Monday, July 12, 2010

The Lonelies

I have come to realize that strong emotions like to come and take over. Loneliness is one that has been moving in recently. I just reread my post on Grief and realized that they are related.

My grief is abating somewhat, but what is trying to move in and take the space is loneliness. I am a single woman that lives alone, with the exception of a wonderful dog, Beau. Beau is great, but he has been dealing with losing his playmate too.

When I had both dogs, there was a built in distraction. The Marshmallows (my nickname for them) would play together, chase each other for a toy, fight for space on my lap and sleep with me.

With Ruby gone, Beau does not have that friend and I am missing the distraction. An easy fix would be to go get another rescue, but that is not an option right now. So I am left with my feelings.

The problem with being alone is that there is too much time left to your own thoughts. Sometimes this is good for self-reflection, other times it just leaves me wandering aimlessly in a bad neighborhood. Old thoughts, mistakes, past and current, regrets and just plain self-pity arrive at my doorstep and demand their time at the podium.

When I am distracted, it is easier for me to brush them aside and know that they had their time in my life and it is time for new experiences and even mistakes.

So now I am hit with The Lonelies. I thought that was over, that I had put it behind me and I accepted that I am alone and learned to live with it. Evidently I have a new layer of the onion that is getting peeled away.

I don't know where this is going, I just know it is where I am at.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


It occurred to me this week that I need to write about my journey with grief. Losing Ruby, my beloved dog, in January was devastating and I was to begin a journey I had not signed to take.

Years ago, I read somewhere (probably on Dear Abby) that when you greet someone who has lost someone not to say "I know how you feel" because you don't. You have not had their experiences nor was this your loss, so you may have some empathy, but you will never know how someone else feels.

I remembered that and have learned to say things like "you are in my thoughts and prayers" or "if there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know." Then I lost Ruby and got to experience how others try to make you feel better.

I was held in loving arms, allowed to cry and tell my stories about Ruby to my dearest friends. It helped tremendously. Then came the others. I know people were trying to make me feel better, but it was not working. I was barraged with stories about how losing their dog was so awful that I was lucky. I was asked questions about what they should do with their aging dog who was suffering with countless maladies. And my favorite, I know how your feel. Really, No You Don't!

Finally, a very kind woman stepped in and helped me to sort through it all. The pain was overwhelming and the grief was so heavy I did not want to leave my home. What this woman told me still rings true and saved me. She told me that Grief is a really big emotion and carries itself around in a really big bucket. Into that bucket can fall all the pain, sorrow, unhappiness or any other negative emotion. Once they are all in the bucket, they join together and become one and it becomes almost impossible to deal with it.

She told me that it was okay to be sad for losing Ruby and when that happens just to pay attention and not let any other sadness rush in to take a spot in line. What happened was that when I got sad about Ruby, as long as I was aware, I grieved and then moved on.

When I was not paying attention, I would become overwhelmed with all the problems, real or imagined and become paralyzed.

What a wonderful gift. I have been using it for anything that comes up now. What emotion am I feeling and what is it attached to? Makes for a more healthy approach and a much happier me!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lesson, lessons, lessons

Lately, I have been looking outside to get ,y approval, my self-esteem and my kudos. I have been told over the years that I need to learn to love myself. What does that mean? How does that look?

I have also been told that I need to let others help take care of me. That ain't going to happen! I learned a long time ago that you can't depend on others, so I will do it myself, thank you very much.

You may begin to see where the title is appropriate. I got hit with a cosmic 2X4 recently and I am just now getting back. In my world, the Universe will tap me on the shoulder and whisper into my ear that I need to pay attention to what is going on and learn the lesson.

If I do not listen, then I get a cosmic slap up side the head and hear "pay attention!"

If I still continue on my merry way and do not make any changes, then out comes the baseball bat.

Well, I still did not hear it and thus I got hit harder than I have ever been hit with reality. Thus, the cosmic 2X4 and suddenly I became teachable! Wonder of wonders!

I had to ask people for help, and I had to accept it with grace and dignity. I had to walk outside my fears of rejection and disappointment and let my friends hold me up when I was no longer able.

So much came out of this lesson, that I am still processing it. However, I can say in all honesty, that I have no problem asking for help anymore! And, when I am open, people will always amaze me with their kindness and generosity.

I don't know why I am surprised, I am kind and generous, why would I have friends who are not the same? Like I said, lessons, lessons, lessons. More about my journey to loving myself later.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Caring for Others

I find myself in a time where I have a lot of time on my hands and I am takng care of others. Then I am told that I need to take care of myself first. While I understand the concept, I get a little overwhelmed.

I really have been struggling financially the last few months, just like many other Americans. I used to do things for myself, like get a massage, get my nails and feet done. Go to a professional hairdresser regularly. Little things that made me feel good about myself. I would indulge in some new pretties, or clothes or a handbag.

Right now, those are not options and I am wondering what to do for myself that will help me.

I have a friend who has been very ill and I am one of the people who stepped up to help her, and I did so gladly. What I found has been multi-faceted. I have found I am better at setting boundaries with people that are kind and still protect my time and space. I have always been a nurturer, and once (or twice) went to be a nurse. I realized this week why I never finished. The first reason is a horrible gag reflex! The other, and more important, is that I can get lost in the person who needs help and have a hard time stepping back. I am sure it is a learned response, but I like who I am and how I work with people. I feel I would have lost it if I had pursued that career.

I also found that many of the walls I have built up over the years are crumbling. I cry a lot to let go of some of the tension. I spend time with people I like and love and I call the people I love and tell them.

Probably the biggest change is all the people who stepped up to ask me if I needed help. I am really not used to that. I am the one who takes care of everything. While I was not able to ask for a meal to be delivered, or a shoulder to cry on, the fact that it was there for me was really wonderful.

I am learning and maybe next time I will be able to say yes - I do need help, and thank you for asking.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I have not been writing much lately. Why, well I thought 2009 was miserable, but 2010 is kicking my butt. I have a friend who is convinced that I am getting all the misery out of the way early to reap benefits the rest of the year. From her lips to the Goddess' ears!

The holidays for me, were what everyone experiences, fun, stressful, over-extended, etc. I went the the best New Years Eve party I have ever attended and had a blast. If I had known what the next few weeks would be about, I would have stayed in bed that night with the covers over my head.

For those that do not know the story of my beloved Ruby, she is the love and light that came to me seemingly out of nowhere. Two and a half years ago, I was between jobs and had Logan, a male Border Collie/Corgi mix living with me. I loved Logan, but that boy needed a man and a that order.

I got a call from a very dear woman asking me to foster a little Poodle that had been pulled from a shelter. She was ver sick and would need surgery. The surgery's would be paid for by this woman, all I had to do was take care of Ruby.

Sure, why not? I had the time and I am good at taking care of souls. So I picked up this little dog that had been shaved to the skin as she was too matted to comb out. She weighed about 9 lbs and she was riddled with tumors all over her belly. She had kennel cough and could not have surgery until she was better. They needed to spay her, remove the tumors and clean her teeth.

Once she quit coughing, off to the vet she went for her surgery. Only to find that she does not tolerate anesthesia and they were only able to spay her. She was crashing and they had to bring her back. So we nursed her back to health, Logan and I. Logan had taken to pinning her down and grooming her 2-3 times a day. I carried her in a baby bag when we went to the dog park as she could not walk around there. Logan needed the exercise, so it was the only choice.

Luckily, all my friends were great support. Then came the surgery to remove the tumors and clean the teeth. You guessed it, she started to crash and the tumors were the only thing done. At that point, I had fallen madly in love with this little creature who would just curl up on my chest and sleep like a baby. I decided no more surgeries and I was keeping her.

Think it was better now, no. She developed a cyst from the second surgery and I almost lost her to the infection. I had gone to Yuma, AZ for Thanksgiving with my family and brought her along. I had to rush her to my mother's vet. She was put on a very serious antibiotic for three weeks. Now the fun really began.

My family thought I was out of my mind. I was carrying this bandaged dog in a baby bag and feeding her special food that I had made in an attempt to get her better. I promised her she would never again suffer once she got well. The fun part was trying to get her to take the pills! That little tiny dog could eat around any pill and then spit it out! I got really good at crushing and hiding meds after that time.

Logan found a new home and then Beau came to live with us. He is a Maltese that had lived with my parents, but when he came to stay with us, Ruby and I fell in love and just kept him! Ruby would groom him every night and every morning. She would hold his head down with her paw and clean his eyes. He would chase her around the house with her favorite toys and they played together all the time. I called them The Marshmallows.

One Saturday morning in January of this year, Beau woke me up early and I decided to run some errands since we were up. Ruby stumbled a couple of times on the walk, but she had cataracts, so I figured she didn't see well. I took the Marshmallows with me in the car and when we returned home, Ruby was unable to jump from her seat into the drivers seat for me to take her out.

The alarms went off! Six months to get her well when I got her. Two years later - that is not enough time. I wanted years and years with her. When we went it to the house, she walked in circles and had a hard time holding her head up. I had to wait for the vet to open, but called and we ran right over.

My baby, Ruby, had a stroke. They don't call it that for dogs, but that is what it is. My heart was breaking. What was I going to do?

I remembered all the times I let her run off leash and she would run ahead and then stop to make sure I was still there. I remembered waking up every morning with her curled into my hip. I remembered watching her play with Beau. I remembered all the times she would curl up on my chest and I would wrap my sweater around her like a burrito and she would sleep. I remembered how I laughed at her snoring!

I remembered her squatting like a toad at my desk and making some bizarre noise to get my attention. Once she had it, she would look at me then look at the couch. Then look at me, then the couch until I picked her up and put her on the couch and she would jump up on the cushion and lord over the manor.

Then I remembered I promised she would never suffer. The decision was simple. The vet said she would never get better and the meds he could give me would only make her sick. So, I called a friend and she came to be with me and the two of us sent Ruby to the Rainbow Bridge.

I have never experienced such grief. I miss that little girl every day.

However, I had never experienced such joy or peace until I got her. So, I guess that is what true love is about. The good with the bad or the highs with the lows.

All I know is that I kept my part of the bargain and took great care of her and did not ever let her suffer. And she gave me a gift that I will have for the rest of my life. Love. It does not get any better than that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Volunteerism is a big topic recently. Funny, I have been volunteering since I was a child. It is as natural to me as breathing. I was taught by my parents and my community to give back.

I went to Trader Joe's recently and outside sat the most beautiful man with a coffee can and a bag full of paper Poppies. He had on a hat that said he was with the VFW. I didn't need the hat to know that, I helped to sell Poppies when I was a little girl. It was an honor to be a part of that, and I was good! No wonder I ended up in sales, I had no fear walking up to everyone and with my big blue eyes, look right at them and get them to buy.

I grew up in a small town in Iowa and my parents were very active in the community. If something needed to be done, they did not wait for someone else to do it, they did it. I remember many snowy days that Dad would drive a tractor from his business to our neighborhood and plow out all the drives.

My Mom is a nurse and worked for a local physician. If someone was not able to get their meds, she would call me and I would go deliver it. One day, after running some errands, I had stopped back at the office and there was an elderly lady standing on the sidewalk. I was 16-17 at the time, and did everything at a dead run. This lady stopped me and told me she needed a ride home, so I ran over and began ushering her into the car. She looked at me and said "Wait, it takes me a minute to get started!" She taught me to slow down a little so I didn't miss the obvious.

I am a part of my community, no matter where that is. When I lived in North San Diego County, one of my neighbors was this adorable older couple. They had been married for most of their lives and he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease. They had relatives that lived close, but it was important to me to make sure she knew I was available. So, I would take her to the grocery store when I went. She would get a few things and then sit at the front watching everyone while I shopped. At first I thought I should hurry, but she assured me that people watching was one of her favorite things to do.

I had a small white dog named Noel that her husband just loved. One day I was driving in and they were in the parking lot and she looked stricken. I stopped to ask her if she needed help and she did. They tried to walk across the street to the store and he stopped and could not get started again. So, I bundled him into the car, settled her in and put Noel on his lap. We drove across the street, I took him to the yogurt shop and sat him out front with a cone and Noel - I gave the kid running the shop a few bucks and told him to keep an eye on the old man and the dog (I may have threatened harm if anything happened to either one, but that is beside the point.) I took her shopping. This couple taught me about true love.

Later, I became a volunteer at the San Diego Foster Care Facility. I worked Intake and the Baby Cottage. At Intake, I developed a plan for kids coming in to help calm them and give them some options. I let them pick a movie and put out snacks. Some kids had not eaten in days and the babies often needed to be changed and cleaned up a little. They were completely cared for once they got to their cottages, but Intake can take up to two hours. These kids taught me compassion.

When I worked in the Baby Cottage, they quickly figured out that I can get babies to sleep (it's a gift!) So, when I walked in, they always gave me the worst baby there. Often that was a crack baby, I did not know it at the time, but they can't sleep for long periods. I was trying to get as many babies to sleep as possible, yes - I am that competitive! What I learned is, that the biggest gift I could give that cottage was to take the crack baby and keep him/her asleep for two hours. I just sat in a rocker for two hours and patted that baby's bottom to get them to sleep. It taught me patience at a whole new level.

Now I am starting a new organization - and it is teaching me all new lessons. I believe strongly in volunteering and do it as much as I can. I do it formally and informally. I save my water bottles in my car and give them to the homeless guys that live in my alley. I carry water in my trunk in case they need some.

I believe that compassion will be the saving grace for all of us. When I am giving, I am not thinking about me. I am not worrying about the bills, my job, people, places or things. I am in the moment and being of service.

Am I special? Heck no! There are a lot of people who do much more and affect more people that I do. Do I care about that? Heck no! I care about the people that have affected my life. They have left an indelible mark on my soul and I carry them with me wherever I go.

Take the time to figure out how you can volunteer. There is always time, no matter how busy you are. It is a gift you give yourself that is unequaled.

Oh - by the way, I stopped and bought a Poppy and am wearing it proudly on my handbag.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rock and a Hard Spot

I am in a spot lately. I have this wonderful plan, great people in place to move it forward and it feels like we have hit a wall. Not a big wall, but a wall. Ever feel like you are at a starting gate and just waiting for that pistol to blow. That is how it feels right now.

We need to be a non-profit so that people can get a tax write-off when then donate. To get that status, you need to incorporate (or LLC) and there are filing costs with all of it. The problem, I am unable to fund the costs. We need an angel and I am having a hard time asking.

My first thought is that I don't want to bother anyone as we are all experiencing hard times right now. Even though we are not calling it a depression, it is. Then, let's face it, there is my pride. I am an independent woman and I am not used to asking for help unless I am forced into it.

Money is an odd energy. Everyone seems to have their own feelings about it and it is like snowflakes, none are the same!

When we look at money logically, it is a method of exchange. This paper or coin for your goods or service. Easy, right? Well, when you are hauling your change bucket into the grocery store to dump it into the sorter so that you have laundry money and some food, not so easy.

Then we have the spiritual way of looking at money. It is simply an energy that we can call. Well, I have it on speed dial right now and it is not answering!

We are all taught from infancy our idea of money and it seems to carry forward. I had parents that both worked - Dad had his own business and Mom was a nurse. We lived a nice life, if we were doing without, they hid it well. Okay, I am the oldest, so I do remember some serious noodle casseroles and awful soup times. But overall, that may have just been bad recipes...who knows?!?!

My concept of money growing up was there was enough, but we watched how we spent it. Food was always plentiful. Clothes, coats and shoes were chosen with care as they needed to last for a while. Today, I am a great shopper and have honed those skills to an art recently while being on under-employment. I was in the 99 cent store recently and remember thinking that I wish I was flush, I could really get some great things there! Target has become my new "department" store and the mall, while being blocks from my place, seems to have become that wishful land of Eden. A place we would like to visit if it was only real.

So, I continue to do the next indicated step, which is fill out the paperwork for the non-profit status to the best of my ability. Copyright the logo and our name (which is free) and set up the website with what we have.

And I will also know that the Universe will do for me what I cannot do for myself.