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.



the things i want


In college, I took four semesters of voice lessons, but if you listened to me now, you might not believe it.

I’ve always loved to sing. When I was young, I would sit in the back of the car and sing all kinds of songs to myself, some real, some made up. My favorite when I was about 4 years old, was the theme song from “An American Tale.” I would sing it quietly, thinking no one could hear me, but they always could of course, and to this day, that’s how my mom’s best friend pictures me … the little girl who used to sing in the backseat of the car.

I don’t know why I never learned how to sing well since I loved it so much. I did try a few times to take lessons. In second grade, I was in a singing group called Choral Collection, and while I think I liked it a lot, there must have been some reason I stopped. Then, in third or fourth grade, my mom gave in and let me take private lessons, but that only lasted a month. I was young and all the techniques I was supposed to practice – like scales, buzzing my lips and making strange sounds with my mouth – were uncomfortable for me. I was too embarrassed to practice. I really would have been better off joining a choir or something more appropriate for my age. The woman I took lessons from was so good, but I didn’t understand what it took for me to be good. So, I quit.

Then, years went by and when I was about 21 or 22, I started taking lessons in college for elective credits. I did practice (although I was still embarrassed and often did the exercises and sang in the car on long drives), I did get better, and I did have fun. But while I think I can generally match a tune, I’m still not a great singer.

I remember going to one of my lessons and explaining to the teacher why I hadn’t practiced as much that week. There were a million reasons, one of them being a marathon I ran. I don’t remember the others things that got in the way, but I do remember my teacher saying, “I think you’re one of those people who does everything.”

That’s stuck with me. Because yes, I do like to try a lot of things. But I always have to wonder, is that for the best if I never get really good at any of them?

Take running for example. I’ve completed five half marathons and two full marathons, but I’m not fast. In fact, my speed has pretty much stayed the same for the last eight years or so I’ve been running.

And for the last six years I’ve been interested in graphic design, and while I can do some things well, I often think I should be better at it by now.

I have so many interests and I’m always trying to incorporate them in my life. One year, I wrote five songs – lyrics, music, everything – and recorded them with my brother. For a while, I was going to yoga once a week. And there was the year I picked up sewing, making 10 blankets and a few purses in a year. One summer, I tried to attend as many plays as possible. And the last couple years, I’ve gotten into hiking. There were also the few months when I tried to take a picture every day. One summer month the year after I finished college, I made the goal to swim every day.

I wasn’t necessarily trying to get good at all of these things. A lot of the time, I just wanted to have fun. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be really good at some of these things – music, art, exercise.

You know what I’d really like to be good at now? You know what I’d really like to accomplish?

  1. Writing. I want this always to be a part of me. I want to communicate ideas that matter and express creativity. I really want to write and publish a book someday.
  2. Running. For some of you exercise zealots, this will sound like nothing, but I really want to finish a half marathon in less than two hours.
  3. Graphic Design. I want to have my own place on the Internet where I sell quality design work.

I also want to do a bunch of other things, but maybe if I choose three main things to work on, I’ll be able to do it. Or is three too many? What do you think?

Right now, I have a note on my desk that says, “How much do you want the things you want?!” I wrote to remind myself that the things I want the most will take a lot of work. If I want to get good a graphic design, I have to put in the time. Same with running, writing and even being a good person. Sure, everything takes passion, desire and drive, but that’s just the beginning. Putting in the time is probably the most important aspect of becoming talented at something.

How much do you want the things you want?!

This is my newest mantra. And I know that if I really want to improve things, I have to get past the fear, the insecurities and the laziness that so often creeps in. I have to forget about failing.

And it’s not like I can’t stick to things. I took piano and clarinet lessons for six years each. And whenever I’ve wanted to travel, I’ve made that happen by being dedicated to saving money. I finished college in eight semesters. There are also a lot of other short-term goals I’ve accomplished.

I’m happy to have tried so many things, and I don’t that part of my personality is going to change any time soon. Bring on the adventures! But for now on, I hope to also bring on the effort for the things I want most. I want to dream big and really make those dreams come true.

If any of you have suggestions on how you reach you’re dreams, let me know. I’m always open to inspiration.


tell me a story


I commuted an hour each way for a part-time freelance job for about eight months after moving to Albuquerque. During those long drives through the desert – the fluffy clouds filling the sky and tumbleweeds bouncing along the freeway on windy days – I discovered after a while, it gets really old listening to the same music over and over. I hate the radio, so I tend to listen to CDs and my favorite tunes on my iPod, and after two hours a day, it wasn’t unusual for me to listen to the same things – mixes made by friends, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan. And when I had the lyrics memorized and the songs got old, I longed to be a bit more productive. So, I tracked down a library, got a card, and started listening to novels.

I fell more in love with Jodi Picoult during those months as I listened to her stories of troubled teenagers and families going through big life changes. Her character development and detail is amazing, and it seems she puts an incredible amount of research into her books to make them believable.

Then there was Malcom Gladwell and Charles Duhigg. Both experienced journalists, they’ve written incredible books. I’ve listed to “The Power of Habit” by Duhigg twice, actually, and will probably listen to it again this year.”Outliers” was the book I listened to by Gladwell and it made me realize if I really want my dreams to come true, some of it’s luck, but a lot of it is also really hard work and opportunity.

I listened to my first Nora Roberts book, “Chasing Fire,” which was a great adventure/romance story involving a group of firefighters.

Then, for a while, audio books were put on hold. I carpooled to work with a friend and listening to books wasn’t really in the cards until I got a job in Albuquerque and decided to start listening again on my commutes by myself.

What I’ve realized is I’m in the car more than I think. My commute to work is about 25 minutes each way now, so if I have a good book in my car, I can listen to 50 minutes a day. And if I happen to run errands or do anything extra before my eight-hour shift begins, I can hear even more of the books.

Last fall, I listened to three “Harry Potter” books, a few childrens classics by Roald Dahl and Frances Hodgson Burnett, and somewhere in there, I listened to, “A Long Way Gone,” an amazing memoir about a boy soldier in Africa by Ishmael Beah.

Books are so wonderful, aren’t they? I only wish I could read and listen to more. And the library is such a wonderful gift that I feel is too often overlooked. Every few weeks now, I love going there and perusing the selection of audio books. And then I get to take one or two home for free and learn from great writers. I get to have a peek inside their imaginations and research and the stories that make them tick. I get to hear the adventures of a little princess living in the attic at a boarding school, and picture the magic of a boy discovering he’s a wizard. Duhigg makes me want to live a better life and change the things that hold me back. And Beah helped remind me that my life is incredibly problem-free compared to those who live in fear and hatred day in and day out for years after losing their families to war.

It may sound cheesy, but I’m so grateful to have easy access to books. Not everyone in the world has that. I’m also grateful for talented writers, their imaginations, and their willingness to share stories, even if they are true and painful. It’s through books we can learn some of life’s biggest lessons, and some of life’s biggest problems without having to experience them ourselves. We can gain compassion through reading or listening to books. We can hone our creativity, and we can keep our minds active and our hearts open.

It’s a different experience listening to a book over reading one, as I’m sure you know. Some of the actors who read the stories are so talented. I love the guy who reads the Harry Potter books because he does a million voices and it’s pretty impressive.

One of my favorite quotes from these books (and there are many) comes from Beah’s book. Since you know I love the stars, the moon and the night, it seems fitting. How nice the moon is – playful, happy, content.

” ‘We must strive to be like the moon.’

“An old man in Kabati repeated this sentence often. The adage served to remind people to always be on their best behavior and to be good to others. [My grandmother] said that people complain when there is too much sun and it gets unbearably hot, and also when it rains too much or when it is cold. But, no one grumbles when the moon shines. Everyone becomes happy and appreciates the moon in their own special way. Children watch their shadows and play in its light, people gather at the square to tell stories and dance through the night. A lot of happy things happen when the moon shines. These are some of the reasons why we should want to be like the moon.”

– Image from Pinterest


sundays are my mondays


For the last several months, my work week  has been Sunday through Thursday. It’s actually been a nice schedule having Fridays and Saturdays off. I also work a swing shift, so I’m home during the day. While there are drawbacks to this, there are also positive things. I can get things done and go outside when a lot of people can’t. I can go to the post office while it’s open. I can grocery shop with hardly anyone in the store. I can attend yoga classes, run, hike and swim (weather permitting), all before going to the office.

But one of the million things I’m learning at my job is that nothing is permanent. My schedule is changing next week to Monday through Friday and there’s a good chance it will change again in a couple months. Change is not always something I love – and that’s normal – but it’s definitely a good reminder to look for the good things in everything while they last because everything changes, even if we fight it.

I saw the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote recently and want to follow it. What would my life be like if I believed every day was the best day of the year? Or even better, what would it be like if I treated each day as if it were the last day of my life?

I know life is hard and sometimes cruel, but even on those days, there’s always something to be thankful for. This week, my little lovely stars were breakfast in bed one morning, a two-hour nap on a Saturday, a couple long walks where I attempted to get all my stressful thoughts out, a movie with a good friend, watching the first episode of this season’s “Bachelor,” meeting a few new, nice people for lunch and taking a new graphic design course online.

There is always something good in every day. What were your little lovely stars this week?



mountain view

The mountains do it for me. What does it for you?