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Fourteen.

Today I am the mom of a fourteen year old.

She was born on time. Almost. It’s only time she has ever been on time. She was also the most amazingly easy baby. She was. I’m not just saying that because she’s mine. She set her own bed time, woke up twice to eat and really didn’t get upset by much.

Besides Grover. That puppet always appeared at meal time and always messed with her.

We taught her baby sign language. She caught on and was so happy to communicate. She signed things like milk, fish, more, please and thank you. We figure she learned easily over 100 signs. Or more. She went from signing to speaking sentences by age 2. And she really hasn’t stopped chattering.

My Bell, as I call her, is also a big Disney fan. When she turned three, we packed up and made the trek and she was hooked. She wore her Cinderella dress only in Disneyland and never when we went to California Adventure. Her love affair with Disney has only continued. Right now she is complaining about Netflix taking off Hercules.

I think that’s where she also got her love to draw. Because she has been drawing since she could hold a crayon and I had never watched a child at such a young age just sit and draw. Or want too.

So she today sits with and carries drawing pads after drawing pads. Big and small. Colored pencils, pens, and markers also go with her. It’s what she does when she’s bored or when she finds something interesting that she would like to create in her world.

In her next move to continue down the artist path; she went from having long thick hair down the middle of her back to short pixie hair. I figure it’s only hair, so do with it what you want. For a girl who never wants attention directly placed on her ; short hair makes her stand out. Especially at an age where every girl has long hair.

So today we celebrate the stubborn but polite girl I love with my whole heart.

She is smart, creative, caring, funny, and beautiful. I could go on about her. She is my favorite subject. I will just end it with 14 things about her.

And tonight we will eat chocolate.

14. She has brown eyes and some of her closest friends she has had since she was 4.

13. She wears glasses. Refuses to try contacts. “Poking” her eye makes her anxiety ramp up.

12. She loves cats.

11. Her favorite snack is ice cream.

10. She loves super buttery popcorn.

9. She is a Tim Burton fan.

8. We recently dyed her hair blue. I was traumatized by it all…blue was every where.

7. She wants a Bearded Dragon and to name it Newt.

6. Chocolate Milk is her drink of choice.

5. She was born at 8 lbs 15 oz.

4. She has a goofy, sarcastic sense of humor.

3. She loves practical jokes.

2. She loves rock music.

1. She’s equal parts California hippie and a Montana wild flower.

Happy Birthday Bug. Thank you for being you. Tonight we eat cake.

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Vibes.

My ex mother in law and I never really got along. I always said if she was who she was when she was being social, she would be a hell of a person. That wasn’t the case. She often came off bitter and unkind to me and made doing any sort of gathering uncomfortable at best. I was later told how much she loved me and she regretted any unkind treatment I may have received by her. To be clear, I hold no ill will towards her. I was going through some shit with her son and she was also in the middle of her own life issues, and believe it or not, I think that’s where she started to understand me more and I her.

When someone is unhappy though, whew, they try to drag everyone along with them. They can’t help but spread their little black cloud.

Get along while we can
Always give love the upper hand
Paint a wall, learn to dance
Call your mom, buy a boat
Drink a beer, sing a song
Make a friend, can’t we all get along

I am not saying I have always been a peach, but I have tried to be the juiciest. My moods become dark and I try my hardest not to lash out at every one in my path, I don’t always succeed. I am a November born baby so my moods and emotions roll off of me in waves. I get quiet. I get sulky. I also get pissed. I am the emotional one. That statement alone use to make me pout. Stomp my foot. Now. Now I understand. I am wonderfully made. I know when I need a nap or food. I now when I need a time out. And the best thing about me? You will never have to guess how I feel. I am still learning to use my words, but generally you will know.

Then there are some people who have been through so much in life and smile so bright you have to wear shades around them. They make life better just by knowing them.

One such example is someone I will forever be one my favorite people and a person who turned out to be more of a big sister in my life. We had the chance through her dad getting sick with cancer to get to know each other. By that I mean, we lived in a one bedroom shack that I was living in at the time. We had no choice but to move in their dad and take care of him. He wasn’t doing so well on his own. Pain has a way of clouding judgement.

He was sick with cancer and could no longer be trusted to self medicate the pain away. This was a stressful situation at best. After watching my mom go through it with her mom, I know this was not going to be an easy task for any one of us. Gratefully, there were five maybe six of us watching out for him at any given time. Did I mention my shack was maybe 1000 square feet? Did I mention we had two HUGE dogs. And a cat. So if you are keeping track at home: 2 dogs, 1 cat, 5 people.  Now not every one stayed there all at once all the time, but it was a good rotation. His daughter came to stay because she can’t help herself in her need to take care of everyone. So there we were. Two people thrown together in a tragedy and a love story. Because the love in that house for those few months was big. It was in the air and you could almost reach out and touch it. Lots of late nights. Lots of denying he was eventually going to pass from this Earthly plane. She and I hid in the garage from people, we fed my homeless people that we knew by name, and we drank wine.

That whole entire time I can’t recall us ever getting in a disagreement or fighting. And that can explain my fierce sisterhood with her. She is good down to her toes. She smothers you with love and will try to think of anything you might want or need before it even pops into your head. She does is it all with a smile and good spirit even after going through some life events that would stop you in your tracks.

I want you to stop and think about your life for a minute. We obsess with ourselves so this should be easy.  How are you carrying what life has thrown at you? Because we all have our shit. Every. One. Of. Us.  So are you carrying around and throwing your excuse of  “I can’t” because of something that happened to you in your past? Because you decided? You decided not to better yourself. You decided to not grow or be a light because you’d rather sit in the dark and cast blame?

Come on. That’s lame! That’s not living a life! That’s sitting in shit because it’s comfortable and easy. Who the hell wants to put in work to be a better person? ME! Geezus. All you HAVE to do is wake up every single day with a grateful heart. That’s it. Just be grateful.  To me it’s ridiculous to be pissed off all day long at some perceived grievance in your head, either talk about it and work it out or STFU about it. No. Just STFU. Every one is tired of hearing about it.

Everyone is certainly tired of walking around egg shells wondering what small thing will make you not talk to them this week.

Get over it. All of it. Get on with living your best life. Not the life you think someone owes you.

I’m gettin’ them good vibes
I’m livin’ this good life
I’m breathin’ on God’s time
And I ain’t gonna waste one breath
I’m soakin’ it all up
I got me a full cup
And there ain’t nothin’ gonna spill it
Nothin’ gonna kill it
Wavin’ them worries goodbye
I’m feelin’ them good vibes
I ain’t tryna hear the negative
I’m just tryna change the narrative
It’s simply imperative
That we all have a damn good time

 

 

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Fall.

Do you smell it in the air? Pumpkin spice everything, leggings, tall boots and sweatshirts. It’s my favorite time of the year.  It’s the time of the year where we ship calves and get ready for next year. Horses start to grow in their Winter coats, and Nuisance goes from Grey to Black over night.

*Blueberry and Nuisance*

Mostly I love this time of year because two of my favorite people were born. Me and my kid.  True story.

I love the change in the weather from that hot breeze to that slight chill, but the sun still feels so good on your skin.  I also think it doesn’t stay long enough. I think Winter gets in such a hurry, it  doesn’t leave space for Fall.

How many times in my life am I in a hurry? A lot. I am always rushing onto the next thing before really enjoying the present. I drink my latte too fast, I grab for the doughnut I see first instead of looking at them all, and I tend to skip pages in a book to see what happens next. The need to know gets to me.

The rush of oncoming winter of my life always pushes me forward. I didn’t grasp what I needed or wanted out of life. I had a far away dream that I would simply write and drink coffee from fancy cups in an amazing location. Life unfolded and instead of having goals and direction; I had put on goggles and headed for the diamond slope before the last leaf on the tree had a chance to fall.

Learning to live on the East Coast ( eating delicious burgers at little pubs, smoking too many cigarettes, meeting so many friends and missing the last train out of the city), to moving to the West Coast ( no more black, no cigarettes, no trains, and lots trips to the ocean) ; all taught me that Summer has so much expectation that Fall doesn’t.

Fall is the middle sister. The one everyone forgets about but remembers fondly. She reminds us to slow down a bit and that every thing doesn’t need to be rushed; but savored.

So even if Winter is being a bit pushy remember that Fall still begs to be noticed. Tall boots and flannels, apple cider, pumpkin spice, and nights spent wrapped in blankets telling stories around a fire are here to remind us that change is a good thing.

 

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Woman.

Don’t buy me a drink, I make my money
Don’t touch my weave, don’t call me “honey”
‘Cause I run my shit, baby

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a girl or a woman or female. I am one, so it’s never far from my brain.

I think about it when I wake up and I fight my sports bra onto my body (which should count as a work out by the way!),to looking at myself in the mirror and realizing one day I look like I ate all the things; to the next day thinking I can pull off a magazine cover. My body is never the same day to day or week to week.

I would like to thank hormones. We are blessed with them. Aunt Flo comes for a visit and our bodies are thrown into hormone blender. We really don’t know what we want. We know we like chocolate and we are fat. That’s it.

Tell me one more time you gotta get you some of that
Sure I’ll slide on over, but you’re gonna get slapped. 

Are we nuts? We might be. On any given day we are prone to break downs. We may cry when we are pissed, frustrated, or happy.

The constant comparison to each other or the women we were ten years ago is never far from our thoughts. When we find that tribe where we feel safe; we are still prone to jealousy and mistrust. Or are we?

We still hold just a little back from even our bestest friends for fear of being judged. That some how she is the better person with the better life. The best thing is finding the women in your life you can trust with the mess. The women who gets it and realize we are all just trying to make it in this world. Even then, there are going to be disagreements and moments of not talking.

I don’t know you well but I know that look
And I can judge the cover ’cause I wrote the book
On losing sleep and gaining weight
On pain and shame and crazy trains

I am so lucky I have found some honest, fun, truth-telling women in my life. My friendships have grown and shifted over the years. I am fortunate they call me out, pick me up and love me when I’m not being very lovable.

And that’s the fiercest thing about being a woman. Our capacity to love is so big. We want to save all the animals, adopt all the children and create small villages.

If you piss us off; we will burn it all to the ground while chewing gum and twirling our hair.

Teenage me had so much rage and no where to put it. I had no idea what to do with all the emotions. Grown ass me still isn’t sure; I have just learned some things. The first thing I learned is not everyone or everything deserves a reaction. The second thing I learned is okay to have a reaction.

We are taught from a young age to be nice.

You need to be nice to her.”

No, I don’t need to be nice. Not when she’s being a raging bitch to me. Not all of us are going to be friends. And that’s okay.

I like being a girl. I like painting my nails. I also love my snap backs and my boots. I like pink fuzzy slippers and the sound of Boss 302. I also love the Hallmark channel, and I will watch Kill Bill over and over.

It’s complicated, messy and beautiful. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

So raise your glass….

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Unknown

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Habit.

Every single morning the first thing I do when I get up is I pee….with an audience of pets….and then I brush my teeth.  That little tiny habit is important because it sets me up for the rest of my day.

Once I brush my teeth there is no going back to bed for five more minutes. I am up for the rest of the day.

I never really thought about that before. I never really thought about how that one little tiny step in my day is what sets me up for success.

The rest of my morning goes by in blur. It’s such a set routine that if it varies: I am cranky. Brush teeth, let dogs out, feed dogs, let dogs back in, make coffee, make tea, mix my pre-work out and then thirty minutes of me time. And then…the rush of getting everyone in the house going and getting ready for the day.  I often feel like once I brush my teeth , I am on the hamster wheel and there is no getting off.

My habits have changed over the years. I love the snooze button but the annoying sound of the it going off every seven minutes get me moving out of bed. That and my dog needs to do her routine. She is actually the true motivator.

If I leave one step out; the whole day feels like something is missing. I may be boarder line obsessed and the fear of not getting it right gets in the way. I have to give myself permission to miss a step and tell myself that it isn’t the end of the world.

Even though it feels like it.

Habits.

Oddly enough, I don’t have any habits I consider “bad.” I don’t chew on my nails. I don’t pick my nose and I don’t shut off a light switch one hundred times before I can leave a room.  I do pick up my phone. A lot.  Nine times in an hour. I simply pick up my phone. That may be one I need to work on.

There are probably other habits. The ones that I need to work on, however they are getting smaller and  smaller as I accept myself.

I don’t put myself down as much. I remember that I am only human. That has taken a habit of self talk, many podcasts, God, and lots of personal development. I also surround myself with people who lift me up. I  listen to how I speak to my daughter. I fill her up with all the good things about herself because I believe in her that much, so shouldn’t I take the same advice?

Just for today I am going to sip my coffee, while it’s still hot, and think about all the good habits in my life. I like to look for the bright side in everything and everyone, and I don’t think that’s a bad habit.  Maybe today you do the same.

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Slump.

My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.            Hank Aaron

The baseball game played on in the background and I flipped through a magazine. This is my normal routine when watching baseball. I love it. I could listen to a game on the radio or on TV anytime and anywhere. There is something about the slight inflection of the broadcaster’s voice that let’s you know just when to look up. It’s the end of the season for the Boys of Summer and this is what everyone looks forward too. Playoffs.

The end of slumps.

The crack of the bat causes me to glance up. Everyone moves around the bases. This is what I love. The movement and the darting of the eyes. Everyone up on their toes waiting for the next pitch.

You don’t? I can’t understand. No really. I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t like to watch baseball or find it boring. It all changes in an instance.  A no hitter to a slump. Hitting every ball thrown to a slump. And then when that moment comes and that one player comes through….we go wild. The hit. The catch. The throw! It all makes sitting through YEARS of not winning a game to that maybe we have a chance worth while!

Meanwhile, I am in a slump. I have been for awhile. I think. I feel unmotivated by everything and anything. I am still in my routine. I work on my passion. I move my body for 30 minutes a day because my mind and my body deserve it. Sigh.

I am in a slump. I am waiting for that next pitch to jolt me into action.  I flip through the magazine. It’s telling me how I can do this full body move for 30 minutes 3 days a week to get the toned legs I so deserve. I browse it. I consider it. And I turn the page.

The baseball game carries on in the background.

I realize these guys also have their slumps. Their moments when it’s the end of summer for them and all they want is to keep playing. They don’t let the mundane of the routine get to them. They can’t get lazy. If they get lazy in their game, they miss a pitch or the guy looking to steal.
The repetition of their daily routine helps them get through the days when they feel like they are in a slump.

Every day isn’t the same. It’s a new chance for me to work on my swing.  I can’t simply let the slump take over. I have to think back on what gets me out of my slumps.

Routine.

So I put down the magazine and I pick up my planner. I start writing in my most mundane days until it becomes a routine. It comes back to basics. I work on myself: I read my personal development and I fill my brain up with the knowledge it needs to pull me through any future slumps. I set my alarm to  move my body every single day.

My routine is now set. I feel like that’s half the battle, but I know I am more of a motion than action when it comes to life; so I know only action will help me set it into a habit.

I turn off the baseball game and pull on my headphones. I find my station and the game starts again in my ears.  I  put on my shoes and I step up to the figurative plate.

I begin where I am. I begin with a plan and I let my heart lead me. I trust myself to know that a slump is just a place to re-evaluate and re-think my routine.

Every new beginning makes my brain pause and look for easiest way out. It doesn’t want to do anything that it has to, so I begin small. I begin working from the inside out until all the steps become a habit. I can’t do one without that other. The sleep I need, the alarm that goes off at the same time, the meal planning, the goal setting, and my need for fierce friendships that help build me up to keep me going.

Even in a slump.

I re-adjust my headphones and decide. I keep swinging.

 

In the past, my success has come with sticking to one plan. That usually works. Obviously it’s going to falter, and I’m going to go into slumps here and there, but stick with the plan, and hopefully it will come out successful more times than not. Freddie Freeman

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Bubbles.

The bubble bath felt like I was cheating on all my responsibilities. It was warm, inviting, and with just a push of a button I could have my very own Jacuzzi  experience.  That was too loud and not at all relaxing, so I turn it off and sink a little further into my bath.

Insistent meowing at the door followed by a light scratch of a paw trying to get in brought me out of my day dream.

“Go away. No. Stop it.” I said at least three times before getting my bubble covered body out of the water and drip all over the floor to open the door.

I am not sure why I bother to close it. I sink back in the tub. My furry family members gather and find their seats. I sigh.

There is no such thing as alone time for me. Does it sound like a pity party? It is. I am forever being torn in four different directions while being told I do have alone time.
Fall means school and activities. I love it. I enjoy being social. I don’t like to sit in my head and be alone all the time. We were made to be social and supportive. Not to sit on the end of a sofa and stare into our phones; checking all the social media and left feeling more isolated.

I push the button and the whirling starts once again. My cat looks down in fascination with the bubbles.

“Hey mom.”  she calls from the end of the hall, ” I want to…. ” And she begins to tell me about her big birthday plans. That is two months away.

“How’s your bath?” he stand at the door way before coming in and pushing the button. “we need to get you one of those bath pillows.” He’s being helpful.

I love my little puzzle pieced together family. I really do. But they need to leave me the hell alone for fifteen minutes. I am pretty sure it can all wait. The big ideas and plans. I push the button  and sink. Letting the rush of water fill my ears and not hear anything. Not feel the guilt pull me back to the surface.

The door closes and I feel bad. I feel bad for wanting silence of a bath. I feel bad for not wanting to listen or engage in  their ponderings right at this very minute.

It can all wait. They can all wait. All of it. The cleaning I know I should be doing, the folding of laundry I know I need to do, the text messages I feel I need to respond too and the things I know that still need finished. Boxes need unpacked. Bills that need to be paid.

I sigh and hit the drain on the bath watching the water immediately beginning it’s descent. I watch it wistfully. I don’t know when I’ll be back. I am trying to schedule it in for longer than fifteen minutes every other week. I take a deep breath, dry myself and open the door.

My muscles are a little more relaxed and my mind a little less cluttered. The animals greet me. All wanting attention. And most likely food.

“Mom can I have ice cream?”

“Hey Tess? when you come down can you bring some gelato?”

I open the freezer and smile.

“yep. Be right there.”

Alone time.

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Courage.

Craig was glaring at me over the island counter that separated us.

I covered my mouth and giggle snorted.

“You’re an asshole.” He said

I tipped my head back and laughed.

“You’re not wrong.” It was all I could get out. I continued to laugh. I couldn’t help it.

We had just come back from a date night. Live music and a good time should have lead us to a nice evening.

But not us. Nope. We hadn’t seen each other in two weeks, which when we lived in separate states was nothing. This separation had caused a lot of stress. Outside factors we tried to control wreaked havoc on our system and now here we found ourselves.

12:30 in the morning knee deep in conversation. About us.

He has a need to be closer and I have a need to bolt. It’s a very interesting dynamic that often has us at what seems to be at odds, but really we are after the same goal.

Courage.

We had just eaten tacos and his OCD began to kick into overdrive as we spoke.

I had been watching him. He always cleans up after me. His compulsion to be neat and mine to be a mess are forever at odds.

This night is no exception.

Courage.

He had been asking me why I always seem to be closed off and I had been saying he’s too intense.

I watched him gather my wrappers and toss them in the bag. His stress response kicking into over drive and I just wanted to go to bed.

He asked questions while he began sweeping imaginary crumbs with a napkin across the counter and into his hand.

He repeated the sweeping motion as we worked through the issue. Me responding as I watched him grab a napkin and wipe the counter.

He looked around for more to do. Mumbling to himself a bit before spying a Pepto bottle and unscrewing the cap and took a pull.

Which leads me to my break down in laughter.

I mean I couldn’t help it and that’s what makes me the asshole.

I wasn’t making fun of him. As he thought, but rather at the situation as a whole.

We are two people who have been single a rather long period of our adult lives. I now understood why second marriages get the bad rap they do. The complete and utter mind bend you have to do to be brave enough to work out all your shit is a trip. You either learn and grow or you decide to sit alone on your throne of bullshit you keep telling yourself as to why it didn’t work.

The best thing about us is we tend to realize we might in fact be full of shit and we get out of our own way to figure it out, but that might come with a trip into the ditch every once in awhile.

So after a night of music, late night talk over fast food wrappers, and being way too stubborn for our own good; we come back to why we click in the first place.

Courage.

We are brave in our lives separately and together we are stronger.

We just are learning to navigate when not to be the asshole.

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Perfect.

It is a beautiful sunshine filled day in the Big Sky state. At least at my end of the state it is. It’s one of those days where the bright August sun decided to not be so…well the sun. Not that I am complaining, I am soaking up every single minute of the heat and sun.

It’s perfect.

It’s also one of those rare August evening where the bugs aren’t threatening to carry me off and I am not dosed in bug spray; so I decide I can sit outside on our patio set. All those things that are waiting to be done inside the house can wait.

I sit myself down and begin to organize the four books, one journal, my phone and kindle on the small table. Oh yeah and my drink. So after all of the trouble of getting it perfect, I spend time listening to everything around me. I realize the hum of the engines going down the interstate is a lot louder and birds chatter a lot noisier while getting ready to go to bed for the night.

It’s perfect.

My dog sighing loudly beside me bring me out of my daydream and I realize I am brought all these things out here with me so I could get more done.  So that after a long day of working and peopling, I could work on something for me. I shouldn’t call it work. I should call it my passion.

I flip open my journal. It’s not your typical Dear Me journal. It’s a goal setting I AM journal. I set my gratitude and my goals as if they have already happen. I set my intention. I am reminding myself that it isn’t about perfection it’s about progress.

It’s funny how life sets us up to think that everyone and everything has to be perfect right out of the gate. We tend to forget we need the failure factor to push us forward. Otherwise, why practice? We practice so that when we fail, we know how to get up and take another run at it.

Getting my dog to fetch was easy. She was a natural fetcher. It was in her to go after the object being hurled through the air. Her ears would perk up and she would fly after it…before she knew where it was going. She was jumping the gun, as they say. It took a lot of her turning around to look at me to understand she had to wait. She had to see with her eyes and use her nose to see where it went. She still isn’t perfect, but she knows to sit and wait beside me most of the time.

If I expected her to be perfect from the beginning, it would have ruined the whole fetching thing for her. She would have hated that game because I wouldn’t have allowed us both to fail and to learn.

The breeze is barely moving the leaves on the trees now. Days like this are getting shorter. I didn’t do everything I wanted to do this summer, but I did enough. I have to let go of my idea of perfection and enjoy the little moments.

Like sitting in our backyard, watching the birds fly over head and my dogs barking at nothing.

It’s perfect.

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Lost.

I lost my first set of keys to my pick up. I had walked into the house with my hands full of groceries and  set everything down. I didn’t hang my keys up or throw them into my purse. So when I went to look for them the next day, they were gone. I searched my purse. I dumped the contents onto the table, I looked in pockets, I searched my pick up, and finally a bag of garbage. They were gone.

A simple set of pick up keys lost.

My grandma passed away from cancer a decade or more ago. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I stop to think about her. It seems like she was just here one day and gone the next. For my mom and her siblings, I am sure that’s not the case.  My grandma was a bright, straight forward, sarcastic source of light that loved fiercely and you knew it. Every once in a great while, I search her out because I need sage advice. Then I remember I can’t crawl into the top of camper and go with her any more.

Lost.

My ex had a Chocolate Labrador named Grizzly when we met. Grizzly was the smartest dog .  He was well behaved and could learn a new trick in minutes. Army crawl, sit, stay, wait, the list would go on….and he would help carry in groceries. His list and his personality were both impressive. I had also gotten a black and white kitten who we called Oreo. Grizzly and Oreo became inseparable. They slept, ate and played together.  I only panicked once when Grizz came into the living room packing Oreo in his mouth. We told him to drop it and out came a spit soaked fur ball who only seemed annoyed at being on the ground. From then on we just let them do what they wanted together.

The problem with having a dog with that much smarts is they need to be stimulated most of the time or they get themselves into trouble. Grizz figured out how to open the side gate one day and disappeared. We searched for him but he was lost. I still think about him and hope he was well loved and I hope he chewed the corners out of  their books.

Lost.

I have lost a lot of things along this road of life. I once lost all of my worldly possessions in a move. Nothing will make you miss what you can’t remember you had and nothing will set you more free.  Except people. There is something about the loss of a person that makes you stop short some days and hold your breath. You say their name and it’s like they never left.

I found my keys in a box while packing for a move; and my grandma leaves me pennies to find when I need her most.