Tag Archive | love

A Dog Named Libby

Today was a dark day.

It was one of the worst we’ve had in many years, and for a long time there were a lot of them. But we knew this day was coming and despite the anticipation, we still weren’t prepared for how hard it would hit us and how much it would hurt.

Once a family of six, we are now a family of five, saying good-bye to our sixteen year-old fur baby, Libby.

We knew it was time. We purposely didn’t travel for our summer vacation because we didn’t want to be away when it happened. Coincidentally (or not) it did happen during our vacation. A dog smarter than most, we’ve come to the conclusion that she knew when she wanted to go. She waited until after her human brothers were done with their baseball seasons and she was surrounded by the ones who loved her the most, to make her departure. She did it gracefully and considerately like she did everything else.

She came into our lives at just the right time and left the same way. She was the perfect dog, a wonderful companion with a beautiful soul. She gave us comfort and hope and joy, and I’m afraid I’ll never find that in another dog again.

I’m sure you can tell I’m a dog person and always have been.

From my own Princess who lived to about sixteen and died in my arms, to my grandparent’s dachshunds, and then my own two dogs, I’ve always loved their soft brown eyes, wagging tails, and happy tongues. Nearly every member of my family has a dog, and I’m that girl that wants to be best friends with every dog I meet.

Their loyalty and happiness, goofiness and unbridled joy, is not only endearing but inspiring and I can’t imagine a world where they don’t exist. Between you and I, I prefer them to most people. They don’t complain, judge, or criticize. They don’t care if you’re successful, pretty, or smart. If you’re sad they try and make you happy and if you’re happy, they try and make you even happier.

Their only purpose in life is to make yours better. I don’t know that there’s another creature on earth who is that unselfish and loves you so unconditionally, even after only knowing you for two seconds.

That’s why the loss of our girl was so difficult. She was the perfect dog. Everyone said so and everyone who met her loved her instantly. She was gentle and loving. As a puppy she was adorable. As an older dog, she was a sweet lady with soft fur, perky ears, and an agreeable personality.

My husband was the one who adopted her. He found her during an APL event and chose her because she was the runt, but she fought back against a sibling who was trying to bully her. He chose her for her spirit and she was forever bonded to him because of it.

He was her person and if he was nearby she was over the moon. This loyalty lasted throughout her entire life, even up to the end. They loved each other and because of him, we got to love her.

When we got her she was shorter than a wine glass. She was supposed to be a Pomeranian mix and no bigger than ten pounds. Imagine our surprise when she grew to thirty-five pounds and we discovered that she was a Shepard-mix instead.

We had so many nicknames for her. Libby Jean (named after my mother-in-law), Libbers Bajibbers, Jib-jibs, Satchel Page (I think that’s a baseball player), Libs Bajibs, Libbers, Libs, and Libby-Lou. She loved her pink stuffed piggy and a stuffed animal of Paddington Bear, who ended up a shell of himself without eyes, stuffing, or clothes. He became a naked and empty carcass covered in dog slobber and smothered with love.

Her favorite thing in all the world was tennis balls. She loved to chew on them and chase them and she was fast. Really fast. She jumped, ran, leapt, and raced after them with everything inside of her, tongue flapping, legs flying, bursting with happiness anytime she found someone who would play with her. She carried that ball in her mouth until she would find a sucker to throw it to her and she always did.

Notice the tennis ball at Libby’s feet.

She’d take her soggy, spit-filled ball and set it on your lap, or roll it toward you, until you acquiesced and played with her. She was relentless and full of joy, and she knew that eventually you’d give in because you wanted to. She begged you with her beautiful brown eyes to play with her and it was impossible to deny her.

She ran like that for many years until her legs started to give out and we had to stop her from running so much in order to save her legs. She would’ve ran like that until the day she died if we would’ve let her.

Her second favorite thing was her family. She loved company because she loved her people. She was especially fond of her grandparents and aunts and uncles. She loved being the center of attention and basked in everyone’s love and attention. She was easy to love and everyone did.

She also loved to sleep on my husbands pillow during the day. She’d put her butt right on it and when he would lay his head down at night, he’s had a face full of dog hair and would know that his pillow as full of dog-butt. I didn’t envy him for that.

A Shepard-mix, she was strong and intelligent, and highly intuitive. Her mind was nimble but her body could no longer make it which was perhaps one of the saddest parts of all of this. She still wanted to play and run but her body told her that she was too old, and she didn’t like that one bit.

She was funny and feisty and bossy. Toward the end, she often refused food, so every day was a challenge to get her to eat. Some days she would only eat out my hand, other days she would only eat chicken and rice, or burger meat, or soft dog food. She knew what she wanted and didn’t want and kept life interesting.

She was the one who made us a family. We had her three years before our children were born and she was always our baby. Spoiled, loved, and adored we were so happy to have her for as long as we did. We know how lucky we were that she had such a full life, but it still doesn’t feel like it was long enough.

Not nearly enough.

I could’ve had another sixteen years with her. I could’ve had her for the rest of my life. It doesn’t make sense that they’re gone so soon when we love them so much but I know that I have to let her go.

I know that part of life is loving and letting go. I know that I am sad because I did get to love her so much and she loved us. I don’t know that I would ever be ready to let her go but I know I’ll have to. I have to show my children that this is a part of life and that you can’t be afraid to love because it might mean you have to say good-bye. I have to show them that it’s worth it and that it’s important and worth doing again and again.

There will never be another girl like Libby. She was perfect. But I know that there will be another pup for us to love when we’re ready. We still have one pup we adore and while my husband swears that there will be no more dogs because it hurts so much, I know he’ll change his mind … eventually.

His heart is too big not to fall in love and want to rescue another one. There will be one who loves and needs him as much as Libby did, who will capture his heart at just the right time. In the mean time, we’ll mourn and remember our perfect girl.

Our hearts are broken but they’ve been broken before. Only love and time will heal us and we’ll be thankful that we got to spend so much time with such a beautiful soul. And we’ll be thankful.

So very thankful.

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Being a Hummingbird

Recently I’ve joined an amazing group of women, Hummingbirds, who have come together to create a place where other women can come together for inspiration and motivation.

It was formed by four incredible authors and women Tess Thompson , Tamsen Schultz , Heather Huffman, and Carolyn Ridder Aspenson who want women to feel empowered and connected.

It’s been a wonderful experience. You can also join us on The Hummingbird Charm Readers Haven (or Haven for short) where we share and talk Books and the Perch where we share our lives!

I’ll be covering posts about family and motherhood, which I’m super-excited about. There’s nothing I love more than talking about my family and being a mother. While I’m certainly not an expert, I am passionate and believe parenting is terrifying, fun, and amazing.

I recently wrote my first post, Imagining that I’m a Mom, which I was excited to write and share.

I hope you’ll join the Hummingbirds! The more I get to know these women the more excited I am to get to be a part of them. My wonderful friend JC Wing helped bring me on board, personifying what this group is all about, and I’m so grateful.

Women supporting women.

I couldn’t be more happy and proud to be such a beautiful little bird!

First Reviews 

The first five star review I received made me felt validated. As a writer, I hadn’t shown my writing to many, and those I did show it to said positive things. They were almost required to as it was only a few close friends and a family member of two.

To get a review from a complete stranger, felt magical. It still does even when it’s not a five star, even when it’s much lower.

Every time I release a book into the world, I hold my breath, and then I wait. The reviews tell me that people are reading. They tell me that my stories mean something and that they matter. They tell me that my words have touched someone, and if I’ve done it well, that I’ve possibly even changed someone for the better. Reviews are more than just stars, they are actual love from a reader. When you get one, it’s like someone hugged you and told you that all of those long hours of writing and editing were worthwhile. Even when they aren’t favorable or are critical, they still tell you that someone read your words. As a writer, that’s what you hope for. You hope that people read your words.

I’ve gleaned much from critical reviews, and I appreciate them as much as I do the positive ones. The critical ones tell me what I can do better. They tell me how I can grow, and when they’re written to be helpful, they do help and I love them just as much.

Every time I release a book into the world, I can wait. Will someone like it? Will anyone read it? Will it matter? 

When it does, the sheer joy is undeniable, and for one split second I realize that I might just be okay at this writing thing after all.

30 Day Writing Challenge-Someone Who Fascinates Me…

Today’s challenge is to write about someone who facscinates me and why… which I’ve been wracking my brain about for days.

I wasn’t sure if I should choose a public figure or someone closer to me, and for days I’ve tried to figure it out. Ultimately, I’ve decided to write about my children because they fascinate me so much more than anyone I can ever imagine. For starters, I can’t believe that I actually made them. I actually had the capability to make little tiny people! It boggles my mind even now!

When they were small, I could stare at them for hours. There were days I did nothing but watch them sleep or watch their tiny chests while they breathed.  I truly felt like the most amazing person of all time because, did I mention this before, but I made them! Never mind that women have been having babies for centuries .😆 I can still remember how soft their skin was and how their tiny bodies fit right in my arms, reminding me that I was put on this earth just so that I could be their mom. I still remember their tiny cries, and how my youngest son’s cry was husky, just like his voice is now. 

As they’ve grown, I’ve often found myself thoroughly captivated by them through every stage. Every gurgle, noise, coo, and giggle, I’ve been completely mesmerized by all of it. Whether it was age two , five, or seven, remembering the softness of their hair every time I’ve kissed the top of their head or their tiny hands clutching tightly to my own, I’ve photographed every bit of it in my mind. Listening to their minds develop and grow, and seeing their emerging personalities has been an utter joy. Even their stubbornness, their tantrums, and the moments when they’ve been the most difficult have been interesting. I’ve watched them both work through diversity; the bully in first grade, the broken nose, the racial slur, the lost toy, the loss of a grandparent, the brotherly squabble, and through it all I’ve been able to catch a glimpse of the men they will one day be. Watching my youngest hold the door open for an elderly couple at a restaurant without being prompted and listening to my oldest remind his brother to say his good-night prayers, are moments that give me much hope for a bright and beautiful future for both of them. 

They’ve become two very strong-willed individuals who are discovering the world and themselves, and it’s a tremendous thing to watch and be a part of. They are feisty, grateful, and amaze me every day with a new revelation or observation. I never anticipated such joy from watching two people grow.

When I look at them, I often feel like a scientist who has discovered a miracle and I want to shout it to the world. I’m fortunate to have a husband who gets it and understands why I sometimes cry when a moment with one of them catches my heart in just the right way. He understands how perfectly beautiful and unbelievable they are, because he sees it too.

I never imagined being fascinated by two people who haven’t yet reached the potential of who they will be. I can only imagine how fascinated by them I’ll be when they’re adults and I get to see what they will become. If I never know anything else in this world, I know that I was put here in this place, at this time, just so that I could be with them.

 Nothing will ever be more amazing to me that that. 

30 Day Writing Challenge-First Kiss and First Love

Even though it’s only day three of the challenge, this day had me a little miffed on how I would write about it.

Writing about my  first kiss, is easy. I was thirteen, he had blonde hair and blue eyes, and it was unremarkable, unemotional, and nothing special. I only remembered it because it was the first one of my young life.

Writing about my first love is more complicated, but nobody said this writing challenge would be easy. I mentioned in my post yesterday about my first memory and how my journey began alone and unknown. In hindsight, it seems that those early beginnings galvanized me and while I fell into infatuation in my younger years, romantic love didn’t come easily or openly to me.

But this is about first loves and I’ve had many.

I can remember falling in love with books at a young age. I remember reading the simple ones, then moving on to comic books and then the more difficult reads as I grew older. I read every Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, and VC Andrews book that I could get my hands on. I read anything and everything that captured my young heart and mind. Reading was bliss and nothing in the world made me happier than a good book. My mom used to say that the house could fall down around me while I was reading, and that I would never know. She wasn’t wrong. I read in the car, on vacation, on the bus, and in bed when I was supposed to be asleep. I had a book in my hand everywhere I went and the library was my refuge. 

God was also one of my first loves, teaching me selflessness and dedication. For many years in my early life, I clung to my spirituality, committed to it like one is to committed to their first romantic relationship. I was so in love that I even went to a Christian College, and contemplated a life of service, but certain events in my life steered  me in a completely different direction. 

Only as an adult did I discover my first opportunity for romantic love. But as it happens in life,  I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  By the time I did, too much had shifted and settled, and I realized that  it came down to most things in life; timing. Our timing was always off so we were left with only memories.

Years later, I met my husband, my first great love. Through hell and back, ups and downs, I’ve learned what it means to love, honor, and cherish, until death do us part. The vows weren’t “only when it’s perfect,” and while there have been plenty of opportunities for both of us to give it all up, in spite of it all we love each other. We love and fiercely protect the family we’ve made and the bonds we’ve created, for ourselves and our children. We’ve laughed and cried, walked away from and ran toward one another. But so far, we haven’t given up, on ourselves or on each other, which is what we promised in the beginning.

Lastly, my boys have been the first people I’ve loved in this life, without condition. They’ve taught me what it’s like to love from a perfect heart and I’ve become a better, stronger, and kinder person because of their love. I see myself through their eyes, even when it’s not good, and I know now what true love is. It’s accepting every apology, righting every wrong, and loving someone until you feel that your heart will explode out of your chest. It’s doing what you don’t want to because you know it’s the right thing to do, for them. It’s doing everything in your power to protect their hearts and preserve their minds from anger, hatred, and imperfection so that they can stay little boys for just a little while longer.

Loving my children had been a willing exercise in humility and sacrifice, that makes me want to do my best every day.

As I thought about this post, I knew that I would need to be thoughtful about it because love of any kind is personal and emotional. I’m fortunate that I’ve loved a great deal and had so much love in my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. 

Life 101

I’ve spent a big part of my life reflecting.

Whether it’s been about life, people, situations, news, or politics, I love when things get my brain thinking and churning. I’m much like my youngest son who has an inquisitive and curious mind. I’ve always wanted to know the “whys.”

But what I’ve learned about life is that sometimes there just aren’t any answers, and it used to devastate me and make me feel helpless. Questions like,”Why did my niece have a brain tumor when she was fifteen?”,”Why did my dad have to have a major and debilitating stroke at the age of 54?”, “Why did my birth parent’s abandon me when I was a small child?”, or “Why did my good friend have to die of cancer?”  There have been many questions in my life and I’ve just had to learn to let it all go and accept that sometimes there isn’t a good answer.

The alternative option of holding onto it was giving me health issues, filling me with depression, and causing a great deal of anxiety. But when I finally was able to embrace the unknown, I found that I was more at peace with myself and able to accept that for no good reason, life just sucks sometimes. It’s then up to us to figure out how to move on.

I guess that I would categorize myself as a “Student-of-Life,” ever-changing, ever-willing to learn something new, look in the mirror, and have an open mind. With a long career in management and working with people, I’ve also learned how to be a mentor and teacher at the same time. But while I’ve gained experience and knowledge, I don’t think the path of knowledge can ever be complete. The excitement that I get from learning new things and gaining new insights just never gets old.

Part of my learning has involved reading a lot about life lessons. Erma Bombeck’s “If I had to Live My Life Over” is wise and beautiful and I absolutely love it. http://www.kalimunro.com/If_I_Had_My_Life_To_Live_Over.html

42 Life Lessons by Regina Brett is also incredibly thought-provoking and honest. http://unbridledfreedom.com/42-life-lessons-by-regina-brett/

I’m not as prolific, wise, or celebrated as either of those two beautiful women, but along the way I’ve picked up some observations of my own.

  • Be Kind. It’s a simple playground truth but not one that many people remember. The funny thing is, it’s not that difficult. Hold the door open for someone,  use “Please” and  “Thank you” every single time,  give someone an unexpected compliment, say something genuinely nice to someone for no reason at all and don’t expect it in return. Be kind simply for the sake of doing it and because you can.
  • Stick up for Yourself. Don’t let people walk all over you and don’t allow people to treat you poorly. People will treat you the way you allow them to and you should only expect the best. Have courage and don’t be afraid to tell someone that the way they are treating you is unacceptable and be willing to walk away from them if they don’t get it. Sometimes they’ll come back and sometimes they won’t, but if they can’t treat you well, then do you want them in your life to begin with?
  • Laugh at yourself. A lot. Life is short and you’re not perfect. Having a sense of humor about yourself is important and healthy, as long as you’re not being mean about yourself. Often we are our own worse critic but love yourself and don’t take your flaws too seriously. Everyone has them.
  • Don’t ever put things before people.  I’ve spent time with people I’ve loved  who were sick or dying and they’ve never said  to me,”I wish I’d had more stuff.” Ever. They’d always wished they had more time with the people they loved. Period.
  • It’s not always about YOU. We all like to imagine that the world revolves around us, but… it doesn’t! Sometimes people are on their own journey and are suffering, fighting, divorcing, struggling, sometimes they are sick, or hurt, or angry about something that has nothing to do with you. Stop thinking that it does! We are a world full of narcissists who think that everything is about us when it has nothing to do with us! Sometimes you’re the main character and sometimes your just a footnote and it’s important to be able to identify which one you are and when.
  • Be willing to walk away. Not every relationship is meant to last forever. Some are and some aren’t. Some relationships teach us how to be better and some don’t teach us anything at all. Not every person we ever meet is meant to be in our lives for the duration of our lives, but they’re meant to be there for some of it. While letting go is incredibly painful and feels downright impossible, sometimes we don’t have a choice or we need to because the relationship hurts us more than it does anything else for us. The people that love us often hurt us the most and the worst. But that’s because they are fighting their own demons and that is something they have to do alone. All we can do is love them, but loving them doesn’t mean we don’t love ourselves. This means we may have to step away from them in order to survive, whether it’s temporarily or permanently.
  • Laugh at fart jokes. This is different obviously than laughing at yourself, but when children hear fart jokes they laugh, out loud, big hearty belly laughs that are honest and true. When we grow up, we don’t laugh at such things anymore, but I think that if we just let ourselves laugh at silly things like fart jokes and we can remember what its like to laugh when we were kids, we would be so much happier.  My kids will genuinely laugh every single time at the word “balls” and when they do, it’s impossible not to laugh with them. Life is too short not to find humor in silly things.
  • Be surprised. Let yourself live a life where you can still be surprised. And even if you’re not, pretend that you are. People love surprises and love to surprise others. The joy we give and receive from life’s little surprises is something that just can’t be replaced.
  • Listen more than talk. When you listen to your children with all of your attention you’ll notice that when they are talking they’re smiling the entire time (up until a certain age). When you listen well, you’re giving someone the gift of your love and attention which has more value than anything else you can give them.

My list isn’t that long and it’s not complete. I’ve learned so much but have so much more to learn. I love that life is such a beautiful maze of truth and understanding and that everyone gets there a completely different way. And I love that I’ll never get past Life 101 because life is ever-evolving and ever-changing. I love listening to and learning from other people. One of my favorite people to sit and listen to was my GiGi. She would’ve been 100 this year and when she was alive she told the best stories and was such a pleasure to talk to. I’ve thought about her so many times throughout the years and wished I could talk to her and learn from her kindness and experience and I’m always reminded of how much more there is still left to learn.

What have you learned throughout your lifetime? What have you lost and gained? What would you share with the world from your experience if you could? I’d be interested to see your comments here.

Is Love Gay? 

Today, a historic event happened in our country. In case you somehow missed it, Gay Marriage was made legal throughout all fifty states in the U.S by the Supreme Court. There have been numerous Facebook and Twitter posts both supporting and opposing the decision, mostly supporting from what I’ve seen. But I’ve been silent on both my personal and my author page. 

I’ll start this off by saying that I went to a Christian College. I believe in Jesus and God and have some very traditional beliefs about family. I have my own personal, albeit rocky at times, relationship with the Big Guy. My husband and I have  taught our children about being thankful for our blessings and that prayer is important, and truly believe it.

I was raised going to church every Sunday and that abstinence was better than protection. I was taught that God was wrathful and vengeful and that there was no compromise, and I believed that. All of it. As a youth I was a judgey little thing, and as I look back at her now I just want to slap her. 

Flash forward many years and I haven’t stepped foot into a church for many years other than for weddings or funerals, and don’t know when I  will again.  This is for reasons that are very personal that I may expound on at a different time because this just isn’t the post to explain it. But I mention this because I saw a post about a pastor who threatened to set himself on fire if Gay Marriage was passed, and to say that I was disgusted was an understatement.

  
I haven’t posted about the decision because my gay friends know that I’m happy for them and that is all that matters. Posting a rainbow on my profile pic won’t change anyone’s opinion, though I wish it would. And since everyone is entitled to have their opinion, they will and do, but setting yourself on fire is ridiculous and doesn’t praise God in any way. I’ve had arguments with people I love,  who are close to me, who don’t have the same views as I do and we’ve never walked away from those conversations changed or different. Nobody cares what I think and since I’m straight and already married, it doesn’t improve my quality of life in any way. 

But it does give me happiness because it affects  many people I know and have loved throughout the years and I am incredibly happy for them. I’m over-the-moon happy that they can legally spend their life with someone they love. I’m glad they will finally have the rights that we, straight people, have assumed and taken for granted all of our lives.

  
While there are many who won’t agree with me, I’m perfectly okay with that. I’ve come to this conclusion by my own journey in this life. As an abandoned child, and there are many, I can’t help but believe that the love of a same-sex couple is better than being parked in an orphanage. Having two moms or two dads has to provide more stability than being  shuffled between foster homes. And with a divorce rate of fifty percent in this country, I can’t help but believe that gay marriages won’t  be any less stable or  consistent than any other marriage. 

When I had children of my own, loving them was not an option. I fell deeply and irrevocably in love with their beautiful faces and tender spirits. Gay, straight, whatever… there was no way that I wouldn’t ever want the best for them or their absolute and complete happiness. Many of my gay friends were afraid to tell their parents, and some of them I knew were gay, before they ever came out. As a mother, I can’t help but think that I would never want my children to live in the shadows, hiding from me, hiding from themselves, like that. I don’t want to know what they’ll do in the bedroom with anyone… ever. Because they’ll always be my babies and the thought of them having sex with anyone makes me want to cry. I decided a long time ago that if they ever have a day when they have to come out to me, that it’ll never change my love for them. I want them to know that I’ll always love them no matter what. 

I don’t think the world should be surprised or even care who people love. After all, wouldn’t Jesus love them too? Doesn’t He love everyone? Why do we get to judge who people love? I think there is enough ugliness and loneliness in the world to keep adding to it. I feel as though the only love I should be concerned with is the love I carry in my own heart for the people I love. Life and marriage are hard enough as it is.  Don’t we have enough to worry about than to obsess about who is loving up on who? If a gay couple wants to embark on that crazy journey with the one they love… then who am I, or anyone else, to stop them from doing so?

 
It’s a basic physiological fact that creatures like us need  love to thrive. There are enough lonely people in the world who have yet to find “their person.” Being gay or straight shouldn’t be the deciding factor for that basic human right. So is love gay? Absolutely! It’s puppies, rainbows,  unicorns, and all the rest of that fluffy stuff! Not because I say it is or it isn’t. 

But now, because the Supreme Court says it is.