This picture is the last one I took at Lee Martinez Park, the place we walk almost every day, sometimes twice. On that morning, that walk, I had no idea that the next day would be the day Dexter died. I knew it was coming, we’d known for a year it was on its way, but on that particular morning it still felt unknown, uncertain, undetermined.

We haven’t been back to Lee Martinez since Thursday morning, the last time we walked there with Dexter, the walk we took knowing it would be our last. We’ve been to City Park, Big South Trail, and this morning we walked at Colorado State University, but we haven’t been back to “our park.” It still feels too hard, too sad.

We’ve managed other grief hurdles. Eric cleaned the living room floor yesterday. The raw wood in that room was covered with tiny spots where Dexter’s nose had dripped, (because of his cancer, he basically had a constant runny nose). I washed some of the blankets from his bed, along with his Little D baby, (I’d originally planned to have him cremated with Big D but in the end I couldn’t stand to lose them both). Eric brought home his ashes, and I put those on top of his mostly empty crate, along with his collar and a clay paw print.

memorialWhen I’m able to, I’ll open the ashes and put some in the urns I have that contain Obi’s ashes (one is on my writing desk and another on my meditation shrine) — I left room for Dexter so they’d be together again, they loved each other so much.

pawprints

I still haven’t been able to put clean sheets on our bed (the ones that are there were slept on by Dexter) and his toothbrush is still on the counter, and I’m still putting a tiny offering of food in his bowl every time I feed Sam. I know it’s silly, but I was devastated yesterday when I went out to do poop patrol in the backyard and couldn’t find any of Dexter’s. I was so sad that I’d never get to pick up anymore of his poop — that’s a crazy kind of love.

Eric has been dealing with his grief, in part, by cooking. Yesterday, he made three pies. We did a pie drive by to our friends’ house last night because even as much as I love pie, we couldn’t eat it all ourselves.

griefpie

Jamie Ridler’s mom, who also had cancer, passed the day after Dexter. Jamie invited me a few weeks ago to do a guest post in honor of her mom, the prompt being something her mom had recently said, “It’s not about being tough, it’s about being tender.” I have so much to say about that, will be finishing up my post and sending it to sweet Jamie later today. These losses (something we all face as we live and love), this prompt, has me thinking about how important it is that we have confidence in our basic goodness, the essential wisdom and compassion and power that rests in each of us, that we practice self-compassion and keep our hearts open, knowing that life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible.

In this audio recording, Pema Chödrön talks about basic goodness. She tells a story about burnt cookies and a fox that is such a great metaphor for how we can approach difficulty — we can allow ourselves to become hard, closed off, or we can stay open to reality, to be present for whatever might arise. Yes this means we will be vulnerable, we’ll get hurt, but we will also be amazed, healed.

My heart is broken right now. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last. But there is so much worth showing up for. Such as:

A chance to get away. We hadn’t wanted to do this when Dexter was still here, were worried about being too far away from a vet if something happened. But now, sometime soon, the three of us are going to rent a cabin in the mountains and spend some time together in the green and the quiet.

Pie. Especially the ones made by my person, who is as sad as me, who knows just how I feel, just what I’m missing, who will talk all day about what we’ve lost and never get tired of it, who wants to do whatever he can to make me feel better.

peachpie

Friends, near and far, sending us love and light. So many have reached out to me, offering such kindness, making this heavy thing so much easier to hold.

The sweet animal bodies that are still here, that long for love and need care. It’s Sam’s turn to become my favorite, and when we are all ready, there will be another dog.

sam

Laughter. Last night, on the way to our friends’ house to deliver the pie, Eric suggested that they expected this happy gift of pie, so it would be funny if when they opened the door, we gave them a pie in the face instead. It was such a ridiculous and awful idea we laughed the rest of the way to their house. It felt good.

Brilliant nature — blooms and fruit and animals and trees and landscapes and sky and deep water and weather.

Practice. Yoga, meditation, writing, and dog — this regular attention, showing up and being open to whatever arises, moving in ways old and new, creativity and discovery, is medicine.

Music. I heard this song for the first time yesterday, and am totally in love.

because nothing lasts forever
some things aren’t meant to be
but you’ll never find the answers
until you set your old heart free

I’m so sad, kind and gentle reader, but at the same time I am so in love with my little life, my heart so full of every last wonderful thing that sometimes it feels like it will explode.

Day of Rest

If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you already know that taking a long walk with my dogs at Lee Martinez Park is one of my favorite things. Before we got dogs, when Eric and I would take walks together, we spent a lot of time talking about how great it was going to be once we had dogs (and we always intended to have more than one). We were totally right. It’s the best.

One of my favorite parts of the walk is all the other animals we see. This morning, we saw a turtle sitting on a log floating in the middle of the river. We also saw a heron sitting high in a tree over the same stretch of water. Sadly, we also saw a dead Mountain Bluebird.

There’s a den of baby foxes along our regular route, and this morning the bravest of them all had a duck carcass that he was quite proud of.

kitwithduck02

kitwithduck03

When there are kits, Dexter insists on checking on them every walk. Even if they aren’t out, he wants to sit and watch the den, has to be pulled away from it.

This Sunday was such a different day than just one week ago, when Dexter was so sick and weak and didn’t want to eat. I spend each day immediately after something like that being thankful for another day, a day when no one is suffering, noticing the bravest of the kits, laughing at how he prances with a duck hanging from his mouth, too young to be quite sure what he’s even supposed to do with it.

Straight Talk From Fox
by Mary Oliver

Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

kitwithduck

What is so magic about walking, being outside in the raw, real world is it reminds me that life is a cycle of seasons, of birth and death, of waxing and waning, hibernation and blooming. It helps me to not feel so anxious about the way things work–impermanence, mortality, the nature of change. The sun rises every morning, the flowers bloom again each Spring, and there are still baby foxes, learning how to feed themselves, how to be foxes. I can live in that world, even as it continues to break my heart.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: A life that looks small from the outside might actually be deep and wide, vast and spacious. For example, you might learn that we’ve walked our dogs at the same park at least once a day (sometimes twice) for the past 10+ years, and think “how boring.” I’ve seen it in every season, every kind of weather. I have favorite trees and stretches of trail, spots along the river I’ve memorized, patches of grass that are special. I know where the turtles lay their eggs each year, where the fox dens are, where the heron fish, and where the beavers live. I know where there are things missing, where there used to be three Cottonwood trees stretched out over the river or where the wild irises used to grow. I remember the place where Obi used to drink out of the river, the bridge that scared him, and the route we took on that last day, for his final walk. I know all this, and yet I am not finished knowing.

2. Truth: I am superstitious. I know I can’t control anything, but my small mind still tries, just in case I’m wrong and I actually do have some sway. I have little altars, tiny shrines at each of the places I write and practice. Some days, I wear a string of black onyx beads around my wrist for protection and healing. I have a black string tied around my wrist that I asked Eric to put there. I think of it as my “life line,” and imagine that as long as it’s there, Dexter will be here. I also drink out of the same coffee cup every morning, for the very same reason. I made a vision board with Dexter’s picture, a white lotus flower hovering over his forehead and a mandala with the Medicine Buddha at the center, and listed my wishes, the last one being “may his death be easy.” Every time Eric and I part, I insist that we tell each other “I love you,” just in case. I think that these rituals, these talismans will keep us safe, keep us together, even as I’m clear that they make absolutely no difference, have no power at all.

3. Truth: I know what I want to do, but for now, it doesn’t pay well enough. The other day, I saw the difference between the two things, my current paid work and my heart’s work, very clearly. I was working my way through an academic training for online teaching. The information was good, useful and accurate, but the context, the framing, the platform made me want to poke my eye out with a pencil. I had trouble concentrating, felt tired and irritable, wanted to bolt from my chair. In contrast, I’m also currently taking a free class from Ruzuku, 5 Days To Your First Online Course. When I was reading through that content, I leaned forward in my chair, stretching towards the screen, focused and intent, taking notes and coming up with all kinds of ideas. The truth underneath all that is that the work in the first situation is paid and that of the second isn’t, and I want paid work, need it to live how I want. And while there is an exit plan of sorts, the intention that things will shift, sometimes I get frustrated, impatient.

One Wish: For acceptance and patience and gratitude, for surrender, for “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Gratitude Friday

This post started as a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Avocados. Yes, again. Seriously, I might have a problem, might turn into an avocado if I don’t stop it. This recipe for a Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Salad Sandwich from Two Peas and Their Pod is the next thing I’m going to try.

2. Spring Break. Today is the final day, and it’s been soooo busy, never is the week of nothing but space and time and rest that I imagine, but it was nice to have a little break.

3. Dexter’s Physical Therapy. Dr. Lindsey Habermann has two cattle dog mixes of her own, and has been taking such good care of Dexter, along with Sharon, and everyone else who’s helped along the way, (seriously, he loves going). He’s doing so much better and I’m so grateful.

4. Getting to walk dogs with Eric in the morning. Or getting to sleep in and having him walk the dogs for me. Either way, I’m grateful.

5. Good people. I am surrounded by them. Loving, funny, wicked smart, generous, creative people. They buy me salted caramel lattes, make me laugh, cheer me up and inspire me.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. He did have another bloody nose this week, but has been in a much better mood (the one way I could tell when his leg was bothering him was he wasn’t his usual cheerful self) and he even slept in bed with us all last night, (I miss that).

you might not be able to tell, but he's smiling

you might not be able to tell, but he’s smiling