It’s early morning, my dog is snoring, it’s my daughter’s 20th birthday, all my kids are home, we are safe, we are loved, we are blessed with warmth (it’s 26 degrees outside), we have abundant good food, we have each other, we have this beautiful day to celebrate, and my dog has fleas.
I woke up too early today, and before I could retreat back into a peaceful slumber, my mind quickly filled with all of the above facts, along with a myriad of to-do lists, worries, possibilities, expectations, gratitude, and overwhelming emotions. It’s been eons since I wrote out-loud; I write in my head all the time, but I suddenly felt inspired to share, and so here I am.
Once long ago, I was a happily married stay-at-home mom. Every day I felt safe and secure. We were a home-schooling family, which meant for us that we followed our hearts and lived a fulfilling life of adventure, love, and joy. Years later, the reality of our story has turned out to be even more wonderful than I ever imagined.
Somewhere in the middle, my marriage fell apart, and so did any feelings of safety and security. Since then it has been a major struggle to arrive where I am today, but somehow, in part thanks to the generosity of people who love us, and my creative determination to walk my own path, we have thrived.
Through it all, my children have been my source of strength, my focus, and the reason I have been able to move forward. Our relationships with each other have grown beyond family ties and are based on mutual respect, devotion, companionship, and unconditional love. We are each other’s best friends forever.
Now they are grown and each moving in different directions. I find myself at a lost for how my life will unfold. My son Deven reassures me that our lives are expanding rather than contracting, and as they move onward, it can only open us up to new relationships and new adventures. Already it has begun, and I do see the beauty of change, but still my heart quietly mourns for what will no longer be.
Determined to live in the moment, today we are all home, together in our little house by the lake, and I am grateful beyond measure.
Soon a fire will be made, the tea kettle whistling, and the house will be filled with the sounds of my children’s voices and the constant rumbling of the washer and dryer as I work to wash every pillow, blanket, curtain, and piece of clothing that may-or-may-not be hiding any fleas or their future off-spring. After a lovely breakfast, I will break out my new high-powered vacuum cleaner I bought to remove the scourge that has entered my home and clean every inch of our dwelling. I have had dogs ever since I moved here to New England 30 years ago, and we have never had fleas. None of us are happy about this, especially Skadi.
Hopefully I can also find the time to make pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips, take my 3 mile walk, and maybe read a few chapters of my book.
Most importantly, I will remain present, express myself in a loving way, and be grateful for every moment that we can be together. Even if my dog is scratching next to me……
UPDATE: I actually wrote this blog yesterday morning on my daughter’s birthday before everyone got up, but just as I finished, she came into my room crying that she didn’t feel good. We ended up at the emergency hospital for most of the day while they tested her. Thankfully we were able to go home and she is currently on the mend. My poor sweetie, what a way to celebrate her special day. We managed to have a peaceful evening, and the only thing I was able to accomplish on my great to-do list was to take my much-needed walk around the lake. This all goes to show how quickly life can change, and how very precious each and every moment of time is that we share with our loved ones.
Our beloved dog Skadi just celebrated her 5th birthday yesterday, on April 2nd, and we are so grateful to have her in our life. She is a Great Pyrenees, an immensely powerful large-breed dog originally from the Pyrenees mountains located in southwestern Europe, which form a natural border between Spain and France. My well-read children named her after Skadi, the Norse goddess of winter, ice and mountains, who was also known to be a giantess, which is perfect since our Skadi resembles a large polar bear.
She was the cutest little pup ever! Click on any of the photos on this page for a full view.
The Great Pyrenees are working dogs bred to protect sheep from wolves, bears and other predators on snowy mountain tops. Because of this they are known for their independence, patience, and courage. For the Great Pyrenees, their whole intent and purpose in life is to be a loyal and devoted guardian.
They also make great therapy dogs, which my family and friends can attest to, since Skadi loves nothing more than to share affection and to be cuddled; we probably kiss her sweet face at least a hundred times a day, and if she had her way it would be way more than that. Everyone who has been lucky enough to love such a wonderful breed is familiar with the “Pyrenees Paw,” which is what they use to “nudge,” or rather to smack you with in the hopes of gaining your attention: whack, whack, whack, they are very hard to ignore!
Skadi lives to love and be loved.
Her coat is thick and silky, and so soft to the touch, that she’s like a lush teddy bear come to life roaming from room to room, but what I find most amazing is how self-cleaning she is. Our Skadi will race outside, careening around the yard, barking at everything in sight, while tromping through inches of thick, oozy, muddy muck. She will then come back inside with her beautiful white paws covered and dripping with the elements. Once dry again, she somehow returns to her clean fur, with not a speck of dirt anywhere. I am sure it’s all over my home, but it’s no longer on her. Amazing!
Despite her largeness, (she’s average size for a female, the males can be as much as 160 lbs), she moves through the house with a natural grace on her softly padded paws. I call her a ghost dog: one minute I am tripping over her in the kitchen, and the next to my great bewilderment, she is suddenly out of sight like a thief in the night. Seriously, she is very sneaky, and I have to quickly go look for her to make sure she hasn’t got into any mischief between my peeling and chopping. Most times I find her laying in the bay living room window, guarding the neighborhood from her high perch from any intruders, or cozy on my bed, surveying her domain from my bedroom windows.
Though sometimes I catch her in action, eating my mail, or holding something stolen in her mouth with a defiant look just to get my attention. Believe me, it is a terrifying thing to see her standing there with a pair of scissors, or some kind of kitchen utensil she snatched off the counter. She will then lead me on a merry chase around the coffee table, while I scream myself hoarse telling her to “drop it now!” Eventually she will, but usually only if I offer her something better in trade. You may wonder who has trained whom, but if any of you out there are blessed to know this breed, you will fully understand that they will do nothing, absolutely nothing, unless they want to. I’ve seen photos of people actually carrying their dog home from a walk during which they have decided they were done and refused to take another step. Laugh if you must, but it’s true.
Skadi loves to sit in chairs, it’s so funny to look over and see her sitting next to me.
Here she is on perched on the back of our couch like a large vulture, or like in one of my favorite children’s book, ‘Horton Hatches the Egg.’
Great Pyrenees are also known for their intelligence, and without a doubt she keeps us all on our toes. Sometimes I look into her eyes and a shiver of awareness floods my body at the depth of knowledge I see shining out. Honestly, it’s like living with a fantasy creature from another world. I am sure Great Pyrenees run with the unicorns somewhere in an alternative universe.
She will stand on everything to get a better view and because she’s so curious.
Over the years, my family has always had pets. I cannot think of a time since I was a young child that we didn’t have some kind of creature companion: cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, birds, rabbits, lizards, tortoises, snakes, frogs, turtles, and let’s not forget the giant millipedes and hissing cockroaches. I tried to be an open-minded, adventurous kind of mother, especially since we home-schooled. I wanted to make sure my children had many wonderful experiences, which is why I allowed the two hissing cockroaches from Madagascar to be in a lidded container in my house. It’s inevitable that one actually escaped, but with the passing of time and perhaps a forced amnesia I soon forgot. Fast forward to many months later, one night for dinner I prepared for my family a bountiful and delicious salad. Later, when I returned to the kitchen to clean-up, there on the pile of vegetable scraps stood our very healthy and especially large missing pet, waiving his little antennas and hissing at me claiming dominance from its leafy mountain. Of course I screamed refusing to go even close, and with much pleading, and possibly some dire threats, I made my children re-capture and place him back into the home with his lonely friend, by this time greatly dwarfing him in size. I shudder to think of the many days and nights in which he apparently thrived living off of who knows what and I don’t even want to think about who knows where.
For all of you fellow pet owners, I am sure you can relate to the immense love we have in common for our dearest companions, whether they be covered with fur, scales, feathers or fluff, (maybe not with antennas, but who am I to judge)! We only get to be with them for such a short while in the big scheme of things, so it’s important to treasure every bit of precious time we have together. The heartache of losing our beloved friends is unbearable and I try not to project myself so far into the future where I live in dread of having to feel that again. Over the years since Skadi has graced us with her presence I have gone through significant heartache and trials, but with her sweet comfort and the happy smiles she brings to all of us, I have been able to persevere with grace. I tell her every single day how much she is loved, and how pleased we are to have her in our family. In the here and now, my sweetest most devoted friend in the world is laying next to me while I type this up, with her big head nestled against my side. I am immensely thankful to be blessed with such a holy being such as herself reminding me daily of the beauty of life.
The many faces of Skadi
Happy Birthday Dear Skadi, Happy Birthday to you….and many more!!!!
My daughter Tiana loves to take photo shoots with her, they are both so photogenic
I would like to add that if anyone is interested in this breed that they do their research first. These dogs are wonderful, but can also be difficult. Many people consider them working dogs and don’t interact with them the way our family does. They are known to bark a lot, and like I mentioned before they are very strong-minded, and hard to control. They need training, and patience. We were rather impulsive and ignored many of the warnings…haha…she is hard to walk because of her strength and doesn’t like other dogs. They also need space to roam, with large fences. For our sweet baby she demands a ton of affection, which we are happy to give. Great Pyrenees are not for the faint of heart, but certainly worth all the time and energy you can invest.
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Every day without fail, my eyes drift open into the early darkness of morning light and I immediately reach into the data base of my mind to remember what day it is; like a revolving door it returns without fail, the liminal space in time, where in that portal of nothingness, weightless in the unknowing, I am completely disconnected from the outside world, even from my own physicality, without substance or conscious intent. It is that one vibrant moment where I am aware of my soul, with no beginning or end.
One minute I am floating along in my river of dreams and the next tossed abruptly awake into the waters of reality. How far have I drifted from shore, no longer tethered by the measure of time. Until I know what day it is, I remain on the threshold of the in between, without need or purpose.
I have been unemployed since the pandemic began almost a year ago. It took many years of struggle to dig myself out of financial trauma, and mostly by working jobs I greatly disliked. Finally I had reached a place of security with my children’s program, something that was meaningful, built out of love, and all my own. They say it takes several years of opening your business before it becomes lucrative, and for me I was heading into my 4th one when it all came crashing down. I think if I were comfortably retired right now I wouldn’t mind the unknowing, but because I am *shamefully* unemployed I carry a simmering pot of angst in almost everything I do. I manage to escape it for the most part by tucking it away into the box of avoidance, but it’s in that exact moment of wakefulness that I must face every day, the decision to leave the sanctuary of my spirit and step back into my human need for physical, mental, and emotional security.
It turns out it really doesn’t matter what day it is, because I have very few obligations in life. If it weren’t for creating my blog/magazine, and my new idea to become a visual storyteller by taking up photography, I would have nothing in place for the future, and even in this current endeavor my chances for financial security are based on my wish to connect with a gigantic amount of people who will hopefully like me enough to follow. It’s all a numbers game whether my family will thrive or not, but I have faith in my ability to survive and so I move forward.
The other day I needed cash for some treasures I found on Marketplace. After leaving the ATM I drove out of the parking lot, cozy in my car with it’s special deluxe seat warmers. As I approached the red light, I saw a woman standing on the medium next to where I would be waiting for the light to change. It was only in the upper 20’s, and she was bundled from head to foot with her jacket collar raised to cover her face like a mask, she stood holding a cardboard sign I couldn’t read, shivering on her small patch of concrete. I cautioned myself as I inched forward; don’t look at her, you are not giving her money, what if she has Covid, neither of you are wearing a mask, it’s not safe, you can help someone else another time, you are unemployed…and so on. Mind you all this was happening in the blink of an eye, because I was quickly next to her before I even finished my silent list of why I could not possibly do anything.
Suddenly another voice rose up inside, and not from my place of lack, my simmering angst, or my fear of the plague. This voice was the familiar one I wake up to every morning, the one that keeps me company while I sift through my thoughts of what day of the week it is. The voice that is always there under the surface of my outside self, the voice of my spirit, heart, and soul.
Help her, it said, you proclaim to the world to follow the path of beauty, you know what it means to be scared and alone, you understand desperation, and grief. There is no separation, this woman is you.
I sat there in the crossroads and made my decision. With haste to do all this before the light changed, I reached into my purse, grabbed one of the bills and like a slapstick comedy routine I pressed the lever of my window with the intent to lower it only enough to push the money through. In my clumsiness the window rose up smashing my wrist, and then all the way back down, leaving me exposed to the elements as well as any possible germs. Simultaneously, I called to her, my 20 dollar bill fluttering in the wind while my window rose up and down, up and down. She mumbled something behind her jacket scarf, her eyes crinkling in the corners with age, smiling in delight. With one last attempt to control my wayward window I wished her luck and sped away.
I am sharing this not as a way to expand myself in your eyes, but to express my very real struggle in that turning point to overcome my own fears, and to live by love. The money meant nothing to me as I was able to see it for what it was, an exchange of energy. I had told myself to not even look at her, but suddenly I was looking into her very soul, and she into mine.
I thought about her later and wondered if she had a place to sleep that was warm and safe. I want to make a difference in this world and hope to do so by my artistic expression. Maybe I can turn this blog/magazine into something more, perhaps as a way to create change for all people who don’t have a place to live, medical care, or enough food to eat. We all deserve it, not because one person is better than another, or our skin is a particular color, or even because we express our sexuality or gender in a particular way, but just because it’s a basic human right.
I think it’s time for us to check into our souls and make choices that are not based on our projected ideas of morality, politics or religion, but on the one undeniable truth. We are all connected as living human beings, and are here for one purpose only, to exchange love. The world is changing, nothing can stay the same, which is a good thing since much of what we know was born out of ignorance and fear.
This time, I am hoping Love wins. So cast aside your judgement, for it all begins with you.
If all I had were today, I would walk with my children in a pine covered forest. I would hold them in my arms, kiss their sweet faces and express my forever love. I would say how they make every minute worthwhile, just to be in their magical presence.
If all I had were today, I would smile for my closest friends, the new and the old, I have known for so long. My dear companions who laugh with me in the sunshine, and dance in the splashing waves.
If all I had were today, I would hug my devoted family and share my happiness of being together. I would cherish their affection and love each shining star. Always a part of me, present in my heart.
If all I had were today, I would go to the river with you my Beloved, to touch you one last time. In the flowing water I would kiss you sweetly, and speak of soulful love. Until we meet again.
If all I had were today, I would forgive those who brought hard lessons, and wish them only peace. I would be grateful to angels who make my world better in a good and healthy way.
If all I had were today, I would kiss the soft forehead of my loving dog. I would rub their floppy ears and whisper praise for their endearing loyalty.
If all I had were today, I would bow before my God and be thankful for this wonderful adventure. For filling my world with Beauty, and Blessing every step.
If all I had were today, I would climb the highest mountain and sing a song to the moon. I would allow myself one last tear, and with a joyful leap, I would spread my wings and fly.