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Posts from the ‘Friends’ Category

Cone

“The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” – Henry Miller

Abby is six months now and getting sweeter by the day. She went to the vet today to get spay. A bit tired and worn, she came out with the cone so she wouldn’t open up the wound. It takes a while to get used to it. A few stumbles and underestimating the width of the cone, she hit a few walls. And then she figured it out.

The cone makes you look up and be aware of your surroundings to maneuver. No way to have your head down like we do staring at our phone to respond immediately to the next work email emergency or ridiculous request that’s needed “ASAP.”

Nope, when you have the cone on, you keep your head up, rapt with attention and mighty aware of all that is in right now, here in front of us.

Next invention! Cones for humans.

“I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown

There’s More

For some reason I didn’t bring my phone when I took Abby for a walk this morning. We went down to the playground a few blocks from our house on the way back. As we walked quietly, three deer came out from the woods 20 feet away. Abby sat and watched as the leader leapt with ease and grace and the other two followed with joy and delight.

I believe in signs and signals.  My thoughts immediately went to seeing Dad, Molly and Lily coming down from heaven for a brief moment to let me know there’s more. There’s more to this life and there’s more, so much more after we leave. Sure puts things in perspective.

I’ve been struggling with a few things lately. Probably making them bigger than they should be or avoiding them for a long time and they are showing themselves telling me to deal with them now. For so many years, Dad was my sounding board to talk through things, kindred spirits who could say anything to each other. I’ve been missing that every day.

Seeing the three deer this morning reminded me that he remains with me and whatever decisions that I make will be based on years of our conversations and how he shaped so much of who I am today.

In lieu of not capturing a photo on my phone of the three amigos in the woods this morning, I am posting one of my favorite photos of Dad. One that shows a youthful joy, free from the weight of this life and the weight we put on ourselves in this life.

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There’s more. Delight in it. Every single day.

Friendship, No Kinship

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” –  Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I was going to title this post friendship to talk about the bonds of friendship that we form through life, if we are wise and lucky enough. But some friends become family, they know what we are thinking and feeling, often times before we know. They understand that it’s more than enough to be present  through all that life sends our way, no words needed.

So after three very long and intense weeks at work, I looked forward to meeting Chris and Lynn for a beer at my favorite place (Urban Growler) today. They had “something” for me. A painting that they had commissioned an artist to paint of Molly and Lily from a picture on this blog. I lost both Molly and Lily a few months after my Dad in 2016. A gift beyond words, from friendship to kinship.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” – Thomas Aquinas

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” – Thomas Aquinas

My Dad, Molly and Lily were my best friends. This painting, this gift, honors those special relationships that go well beyond words, well beyond death. If you are blessed enough to have friends who are kin, who are generous like Chris and Lynn, be grateful.

The Next Chapter

“The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.” – Jimi Hendrix

The story of our life, each chapter, unfolds as it should. This year, the chapters that I’ve written and that have been written for me, I do not understand right now. But each chapter builds on the next as the plot thickens and the characters that enter our story gently hold our hand and lead us deeper into our story.

For many years, I’ve shared the stories, antics and adventures of Molly my Samoyed and Lily my Golden Retriever. My parents made it in here quite a bit as well. They have been the main characters for so long that where they end and I begin is hard to separate. We define each other. Those closest to us make us our best self as they patiently hold us through our not-so-best self.

Losing Dad in April, Molly in June and Lily in October has left me wandering a bit, trying to get back to my center. As I have bided time, as we all must, I’ve have accepted my “new” normal and continue on. And while it often seems like forever, we do heal, we do become whole again in a different way.

And now the next chapter.  Abby, a sweet golden retriever who will be joining my family on December 16th. As we mark our days of loss, we must also mark our days of joy and anticipation. And joy is so much sweeter when we’ve been on the other side.

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

Abby follows a long line of best friends who have come before to shape me with their canine wisdom and unconditional love, making me a better human. Greta, Misha, Elly, Molly, Lily – my characters that have come before remain in my story even today. No one or nothing that ever comes before is ever truly gone. The best of them remain in us. Abby joins a line of wonderful characters and she will be her own unique character, bringing all new adventures and creating the next chapter.

Our life is not one word, one line, one page, one chapter. It is woven together to make up a composition. Keep writing your story and allow others to write on the pages as well. The final chapter will come all too soon, so enjoy today’s page and cast light.

For

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – e. e. cummings

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – e. e. cummings

For…

Brilliant blue skies that draw our eyes up to You
Rolling waves that draw our eyes down to You right here with us
Family who create the beautiful, imperfect fabric of our life, even when we take them for granted
Friends who show up to celebrate and remain in the hard times
Strangers who cross our path for reasons we do not know, showing us that we are all connected
Dogs who are both family and friend, modeling unconditional love when we forget
Children’s innocence and joy reminding of us where we started and where to return to
First snow sparkling in the sun and the fresh fragrance of spring, displaying the rhythm of the seasons
Challenges that make us grow, let go and dive deeper than we thought possible only to rise again different, with a steely tenderness
Music to dance and sing uninhibited
Laughter that let’s our spirit come out and play
Discernment to make better choices
Quiet to calm the soul
Faith to know that it will be o.k. and we are not alone
Peace within so we can create peace in the world
Grace that carries us and never fails even when we do
Poetry that shows us the strength of words
Kindness that shows us the strength of actions
Love, the only reason we are here

For all of this and abundance abound
For this and so much more…

Thank You

Simple Acts

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” – Henry Van Dyke

Last week, I was running back from the gym and it started to rain. I was a block away from home and a neighbor stopped to see if I was alright and offered a ride. In the middle of routine, a simple act of kindness breaks through and pierces the wall of attention.

We “attend” to so many things and over-commit that our attention is scattered in dozens of directions. Distracted by tasks, we miss so many opportunities to notice, extend or accept simple acts of kindness. To be present in the gift of now.

It is so very easy to be jaded by the world-view – the bias and cynicism of the news, the incivility of politics, the sheer speed that technology demands of our time. Our perspective on everything can get skewed by our assumptions, judgments and swift conclusions and then onto the next for more of the same. We live our days in a series of quick transactions rather than fostering meaningful relationships that require time, attention and effort.

A simple kind act received or given can shift your perspective, lift your spirit, change the direction of your day. This, by far, has not been my “favorite” year and I look forward to the year winding down. Yet woven throughout this year, these many difficult days, have been so many moments of kindness from others, joy found in simple exchanges and the gratitude of what has been lost and in all that remains.

So as we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving this week and as the holiday season moves into full swing, pause for a moment or two each day and reflect on all that you have to be grateful for right now. And then take the next step to express and share your thankfulness with others. This year, I do truly understand, vividly and deeply, how difficult the holidays will be with those who’ve gone on ahead. But they will be honored and remembered through simple acts of love that have been received and more importantly by simple acts yet to come.

Notice today and cast light.

Mark This Day

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

I need to mark this day. A day of loss and one of deep gratitude as well – often what life is made of – a mix of both.  So many of the good lessons I’ve learned over the years have come from Lily. My funny, goofy best friend who always knew how to brighten a room with her levity and capacity for sheer delight.

After over a month struggling with an auto-immune disease, I needed to make a choice for her today, not me. Even after two blood transfusions, multiple tests and over eight medications, she wasn’t bouncing to her natural state of joy. As soon as she generated blood red cells, they were destroyed. After her second transfusion on Sunday, her red blood count dropped to half where it should be at a minimum. She wasn’t who she was and she was suffering.

It’s never easy to make the decision to say goodbye to a loyal and loving friend, but when you see the relief in her eyes as the pain releases from her body, you know it’s the right decision. She was only six years old and was still heartbroken over losing Molly in June and Dad in April. We were making our way, marking our days together, mending each other’s heart.

lilyanddadlilyandmom

Mark your days – each and every one – the good ones and the oh so difficult ones. And know underneath someone else’s distant or distracted nature, something very difficult may be going on in their life and most likely is. It happens to all of us to be sure. Be kind and compassionate especially if you don’t feel like it. And remember that we don’t have forever, so start enjoying your life today.

Lily showed me unconditional love, how to lighten up and how to greet others – with wide open eyes, boundless energy and an unending smile. And, if necessary, gently holding your arm in her mouth.

Safe travels to heaven Lily and give Molly and Dad a big hug from me. You’ll be sure to make your mark there like you did on my life here. Thank you love.

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Toast

“Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.” – Garrison Keillor

One of my favorite memories of the Minnesota State Fair is my parents coming out on Sunday after the 5k Milk Run, listening to music and having a beer or two with my friends. Yesterday was the first one without Dad, so we toasted the good memories and the good life we have even when it’s difficult.

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” – Calvin Coolidge

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” – Calvin Coolidge

True friends show up in the difficult times as well as for the toasts to honor people who remain with us even when they are gone.

Toast your life today and those who are in it right now. It is a good life. We need only open our eyes and see the light.

Don’t, Don’t Miss This Day

“If every moment is sacred, and If you are amazed and in awe most of the time when you find yourself breathing and not crazy, then you are in a state of constant thankfulness, worship and humility.” – Bernice Johnson Reagon

In our frantic pursuit of who knows what, don’t miss this day. The one thing that this year has revealed in my search for understanding is that what is most important and remembered forever are the moments that we spend in simple conversation and connection, in laughter and in tears.

Be present and awake each day. And when you drift to the past or race to the future, grab yourself by the collar and pull yourself back to now. Our ordinary days offer a profoundness that we often only discover after they are gone. Capture the profound in the midst of unfolding.

Make your words more meaningful, embrace a bit longer, awaken to the sacredness of each day. Don’t ever dismiss or miss this day and the joy it offers. Ever.

Permission to Play

“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.” – Marianne Williams

In the past months, I’ve been asked a lot “how are you doing?” While I appreciate the concern, I feel obligated to say “good,” to avoid talking about how I am really feeling, to not share the impact and depth of loss since who really wants to hear it. I often don’t want to hear it, say it or feel it myself.

But to be straight up and honest – Lily and me miss the members of our pack and best friends – Molly and Dad. It’s been a month for Molly and three months for Dad. Each day that passes eases the sharp and deep blow, yet a steady melancholy remains. Loneliness is hard to explain. Yet we all carry loss. How we carry or acknowledge or don’t acknowledge it varies.

“I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay.” – Iyanla Vanzant

“I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay.” – Iyanla Vanzant

Tonight I arranged a “play” date with Lily and her cousins Chloe and Grace. The past few times we’ve been together, Lily has been tentative and stayed in the house as a spectator rather than a participant. Tonight, it took a bit, but Lily let go and gave herself permission to play, to let loose. It was fun to see her chase the girls and to allow her smile to light up, if but for a short time.

No matter what we carry, we can lay it down for a moment and be carried by light and frivolity. It plants a seed of hope that this too shall pass with healing that time gives. And letting our burdens go to delight in the moment doesn’t erase or diminish loss. It reveals the sacredness and redemption of joy.

No matter what you may be going through, or what may come, give yourself permission to play like a kid or puppy. Forgetting where we are exposes that shadows are momentary and that momentous light remains steady and strong. Search for, delight in and cast light each day.

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