Friday, December 22, 2006

comfort and joy

Christmas is virtually here and I am preparing to go to Steve's parent's home for the holidays...literally over the river and through the woods. And while I am looking forward to this new experience, my feelings remain mixed.

Like Scrooge, I am haunted by the spirits of Christmas...

The spirit of Christmas Past pulls up those old memories...Megan dressed as an angel, taco soup and wine on Christmas Eve, Aunty Ann pulling up in the driveway loaded down with gifts. And the way the house felt...festive and full. I remember two Christmases ago, promising myself I would make it the best ever as I knew it might be our last family Christmas. The melancholy I felt throughout that entire Christmas season was almost more than I could stand, and yet, I smiled and wished everyone well.

The Spirit of Christmas Present reminds me that the entire thing was built upon something I really no longer believe. And I wonder if perhaps I am hypocritical for celebrating so. I am reminded then, that Christmas has indeed become more secular than religious, and that I can celebrate it as a time of peace, of remembering loved ones, and of joining together as families with appreciation. And so I guess I am okay with that. Furthermore, this Spirit makes me wonder just how emotional I may get as the hours tick away until Christmas Eve. Will I think that it's all wrong...this new celebration, or will I embrace it with joy at finding a new place in the world. I do miss my sisters, and my parents, and wonder how I spent so many years not celebrating with them. And will Steve and I have any time alone to celebrate our first Christmas together??? Or will we be barraged with too many people? And can I ask to be excused and go hide out in the fifth wheel without everyone thinking something is wrong? Will there be any holiday music? Turkey? Christmas Present is indeed a frightening spectre.

I don't fear the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come any more than the others. My future seems quite merry and bright. Sure, there will be some tough years. Others will be just perfect. And I will adapt to this wintry season in South Dakota, to the ways of the Rohwedders, and to this new life I have chosen. Perhaps the upcoming years will bring new traditions that are Steve's and mine alone. And perhaps we will choose to celebrate the Solstice instead of Christmas - aligning our celebration with our beliefs about life.

My hope is that I will awaken on Christmas morning filled with comfort and joy, and that I will feel like old Ebenezer Scrooge, appreciating the people I love. No bah humbug here....just blessings for "every one."

Friday, December 15, 2006

little aggravations

They say that many people are depressed this time of year. I am not usually one of them. This year I might be. I should be on top of the world, with a recent engagement, pending nuptials, a new house to buy, a new puppy to love, and generally good things happening all around me. Thing is, I'm a little anxious, perhaps even mildly depressed. I suppose it is because there many things "in the works" and few are getting done.

There are gifts to buy and wrap and send. This is totally unlike me, as I'm the one who always got the shopping done early, and had things posted in plenty of time for Christmas delivery. Shopping in a new city can be daunting. The mall for instance, is simply uncharted territory. I have no idea where to park, nor where to go when I finally get inside. Unlike in Houston, there is only one mall, and everyone is there. EVERYONE! So I tried downtown...again with the parking. Then the walking up and down streets to find a boutique that I've heard about. And the wind....well, if it's anything like yesterday, could carry all gifts to their final destination without delay. My sisters are easy to buy for. Always have been, and yet they remain giftless. My father, who is the hardest to buy for, is taken care of because Steve got online and bought him a gift I might never have thought of. But I haven't wrapped it.

To make matters more difficult, I'm on deadline again. And this time, while materials arrived somewhat early, the clients are at their worst. Perhaps they are feeling the Christmas crunch as well.

And there are the financial issues. Clients that don't want to pay me, accountants who don't want to call me, unfinished divorce business, and the bonus issue.

And this morning, as if on cue, the Universe sent this message....

As far as I can tell, Melissa, worrying, about anything at all, is a pretty good indicator that one has begun thinking that their joy and prosperity will somehow hinge on pending physical events, other people, or angry green Martians.
Can you imagine?!
Phone home,

The Universe

First, Melissa, joy and prosperity are created within. Second, the events and people of your life can be changed with your thoughts. And third, Martians have long dwelled upon your planet, and while there were a few among them considering a coup, even they are now so enthralled by "The Secret," you have absolutely nothing to fear.

Is this all about fear? change? growing pains? And how do I shift the energy?

Right now I'm not sure. But I think a day of shopping with Ann might cure it. But then of course she is in Texas. As I was telling her the other night, nothing cures the blues like a great shopping buddy, and she's the best. In fact, though I'm not a huge shopping fan, when I do it with her, it's fabulous.

And so I remain a little disgruntled, disappointed and bah-humbug. Perhaps I will take the afternoon off and zip off to the coffee shop, then downtown for some hunting and gathering. I always did love a challenge.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

new puppy day 3

Her name is Dori, and I'm sure it was a tough life for her prior to her adoption. She lived in a house with three adults, four little kids, two cats and a bunny. Needless to say, her needs didn't always come first. And she was nervous, always nervous. And now she has a new home and she's totally adjusting. I'm not sure she likes sleeping in the kennel while Buddy curls up on his own pillow next to the bed or sharing her food. But other than that, I think she's pretty happy. And she is no longer nervous. The new puppy thing wasn't nearly as hard as I'd imagined. She and Bud get along just fine. The cats hate her, so they stay out of the way for the most part. They do hiss and paw at her when she gets too close, but they can retreat to their upstairs apartment for peace.

Sometimes I think I'm crazy...everything moving so fast and I continue to make changes. Just when I adjust to the idea of one new thing, another appears. Perhaps the lesson in all of this is to stay flexible, and to know that all of the "stuff" doesn't really matter at all. The sun rises and night falls, and each day is full of discoveries, and that's life. I asked the Universe for some adventure, and now, everyday there is a new one.

This morning I am tired. Don't feel like working. Feel like crawling back in the bed and catching a few more hours sleep. But I won't. The Christmas music in the background helps. I am trying to stay in the spirit, but my deadline looms and my shopping isn't even close. There are still cards I'd like to send. But what gets done will get done, and the rest will not. And the sun will rise and night will fall.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Just got back from Ohio on the whirlwind Thanksgiving vacation. Always good to see family...always good to get home. The news of course is the weddings - mine and Heather's. One full day of shopping secured both a wedding dress for me and my bridesmaids. And after spending the afternoon here in Sioux Falls looking for other options, I've decided that I'm done shopping for dresses. And so it's on to measurements, etc. In the meantime, I didn't remember just how many things there are to take care of.

Logistically, this wedding is almost impossible. But I think I do have the solutions - at least some of them. And Deb is a great sounding board. (Sorry Deb, but you've just become the first mate for this voyage.)

There are decisions to make about everything, and with the purchase of the house pending and Christmas around the corner...I'm not sure which way is up. My angels remind thing at a time...and so I need to regroup and handle each of the things on my to do list, but I should make one first.

Steve is working this morning, which is good, because I have time to think. Wait...maybe that isn't a good thing. On top of everything else, I find myself extremely emotional, no matter what I'm doing. I feel on the brink of tears at least once every hour. I look for a few Christmas decorations for the SLRH, I tear up. I look at the bridal stores, I tear up. I think of Steve, I tear up. The dog curls up on my lap, I tear up. I know what you're thinking and the answer is no - the only PMS here is PreMaritalShakiness. It's like a nasty little STD that won't go away.

Not sure how this will all pan out. I'm trying to remember that the most important thing is to live each day for the joy of it. And so, I suppose I will do this. But first I'll make a list. At least it may calm the jitters.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

home ownership and other things

This morning I woke up and almost instantly there were thousands of thoughts and things to do rushing through my head. This is usually not the case with me. I can spend a good half hour or so just enjoying the detachment of waking up. With so much going on right now, I'm sure that those thoughts just couldn't wait to surface.

I thought about the new house, and the fact that I need to get in touch with Donna at the bank, that I need to get in touch with Larry my attorney to help me facilitate a few of the things that the divorce called for, and that I need to send some paperwork to my accountant. I thought about the magazine deadline, Lynnette's business cards, Deb's business cards and paying bills. Too much for one little morning mind. I'm trying be still and all these things won't let it be. Tired of fighting them, I get up, get some coffee. (If you're and International Delight fan, don't try the for-Christmas-only chocolate mint. The chocolate settles to the bottom and it's not very minty. Instead, go to Starbucks and get a peppermint mocha - any size.)

And so it's one thing at a time. We made an offer on the house. It is very much what we were looking for. My friend Breeze says that it looks "too normal." Be reassured - that is temporary. It will be so much more interesting than normal once I get in there and adapt the space to me, us, and the critters. And the current owners accepted our offer. We set a move in date for February 1, which is what I had hoped for, even requested. Things do fall into place easily in my world when I believe. There was really no resistance from the other side. I'm sure they're ready to move on.

Sometimes I think that I'd rather spend Christmas at the new place, but it will be much better to have the time to plan, prepare, and move in at a more realistic pace. (Oh, and I need to call the Farmer's guy about homeowners insurance.) I can so see myself in front of that fireplace on cold winter nights.'s not a cabin in the mountains - all in due time.

My emotional reaction to all of this home buying stuff surprised me a bit. I got a little teary, and realized that it gives my move here a sense of permanence. The last couple of years, I lived in "temporary housing." This term, most commonly used in cases where people are displaced due to natural disasters or war, seemed to fit my situation. I was definitely displaced. Though I had most modern conveniences, and was safe and warm, I was not "home." And in some ways, I suppose the cause of my displacement was a natural disaster and a war. So the purchase of a home here in South Dakota with my SO gives me a sense that I will again be "home." It will be in this new place, with a new family, and new pets, a different climate, and a different back yard. But I have found home again. I can only wonder if that is really what we all long for - home, a sense of permanence, security, and a human we can count on to share it all with. Perhaps this is what defines "home." Some would argue that home is really anywhere we have an emotional connection, and that is it where the heart is. I would argue that there's something to be said for the material parts of this - the fireplace, the flowers, the embraces, a solid door to unlock when I pull into the driveway.

I have a little door knocker that says something about peace that I bought years ago and never hung at the house on Castle Hill, the apartment, or here at the SLRH. I've picked it up thousands of times, but never felt compelled to hang it. The saying didn't ring true. I know just where it is. It occurs to me that my new house will be its "home." And that it has been patiently waiting for February 1, 2007 to be mounted to the door of a home filled with peace. How cool is that?

Oh, and one more thing. If you haven't noticed, I added a link on the right side of this page to our Flickr site where I've posted some of our pictures. Drop by and take a look.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

keeping the pace

So I move to South Dakota expecting winter to be brutal. Here I am. It's November, and despite my anticipation, there has yet to be a significant snowfall. Just wait, they all say. And so I wait. In the meantime, I must say I am enjoying the lovely brisk days, clear skies and the opportunity to spend some time outside before the bad weather hits.

My world continues to evolve at a frantic pace with the engagement, and now, the very real opportunity to buy a house. Somehow through all the changes that have happened in my life over the year, I remain peaceful. At least that is my goal. It would be easy to allow myself to get caught up in the whirlwind, but I am resolved to keep myself and my life grounded. Those things that may have been viewed as really huge in the past seem only medium. My engagement for instance, seems only an affirmation of what I've known since the beginning of my relationship with Steve - that it was meant to be. It wasn't long after we met that I realized that one day we would get married. I didn't accept this easily, but found myself, more than a year ago, writing "vows" that might suit us in my journal. Yesterday I found those words that I wrote a year ago, and amazingly, they still seem valid and true. Thoughts do indeed become things. As for the house we're looking to buy, I can easily see the two of us sitting in front of the fireplace downstairs, and brushing our teeth together in the bathroom. And so soon we will move into the white house on 18th St. I'm not sure just how we will get from here to there, but know that we will, and that the flowers in the backyard will bloom and grin as we enjoy their presence.

Walking through the house I got the sense that we might be blessed by the man and woman who lived there prior to their passing. I think they were very much in love, and that this home was a place of peace. And they smile from the other side knowing that as we might love and care for the house much as they did. It just felt right to be there. As usual, I will follow my intuition. Perhaps that is why I remain calm at the thought of this undertaking.

I watched Under the Tuscan Sun last night, and remembered that I always wanted to see Italy. Old feelings came up for me. The reminders of where I've been were everywhere, but looking over at Steve, I was again sure that the decisions I have made over the past year were the right ones.

All of the changes in my life may be hard for some to digest - it's all happened so fast. But time is only a construction of man, and each moment must be lived as if it were the only one that mattered. At this moment, my world continues to revolve, my heart is full, and my soul is peaceful. I am glad to be me - now - with him - in this place, and that is all that matters.

Friday, November 03, 2006

rings and things

I said matter what I've said in the past and all my rantings about never being married again, I said "yes."

This morning...less than 48 hours after I said yes, I am wondering just what the hell happened. It's easier to figure out when I write it out. The only reasonable explaination is that I love, and modern or not, I remain conventional and romantic when it comes to relationships.

I remember the days not too long ago when I reported to the world that I would never get married again, that if indeed I did meet a man with potential, I would allow him only to keep a toothbrush and a clean pair of drawers at my place. I was determined never to allow myself to be in a situation that might result in the total desperation that I felt was marriage.

Then I met Steve...

Tender, gentle Steve, and without a second thought, well maybe a second thought, but with very few reservations, I moved to South Dakota to explore the possibilities of a life with him. Before I knew it he had not only a toothbrush at my SLRH, but I was feeding his dog and two cats every single morning after he went to work.

I was still determined to be unconventional...I figured we could go on living together, enjoying life together, and remain true without any legal documentation. But then, one day, about a month ago, I was on the phone with Lynnette and I admitted sheepishly that I did, in fact, want to be married.

This pissed me off. I wasn't supposed to want that. It was almost embarrassing. How could this have happened? Could I possibly have changed my mind about the durability of love? Could I possibly have reconsidered that a man and a woman could have a lifetime relationship that was good and served them both? And who (couldn't possibly be me), was longing to hear the words, "marry me"?

We went to dinner the other night, and when we returned to the SLRH it was filled with Stargazer lilies, and Steve's hands were shaking as he offered up an engagement ring with his heart.

I was speechless, (but only for a moment as those of you who know me might guess), and the only word in my head was "yes."

(Chris, if you're reading this, don't fall off the chair.)

And so we're getting married. hurry, right? maybe next week? next month? after Christmas?

Unconventional me is a little worried about the size and shape of this thing, as everyone wants to get in the act. From my sisters to his, and the kids on both sides of the family. We have agreed on a few long drawn out ceremony. Cherish, yes...obey, no. As for the rest, I guess we'll have to figure it all out.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


In some circles, this is a huge holiday. And through it all, witches get a bad rap - witches, not to be confused with those who worship "the dark one." I'm thinking this morning that in all women there is a little bit of witch. Unlike some others I know, I don't associate this term with the darkness at all, so don't take it all personally and think that I'm name-calling. I am, after all, female, and thinking that the qualities of a good witch are something we should all strive to embrace. explains it this way>>>

"Witchcraft in ancient history was known as "The Craft of the Wise" because most who followed the path were in tune with the forces of nature, had a knowledge of herbs and medicines, gave council and were valuable parts of the village and community as Shamanic healers and leaders. They understood that mankind is not superior to nature, the earth and its creatures but instead we are simply one of the many parts, both seen and unseen that combine to make the whole. As Chief Seattle said; "We do not own the earth, we are part of it." These wise people understood that what we take or use, we must return in kind to maintain balance and equilibrium. Clearly, modern man with all his applied learning and technology has forgotten this. Subsequently, we currently face ecological disaster and eventual extinction because of our hunger for power and a few pieces of gold."

I see no problem with this? I think somehow that those who founded some of the major religions were not comfortable with powerful women, wise women, healers, who understood the earth and her rhythms. And that they chose to demonize this peaceful ancient breed in order to take their power and rid the earth of this "blight". And so tonight, as the little monsters beg for candy, we will see many black witch costumes and tiny human beings with warts on their painted green noses. And I object.

I have an affinity for herbal cures, magic and the natural world. Perhaps in another life I was one of the wise women who was labeled evil and was driven underground. I have no penchant for sorcery, but a little love potion doesn't seem to me to be a bad thing. And I'm not boiling up any poisons to coat innocuous apples, instead a cup of organic herb tea would be just the thing to warm me up on a chilly morning like this one.

And I'm also thinking that perhaps it is not the witches who are threatening our children, but instead, the politicians and powerful men who fill their heads with nonsense and fear. Prescription drugs are prescribed for ADD, ADHD and hyperactivity. Are these not harmful to active, creative and beautiful children who perhaps, don't conform to the norm? And what about those who cover our fruits and vegetables with chemicals and shoot the the cows full of hormones? From oil companies to plastic manufacturers and loggers to strip miners, our world is being destroyed. Are those who run these companies evil? We don't need a magic ball to uncover the truth here, just a little wisdom.

This All Hallows Eve, I will embrace that goddess within...the witch who is wise, magical and peaceful - the witch who is beautiful and in touch with the earth - the witch who nurtures and understands that all creatures are indeed necessary for balance on the planet. Yes, this Halloween, I will be a witch.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The ground is white this morning...sending me back to Ohio in my mind. The earth seems still somehow when the snow falls. But I am not still today, but unsettled. I am not sure of the reason, but feel a great need to find a sense of who I am, what the hell I'm doing, and why I am here.

There's a bunch of stuff on the internet about some great violet pulse of light that was beaming down to earth from another dimension for 17 hours yesterday. Some "experts" reported that feelings and manifestation would be "increased a million-fold" during this span of time. Looking at yesterday, I realize I was intense. Most all of my feeling were deeply rooted and I couldn't seem to break out of the depths. When I felt good - I felt great. And the opposite was also true. Seems like I've had lots on my mind lately.

I guess I need to get out of my head and back into the present moment. This is not always easy for a girl whose brain never shuts off. In addition, I've been reading this really crazy book called, "The Children of the Matrix" which would freak out just about anyone. In a nutshell (no pun intended) the book proposes that we are all controlled by and intergalactic race of beings with hybrid DNA, going back to the time when Atlantis and Lemuria-Mu were in the "golden age."

Okay - sounds a little crazy, but the evidence is frightening - and I don't often use that word. My open-mindedness has been challenged. I'm trying to figure out if it's just my ego talking, or if the guy who wrote the book is a quack. Regardless, the information is good to file away in my little cabinet of a brain.

If the book is on the right track, how can I possibly choose who I should trust, and who is part of the conspiracy of control? And does it matter at all?

There are also mixed messages from the other side re: my meditation group, my relationship, and some new acquaintances. Perhaps it is me who is mixed, and the universe is only reflecting that... (yes, says a voice in my head.)

Mornings like this confound me.

I long to fall gently on the earth, like the snow, sure of my purpose and peaceful. A walk with Buddy may do me some good, clear my head, and leave me grounded. What I know is searching the internet only leaves me with a headful of unanswered questions - and there is absolutely no room in my brain for any more.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

a moment of bliss

Some days begin just like other days. We have nothing big planned and no major event scheduled and yet, somehow, the universe throws us an unsuspected moment of true bliss.

Today I had one of those moments. I showered late, in the afternoon, planning to pick up my friend Deb at the Firestone dealer while her car was being worked on. We were going to Starbucks for coffee. I wore blue jeans, boots and a really great jean jacket with fake sheepskin lining - very cozy - and my favorite silver velvet gloves. The world seemed good as I zipped through the streets of Sioux Falls. The sun was shining, though the temperature was in the thirties. We sat in Starbucks discussing current events and life and love, and I looked out the window while I sipped the perfect peppermint soy mocha with whipped cream. Life was indeed good. And then, as if the gods were just as happy, the snow started to fall. Little flakes at first, which grew to be bigger flakes, blowing through the air. I felt giddy - like I did as a kid with the first snow of the season. I actually got butterflies in my stomach for the joy.

As if that weren't enough, I dropped Deb off and went to my favorite coffee store to get some fresh beans. I chose Tres Rios from Guatemala, which it turns out was the perfect choice as it had just been roasted this morning. The bag was warm when the clerk at Black Sheep put it in my hands, right after offering me a free cup of the day's special brew. Then he punched my punch card, and believe it or not...I now had 10 punches, which means a free pound of coffee on my next visit.

I bopped back into my cute little VW beetle with the heated seats, warm coffee beans in my hands, snow falling, cheeks rosy and my phone rang. My SO was calling just to say hello, and that he loved me.

I don't know about you, but this, to me, is pure bliss. And I just want to hold on to these moments forever. There will be less blissful days, weeks, even months. But today, for a perfect moment or two, the universe smiled a really big smile and aimed it at me. Best of all, I noticed. A little fresh coffee, a little light snow, a little love - what more could a girl ask for?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

being present

I wake up and stretch, my body tight from lying in bed for hours, barely moving. I smile remembering where I am. For more than six months now I have been living in a new place, in a new relationship, yet it still catches me by surprise every now and then. But much of my life has become familiar again. Little patterns have emerged where there were none, and I realize that this is the cycle that we constantly repeat. And though we humans like to set ourselves above the rest of the creatures that share the earth, we are much like them, preferring the familiar to the strange or unusual. Unconsciously, no matter how much we try to keep things exciting, they slip into regular patterns. Like breathing, creating these routines is something we cannot not do.

And I am present this morning, noticing my patterns of life, and thinking about what I might change - not just to keep life exciting, but to make the most of my time and energy.

Not much of a morning person, despite the fact that I still get up with the sun, I find that the early hours are spent wandering about my life and accomplishing nothing. I can hardly get moving without coffee, and even then, my heart doesn't really start to beat until a few aimless hours have passed. I make mental lists of things to do, but can't do these things until later. I make myself get to work, then take a break at noon to get something to eat. Around 2 I feel energized, ready to accomplish something. This is my most productive time, though I'm not sure if it's guilt that motivates me, or whether this is what my body and mind choose.

And these patterns annoy me. Sometimes on a whim, I change things up a bit. This can be disastrous - for I rely on patterns to make sure everything gets done, and done properly. On days when I don't follow the routine, the coffee maker doesn't switch on when it should, the clothes don't make it into the dryer, the cats don't get fed, or the bed doesn't get made. Since I am present this morning, I ask myself...what if things don't get done? Is it a disaster? In most cases, the answer is no. Life continues, I breathe, and through the chaos, new ideas emerge, creative thoughts are born, and little things surprise me. And the big things...they take care of themselves somehow. The bills do get paid, the lights work, the animals play.

In the meantime, we live, we notice the beauty of the earth - a new rose on the rose bush, cardinals in the grass picking up seed, the way the sun comes through the window and rests on the tabletop. And this is a productive use of time and a source of joy - the reason we live.

Monday, October 02, 2006

a perfect day...

...I think. At least that's how I intend it. The weekend was absolutely full and included a trip back in time. This weekend's trip to Wetonka was specifically earmarked for loading up the truck with old furniture from Steve's grandparents' house that needs some refinishing. And so on Sunday morning, we ventured into the decaying rooms of their old house. We weren't the first to visit. Many critters had been there before, leaving destruction in their wake. I'm sure they were not happy we were visiting. But they remained the walls, under the floor.

We toted out what we could repair and use first. An old dresser with a beautiful mirror was the first to emerge. It wouldn't be hard to fix, as it was quite intact. The old steamer trunk we pulled out of the corner will take more work, but would be beautiful with a little tlc. We also recovered three dining chairs, an old wooden tool chest, and a second dresser for Steve's cousin, Sarah. That was supposed to be it for the big pieces, but a trip to the garage revealed and old school bench, and a metal bed. I couldn't help but to think that I wish I could fix all of it - but there were things I just couldn't use, and I had provided us enough projects to last at least a year.

The furniture was amazing, but it was the small things scattered about that most stirred my heart and my imagination. Hanging on a hook in the stairwell was a blue satin strapless prom dress. The waist was tiny, and I wondered which of the Miller girls had danced in it and what their partner looked like. Did he wear a white jacket? Glasses? And did she think him handsome? Did he steal a kiss at the door before he went home? That house was full of girls, and the evidence was everywhere. They had been arts and crafts pros, making pictures for the walls which their mom framed. I saw them lounging under plastic chandeliers of green and gold that hung from the ceiling. Perhaps they read some of the Reader's Digest condensed books in the book case, pages yellow and damp. We found postcards, letters and cards sent with love, property deeds and and old cash register. Pots, pans, and antique kitchen utensils were still scattered on the table, and a cook book copyright 1915 sat on the countertop.

But in the midst of what was left in this old house, we found a family - we took a peek inside their lives. I thought it a shame that everything, so lovingly touched and cared for was now left lying on floors and moldy sofas. Our lives, I think are too busy to treasure the old, to see the beauty in things touched by those who have gone before us. What is old becomes trash, and we buy something new, cluttering our world with more stuff, instead of caring for the old, and taking ownership.

I know the task ahead is a little daunting - cleaning up the furniture, polishing the metal and reconstructing the drawers. But the beauty of it is that the spirit of the stuff remains. When I pull out a drawer in the old dresser, and place linen napkins inside, I will do what Grandma Miller did years ago. And her heart will join with mine for just a moment. She will smile from the other side when her grandson sits on the chair she carefully chose to match the table that exists somewhere else.

Today I will begin the process, and it will be a perfect day. I will clean the wood, and wash out the pots. I will take care to be gentle, and will find time to reflect on a time when these things were used and the people who cared for them before me.

And so time passes, and remnants of life are left behind for others. I wonder what I will leave when I go. Will my grandson's girlfriend say, "Let's restore your mom's dresser," not knowing that it belonged to a woman who lived two generations before me. Should I leave a note inside the top drawer...this belonged to Steve's Grandma Miller, which she left for me to find in 2006. I'm not sure how old it is, but treasure it as I do.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

the missing muse

Some mornings I sit here wondering what the heck I'm going to write about. Today is one of them. I know that this whole blog thing is good for me. That it helps me to flex my writing muscles. And yet, there are times when there is nothing in my head that seems to need to be said.

When all else fails, I write about coffee. But even that doesn't seem important today. Maybe it's true. Good writing comes from pain. Right now I have none that I can think of. And so there are no passionate words to describe my anguish. And love...that's the other inspiration, but there are no words passionate enough to describe my love. What else is there? Is the world so black and white? I think not...

My muse...Annabelle...isn't doing her job. I hear her voice now saying...It's not me, it's you. You haven't been coming to the page. I'm here for you when you decide to settle in and get serious. And Natalie Goldberg would say...just keep the hands moving. So easy for you dear. Today it's not so easy for me. She also says it's okay to write crap. Okay...I'm writing crap.

Once during meditation, I asked for a mentor. And I was given Thomas Merton. This was scary. Have you ever tried to read his work. He's passed now, but when he was alive (and perhaps now, on the other side,) he was true genius. He was a Catholic monk, turned mystic with and Easternish philosophy. And so I guess we sort of came from the same place, making it only fitting that he might mentor me from beyond. Perhaps today I need to reconnect with his work, and ask for a little psychic intervention.

The voices in my head are's so you. Study, study, study...anything to keep from writing. They know me so well.

And there is laundry to do, my office to clean up, new curtains to hang. Not near as threatening as the writing. And reading is good. I could play with my new ipod - which by the way I love, thank you Jonathan.

So I could fill up my day with tiny tasks. Or I could get serious (says Annabelle). Now is the time I need Ronda - my cheerleader. She exists in the 3-D world and has always encouraged me when I need it. Minnesota, though closer than Houston, is still quite far away. She's probably already taking a class. (Anything to keep from writing, right Ron?) Are we that much alike? Perhaps I should get up early and drive there on's like driving to Austin. Or maybe we could meet in the middle, just to visit. (Another reason not to write...)

Now I've managed to get something down here...crap or not...I showed up.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

wednesday again

It is a good morning. Feeling quite chilly today outside, and Buddy seems to have a wild hair this morning. He's barking like crazy and I can't figure out why. Wednesday, perhaps?

Back on the learning curve...or the relearning curve. Can't remember, even in Ohio, the air feeling quite this brisk in September. Autumn has definitely arrived, and we, like the squirrels that are so bothersome, are preparing for the winter.

Attention Walmart shoppers...get over to aisle 7 for a killer sale on plastic to cover the windows and keep out the drafts that this winter will surely bring. Hot apple cider (irradiated, of course), now being served at rock bottom prices in the produce area.

And so, we scurry about, getting ready, yet again for a change.

My SO is quite the scurrier...checking the antifreeze, putting weather stripping around the doors, and making room in the garage for the patio furniture. He knows, I suppose. Yet I am not quite there. And while intellectually I know these preparations are necessary, I prefer to think of winter as quite a ways away - not just around the corner. It just doesn't seem real. I know there is a need to get gas for the snowblower and make sure that it's running, but it seems much more practical right now to mow the lawn, which remains green and growing despite the cooler temps.

Worst of all, my winter clothes seem quite they haven't been worn much over the last 22 years. And while it sounds like quite the chore, I must go through them and toss those that I will never wear. I do plan to do some shopping this afternoon. Boots? I suppose, and some warmer socks. I have been looking for long sleeve t-shirts, but most are too "cute". With little lace necklines, and so I guess it will be long john tops under my sweaters. They're comfy and certainly serve the purpose - but do they make them in the colors I'm into these days?

I do love the way the air feels just now. And the way the breeze seems constant. My summer color has been replaced by rosy cheeks. That's fall for you. But what in the world will I do with all the geraniums that continue to bloom. Will they live if I bring them inside? Or will they wither in the artificial heat and light? What I know is that the hearty aloe on the porch will make it through the cold...I think?

And so I prepare for my first winter in the Dakotas. I can't help but to think that as long as it's warm and cozy in my heart, the rest will take care of itself.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

post weekend

Most weekends my SO and I hit the road, at least that's what we did all summer long. He was stoked about it all the time, says that it's his way to relax and get away from it all. And after years - literally - of sitting around, I've been up for it, too. But if I'm honest with myself, I long for a weekend here and there at home. It's not that I don't enjoy myself at the lake. The company is good and it is quite a respite in a hostile world. On the other hand, I long for time alone with my man. I've joked about us always being gone...that he's afraid to spend time alone with me. And his only response is, "you bite." Well, only gently and with love, I admit.

And so this weekend we stayed home - at least sort of. We did wake up in our own bed on Saturday morning, and this was good...leaning on our pillows with no rush to start the day. But once we were up and awake, there was lots to do. Our finished basement was full of boxes from our moving months ago, and there were tools to move from the kitchen (where they'd found a temporary home) to the basement, where they would live permanently. Once the basement was cleared out and somewhat organized, there was a need in me to fill it again. Not with boxes and junk, but with real furniture. So off we went to the second-hand furniture stores and outlets to find little treasures for the "den."

"Den" is appropriate, since I imagine our spending cold winter nights in the cozy basement room filled with things we love.

We shopped - well I shopped and he tolerated my shopping. We bought things we'd planned to buy and things we didn't. We also bought miscellaneous stuff we'd written on a list, like a new AC filter and spray paint for the park benches we're refinishing.

Needless to say, we weren't home much. But we were alone and together, and this satisfied my need.

This weekend we will be staying home again as luck would have it. Two weekends in a row??? Can he manage??? I'm sure we will be busy getting the house ready for winter and finishing the projects we started last weekend (I do have an ashtray-turned-birdbath to show for it). And though I'm learning the meaning of "winterize", I am having fun.

Today I am grateful for home, and alone time, and my SO, and the pup, and the cats, and the way my world works these days. And not to be forgotten, coffee in a ceramic cup instead of a to-go mug.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

thursday morning

Just when you think you're out of the woods and things are going very smoothly, you're reminded of all of the parts of your life that you've been neglecting. For's the yoga.

Exercise has never been high on my list of IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO. And unfortunately, I think, it might remain on the low end of the list forever. In my quest to ease the guilt, I began a yoga practice about five years ago. Believe it or not, it really worked for me. I found a great little studio in the heart of Humble, Texas (strange place for a great little yoga studio, you might think, as Humble tends to be quite a conservative place to be.) I pulled myself out of bed three days a week at 5:15 in order to greet the sun and a number of other students for class.

It began with breathing...lots of breathing. There are more ways to breathe than you might imagine, and we learned and practiced many of them. After a warm up, we learned to pose. Great posers we were, shaping our bodies in triangle, warrior, and cobra, pushing our bodies to the limit. And after a little sweating, there was meditation. Actually, the meditation (in corpse pose of course), was my favorite part of the class. After a yoga class, my mind was clear, and it was easy to shut out the voices that seem to be in my head most of the time. With a clear mind, I was able to meditate, allowing my body, mind and spirit to merge into pure energy. Okay, maybe that sounds a little hokey, but there were times when I actually felt myself leave my body behind. But I digress.

Whenever we get too comfortable in a spot - like I am here in the SLRH in South Dakota, the spirit says, "Enough already. You've got work to do." And so the universe sends message after message until you get it. The messages began with a little conversation about yoga, then my body started feeling a bit tight. Last night, at my meditation group, we listened to an audio recording about meditation, and finally, the book I'm reading has an entire section where the protagonist lives in an Ashram.

I get the message.

If I'm honest, even though the thought of re-starting my yoga practice sounds like a big responsibility, I'm longing for it. That sense of connection I feel when I find the silence within. To touch again the divine in me seems like the right thing to do.

Today I will dig out the Native American flute music, round up some incense, and dust off my meditation pillow. I'll start there. Some breathing, stretching and finally some meditation. And as luck would have it, my schedule is somewhat clear (she says as if time is anything but one moment after another.)


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

a walk in the park

Last night I was reminded that life is indeed a walk in the park. So many times, hemmed in by the insanity that we think is our lives, we forget that life is about joy, about doing what makes one happy. And when a little reminder comes along that kicks us in the shorts, we breathe again.

So today I am breathing, thinking about the couple we came upon as we walked through Seratoma Park last night looking for the perfect woody spot to have our pictures taken. It was 6:30 or so when we left home with directions from the photographer, and the sun was still in the sky, though barely visible through the clouds. We walked down what had been aptly named the Woodland Trail wearing sweatshirts as the temperature was dropping. There were few people out walking, perhaps because the mosquitoes were thick. We were keeping a good pace and enjoying the peace, laughing and talking. The company was good as it always is.

A little ways ahead of us we saw a mature couple. I say that because my understanding of the word "old" is changing these days. She was dressed in khaki pants and a matching jacket. Her white hair was twisted and clipped up. She held the hand of a man dressed in blue jeans. Though we couldn't really hear them talking, she seemed to be listening attentively as she looked into the man's face. Her smile was genuine, as if his words warmed her heart.

It didn't take long until we got close enough to pass them by. It was then that I realized that they weren't talking at all, but in a low and melodic voice, he was singing to her. I'm not sure of the song, only that she glowed in the music. Arm in arm they made their way through the woods, surrounded by beauty and bathed in love.

Steve and I looked at each other and smiled. We were thinking the same thing. One day we want to be like them. Steve said, "I can't sing." And I said "it doesn't matter as long as you talk to me." He pulled me closer and we slowed down a bit, both lost I think in our own thoughts. We met them again later, as we had stopped by a little lake to watch the fish, and he smiled at us, but continued singing to the woman he would always love.

One day they were young and in love. They shared the trials of life, probably raised their babies together. There were good times and bad times. And when things got rough, he sang to her. And that music and their love kept their passion for life alive. And last night they walked together down a quiet path, appreciative of each other. They left the insanity of the world behind and found joy in each other.

So life is indeed a walk in the park. Breathe it in.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


So the leaves have not yet begun to turn into the collage I remember, but autumn is indeed in the air. Evenings are perfect for wrapping myself in a blanket outside in front of the fire. Here it is quiet. There is no need for human words as crickets sing and stars glow. There is only me and Steve in our not so SLBY.

I am looking forward to the change in the season, having not really seen that for so long. And even winter seems exciting. A little crazy, but as my life has changed, it seems only appropriate that the environment in which I live change, too. The roses may not know it, as they continue to bloom as if they sense the coming of spring. I can see at least 14 buds from my window. The sun falls on their faces as they reach still toward the sky. They are my everyday miracle.

My last angry post was validated for me again this past weekend, as I met yet another woman who found herself curled up in a ball on the pavement after being battered by a man who says, "I love you." I am resolved to be a part of the solution.

Empowering women seems impossible in a world where we have forever been second class...or third. Perhaps wearing pants is not the solution. Perhaps instead it is tapping into the goddess energy in all of us. The goddess who is beautiful and fierce, who creates life, and who nurtures would not accept this treatment. She would eat a man for lunch. And she is there, waiting for the right moment to make her move. My resolution is to help women find her in the depths of their souls, to call her forth as protector.

And when the battle is fought, she will recline on a bed of rose petals and sip nectar saying..."don't *^%$*&@ with me."

And she will again give and receive love that doesn't hurt, no matter the season.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

strength and courage

I can't help but write about women this morning. This is an old topic, but must need to be revisited because it's omnipresent in my world this week.

I am acquainted, either very closely or distantly to three women who are in the middle of man made drama. This I mean literally. Men make it, they live it. Or perhaps these women make it??? This morning I am not sure.

The names here have been changed to protect the (almost) innocent.

Jody lives with Mitchell. She doesn't like him anymore. He is not happy about this. He threatens her. They have very ugly violent fights. She has two small children. She says she's moving away. He comes too. The cycle continues. She says she tries to tell him, but he won't leave. When he does leave, he steals from her, pawns her stuff, and threatens her. She says she doesn't have the strength to fight. She says she's trying. She is tired of being a victim.

Amy lives with Jason. She has two teenage daughters. Jason is physically and emotionally abusive. He is also an alcoholic. She says she can't take it anymore. But every night she goes back home and puts herself and her kids in the line of fire. She is afraid of him, that he might really hurt her the next time. He threatens to kill her. She gets a new place to live in the country. She can't tell him he can't go along. He goes anyway. It gets so bad she says she's going to leave. Someone offers her a safe place. She goes back to him anyway. She doesn't have the will to fight. She is a victim.

Alison has been living with Paul for five years. They are engaged. The relationship has always been rocky. They have split up numerous times, but each time she goes back for more. He is angry - all the time. He is jealous and critical and constantly harasses her, accusing her of being with other men. He has mental disorders and uses drugs and alcohol on a regular basis which causes him to be even more unstable. He hurts her. This week she sought refuge with a friend, and told Paul he has to leave. He packs his things (again) and leaves. She is afraid to go home. She is afraid he'll come back. She is weak when it comes to Paul. The cycle continues. She says it's different this time. Has she decided she is no longer the victim?

This cycle of abuse is everywhere. Spend some time in a group of women. The majority will tell you that they have "been there." I am one of them. At what point do we become accepting of this behavior? At what point do we begin to value ourselves so little that we live in pain and horror? At what point do we decide that we deserve better? How do we break this cycle?

I have no answers. Though I wish that I did. For me the turning point was a mini-breakdown of sorts. Perhaps on looking in on me, you wouldn't have noticed, as I went about my daily business without missing a beat. But inside I was broken, and I knew I had to save myself. Then I did. I worry that perhaps I will find myself there again for the sake of love, but my current relationship has no signs of dysfunction that I can see. And I like to think if it began to take that turn I would run as fast as I could in the other direction.

I talk to the women I mentioned above. Try to give them encouragement. Tell them life doesn't have to be that way. But they know nothing else. They don't believe me. They are afraid.

This pisses me off. And so today I hold the space for them to be courageous. To step up and say, "I deserve better, and it's out there for me." Someone has to hold it. I hold the space for them to save their children. I hold the space for them to break the cycle. I am here to say for them..."It is NOT okay!"

On the other hand, I know that I had to save myself. I had to dig the courage and strength out from under a boulder of fear and doubt and judgment. And under that boulder I found my voice. And once I found it, it began to scream. The tables turned, and all of a sudden, the power was mine. All I can offer these women is the small shovel of encouragement, then they have to dig...deep. And sometimes, the hole is filled with their own tears, but it continues to grow despite the saltwater. After digging and digging, which seems endless, a tiny voice can be heard. It grows louder and louder until we recognize it as our own. It screams, "I am worthy! I am beautiful! I am smart! I am strong! And I will no longer be your victim!"

I want you to know that I can hear you scream...and I'm listening.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

No more excuses

It's been a long time coming, but it is here. I have spent more than a year crying over red wine and my disheveled life. I have been disgusted, dishonored, disappointed and disinterested. I have been shot down, beat up, blown away and betrayed. I have been possessed, obsessed, misdirected and manipulated. But it's over, and I have no more excuses for not living my life.

So I had this birthday. And while turning 45 can be difficult for some people, it was not for me. I consider it my rebirthday. The very week of my birthday, I was set free from the past and reborn. This may take some getting used to. First of all, I am like a newborn baby, and everyday I make a new discovery. I see things I didn't see, and don't try to wrap them in all of the "things I know." These "things I know" (coincidentally) turned out to be "things I thought" were true. And so I have discarded all previous definitions and I'm making up my own as I go. This (it turns out) serves me much better. These new definitions are born of the soul - my soul. They resonate with me as TRUTH.

The first (and most important): Love, though it requires an occasional compromise, does not require SACRIFICE, nor MARTYRDOM.

The second: Love is a constant buzz. Sometimes there are highs, and sometimes there are lows, but always there is a hum of BLISS.

The third: Love CHALLENGES the soul. Not in petty controlling ways, but in making us look at ourselves through the eyes of another. It asks us to be the best we can be. This doesn't mean changing ourselves, but being our own truth.

The fourth: When one is loved honestly, there is no jealousy or doubt. There is no need to manipulate or play games to reassure oneself that Love IS.

As I'm only a newborn, I am sure that there will be more to see. I am committed to taking each new experience at face value, not applying old definitions, and clarity of thought. And as I become a toddler, and learn to walk, run and eventually climb a mountain, I plan to wear good shoes - shoes that keep me grounded in the basics. Shoes that allow me to dance when I feel like it, slow down when I feel like it, and won't mind being kicked off in front of a cool stream.

So the past is gone, and there is only now. This moment is all that exists, and in this moment I am happy and humming blissfully.

This hum also reminds me that there is work to do - my stories have yet to be told, and I am out of excuses. I must write. It is who I am and what I do (but didn't before my rebirthday). Pages must be filled with words - mine. I must also nuture my soul - meditation, intelligent conversation. And I must nurture my body - sleep, eat better and give up the smokes.

A newborn knows.

Friday, August 11, 2006

friday morning again

It is Friday again, and when I compare my feelings from a week ago to my feelings today, I am reminded of how a few moments or hours can change one's life.

I have again been blessed by the Universe and her love and abundance. She reminded me that I am strong and powerful, and that when we join forces, amazing things happen. And while my mediation went well, what is more notable is my strength, courage and sense of self. I am no longer afraid.

I am overwhelmed tho, by the number of women I meet who have been where I've been, and who continue to feel less than able to stand up and say, "It's not okay." What is it that keeps us in relationships that are less than joyful, painful even? I wonder if it is our optimism and our expectation that love is always beautiful. What is it that causes us to stop believing that little voice inside that protects us from danger? When do we stop trusting our own senses? Our eyes show us anger...we offer an embrace. Our ears hear hurtful words, and we soothe. Our bodies suffer wounds that we explain away. And yet we go back for more.

Today I say listen to that little voice and trust your own senses. It will tell you IT IS NOT OKAY. Pain is a sign that something is amiss. And it is only after you pull yourself out of the fire, that you can heal. Get out of the line of fire.

And's okay - just right even. And for some of us, it is the only way to heal old wounds and gather our strength. It is the only way to remember just who we are. And in that private space, we can be who we are without ramifications, fear, and pain. And while loneliness may raise its face and say hello, it will leave as it came, quietly. And one day you will wake up and it will be gone, and you will have found ways to keep it at bay. Best of all, you will have found yourself again.

Life is good.

Friday, August 04, 2006

friday morning

So I am is the day I've been dreading. Yet somehow, I think it's better that it's finally here. And I will face the monsters.

My first thought about this whole thing is that I don't want to face it alone...but it is of my own making, and I will feel better at the end of it knowing I faced it alone. Through the entire ordeal, I have gained strength and courage. I am no longer cowering in the face of it. I am surrounded by the support of those close to me...and if I close my eyes I can feel this. No physical arm around my shoulder is necessary when good energy envelops me. I am never really alone then.

It's time to prove that I am no longer willing to be taken advantage of, nor taken for granted. This I can do. I have licked my wounds and am ready for the confrontation. (god i hate confrontation.)

I wish I had something insightful to say...something wise and inspiring, but there is only this thought. Git 'er done. (thank you larry.) And the outcome is not nearly as important as the process - that I stay focused, strong and in integrity. And I will look good. Had a manicure and pedicure you know. I can still wear that power suit, and I have lost a few pounds. Looking good always helps.

When I get to feeling lonely, I will think of my view of the stars from the dock last weekend. I will think of the beauty of that single moment, hold it in my heart, and know that I have chosen well. That my decision was the right one. And that my life will continue on a new course of discovery - of the world, and of self. Woohoo! What a ride.

I smile and think of the end of things...and the beginning.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

tick, tick, tick

The days dwindle between now and Friday, when I leave for Houston to face the monsters. I have tried to paint smiles on their faces in my head...but it's not working.

The monsters have names, and each one has called to remind me of all of the things I'm not doing right. They have surfaced just now, telling me I am not good enough, not worthy, not smart enough, not a good sister, not a good mother, not a good person. They even reminded me that I have tiny boobs and that I am not the pretty one.

I think the only way to send them away is to be willing to be not good enough, not worthy, not smart, not a good sister, not a good mother and not a good person. I am willing to accept my tiny boobs, and not to be the pretty one. If I can embrace this...than perhaps I can face them, because then the monsters will be all bark and no bite. They will not be able to make me tremble. My strength may come from the humility this brings.

Embracing our imperfections, now there's a thought. Never was really good at that.

Last night, I had a long conversation with a good friend about my move here. What I realize now is that it gave me an opportunity to find the lost Melissa. No one here "expects" me to be anything other than what I am. I like this. Unfortunately, it will pass. Soon, I will have painted for them a picture of who I am. And when I fall short, and don't "look like" the painting...they will be disappointed. They will say, "who are you?" The cycle will repeat itself.

So, I ask myself, what can I do to prevent this? Should I paint an imperfect picture...where the colors clash and the balance is off? I guess that the key might be to find out who I am, then look in the mirror, and paint from the image I see there. Will the real Melissa please stand up...tiny boobs and all.

I seek...make the journey back to the day I was born, when the world didn't know who I was, and I was just being me. I cried when it felt right, ate when it felt right, got up, went to sleep and laughed when it felt right. So then...feeling the feelings and acting appropriately may be the answer. This I have to relearn - this authenticity. I have to learn that when the monsters call to scare me, I can hang up the phone, because it feels right...I can fight back, throw stones and run into the cave for protection. I can scream in my biggest, scariest voice..."You won't eat me." And when they see me for who I am, they will scratch their heads and just go away. Or maybe we can find a way to live in harmony.

Friday, July 28, 2006


This morning I am watching the birds. At last, their bird feeder seems to be their own. Up to this point, the squirrels have been invading the property, scattering their seed on the ground. They didn't seem to mind it all that much. They just picked it up off the ground and ate it...they don't know the 5-second rule. My SO, on the other hand, really minded it. The squirrels became public enemy #1.

It began the first night we hung it on a really leafy branch. By morning, the squirrels had all but destroyed it. The cedar gazebo had been knocked to the ground - the cord chewed through - and the seed strewn. Tiny squirrel teeth marks scarred the wood. The bird feeder lay in pieces. The house could be salvaged, but a little remodeling was in order. One trip to the hardware store and Steve thought he had it handled. He put the feeder back together and hung it from a thick piece of steel wire. Then he filled it with seed. And he watched.

The next morning, while the feeder remained in tact, the squirrels and birds were again, feeding off of the ground. The squirrels it seemed, had found a way to dump it. The mound of seeds under the feeder grew day by day. Woodland creatures came to feast. Forrest, the baby cottontail and his mother among them. Steve filled the seed everyday - it was starting to be out of control.

Sneak attacks were also being made on the windchimes that we had placed in the trees. There was one casualty, as the squirrels chewed on their strings. All ended up on the ground, dead soldiers. We were able to resuscitate two of them, but they remain in sick bay, while we come up with a new location.

The BB gun was next and my SO was on a mission. He wouldn't kill them, he said. Just teach them a lessons. Well, the squirrels are slow learners. He popped them in the head, on the butt, but they came back for more. It was as if they had little squirrel armor keeping them safe. As if every morning they donned their little helmets and went to feed. "Hey, watch for the sniper at 6 o'clock."

Needless to say, this tactic was unsuccessful, so he decided to move birdseed central to a new location. And so last night, after a trip to the hardware store, he feeder was secured. It now sits on top of the cement post that once held a clothes line. It is suspended from a piece of metal that extends about 2 feet from the post. And from my position here by the window, the squirrels haven't figured out just how to get up there. Gathered at the bottom, they scheme and plan their next attack. Every once in awhile, one of them darts over to the remnants of the pile of seeds that remain on the ground where the feeder used to be for a light snack. And the birds, well they seem to enjoy the view and the seed from this new location.

And so I watch...and enjoy the show. Has the war possibly been won? Or is it just detente?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

return flight

Thinking about Houston and my reluctance to visit. One week from tomorrow I will be on a plane headed back. I know it is something that needs to be done, will tie up loose ends, and will leave me feeling as if there has been forward motion. Still, I am reluctant. When I left it behind, watching it fade into the distance in the rearview mirror, I was thrilled to be moving on - starting a new life in a new place. I could glance as the city passed by, knowing that I could shake the dust from my boots and walk a new walk.

As I plan this trip, I realize that I must look Houston and all it means right in the face. Deal with unresolved issues and confront the fears I have about myself and my own weaknesses. This doesn't sound like fun. I wish I were going to visit friends, see my kids and laugh a lot. But this is business. How will I stand up to it? Will I find the strong voice that I know is inside of me?

I have been practicing. I have been speaking my truth. For the last year I have been *VERY BRAVE*. But it's as if Houston brings out the weakness, and reminds me of all that I did not do, did not say. When I look at all the stuff, I realize that I am really the angriest at me, for living a life that was not okay. For not standing up for myself. And I look at this trip as an opportunity to undo all of that - well, maybe not undo, but to make it better. To do what I couldn't in the past, and to stick up for myself.

Ann has agreed to stand with me. Her presence will, I hope, give me courage.

I was thinking about what Roger said last weekend, that I had the balls of an elephant. I'm sure he was talking about my move to South Dakota, and being able to be fearless about the future. He would be surprised to see this other side of me. The side that has no balls at all. The side that quivers at the thought of confronting this past of mine. I'm thinking that it would be a good thing to write his words down on a sheet of paper to take with me to the "meeting." So that I will smile and see myself as a courageous - but gentle - giantess. This picture will help. Maybe I should draw her. She will be beautiful and strong, and her mouth will be open. (She is never afraid to speak.) And perhaps she should wear a tiara.

I wonder how many times I will return to Houston, and if my visits will always inspire these fears, or if instead, one day I can look this city straight in the face and forget. Will I be able to return with excitement of seeing friends and family? To remember the joys that I experienced there? My hope is that one day I will feel Houston's heat and humidity as I disembark from an airplane, and feel bittersweet about my journey there, my extended stay, and the life I made for myself there.

I will make my reservation today...and will do it with the intention of creating a good visit - a productive visit. But I will be glad to get on the plane and come home at the end to the new life I've made here in the SLRH on 14th St.

Friday, July 21, 2006

the proposal

Got a proposal from my soon-to-be-ex husband yesterday... funny how you begin and end a marriage with the same thing. Like the first one, it made my heart beat faster and left me relatively speechless, but for very different reasons. The first time I was excited, thrilled even. This time I was angry, disgusted and shocked that he might believe that after 17 years of marriage I would walk away with less than I deserve. So I took last night to think about it and what I know is that there are many reasons that I got an apartment, took the dog, the daybed, and moved out. And perhaps the biggest reason of all was his selfishness. So this latest proposal should have come as no surprise. It's not the money really. The numbers don't matter as much as the principal of the thing. I did, after all, relinquish my very lifestyle to take care of him and his children, to financially support his whims, wise or foolish (the motorcycle for instance), and to live my entire life as "servant."

Okay, everyday wasn't a bad day. And some days were even joyful. But through it all I learned to keep the waters still to avoid angry outbursts and drinking binges. What he took from me was much more than my paychecks, but instead, my own sense of self. And he believes that offering me a smaller portion of what we owned together will make up for that. He's sadly mistaken. Nothing he can offer would be enough. It's taken me more than a year to find the person I was, who faded into the oak woodwork of the house on Castle Hill. And now that she's back, she won't sell herself short. Not this time. Fool me once with promises of love and I'm the sucker. I won't accept the second proposal...but only an agreement made on my terms. And this will surprise him, because he doesn't remember the person he met, who buried herself under motherhood and housekeeping. She was strong, assertive and smart...and she knew how to take care of herself. Always did, always will.

He would be shocked to know that I think he's selfish I think. Because he doesn't see it. He lives in fear and lack and can be nothing other than selfish. I, on the other hand, do my best to accept the abundance of the universe and know that there will always be more than enough.

My answer is no. I will not be her again. I will not let your proposal make me feel small or weak in the knees. I will not cower, or hide, or fade into the woodwork to keep the waters still. I feel a storm brewing. There will be thunder, lightning and strong winds. And no matter the aftermath, I will have won, stood strong, found myself again, and this is priceless.

Friday, July 14, 2006

gone fishin'

Seems like a write about coffee a lot. Seems like I drink coffee a lot. I suppose it's because a hot cup of coffee is an integral part of every morning of my life. This morning was no exception. But it was different.

I was still in bed, trying to motivate myself to get up, when I heard the voice of my SO from the kitchen calling my name. He said, "There's a problem with the coffee." How could there be a problem with the coffee? I make coffee every night and set the brew cycle so that I will be greeted with the rich aroma and a fresh pot when I wake up. So I rolled out of bed and made my way toward the kitchen. There was a problem with the coffee. Instead of a full decanter, it was half full, and the remainder was on the white floor and dripping down the side of the cabinet. I was clueless. I grabbed a towel and started to clean it up, but paused to pour a cup, took a drink, and finished cleaning up the mess. The phone rang. It was the sister of my SO. She was upset because she wanted to go to the lake with us this weekend, but her husband wouldn't "let" her.

Wow...this day was going to be different. The coffee and quiet I usually enjoy before the day begins was no where, and I was in the middle of it all. Not a morning person, I have a hard time relating to anyone before 7. I had no words to calm Belinda, nor did I have the desire to clean up a kitchen mess. Then I remembered the events of the night before. Business stuff gone wrong. Chaos is in the air today, and there is nothing I can do about it but cut and run.

I did clean up the mess and make another pot of coffee. Now I wait for the phone to ring signaling more chaos as I drink my coffee.

Can I design my day sans chaos? Create a day that is peaceful when the world around me is running amok at dawn? I'd like to believe the answer is yes. And so I will refrain from talking on the phone, shower, pack a small bag and disappear to the backyard where the bluebonnets are blooming until my SO arrives to whisk me off to a place where my phone doesn't get a signal and Bo makes me coffee every morning. Sometimes I think that our weekend trips to the lake come too often - but on days like today, I'm glad we have this place to get away, to fish and sit around the campfire, to make s'mores and sleep in.

If you have drama to report, or chaos on order, don't look for me here....after I finish my coffee, I'm "gone fishin'".

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

good morning world

This morning I was thinking about Bailey, and how he used to wake me every morning before 6, and how I didn't like it much, but got used to it. Since he's been gone, it's unusual for me to be at the computer before the sun actually rises. But today I am. And so I'm here, thinking about when this used to be a regular thing. I am strangely conscious of the changes in my life. Seems like my whole life I heard the phrase, "all that is constant is change." Somehow, these days, there seems to be no truer thing.

A consultation with the "other side" affirmed what I've known for awhile...that the teaching has run its course, and that I won't be doing that anymore. And so I am left with the question, "what next?" And I'm sure I don't know the answer. I keep waiting for a sign to point me off in some direction. Don't see it yet. Lynnette says I should write Steve's story. It feels like the right thing to do, and yet somehow I know he wouldn't want it on paper. He holds it close. How could I convince him that it needs to be told. The cast of characters would be colorful, and they are oh-so-real. The story is painful and harsh - the plot hard to conceive for most people, including me. Life is indeed stranger than fiction. There is no least not yet, and this will write itself as time passes. Will he live "happily ever after?"

The sun is rising on my SLRH and my SLB. The flowers we planted out back are growing tall and beautiful. Best of all, the bluebonnets have indeed shown their rich color. I can see them from the window and they make me smile. They have answered the question I posed when planting them with a resounding "yes" - a transplant from Texas can indeed thrive in South Dakota. Geraniums, bachelor buttons, zinnias, and some other pretty little blooming things form quite a border in front of the stone that marks the property line. And when I sit out back watching the birds that frequent the feeder, I know they agree...this is a good place to be.

The property management company is going to paint the outside of the SLRH, or cover the wood with vinyl siding. Perhaps I will have to rename this place. With a nice yard and a nice house it may become my LLRH (Lovely little rent house). It will be restored to the beauty it once was. Change happens, and with it we change, or become ourselves again.

Monday, July 10, 2006

fearlessness and other things

The beach was beautiful, as it always is. And it was great to see my family, as it always is. But this year was different. I guess it's because I'm different. I think it changed the dynamic of our interactions.

I think the biggest change in me has to do with fearlessness. Okay, if I'm honest, I do have fears. But sitting here they elude me. But these fears small in comparison to those I used to have. I used to be afraid to be myself. Those who know me might find it difficult to believe, because no one knew. I never admitted it out loud. I just kept the monsters at bay. Mostly, I was afraid to speak. I was afraid to say what was on my mind. I was afraid to push any boundary that might make someone uncomfortable.

I talked to my friend Kathy, and she said she never saw this in me. And I have to admit there were a few people who gave me the space to be myself. There was a sense that no matter what I said or did, they would accept me. And with these people I was authentic. Mostly, these people were non-threatening personally. I had nothing to lose by being myself. But when it came to my family, my kids, my marriage...I was careful, always waiting to be "found out." I was afraid they might find out that I was not the best daughter...the best wife...the best mother. They would discover that for all my wisdom, I didn't have all the answers. In fact, it was easy to give advice to others. After careful research, I could tell them what herb to take for what ailment, how to fix their love life, how to craft a story, how to talk to their kids, and how to build a balanced layout. But when it came to my own stuff, I was very careful. It was hard to make decisions because they might be wrong. And so I did nothing. And after awhile, I found myself a spectator in life. I found that I would dream about adventure, about love, about life, and I would write about it. But the reality was...I was not living my life.

And then, one day I stopped sleepwalking and decided that I wanted to participate in life. To be an adventurer on the road. And I realized I don't have to please was impossible. And so then it became important to please me.

Some people say I'm crazy for moving to Sioux Falls. But I know it was the sanest thing I've done in years. It's sane because it's what I wanted. I followed my own truth. I became a participant. Taking a risk, I found that there were no scraped knees and no bruises. It wasn't scary at all. It was right.

Last night I sat on a rocky river bank and thought about the fact that I spent years not swimming in lakes or rivers because I couldn't see the bottom. The unknown scared the hell out of me. My soul longed to plunge in. My friends were already in the water...finding rocks big enough to stand on. And I wavered. And then I thought about the fact that I had watched fearless people all of my life - participants, and I wanted to be one of them. So I took a deep breath and walked in, slowly at first. The water was warm and clean and beautiful. I was surrounded with walls of rock that rose from the water and towered above me. Soon I was swimming where I couldn't touch bottom, and I felt alive...really alive.

Living is good.

Friday, June 23, 2006

friday again

Only this one is different in some ways because I am officially on vacation. Tomorrow morning we leave for Myrtle Beach...and as luck would have it, I'm mostly packed, which means a little last minute shopping is in order. At least that's the plan.

I intend to do some real exploring of downtown Sioux Falls. Though I've visited a couple of the boutiques down there, I have yet to do serious shopping. And it's a little scary. It's the kind of town that could get a girl in serious shopping trouble. As far as I can tell, there are two main streets lined with tiny shops that carry art, jewelry, cute know the type. And they're quite a bit different than "the Mall" (which I've only visited once - I'm not the "mall" type). I'm sure I'll find a place to stop and have a cup of coffee, as there are tables and chairs along the sidewalks. I may get distracted by the sculptures that stand at all the corners.

My only regret is that one of my sisters or a friend isn't here to shop with me. Ann and I for instance...we shop great together. She always knows what I should buy, and I always know what she should buy. We're great at pushing each other over the edge when either of us is indecisive. And that's what a shopping buddy should do. But only if it's the right thing at the right price, or at least one we can live with. I do miss my favorite little shop in Kingwood - the one with the paintings of the elegant monkeys - the one where I bought the dragonfly bracelet when I needed it most. I will have to visit when I'm back in Houston.

I may even put on makeup today, and wear good shoes. Since I was on deadline all week, I haven't been too worried about my appearance. Haven't done much with my hair and my nails need some work.

And tomorrow afternoon, I will be on the beach or at least close enough to catch the scent of the sea. And I will be surrounded by many of the people that I love. I will laugh with Emma, and talk to her about her new kitty Martin (with the emphasis on the last syllable). And I will hug my dad and mother. I will have a whole week to play with my sisters. And I will relax.

Steve says he's a little nervous, which explains why he's leaving on Tuesday. I guess I don't blame's better to get to know my family in small portions, I think. But I am not nervous at all for him to get to know them. He is kind, gentle and has a loving spirit. It will be a perfect week, and I will revel in it. And I hope he will love them, as I do. And that he will laugh and be himself and be comfortable after awhile. And I hope that when next summer comes, he will say, "when are we going to the beach?"

It will be awhile before I'm here again, in front of this screen. And I will make memories in the meantime. With sand between my toes I will be revitalizing my spirit, renewing my creative energy, and refreshing my soul.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

waking up wrong

Yesterday was one of those days when you wake up and the world is just wrong. On days like yesterday the bed doesn't get made and nothing in the refrigerator satisfies. There was lots to do on my calendar and my desk was cluttered and disorganized. I felt like doing nothing but reading under a blanket on the sofa. My S.O. would be working late into the evening, so I had the entire day to be a slug. I felt as if any moment, tears could fall, and couldn't figure out why.

My blues were punctuated by the fact that I had to pick up Bailey's ashes at the vet. I put it off all day long, thinking that later was better. And I thought a lot about what I would do with him when I got him home. I was sure he would stay with me for awhile, on top of my dresser or on the entertainment center, but sooner or later (probably later) I think I should release him into nature. I'm thinking that Texas was his home, and perhaps it would be best to take him there, but then the other side of my brain says that anywhere with me was his home, and he should stay with me. And so the dilemma remains.

When I finally picked him up, it was the collar that triggered the meltdown, but it passed as I drove through Sioux Falls with the sunroof open and a call from Lynnette, who soothed my soul and let me talk about it

I also had a surprise visitor in the afternoon. I think she came to remind me that my "blues", though valid, were a drop in the bucket compared to her life. She is a friend of Steve's, and she was having a meltdown of her own and felt as if our house was a safe place to be. And so she came and unburdened herself a bit. What I've learned is not to give answers, but to ask the right questions, as my answers aren't always the best answer for everyone. So I listened, and asked, hoping that she could come up with her own answers. In her case, all the answers have serious ramifications, but I tried to remind her that to everything there is a reason and a purpose. Not sure she bought it. And I asked myself what her visit meant for me. This I'm still contemplating.

Today will be better, I tell myself, despite the fact that the weather looks dire and a gray mist falls outside. One bite at a time, I tell myself, that's how you eat the elephant. And so I will organize the office, pay bills, work on the magazine, do some writing, pack a bag, eat something, and let today be better. And it will all make sense. Bailey is here, only is spirit to cuddle with me, and make me feel better. But Buddy is quite willing to step in and comfort me when the blues show up.

Steve will be fishing much of the weekend, and I will do something else. Perhaps I will go to the lake and hang out with his mother, or perhaps I will stay here. I haven't decided. I'm almost afraid to stay here, as gray can turn to black quite unexpectedly when you're alone.

And Saturday, the sun will shine...or so says the Weather Channel. A good book and a lawn chair by the lake may help.

Looking back on yesterday, and taking into account the fact that I had to revisit Bailey's passing, I cannot figure out why I was blue. I wonder why some days just feel wrong. Do we need these days to help us experience days that are right? Is it the soul asking for a bit of rest? Is it the human spirit longing for attention? Or is it a call to find some good in the chaos? Most likely it's hormones, and it will pass.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


The last week has had me revisiting my past in my head, and frankly...I don't want to go there - not physically, mentally, or emotionally. I much prefer my present. My new life is much more fun.

I had to compile loads of copies of bank statements, etc. for the divorce attorney. It was no fun and made me resentful. If I think of the whole process as a business transaction, I have an easier time of it. But when I begin to take it personally, I get mad. The bottom line is this: I did my time and deserve to be released free and clear, with a little spending money and new outlook. And so when I dropped the overnight package in the mail yesterday, the weight was more step toward closing the gate behind me.

I can't believe that it's been 15 months since I left the house on Castle Hill and embarked on this new journey. At the time, I had no clue where I would end up...and I certainly didn't think it would be South Dakota. And now I am here in the SLRH loving life again.

I try to think of the happy memories of the past, like the day we got Bailey, and the day we drove to Brenham to pick up Bo. Christmas was always very special, and birthday dinners out. I remember the vacation to Big Bend fondly, and traveling to Spain and Singapore. We all loved watching movies and eating homemade pizza on Friday nights. I suppose there were times that were worth remembering, but more than anything, I remember the huge sense that the weight of the relationship was too heavy for me to bear. I remember the yelling and the way I waited everyday for the other shoe to drop - for something to set Ray's temper flaring. And I remember the tears. Alone in my office, or in bed at night, I would feel them slip down my cheek, knowing that I couldn't do it forever, but afraid somehow to change things.

Don't know where the courage came from, but one day it came...strong and sure. And I knew it was the best right thing to do. And I was right. Things in my life seem in order now, though my surroundings, the SLRH and the life I've made is much more chaotic. Ironic I suppose.

I spent yesterday afternoon trying to organize some of the chaos, but found myself daydreaming instead, and shopping for windchimes and imported baskets. And this made me happy. Once I realized that I should release control to the Universe, things began to fall into place. And I trust that my life will continue in this way as long as I trust and believe that life is bliss.

I am relieved today, knowing that I can put the past in a big box, wrap it up and shove it in the closet with pictures from vacations and mementos. It will be there for me, should I want to revisit it, but for now, I'll make new memories.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Okay, so I've been distracted for three months. The only writing I've done is what is necessary and this blog. And I can say the same for the meditating and chakra work. I haven't been reading, or studying, or trying to improve my mental health or physical fitness. I have not eaten right nor have I exercised. And I haven't quit smoking.

And do you blame me? Put a 44 year old woman in new town, with a new life, and a new (and unbelievably adorable and energetic) man, and her life changes. Surprise? no. In the words of Cyndi Lauper..."girls just want to have fun."

Are my priorities out of alignment? Perhaps. Or maybe, for the first time in years, they're exactly as they should be.

I've spent years trying to be perfect...and frankly, I'm damn tired of it. I can no longer keep up the pace. Instead, I think I'll be me - in all my imperfect glory. I will not do the dishes immediately after eating. I will not drink eight glasses of water a day. I will not have dinner on the table every night at six. I will not balance my check book to the penny. I will not answer the phone every time it rings and I will be more diligent about saying "no, because I don't feel like it."

For example...yesterday, I woke up and after my first cup of coffee, which I enjoyed in good company, I went out into my yard and cut peonies for the house. I sat at the table outside, drank a second cup of coffee, and enjoyed the morning. I did not make a list of things to do. I did not write in my journal, and I did not let my mind race. I watched the birds come and go. Usually impatient, I was surprisingly able to do mostly nothing for at least an hour. I brought the flowers in the house, found a vase, and made a huge bouquet, which fills the living room with the light fragrance of the outdoors. I decided to wash my face, brush my teeth, and put on some clothes - comfortable, mind you. I checked the computer for important e-mail (there was nothing pressing), so I played computer games for awhile.

Okay, I admit, I was feeling like a slug. So I made a list, a few phone calls, and actually had a somewhat productive day despite the slow start.

In the end, I did manage a shower late in the evening, listened to Wayne Dyer on PBS talk about inspiration, and even managed to squeeze in a short meditation. So I guess, all in all, I didn't do so badly. And so I'm left believing that life is to be enjoyed = everyday. With this in mind, I will go pour myself another cup of coffee, smell the peonies, and sit on the front porch for awhile, watching the world go by - enjoying the little distractions that make up my new life.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

sunday morning

Alone this morning, enjoying a cup of coffee with Buddy, the pup. And I'm okay.

Recent events have left me realizing just how quickly life can change. In the last 3 months my entire life has changed direction in many ways. I find myself not only in a different place, but in a completely different space. Where there was pain, there is joy. Where there was loneliness, there is companionship. Where there was void, there is fullness. And time passes quickly. One day becomes another, and soon a week has passed.

I have become a part of a new family. At first this was pretty weird to me. It had been years since cousins and uncles and aunts had truly been a part of my life. In Houston, there was Ray and the kids, and Ann in Austin. But other than that, I was without relatives. My friends stepped up, as I did for many of them, and we relied on each other as a family might. Here in South Dakota, I have found a new family. They have embraced not only my relationship with Steve, but me, as just me. I realize now, that this connectedness was missing from my life for years. And it feels good. They cook out together, help each other move, celebrate reunions and birthdays and anniversaries together. They call to see if I'm okay, bring flowers when your pet passes, and call to invite you swimming. They stop by.

Other things have changed, too. I seldom read a book, or page through magazines. I don't eat Chinese food very often, nor do I sit at Starbucks with my laptop. I started cooking again, a little. And buy more groceries. I have more laundry and a yard. I have a bird feeder and two rose bushes and live with cats.

The rhythm of my life has changed. I get up a little later, and go to bed a little earlier. I enjoy the outside more, visit beautiful places, and ride in the country, where there is peace. The traffic is light - always, and people I don't know wave at me from the driver's seat when they pass me on the road.

I've met interesting people like Arlene and Virgil, who have changed the lives of others, and left their mark on the world forever.

And in a strange way, I fit here. It's as if all my life I've been waiting to find this place, this space, and this time. And there is no searching, only contentedness and comfort. Bailey taught me, that to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose...thank you dear friend, though our time has passed, a new season has been offered to me. And I will jump in with both feet, and enjoy the grass between my toes.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Each day when I wake up, I look down by the side of my bed and realize that my Bailey is no longer here. This seems unreal to me, as he has been by my side for so long. He was the one to greet me and say good morning, many days before the sun rose. Because of Bailey, I will never be the person I was before he came into my life. For this I am thankful. He taught me lessons so many days. Taught me to keep going when things seem unbearable. Taught me that a little attention goes a long way. Taught me that sometimes, barking is good. He taught me the value of naps, of running around the yard a bit, and that the sun is worth enjoying.

Yesterday he taught me a new lesson - that life goes on, despite grief and despite pain. He also taught me that it's okay to let go of some things when the time is right.

I got a call from my friend, Lynnette. Through her ability to see the other side, she was able to connect with my dear friend, who was running through a meadow and chasing butterflies. (I'm sure he was so excited to be able to run again - it had been so long.) But she told me that a piece of my soul had gone with him. This should come as no surprise to those who have seen Bailey and me together. We were deeply connected energetically. Thing is...I need this piece of my soul. She recommended a meditation and that I release Bailey, and call back the piece of me that went with him. So I walked to the park, knowing that she was right. Not long after I sat under a tree in the grass and closed my eyes, trying to find Bailey, I felt his sweet head resting on my lap. He looked up at me with his soulful eyes, again, helping me to find comfort. This time it was easy for him, as his pain was gone. I told him it was okay to go, and that I was going to stay behind. I could see that he would be fine now. He didn't need me dragging on his neck into his next adventure. He was strong, the fur around his eyes not longer gray, but miraculously glossy black, as it was years ago. And at my urging, and with a final hug and caress or two, he got up and ran across the grass, slowly at first, as if a bit reluctant to leave me. But then I told him it was okay. I'm fine now, and happy. So he trotted off. At the top of the hill, he looked back at me, tail wagging, a big smile on his beautiful face. And then he was gone.

Though I said goodbye on Tuesday, yesterday I was able to release his gentle spirit back into the universe. There is peace in that. Perhaps now we can both move forward, leave the past behind, keeping only the happy memories only we shared.

Kindred spirits? Yes. I will see you again old friend, and we will laugh and play when I get to the other side. I am thankful for all the gifts you gave and the lessons you taught, and I will remember you always. I will feel you in the wind, and remember your warmth as I stand with my face to the sun.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

saying goodbye

How do you say goodbye to an old friend? The tears continue to fall as I think about the hole in my life where my dog used to be. There are no words to express my sadness. It's something that only someone who has lost their closest companion can know. Bailey came into my life when he was 10 weeks old. All paws, gangly and awkward. I knew he was supposed to be mine when I met him. The spot around his eye caught mine, and we both knew he belonged with me.

Over the last twelve years he has been by my side. When times were good, we ran in the yard together. He chased squirrels, caught a rabbit for Megan, and woke me every morning with a wet nose. His favorite place was next to me. When I worked, he would lie under my desk, keeping my feet warm when they were cold. He loved to hop in the back seat of the bug for a ride, and even shared my Starbucks latte when I wasn't looking. He was a great listener, allowing me to read stories I'd written out loud, whether they were good or bad.

When times were bad, he was my comfort, my happy place, my confidante and my best friend. Through my struggles and challenges, he was next to me, letting me know that as long as we were together, everything would be okay.

I'm sure that it was hard for him when we moved to South Dakota. He didn't much like the snow in March, but he allowed me to put boots on his feet so we could walk together to the park. And it took awhile for him to get used to the new rent house, but he did okay after a few weeks, as long as his bed was next to mine.

Over the last month or so, he started to have a tougher time of things. And I knew he was ready to move on. He knew that I was safe and happy. And that he didn't have to protect me anymore. His job was done. And so he waited for me to get home on Monday night from a couple of days out of town. And when I got home, he let me know he was ready, and that I would be okay now.

I lay with him for an hour or so, curled up behind him, and reassured him that he was right. I was okay now. He could go. And my heart was breaking and it didn't feel okay, but I knew he was so tired, and that our time together had been a priceless but temporary gift. I thanked him for the joy and the protection and the comfort, and he thanked me back with a tail wag. He looked in my eyes with the look only he had, and laid his head against me as if to say, it will be okay.

When the time came, I felt him let go of his life peacefully. With his head on my lap, like so many other days, I petted his head, his face, his nose, and ran my hand against his tummy.

I will miss you old friend. No one will ever take your place. And I know that somewhere in the universe you are running again, your legs strong, and a smile on your face. I will reach for you in the quiet times, and your spirit will join me - as it always has. There is no separating your soul from mine. You will be with me always.