Tuesday, December 1, 2015

After a decade in an animal shelter, Sweet Sheba finds a home!

It seems there's a "Sheba" dog at every animal shelter.
Our Sheba--a pit mix--spent her earliest years chained to a radiator in some horried NYC project apartment, then was moved to a shelter in Yonkers, and finally "rescued" from that shelter and moved up to the Ulster County SPCA in Kingston, NY.  Sheba spent almost a decade in the shelter system. She is not a "beautiful" dog in the classic sense, nor is she a silly young pup, and sometimes she would bite people who moved their hands on her in ways she didn't like. (And as for the "beautiful" dog comment, I want to stress that I don't care about that sort of thing, but a lot of people sadly do).

As a result, potential adopters rarely even said hello to her through the windows of her kennel. She was the passed-by dog, day in and day out....for many, many years. We worried she would never find a home. But we loved her and loved her and loved her, and those volunteers whom Sheba rarely bit got to walk her and play with her, and take her out to the kiddie pool in the summer time, and rub her belly, and tuck her into her favorite "bunk bed." We believed in her, in other words.

On the dry erase board where the dog's "statistics" are written, Sheba's profile said something to the effect of: She will always have a home here and she will always be loved.  That's what I love about my shelter: there is always love, and there is always hope. We don't euthanize animals, and we never assume any dog is "unadoptable." We believe that there is someone for everyone--and whether that combination involves humans, dogs, cats, horses, goats, bunnies, or all the above, we hold true to that Truth.  If you exist on this planet, you belong, and you will find your Soul Friends.

Last week--and here come the tears--Sheba was adopted.  I wasn't there to witness the going away party, but it looks like about two dozen Fans of Sheba were there to see her off.  Many blessings to you, Sheba, and to your new family.    Let this story be a sign of hope for ALL shelter dogs. 


#ulstercountyspca #thereisalwayshope #adoptdogs

Monday, November 16, 2015

It's impossible to say "nothing has changed..."

A conversation with my dear friend this morning began with her saying "I don't know what's wrong with me. Nothing has changed in my life but I woke up feeling so depressed." I lovingly pointed out that, actually, something has changed in her life, and that something was the terrorist attacks last week in France.We are ALL CONNECTED. (Sorry for the all-caps, but sometimes it's necessary). Somewhere, several tens of thousands of animals are likely being slaughtered horribly as we speak. Somewhere, in the depths of the ocean, a turtle is choking on a snarl of plastic Wal-Mart bags. Somewhere, in some derelict rural lot, a swarm of ants is being set on fire by a group of misguided boys. Somewhere, a girl-child is being sold into slavery because her family has to choose between food and her. So she becomes someone else's food. I'm not trying to be a downer here, but it's important to remember that until ALL BEINGS are free from suffering, none of us will be free from suffering, because we are those all-belngs. I invite you to pray that everything and everyone--including the perpetrators--be free from suffering and that all beings experience peace and happiness.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saturday in Florida began with an early trip to the farmer's market...

Saturday in Florida began with an early trip to the farmer's market, to pick up my organic greens from #GreenFlamingoOrganics and listen to that day's entertainment (a kitchy lounge keyboard player delivering an unironic version of "Black Magic Woman" followed by "The Long and Winding Road"). Then I caught an unexpected buzz from my ginger-lime kombucha (causing me to skip yoga) and an unexpected big score at the thrift store ($4 Juiceman II!). Then a field trip to #CassadegaSpiritualistCamp--which is kind of like Hogwarts for adults--with my friend, where we communed with crystals and had our futures told. Then a sunset walk on the beach, watching lightning dance behind the clouds. Then dinner consisting mainly of the market greens, then evening sadhana, then a lovely conversation with one of my best friends from high school (with a brief reminiscense of our wilder Saturday nights from youth) and finally, retirement, crawling onto the thermopedic mattress with a good book.

My high school friend pointed out that I was living the life I had always wanted. She was speaking of the music, and of my forthcoming album (woohoo!)--I have always wanted to "be a singer." But it's larger than that. The psychic today told me that the universe was bringing me peace, because I had asked for it and had "worked" for it. Oh, yes, we worked for it. But I also think that inner peace is somehow easier to achieve in 85 degree weather, with the ocean as one's soundtrack. At least the Yankee in me says that. I think my Florida friends might agree. In the meantime, in this month of #gratitude, I am grateful for the sun. And the sea. And friends. And lounge singers. And my teachers. And on and on and on.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Abandon your homeland. That is the way of the Bodhisattva

As I prepare to migrate south for the winter, I am filled with, well, mostly melacholia and yearning, because I love New York, and I hate to leave it. But I just don't do well in the cold, or the darkness; thus, as soon as the clocks change, I bolt. So I have to leave what I love in order to preserve my sanity, that I might continue to be able to love. I wish there were another way, but maybe this is The Way.
This morning, I opened my little pocket booklet “The 37 Practices of the Bodhisattva” at random and read this: "Abandon your homeland. That is the way of the Bodhisattva."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Up here on the mountain, our growing cycle is always about a month behind...

Up here on the mountain, our growing cycle is always about a month behind the rest of the Hudson valley. The tomatoes are still green, the sunflowers are only waist-high and the raspberries are on the perfect verge of being overly ripe. In a way I feel like it's still August, or even July, because aren't tomatoes a July thing? 

But every once in a while I see a swath of bright orange leaves decorating a distant tree, or I hear the plunk of an apple falling to the ground and it hits me that it truly is September. The bittersweet month. 

Even though I'm supposed to be practicing non-attachment, I sure am attached to summer, because most of the things I love occur in summer: sunshine, warmth, songbirds, flowers, butterflies, green grass, thriving wildlife, trashy books, music festivals, etc etc. 

But the good news is that everything that ends begins again and everything that begins ends and the one constant thing within us all is eternal and beautiful.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

An infrequent and brief album update from the writer who never has time to write...

This week we're getting ready to mix the one track on my album that hasn't quite come together the way "I" had envisioned it. This is a traditional "Govinda Hare/Gopale Hare" kirtan song that we recorded in honor of Shyamdas. (The song and its unusual instrumentation basically came to me in a dream, fully formed, the day after Shyamdas died). All this time I have really clung to that dream-version of the song, and all this time I have been singing the song to Shyamdas, but it still wasn't coming together. Several weeks ago I actually prayed to Shyamdas for guidance and the next day, out of the blue, a good friend wrote to me saying that she really wanted me to meet a good friend of hers--a fellow Buddhist practitioner named Susan Ryan. I knew who Susan is of course--she is Shyamdas's sister--and we have met at various events, but we hadn't really spoken at length up to that point (which is mainly a product of my own shyness at large events). Long story short, Susan and I connected by phone a week or so after that and we spoke about how much we love Shyamdas. Then another message came to me in a dream to re-record the chant like a true love song (to the Divine) rather than in the big way I had initially envisioned it. So that is what we are doing today. I am grateful for all the guidance I have received on this project--from both visible and invisible sources. JSK!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Reason #517 to love Woodstock, NY

Ah, country life.

This morning, on my daily post-meditation walk past Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery, I happened to run into a young bear who was just about to cross the road to get back to the state forest. This bear seems to be a regular at KTD, especially after the pujas when the food offerings are brought outside. Anyway, I'm so used to bears at this point in the season that I didn't even pause when I found myself a few feet from this one. "Hello, Torma Bear," I said casually, taking out my ear buds in case he had anything to say. "Be careful crossing the road.There are a lot of cars out today." 

I swear the bear looked both ways and gave me a nod as if to say, "I'm cool."

Then we both went our separate ways: he into the forest, me down the hill.

Oh, how I love summer!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

I attended an event today at which all the "mothers" were given roses. I wasn't offered a rose, because I didn't bear any children in this lifetime. It was actually rather awkward, and for a moment I almost cried, but I kept silent. Because the truth is: we're all mothers, whether we've delivered actual human babies or not. Later, I went to volunteer at the animal shelter, and did energy work on a literal bucketful of sick kittens. They were all entwined in impossible ways--some of them resting, some of them playing. The rascal of the litter kept biting his sister's ears, but she was too tired to care. As I did the energy work on the kitties, eight pairs of tiny eyes watched me with utmost trust and curiosity, mewing in that tiny, heart-piercing way kittens have. My heart responded with compassion and care, and I thought: this, too, is motherhood. So is watering a plant. Or picking up a stray bit of trash on the hiking trail. Or saying "thank you" to the wind. Any act of caring is a manifestation of motherhood. So to all you "childless" friends I say: even though no one is giving you roses, the wind says "thank you" right back. Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

There is so much magnificence near the ocean

At this time of year, when I make the transition from sunny Florida back to the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains, I usually go through a period of petulance--or withdrawal, I guess--in which I find myself missing the ocean very much. (Plus, it's darn cold up here on Mead Mountain Road!) But in my daily practice and study I am always encountering the word ocean: oceans of qualities, oceans of merit. I was recently reminded that Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche said my music echoed a line of verse in an aspiration prayer, because it carries "oceans of tones of melodic speech."  And my own refuge name is "Dharma Ocean of Compassion." So I am remembering that we all carry the ocean within us.  Which is a wonderful thing to remember.

The act of missing, of yearning, can often lead to these bright moments of rediscovery: that we are all connected, that separation does not exist. 

As the poet Kabir says, there is so much magnificence near the ocean....
Enjoy this track by Deva Premal and Miten.


Photo: my favorite beach at Hobe Sound

Friday, March 27, 2015

My interview with author MELISSA HOLBROOK PIERSON in Bark magazine!

It was such a pleasure to interview fellow author, dog-lover, and dear friend Melissa Holbrook Pierson about her forthcoming book THE SECRET HISTORY KINDNESS: LEARNING FROM HOW DOGS LEARN (Norton: April 2015) for Bark Magazine. Melissa is a beautiful writer, a consummate journalist, and one of the most interesting and provocative thinkers I know. Her new book is a must-read! Check out this profile--and more--in the latest print edition of Bark.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I’m having many moments of nostalgia as I think about album cover designs for my forthcoming album of mantra music, "Beyond the Beyond."  I come from one of those large Catholic conglomerate families, with six older siblings and step-siblings. One of my sweet step-brothers was so seemingly “old” when our families first merged I was awed and delighted to learn he had actually gone to Woodstock! Anyway, this “old” step-brother had the coolest collection of rock and roll albums the young me had ever seen.  I’ll never forget how blown away I was not only by the music (it explains why I am still such a huge fan of 70s rock) but by the cover art. I remember the curious and slightly scary surrealism of the Pink Floyd covers. Or the intricate and fascinating revolving collage of Led Zeppelin III. Or that zipper on the Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers"!?!  Talk about brilliant art! 

Recently, a friend of mine advised me that when I think about cover art design for my forthcoming CD, I have to keep in mind the thumbnail factor. Most people, my friend said, won’t see anything but that thumbnail. So keep it simple and bold. 

On the one hand, simple and bold is easy. It kind of takes the pressure off to create an intricate collage (and spend the reported $50K that the old Hipgnosis covers used to cost). But it makes me a little sad that another opportunity for great art has been lost through technology.

So who wants to see a zipper on their kirtan CD, huh?   

To those youngsters who haven’t heard of the late, great Storm Thorgerson and/or Hipgnosis Designs, I encourage you to get their art books or visit.  Be prepared for your mind to BEND!

#hipgnosis  #stormthorgerson #beyondthebeyond #pinkfloyd

Monday, March 16, 2015

"A student comes to a Master, Teacher, and Guru with tears in his eyes. There are so many problems, and when he leaves, he is carrying the same tears, but the quality of the tears is different, it is of gratitude. Still tears flow, but those are of gratitude, of love; it is so beautiful to cry in love. One, who has cried even once in love, knows the taste of it, of surrender and of devotion and the entire creation rejoices it. The entire creation is longing for only one thing, the transformed tears, from salty tears to sweet tears."

 ~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar​

Photo: Amma's lotus feet

Friday, March 13, 2015

Let Yourself Be Silently Drawn By the Strange Pull.....

I'll never forget the first time I read the poems of the Sufi Mystic Jallaladin Rumi. 
Who can? I remember how thousands of infinite possibilities seemed to explode in my young brain--and heart, and soul--when I first read these words:

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray."
~ #Rumi, as translated by #ColemanBarks

How wondrous it is that words which were written in the 13th century are still being read and circulated today!  And how delightfully bizarre that these ancient words are now being TWEETED. I wonder sometimes if Rumi knew, at some level, that this would come to pass.  I, for one, am grateful that his pure light messages live on and continue to inspire so many. It really is proof that if you do what you love, and follow all those "strange pulls," your work will be infinite and lasting and true. 

I think of the young me: dog-earing pages of poetry; highlighting inspirational passages in novels and spiritual self-help texts; always, always always searching for greater truth and wisdom.  I think of those books, now lovingly organized and packed in neatly-labeled boxes in an ExtraSpace storage unit. It pains me sometimes, that my books do not get to breathe, or experience dust or sun, or the loving touch of human hands. But that's another topic.  
Right now I'm thinking --oddly--that all that dog-earing and highlighting was somehow laying the ground for a future of Pinterest pins and Tweets.  And I think, mostly, that I have to start relying on the ExtraSpace Storage Unit that is my brain.  All those quotes, all those poems, all that knowledge, everything I have ever read...this all must still be inside me somewhere. So even if my books aren't breathing, I must breathe for them, and for all the authors who have inspired me so.
Rumi would say not to worry. To call the knowledge forth. 

"This is love: to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First, to let go of life.
In the end, to take a step without feet;
to regard this world as invisible,
and to disregard what appears to be the self.

Heart, I said, what a gift it has been
to enter this circle of lovers,
to see beyond seeing itself,
to reach and feel within the breast."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This Snowbird is Getting Ready to Fly Again

Well, my winter in Florida is coming to a close, and while I am always looking forward to returning to my beloved Hudson Valley, said Hudson Valley is still currently buried underneath many feet of snow, and the temperature rarely rises above freezing.  So I am going to extend my stay in Florida for a few more weeks.  If I can.  Any takers?

I really enjoyed my time at Atlantic Center for the Arts and am always so impressed with and inspired by the other in artists in residence I meet there.  I visited the studios of Steven and Katherine Aimone's abstract expressionist master workshop and was blown away by the paintings-in-progress that I saw. The smell of the paint and thinners, accompanied by the sound of classical music on someone's paint-spattered CD player--reminded me of my undergraduate days, when I myself was a painter. Ah, so long ago.

Anyway, it is customary when we leave Atlantic Center for the Arts to sign the wall inside our cottage closet.  I was delighted to see some of my favorite writers' names next to mine: Nick Flynn and Rick Moody.  Thanks ACA!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Prepare to be enchanted, uplifted and healed by my friend Drukmo Gyal Dakini's beautiful voice. Her new CD "The Tibetan Voice of Purification" has just been released and it is incredible.  I can't wait for more people to discover her amazing voice.  And, I'm thrilled to mention that Dakini sings on my CD as well. We're so blessed to have her on the "Beyond the Beyond" team. 

Please "like" her artist page on Facebook and share news of her CD launch to help spread the world about this up-and-coming vocalist and healer. May all beings benefit!

Here is Dakini's website:

Here is her Facebook page:


Thursday, February 19, 2015

I spent much of my Valentine's Day yesterday at the animal shelter doing energy work with the dogs. Mostly I just sat with them in a state of compassion. Sometimes it can be tender and almost painful to be in such a chaotic setting with an open heart. So when one of the dogs I was sitting with (a very large ridgeback/cur mix) started to cry, I started to cry as well. It can be so easy as a human in a crazy world to go into a state of feeling helpless and believing that we are unable to change anything. But the good thing about being a yogi and having a spiritual practice is that those practices help us remember that we can always tap into the power of prayer. So I kept singing mantras to the crying dog and praying for her happiness and telling her that I was with her. That she was not alone. Soon, she quieted and then all the dogs in the kennel room quieted. Something shifted. I'm not saying that "I" did anything or made something happen, but it's amazing to witness the energy of prayer in action. A few hours later that sweet, giant dog was adopted on the spot. I watched her hop into a family's car with her tail wagging and I heard someone say "good girl."
So...I think of one of my Buddhist teachers saying: "in a crazy world, the only thing that makes sense is compassion." I am so grateful for that teaching.
I've been re-reading Joseph Campbell​, who includes Chief Seattle's  beautiful letter to the American government is his book "The Power of Myth."  Chief Seattle's words are really worth reading again. And again. 

"The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? 

Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family. 

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father. 

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother. 

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. 

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. 

One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator. 

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival. 

When the last red man has vanished with this wilderness, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?
We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it, as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us. 

As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you. 

One thing we know - there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We ARE all brothers after all."

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Tender Journey of Mourning a Dog

I am back in Florida for the winter, and as soon as I arrived I started to miss my dog Chloe intensely. And mourn her loss.  The same thing happened last year when I came down at this time. Last year, I thought my reaction was simply delayed grief—Chloe had died in September of 2013 and I had arrived in Florida last January.  And fall is always surreal to me anyway, what with the holidays and all. I don’t really become myself again until after the New Year. But, here we are again, in January of 2015, meeting the same fresh grief even though over a year has passed since my beloved friend’s death. I thought in many ways I had moved on.

Given that I enjoy over-analyzing everything, I’ve started to analyze this as well.  What is about Florida—rather than New York, my literal and heart home—that makes me miss my dog more? And, more curiously, what is it about Florida that makes me remember her more.  Is it the fact that Chloe loved the water, especially Florida salt water, because of the quality and number of fish those waters offered? And because the water on the intercoastal side of Canaveral National Seashore, where I took her every day, was so wonderfully clear Chloe could see the fish easily, and chase them for hours? Or because sometimes--inexplicably and wonderfully—sleek and playful dolphins would join her in her chase? Was she simply happier here?

It’s hard to say. First of all, I think dogs can be happy everywhere, and Chloe had a good life. I took her to the water nearly every day up in New York as well, where she could troll for fish in the Hudson River or one of the many Catskill mountain streams. And while there are certainly more fish around the bays of Canaveral than the still-struggling Hudson River, I don’t think dogs are so concerned with quantity.  But who knows? Chloe was an exceedingly smart dog and could probably count.  In French.  Anyway, she fished there, she fished here; she had fun there, she had fun here; so why do I miss her more when I am here?

And even if she was happier here, why was that?  It can’t be because I was or am happier in Florida because frankly, I am not.  There’s the great irony. The only reason I come to Florida in the winter is to escape the terrible seasonal depression that used to slay me every October through March up in New York. After several years of experimenting with every possible medical and alternative solution (and yes we tried light boxes, yes we tried magnetic therapy and Vitamin D; and supplements, and herbs; and prayanaya and mantra and kriya; and even meds) my doctor finally advised me to simply go south for the winter.  “Follow the sun,” he said. And because I trust this man, and because I happen to live a lifestyle that allows me to follow the sun, I did.  And Chloe, for the last four years of her life, followed with me.
I have since discovered that the major factor of my seasonal depressions is and was actually Christmas, and that it takes me several weeks to recover from that onslaught, but that’s another story for another day.  We’re here to talk about Chloe.

It occurred to me this morning, as I was strolling through the weekly farmer’s market and remembering how Chloe used to enjoy coming here—especially when we got to Organic German Pretzel Man and he gave her a sample of his famous apple cinnamon strudel—that Florida can be a devastatingly lonely place for the young and single. That’s primarily because there are so many Olds and Marrieds here. I’m talking the cutest little old couples you have ever scene, enjoying their final years together in quiet, benign companionship.  In New York, the energy is of striving, achieving, go-getting; here the energy is more simple and accepting. People simply have routines and follow them. Paths aren’t being blazed per se; they are being strolled and revisited. With walkers and wheelchairs.  And no, I’m not trying to be depressing here; nor am I being judgmental. I think the retirees are beautiful in their non-striving. They are simply being. And enjoying. It’s very Buddhist, in a way. And they don’t even know it.  Hey man, I’m so Buddhist I don’t even know it. There’s a teaching in there somewhere.

I have a blind friend from New York who used to spend every winter in Florida. Now he has a new partner and she has convinced him to winter in Mexico this year because the old people in Florida are, in her opinion, too depressing.  My blind friend, who was born sighted and lost his vision in his late twenties, could empathize. Plus, he is an eternally good sport. His relationship to Florida as a blind person was one of weather and temperature and smell and sensation. Give him warm calm waters in which to swim, and hot sun to dry him off and he’s happy.  “So I’m fine with Mexico if that’s what she wants.”

But weren’t we talking about how much I miss my dog?  I realized this morning as I walked through the market—alone—that the reason I miss her so much when I am here might be that I have fewer friends here. And that when I first moved here five years ago, she was my only friend.  I’ve often joked through the years about how I had become a stereotype—a single, crazy dog lady who divorces her husband, adopts a dog, decides she values canine companionship more than that of the human male, and Never Gets Married Again. I mean, I didn’t decide ten years ago never to get married again but that seems to be what has happened.  But again, let us bring the subject back to the dog.

I think the relationship shared between a single woman and her dog who find themselves together in a new an unfamiliar setting is a very special relationship indeed. There were times, when I first started coming to Florida and didn’t know anyone yet, when I wouldn’t speak to another human for days. I never really realized how innately shy I actually am until I left New York. The realization only resulted in making me more shy. In the meantime, I conversed with my dog.  I don’t mean we conversed literally, beyond the silly baby talk I subjected Chloe to (and enjoyed) on a daily basis.  I mean that we communicated, silently and thoroughly, about what her needs were and what I could do to make sure they were met.  She let me know when she was hungry and when she was tired, when she needed to relieve herself and when it was time to nap, what gave her pleasure and what did not. She even—I kid you not—used to remind me when it was time to give her her herbs and acupressure sessions.  In turn, she did her best to keep me happy.  This is nothing you haven’t heard before. We had a routine, as caretaker and caretakee, that we both benefited from. What I didn’t realize is how deeply our lives were entwined as companions. I didn’t realize this until she had un-entwined herself, left her body, and moved on to the non-physical realm, where she now resides, huge and expansive, like a sky full of stars. 

These people I see in Florida—these sweet old couples—they’re entwined, too.  How do I explain to them that my other half—the person I’m currently mourning—was actually a dog? What is a crazy dog lady to do?
I remember once, years ago, well before I had adopted my first dog Wallace, receiving a Christmas card from one of my then-husband’s acquaintances, and it was one of those custom-made cards containing a photograph of herself and her dog. It was the first time I had seen such a thing.  I remember feeling two emotions of which I am now ashamed: pity. And alarm. As in: don’t ever let me be the person who sends out a picture of myself and my dog as if we were a couple.  And now, this past Christmas, what did I find myself wishing? That someone, anyone, had taken a picture of me and Chloe dressed up in Santa Claus hats so that I could have sent that out as a Christmas card.

It’s just regret. And guilt. I’m allowed to say “just” because I know these states of mind are fleeting and that once I release whatever it is that needs to be released in relationship to Chloe, and in relationship to Chloe in Florida, I’ll probably come back and delete this post, because I’ll have started to feel embarrassed about having expressed myself in the first place.  Or maybe I’ll have something more meaningful to say. 

In the meantime, Christmas is over, the sun is shining, and I have work to do. There are books to finish and albums to finish and animals at the shelter to take care of. So that’s where I will be. Thinking of Chloe, grateful for her goodness, and inspired to pass it on.