Could it be love?

I have a new boyfriend. He’s tall and handsome with broad shoulders and thick, brown hair. He’s got a muscled chest and tight abs. Oh, and he fills out a pair of jeans just right. We spend almost every evening together and, sometimes, entire weekends. He’s smart, honest and kind, but sometimes a little dark and brooding. You see, he lost his wife about a year ago. He’s got plenty of ambition. He wears cowboy boots and carries a gun. There’s only one problem: He lives in Wyoming.

My new boyfriend is Sheriff Longmire. You might recognize the name, if you subscribe to Netflix.

There are definite advantages to having a Netflix boyfriend. Longmire doesn’t care what I’m wearing. I never, ever have to shave my legs. And he has never once expected me to make him dinner (although I certainly would). He has never left hair in the bathroom drain, failed to remember something I said or farted in bed.

He’s always there when I need him and he never whines when I don’t. I couldn’t ask for a better boyfriend right now. If it wasn’t for his unfortunate first name, he’d be perfect. But that’s a blog for another day.

The Saddest Farewell

No matter how many times I do this, it always feels like the worst day of my life. The only time I ever say, “I’ll never have another dog,” is the last day – The one when I grant them freedom from the frail body that no longer serves them. It’s so hard. When I look into those cloudy eyes, I see past the protruding hip bones and wobbling legs. I remember the exuberant puppy whose energy, at times, tried my patience. In the beginning, I rescued my dogs. But in the years that followed, they rescued me – From loneliness, from harsh self-judgement, from fear of things that go ‘bump’ in the night.

The first day I come home to find no joyfully wagging tail to greet me – That’s one of the worst moments. Their absence packs a surprising punch. This time, it’s my son who will feel that stab of harsh reality. Our 15 year old girl had been living with him since I sold the house, nine months ago.

Once you love a dog and then lose her, you learn. Eventually, the pain lessens and you get another. But, even from the very first days, you begin to mourn them. You know how fast their short lifetime goes by. You know how much it’s going to suck at the end. Yet, despite ourselves, we fall in love, all over again.

After a couple of years, you stop noticing how the commitment of having a dog changes your life. They become synchronized with your daily routines and rituals. When you say they are part of your family, people look at you funny (at least those who do not have a dog). Then, they get sick or hurt and you are forced to confront your fears. You think, “But I’m not ready.” Sleep and, sometimes, large amounts of money, are forfeited to avoid a premature end. Once they are brought back to good health, life goes on and we put it out of our minds. Until it happens again: Only this time, they are elderly and it’s not something that can be reversed.

It’s the right decision – the only one. We know, in our heart, it’s necessary. We pray that she’ll die peacefully, in her sleep. But it doesn’t usually happen that way, for me. She has given us so much in her short lifetime that we cannot allow her to suffer. It would be selfish to let her go on for our own benefit.

But it’s just so hard.

I have granted this final gift to so many dogs that I have been blessed to love through the years. It never gets easier. Today, I say “never again.” But I hope I’m wrong.

All you need is… Less!

I think I might finally be making some progress on the minimalist front. Baby steps, at least. After Thanksgiving, I took down the Autumn decorations and then put away some of my other things, too. My intention was to create space for Christmas. Despite my efforts to downsize my ridiculous collections of holiday ‘stuff’ prior to my move last year, the size of it is still impressive. Let’s just say I could easily decorate a Newport mansion.

Anyway, I unpacked a few of my favorite and most precious things and put them on display. Then a funny thing happened. Instead of longing for the rest of my sentimental things, I found a blissful peace among the simple. The soft lights from my basic winter village and my Nana’s antique ceramic tree provided all the spirit I needed. Suspicious that the feeling would wear off, I waited. A week went by and then two.

I mentioned the possibility that I was not getting a real tree to a couple of people close to me. They reacted with disbelief. Because it is our tradition, I visited two tree farms the day after Thanksgiving but found nothing that suited me. Looking back, I believe it was because I felt that I did not need a tree at all. I was contented with my modest and humble surroundings.

In the end, I caved and bought a full size, artificial tree. When it came time to decorate, I was glad. My ornaments are so meaningful to me and bring me more joy than any other material things. But I added little else. The desire to experience an uncomplicated Christmas carried over to other areas. I did much less shopping and very little baking. With careful consideration, I chose the traditions that felt most important to my family. The rest – I graciously let go.

The results were staggering. I approached the most chaotic and stressful days of the year completely relaxed and at peace. There was so much time for quiet contemplation and appreciation. Each moment was one to be savored. The time was spent with the small handful of people closest to me.

Even the aftermath was better: No letdown, little clean up. The peaceful feeling has carried me into the new year and, hopefully, beyond. Less really is more. I placed less demands on myself. Sure, there were less decorations, less gifts and (maybe) less food. The trade off was more time, more energy, more clarity. And, most importantly, more enjoyment.

That’s an exchange I’m willing to make – any time of year.

Christmas Eve

Tonight, the greatest gift is mine

Though it bears no wrapping or bow

You’ll not find it ‘neath my parlor pine

Nor buried in the snow

This blessed evening brings to me

The gift of a story that’s told

The package isn’t one you can see

And it’s more than two thousand years old

It started when a baby boy was born

Beneath a shimmering star

And a journey began the very next morn

By wise men, near and far

The gift is offered every year

To those whose hearts are ready

That baby returns and holds me near

His love is true and steady

How, you may ask, do I know for sure?

The answer is simple, you see

I find his hand in all that endures

And in all that is precious to me

Amid the holiday tinsel and cheer

Many gifts you will receive

But none so dear as Jesus Christ

Like him, there is no other

Magical moments


I can’t wait until it’s over.” Most of us have, at one time or another, uttered these dreadful words in December.


It’s the busiest week of the year for many of us. No matter how hard we try, last minute demands require our attention. We put undue pressure on ourselves to have a perfect, Hallmark holiday.


For me, Christmas exists in smaller moments. Between work, decorating, shopping, cooking and wrapping, there are truly peaceful spaces of time carved out of my chaotic schedule. It’s easy to miss them, if you’re not paying attention and present in the moment. Or, sometimes, you have to create them. I did just that this morning.


After rushing around getting ready for the day, I realized that everything was ready: The Yankee Swap gift and food offering for the office party, the shopping list for the way home, my travel mug of coffee. The trash and recycle bin were at the curb. Glancing at the clock, I realized that I was going to be right on time – for the worst rush hour traffic of the day!


Instead, I asked my friend Alexa to play some traditional Christmas carols. There was a small pile of ornaments waiting to be added to my tree. This seemed a good time. For ten minutes, I hummed along with the music and finished trimming the tree. All of my ornaments are sentimental and hold special meaning for me: The hand tooled silver icicles from the blacksmith shop in Vermont, the little antique Santas that were my mother’s, crocheted snowflakes from my Nana, and the ones that my children made for me, decades ago.


It’s so much more than just a Christmas tree. It is a lifetime of warm memories. It sparkles with the love of generations of family and friends. In that short ten minutes this morning, I felt all of it – My mother’s hands, my children’s voices, my friends’ thoughtfulness.


This season brings many blessings. May your moments be filled with peaceful reflection, comforting traditions and the warmth of family and friends. Keep them in your heart all year long.


Merry Christmas!



Strong and impenetrable outside
Empty within
But for some fine detail
If you care to look carefully


The most beautiful ones
Are broken – So fragile
They crumble when you touch them
Before returning them to the very waves
That destroyed them


Polished from decades of pummeling
Resting at the edge
Waiting to be discovered
And treasured


I am like a seashell
Battered by the tide
Hollowed of life
Shattered and scarred
Yet glistening brightly
Wherever I land



The blessing of grief

Grief is a funny thing. Well, not funny like, ‘ha ha,’ but the fickle kind of funny. It’s unpredictable and often difficult to recognize. I don’t always see it for what it is. There have been many times during the past fifteen months or so when the adrenaline was so thick in my veins that my heart had to beat fast to circulate the blood thru it. There were times I sought stimulation when I should have sought peace. I did not wish to be alone with my fears. There were some questionable decisions that, luckily, turned out well. My angels were on roller skates, I’m sure, trying to keep up. But I survived.

As the dust settles around me in this renovated life, I find the blood no longer hurdles thru my veins like a rushing river. The voices in my head have quieted to a normal decibel level and, most of the time, they even make sense. Finally, I have been able to find comfort in the beauty of solitude.

I used to tease my mother about being in her pajamas so early in the evenings. If she’s with me still, she’s enjoying the last laugh because I’m sure I’ve got her beat some nights. I hardly recognize myself, truthfully, when I’m cozied up on the couch on a Saturday night – alone. It’s absolutely glorious.

Contentment oozes from my pores. It is a welcome relief. Most evenings, I don’t turn on the television or even the music. The ticking clock on the wall is all the accompaniment I need. Crickets outside my window provided the perfect background noise before it turned cold. I am done running away from my life and all it’s messiness. I have created a blissful existence and I revel in it.

Not to say that I don’t get lonely. There are nights when I sat outside on my little patio chairs and feel the day’s warmth dissipate as the sun sank low. I’d think how nice it would be to have someone with whom to share it. Fortunately, there have been one or two who accepted where I am on this journey. But, in the absence of such, I am capable of finding the joy all by myself. To be honest, I like having the option. I have learned to value my own company over the wrong company.

It has all been part of grieving, for me: Experiencing the loss of my marriage, my home and my retirement lifestyle. It was a lot and I allowed myself to feel each and every painful moment. The only way to get over something is to tuck your chin and go straight thru it. I have emerged on the other side – whole, vibrant, engaged and ready for what comes next.

I still have my moments, but nowadays, it’s easier. Grief surprises me sometimes with its sharp edges. But it’s fleeting and I soon return to this fabulous existence that I’ve been blessed to create. The wonderful things that have been added to my life make up for the things I’ve lost. And I have salvaged the things that really matter- my friends, my health, my music, my writing. My extended family is smaller now and that loss endures. I accept that there will always be things that are beyond my control. I have a warm, comfortable home and rewarding, purposeful career. Every day, I feel joy. I am able to love and know that I am loved.

Who could possibly ask for more?