Another surrogate daughter shared something tonight that, on top of an anxiety-provoking experience, made me think about who I am. I am a person who:

Rescues ants from drowning in hot springs pools
Would prefer to shoo a fly out a door instead of splatter it on the wall
Says hi to every dog I get close to, even before saying hi to their owner
Picks up things for strangers when they drop them
Ask confused looking tourists if they need help with directions
Stops to see if I can help children who look lost and scared
Wants to tell you if your tire is going flat when I’m driving next to you
Tries to help an old friend who I haven’t spoken with in years who posts a suicidal message on social media (this is how I have spent much of my evening)
Will write “you are amazing” on any available public chalkboard
Is still trying to figure out how to get out of my own way
Looks for the tiny things that make me smile each day
Tries to see the positive in all negatives
Loves my daughter – and my many surrogate daughters – with my whole heart
Misses friends from my school years with whom I’m no longer in touch
Would give the shirt of my back (or in one case, my bra) to a friend in need
Tries to think before she speaks
Makes sure that my words are kind
Hopes I’ve made a meaningful difference in one life in the course of my own
Is crazy stupid in love with my husband
Thinks that there are positives in every person
Wants to have a good relationship with my ex-husband
Is happiest by water
Believes the people we have lost to death are with us still
Loves to draw hearts in the sand…

And so much more. That’s just a drop on the surface of the sea of me. But tonight, I felt the need to share it.

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Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “To be kind, honest and have positive thoughts; to forgive those who harm us and treat everyone as a friend; to help those who are suffering and never to consider ourselves superior to anyone else: even if this advice seems rather simplistic, make the effort of seeing whether by following it you can find greater happiness.” — Dalai Lama XIV

Daily gratitudes:
My truck
That MKL is a little happier
That my heating pad has chosen to work tonight
My physical therapist
Kelsea and my girls

 

 

 

One of my surrogate daughters asked me today if I loved or hated the snow. It’s truly a thin line between love and hate, though it’s certainly not a thin line between sand and snow. Those two are generally as far apart as Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz, and as we all know, I’m on the sandy side.

I love the sound of snow, like a softly crocheted blanket dropping slowly and gently on the earth. I like the silence that accompanies it, the dearth of traffic, the stillness of the birds which are just now starting to explore the possibility of perhaps maybe conceivably returning. It’s beautiful when it is pristine and untouched, unshoveled, unplowed. If I could sit in a tower and watch it swath the hills and trees and fields, I would love it. Working from a cozy house as it piles up isn’t bad either.

With my internal furnace currently set at magma, the cold doesn’t bother me so much, but going out in the snow is just a huge struggle. I’d love to go cross-county skiing or snowshoeing, but getting ready to go out, getting to the car, making it driveable, and getting anywhere is just … no.  I remember that from my childhood, when three inches of snow was a ridiculous amount. We never saw 16 inches in North Carolin in those days.

We seem to have topped out at around that foot and a half point with this storm, which the most accurate weatherman called a “crockpot” storm, because it took a while to develop. Now we just wait for the meltdown. Perhaps if I threw my magma-hot self into the snowbank, it would help things along.

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Snow on my favorite fuzzy tree, Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Cold and silence. Nothing quieter than snow. The sky screams to deliver it, a hundred banshees flying on the edge of the blizzard. But once the snow covers the ground, it hushes as still as my heart.” — Laurie Halse Anderson

Daily gratitudes:
Making soup on a cold day
Having help shoveling my walk
That MKL is home safe
Counting down
Friends

 

 

 

I learned today of the death of a friend. Even though we hadn’t seen each other or even spoken in years, I still considered him a friend. Over the years, we were there for one another when things were falling apart in various sectors of our lives. It has saddened me. Saddened me because we hadn’t spoken in years. As I reach a certain age, I will lose more friends, just as these days, the world loses singers and actors that were icons of my teens and twenties. I love my friends and family, even if I don’t often communicate. And when they die, whether it’s sudden or slow, it’s always too soon. I am left with memories – good, funny, random, bittersweet. And never enough.

My wedding this summer brought me back to some of these people who are closest to my heart, and for that I amforever blessed.

It feels like it has been a year of passings for my friends, and we are not even a month in, and that makes me wonder. Why? Why did pneumonia steal away the larger-than-life man with the larger-than-life heart, whose loss has devastated one of my beloved friends? Why is another of my darlings, who so recently defied death herself, now faced with the slow, tender, painful, spiral of her mother’s passing? Why is a new daughter faced with the light of her grandmother suddenly extinguished?

I keep asking why, and there is no answer.

There is no way to take away the pain of loss. It does fade, gradually, like a well-loved shirt, laundered and worn until it comes apart at the seams and transforms into something different, or gets tucked in a drawer to stir memories when you catch sight of it as you’re looking for something else. But it is always there. Pain of loss transforms us in ways we cannot understand. I would hope it makes us kinder, gentler souls, who handle other souls with greater care, but I don’t know if that’s always so. The pain reshapes us inside, and we are never quite the same person as before, even if we think we are.

We are all treasures in process, I suppose.

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Quote of the day (and one quoted before): “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” — Anne Lamott

Daily gratitudes:
Memories
MKL, always
Kelsea
The mystery of life
Walking

 

 

 

As we shift from beaches to barnyards, I’ll be sharing some images from the 110th National Western Stock Show in Denver. MKL was a wonderful substitute for Kelsea who, as I’m sure I’ve said about twenty times, missed the Stock Show for the first time in 19 years. She was six weeks old at the time of her first visit. MKL and I went twice this year, which was YAY for me, since I could go every day. It has always been a dream of mine to work for the NWSS. There’s some farm girl deep inside of me that just feels so at home among the livestock. I’ve always felt this way, but have never acted on it. At this stage of our life together, I don’t think it’s a good fit either. But I have the Stock Show every year, and the only thing MKL wouldn’t (most wisely) do, which Kelsea and I would have done is put a bid in on a cow in the Beef Palace. Just a small $100 bid, one on which we would have been immediately outbid. Or else we’d have a cow in the front yard now. Anyway, as I say, MKL is wise. Though he did look the part of a wealthy rancher on both visits.

We saw two rodeos one of which included mutton bustin’ and some really rank bulls, had a meet-and-greet with llamas and alpacas, saw Highland cattle, angus bulls, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, geese, ducks, peacocks, buffalo, and Longhorns. I petted a yak. We had a beer at the Yard Bar. I got manure on my boots. We ate corn dogs and MKL had a deep-fried Twinkie. And I was as happy as …. well, as happy as could be.

Do you remember fairy tales of the poor farm girl swept up in some whirlwind romance and whisked off to the city to lead a life of luxury? Why does no one ever sweep the busy city girl of to a farm?

A Sheepish SmileDenver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Love grows wherever you plant it, so I try to farm it wherever I go.” — Jarod Kintz

Daily gratitudes:
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos
Lap cats
Artichokes
Love
My girls

 

The New Year is now a distant memory for most of us. I know that MKL and I played pool, drank martinis, ate something yummy, watched tropical visions on Hawaii 5-0 on Netflix, and fell asleep before midnight. But many of you in the blogosphere may have noticed the “One Word Challenge.” I was late to that party, but the idea is that you pick one word to which you dedicate your actions and goals for the year. It’s simpler than your standard New Year’s resolutions, which are generally abandoned by the time you get the Christmas Tree off to the recycle center.

I’m not generally a big fan of this sort of thing (or of large parties), but this struck some chord within me. MKL and I do have a goal of combining households and actually living like a married couple in 2016, which led me to think that my word was “home.” But that is a very, very complex word for me (although MKL has made it simpler, as I feel as if my home is where he is). So I don’t think “home” is quite my word. I think my word is for 2016 is “bravery.”

BRAVERY.

The things that feed my soul that I fear pursuing because of rejection or failure need to be brought out to the show windows this year, reactions be damned. Maybe not quite like bravery in terms of Braveheart where Mel Gibson gets his intestines pulled out on a roller, but bravery in terms of going after what I want (no one else can do it for me) and taking risks around changes in my life, seeing new places, challenging myself. I haven’t done anything particularly brave in five years, when I was forced to reshape my roadkill of a life. So it’s time. Wish me luck. No, wish me courage.

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Eastern Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.” — Emma Donoghue

Daily gratitudes:
My MRI technician
Shamanic journeys
Meeting deadlines
Melting snow
Love

 

 

Biding my time until we are somewhere warm. And trying to get my shoulder to heal. That part is not going well. But the countdown to warm is moving right along.

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Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” — Carl R. Rogers

Daily gratitudes:
Warm socks
Mr. Man
Jumping jacks
MKL
Messaging with my girls

 

 

Salt water is good at hiding things, whether it’s tears on a soft cheek, or the white wings of a gull skimming along seafoam. I think that no matter how happy I find myself from day to day, sometimes demons and their lies from the past raise their heads when I am dabbling in the dangerous winter waves of depression.

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Tulum, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” — Annie Lamott

Daily gratitudes:
Countdown to the sea
Those thousands of geese circling the dry fields
Stock show time with MKL
Dear and trusted friends
Moving through

 

 

 

 

In my continued quest to raise MKL’s spirits, I’m taking us to the long, wide, windswept beaches of the Riviera Maya again. January in Tulum was quite breezy; I suppose February in Cozumel will likely be the same, but that’s just fine. I’m excited to go – we’re a month away as of tomorrow. And today is our five month wedding anniversary, and we’re heading to the Stock Show tomorrow to see llamas, alpacas, rodeo, and whatever other surprises we encounter. He has promised to do his best to take the place of Kelsea – this is the first year she will miss the Stock Show, having gone every year since she was a month and a half old. He’s a very good husband. :-)

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Tulum, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “When we travel, we aim for the sublime. It’s the ridiculous stuff, however, that we tend to treasure the most.” — Erik Torkells

Daily gratitudes:
The surprise return of a favorite blogger after a year-long hiatus
Working from home on a snow day
A cuddly Maine Coon
My stepsons
A clean(ish) kitchen

 

 

 

I love the way the little palm spawn are playing around the grown-up palm in this image. This was taken at a very odd little resort that my niece and I passed through as we walked back from the main Tulum ruins to our little hotel. If I were younger, it’s a place I might have liked to stay, because each room was just a little tiny house, all painted in bright tropical colors. But there were communal bathrooms (no) and no cross-breezes in the tiny houses (oven) – neither of those things feeds the soul in need of sanctuary.  But palm trees, and the sound of the wind through the fronds, always does.

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Tulum, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “In the winter she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold.” — Ben Aaronovitch

Daily gratitudes:
The Stock Show parade
Hearing coyotes howling in the open space near my bungalow
Old fashioned radiators to warm MKL’s feet
Island dreaming
Only 72 days until spring

It’s Stock Show weather here in Denver – meaning it’s soooo cold and the 110th National Western Stock Show kicks off tomorrow.  (At least we are not at Denver’s record low for this date, set in 1913, of -21.) You’ll get some photos and details over the next two weeks. We’re still sticking with beach images, since MKL and I are landlocked for another month, and the winter blues are getting a bit overwhelming for us both. On a lighter note, am I the only person who immediately thought of “Married With Children” when I read about the Bundy crew barricading themselves in a BLM office in Oregon? I actually thought it was a joke at first. But I’ll say no more, as I seldom get political here, unless I feel exceptionally passionate about something, and this is not one of those things.

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Tulum, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Up yours.” — Robert Byrne

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
The fostered cats at The Happy Beast
My orange earrings
A brand new blue bus for my daily commute
Shedding tears at the loss of a friend of a friend

 

 

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