beauty hope life love



Even though I swear she loves Travis more, Stella will stay up with me after almost all the lights are out, the dog is snoring on his bed, and a stillness has come over the house. Right now, she’s sitting on the floor behind me, grooming her feet and waiting patiently for me to decide it’s my turn to head to the bedroom where she will curl up by my feet and dream of chasing birds and sneaking out of the house to lay beneath our roses. I was actually on my way to bed when I stopped at the computer to look at a design I’m working on. I meant to just be here for a moment to click save and see if any last-minute ideas arose. But then the song “Imagine” came on Pandora – Jack Johnson singing a cover – and I had to listen to it all. I shut my eyes, and breathed in those magical lyrics. They remind me of college and my big dreams.  They remind me of New York City. They remind me of peace.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that song, but I’ll never get sick of it. Sometimes I don’t feel like much of a dreamer anymore between all the days’ activities, but when I catch a quiet moment, I remember that I am. I am still all of those words in the chorus and always will be.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

beauty hope life

right now


It’s almost noon on this blue-sky Sunday and I’ve been spending the last hour or so in the backyard asking myself all sorts of questions I don’t have answers to – questions about life, and what it means, and what my purpose is. My thoughts go here and there as a light wind blows and birds around the backyard play their chasing games. Two hummingbirds actually came so close to me that I ducked both times, even though I’m pretty sure they had no intention of landing on my head. It’s like they were saying, “Hello strange human! How do you do?”

I have the mountains and my roses in various shades of pink to my right, a sleeping dog and a tempting swimming pool to my left, coffee next to my computer and shades of green in the form of bushes and trees and grass all around me. A while ago, I read that green is the color of renewal, the color of new life, and it seems perfect that I would notice so much of it in this moment – a moment where I long to feel renewed.

My heart is often heavy these days with all the terrible things I read in the news. It’s hard to avoid even if I want to. I recently wrote about that, so I don’t want to again right now. What I want is to simply notice this moment and be grateful for it. I want to slow time down, take in its beauty and be aware of my presence in it. I want to notice my breaths, slow and steady, and the colors of this beautiful world.

For a long while now, my mind has been very busy. It’s filled with everyday busyness, some important details, and many not-so-important details – social media posts and notifications, travel plans, to-do lists, exercise goals, business goals, writing goals, and so many things that sometimes I forget to just stop and rest within the day – with the moment that is alive and well if I notice it.

I left my personal phone at home while at work for three days this week. Not having it by my side helped me focus a little better during those hours. I deactivated my Facebook account indefinitely. I read a little bit of poetry, walked Neville, and woke up early most mornings. I went to a baseball game last night where I didn’t attempt to take one picture of the fireworks. Instead, I was present, allowing myself to happily watch the gorgeous show while my husband danced and sang in his seat. When I watched a few television shows the last few days, I was determined to simply watch those shows and not multi-task. I spent part of the afternoon making peach cobbler yesterday which took all of my focus and filled our kitchen with a warm, summer smell.

There are so many things I don’t have control over but I do have a choice to pay attention to the life that’s been given me and make the most of it. I have a choice to let it slip by in busyness, or make it slow and meaningful. Right now, I’m choosing to feel the wind on my face, listen to the dragonflies buzzing, and hope these moments keep coming more often.



my most complicated relationship

My relationship with Stella is complicated as I’m sure many human/cat relationships are. Before Stella, I never lived with an animal who peed on something and made it feel like a personal attack. I didn’t live with animals who talked to me, told me they were frustrated, and honestly seemed to hate me in some moments. I never lived with an animal who seemed more like a teenager than an innocent, happy child.

I knew I loved Stella from the beginning though. A part of me always loved cats. Growing up, one of our neighbors never had a shortage of kittens and my best friend and I would go to their house and ask to play with them whenever a new litter arrived. We would hold them in our laps and I always tried to lure mine to sleep – its almond-shaped eyes shutting into soft, fuzzy slivers, and dreaming above a soft, pink nose. I asked my parents if I could keep one of the kittens several times, but I was out of luck every time.

Stella is the first cat I ever owned and when I look at pictures of Travis that day we picked her up from Animal Humane, it takes me back to that moment he looked so happy – a smile from ear to ear – about his new furry friend. We added her to our family before we were even engaged, but it always seemed like the three of us were in it for a lifetime.

Stella has since proven to be that complicated creature I mentioned earlier, but I wouldn’t change her. If she could speak English, I’m pretty sure she’d be that friend I’d go to for honest answers. She’d tell me if my outfit sucked, or if my breath smelled weird, or if I needed to just buck up and be braver some days. She would be the friend who admits she’s so over life, or adulting, or stupid people. And she wouldn’t be hateful about these things, just very honest. And if I felt broken, she would show her big heart that lives and beats underneath all her soft fur and blunt answers. I know, because she already does that. If I’m crying, she looks up immediately, will cross the room and jump up next to me. On multiple occasions, she has licked fresh, hot tears from my cheeks and purred by my ears until I felt better.

Stella is social – she’s our herding kitty who wants everyone in the same room as often as possible. She doesn’t like feeling left out and eventually won my one-and-only rule that she would never sleep in our bedroom. If we have friends over, she will sit on the floor in our circle as we play card games. If we are eating dinner, she will join us on a chair at the dining room table and listen to our conversations. She doesn’t beg for food as I’m pretty sure human dinner is beneath her, but she will be part of the meal.

Like most cats, she loves her windows, and boxes, and plastic bags. To Travis’ dismay, she likes catching spiders and mosquitoes. She loves toys with feathers and stuffed mice that rattle. She has her daily crazy time where she runs back and forth around the house for no reason at all.

But even if she is like most cats in many ways, she seems to be her own little cat self, too. She only purrs in our bed or when she’s wrapped up in soft blankets. She puts up with us giving daily nose kisses, and she will sit in front of me and squeak until she gets whatever it is she wants.

I always thought I was more of a dog person, but now that Stella – our little star – is part of our family, I know I’m a cat person, too. I suppose I always have been, and I wouldn’t change that.

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life love Uncategorized

what i’ve learned as a dog mom (so far)


We always had dogs growing up, and as the youngest child with only older brothers, sometimes I would say Muffin, our little gray schnauzer, was my sister. If I’d had a sister, you see, I would have wanted her to be the same age Muffin was, and I would have played Barbies with her, just as I sort of attempted to do with my dog (and in that, I mean I had a Barbie blanket that I used to tie around her head so looked like an old lady). It made me laugh and Muffin was patient, so I guess it was a win/win.

We had Muffin for a long time – until I was a teenager – and she was the stinkiest dog we ever owned, but I loved her so and was heartbroken on her last day. A few years later, my parents caved and let me get Maggie – a fluffy black shih tzu/pomeranian mix. She was this little thing of light, with happy eyes, and the tiniest bladder. For the longest time she simply could not hold in her excitement when she saw members of our family and it unfortunately came out all over the floor in yellow puddles. She liked to be right in your face, she liked to eat marshmallows, and she even had her own little recliner. She was spoiled and sweet and looked adorable wearing the little bows from PetSmart Grooming.

I moved out two years after Maggie became part of the family, so even though she was technically my dog, she was really my dad’s, and they became the best of pals. She would lay on his stomach, inch closer and closer to his face until her eyes were right in his, then she’d most likely sneeze and throw everyone into fits of laughter.

When I moved in with Travis, he wanted a cat immediately. His family never had pets, but he’d had a black cat in college named Lucifer and loved him. I hated him, mind you. He had a thing for pouncing girls and at the time, I didn’t have my own computer. I was often at Travis’ apartment using my boyfriend’s desktop and at some point during the evening, I’d always feel they eyes of the devil on me, then look down the hall to see Lucifer crouching and his tail whipping back and forth. And without fail, he always went after my feet, made me scream, and the boys laugh. So, no, I was not excited about getting a cat when I moved to Albuquerque, but Travis was just so set on it that one day we went to Animal Humane and picked up Stella, who was so scared in the car that we let her out and she pooped on me, then snuggled in my lap. And right then, I knew she belonged with us.

I plan to write a whole post on Stella, because she turned out to be wonderful, and stubborn, and funny, and sweet. But right now I’m just so excited to tell you about the newest addition to our family, that Stella’s post will have to wait (I suppose I’m fickle). And since we’re already five paragraphs in and I have no idea if you’re still reading, I’ll just get right to it. I want to tell you what I’ve learned from having a dog for just a little over a week. Granted, I’ve been around dogs all my life, but I never had one that my parents didn’t do A LOT (or should I say most?) of the work (thanks, guys!).

  1. Name your pet after one of your favorite fictional characters, and it will make you happy every time you call for him. We picked Neville Wigglebottom based on Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter. This has led to all kinds of jokes like whether he’s a Gryffindog or a Hufflepup, how we have our own Padfoot now, and how his bed will be the Cushion of the Phoenix. I already have a photo planned in my head where Neville looks mischievous and the caption will say, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” We are nerds for sure, but so is Neville in the books, so it fits. Plus, Neville is actually this really strong, loyal, sweet character, and so is our dog.
  2. I am a crazy dog mom. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve shown Neville’s picture to! Ask about our dog, and expect to have me whip out my phone and show him to you!
  3. Sunrises are the bees knees. We’ve been walking Neville before work most days and it’s so wonderful to see the pink clouds and the way the neighborhood is slightly blue, and golden yellow as the sun wakes up the world. I’m not naturally a morning person, but there is definitely beauty, quiet, and peace in it. Time seems to move slower in the early hours.
  4. Rescue dogs are amazing. We got Neville from Boxer Rescue of Albuquerque and I’ve never had a dog that was so easy right from the beginning. Growing up, we always got puppies so we had to teach them everything. Neville came housebroken, already knew how to sit, and doesn’t pull on his leash. Granted, not all rescue dogs will be trained, but I think most of them come with really huge hearts and the simple longing for love and permanent homes.
  5. Some dogs snore. And Neville happens to be one of them. He also sounds like a pig when he gets excited sometimes. He’s nuts.
  6. Dogs look good in pictures. And if you love taking pictures, but your husband doesn’t love being in them, you’ve got a great new subject to capture.
  7. If dogs and cats can get along, then people should be able to get along with people. Stella was our priority, so if Neville hated her, we couldn’t keep him. This was my biggest worry, and since I became attached on day one, I really hoped it would work out. And it did! I learned that Neville has more willpower than some people. When he can’t quite take Stella being a cat and doing cat things, he’ll sometimes stand up and walk away for 10 seconds. I think sometimes it takes everything in him not to get in her face and see if she wants to play. But he succeeds 90 percent of the time and gets better each day! I wish people could be more this way sometimes – that we could see where we are weak, and where we struggle with those who are different than us, and that we’d take 10-second breathers, and try again. We learned this in kindergarten after all, right?
  8. This happened because people worked together. We don’t know Neville’s whole story or the exact reason he ended up with Boxer Rescue. We do know that he’s been shuffled around to different families a few times in the last few months because of various circumstances that simply didn’t work out. It was after few families fostered him and some volunteers connected all of us together that he ended up with us. I’m so thankful for all of those people! I realize this is the case with pretty much everything in life; everything I have is because of the kindness of others (someone built our house, someone gave Travis and I jobs, someone grew the food we eat), and our experience with adopting Neville was a reminder to be thankful for that.
  9. Life as we know it will never be the same. So long sleeping in until 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays! We have a dog who needs to poop!
I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good. I couldn't resist!
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
I couldn’t resist!

feeling broken

I fell asleep last night thinking about more tragic losses in our country, and woke up with new sad stories posted all over the Internet. I can only read so many articles, and I avoid almost all video. My imagination with words alone is enough most of the time.  My heart aches once again along with countless victims of loss, and I wonder sometimes how much a heart can take.

Today is my Friday off and Travis left for work more than an hour ago. Once the house was quiet, I spent at least a half hour more in our dim family room with our new dog Neville laying on his side to my left, and our cat, Stella, softly sleeping on the couch by my feet. How lucky Neville and Stella are – to have the problems of cats and dogs. How lucky they are to not know of guns, and hatred, and violence. In that half hour, while they were peacefully resting, and my heart was not, I read Facebook posts and the news, until I finally got up to brew some coffee, open windows, and let some light in. And now I’m here, in front of this blank space, trying to sort out my feelings with words. I don’t want to read anymore, and I don’t want to see anymore. Not now, anyway, because I already know enough that my heart wants to be outside my body on the ground, or locked in a box where it doesn’t have to feel.

The thing is, I know to some tiny extent what families in Dallas and Minnesota and Louisiana will go through. I cannot speak to their tragedy, because I know we are in different situations. But I do know what it’s like to get a phone call out of no where and have your life flipped upside-down in one second. I know what it’s like to suddenly plan a funeral and make a thousand decisions you did not want to make. I know to a small extent what it feels like to have your loved one’s name in the news, and to know that reporters learned of your tragedy before you did. And then, when you’re in the middle of all your pain, a reporter calls your home and wants to talk about your loss.

What I do not know is losing a loved one out of hatred, and I do not know what it feels like to be in the middle of frightening chaos. I do not know what it’s like to have hurtful words splashed everywhere about a personal tragedy, a loved one, or a community I’ve lived in. I don’t know what it’s like to run from gunshots, or to fear for my life. I do not know what it feels like to be in the spotlight for something so terrible, and to have video of that terrible thing streamed everywhere for days. And all I can think is that it must be true hell. The worlds of families and friends have stopped completely and they are in a parallel universe called Hell on Earth. And while their pain is their own, it’s also mine, and yours, the country’s, and the world’s. I felt the same way after Paris, and San Bernardino, and Brussels, and Orlando. My heart twists in pain for the people in Istanbul and Iraq and for so many others who I can’t even name right now because it seems like there are too many losses spurred by hatred in recent days and months. What is life if we don’t love each other? What is life if we try to solve problems with violence? What is life if we don’t transform our societies from places filled with fear and hatred, to those filled with empathy and love?

I don’t have answers, and that is one of the most frustrating things. I want to write and say there is some silver lining, but I don’t see one. At this point, all I can hope for is that we mourn together, and that we won’t jump to conclusions, or create more hate. There is something transformative about grieving, and right now I hope the grief we collectively feel can carve space in our hearts for feeling broken, for loss, and for love.