A repeat/copy/repost/redo about my perfect Doberman puppy for no other reason really than I couldn't quite get it together to write something new and when I set about looking back to what I had written a year ago at this time it was this. And how could I possibly pass up a writing about my perfect dog.
I've Just Gotta Say...
Can My Dog Be Any More Gorgeous!?!!! But Really This Writing Is About Much More
I wasn't planning to write about Nava today. My gorgeous-and-perfect-and-oh-so-high-energy-ball-obsessed-but-it's-ok-because-I love-her-so-much dog was not what was in my mind when I sat down to write this writing. I was actually very reflective as first thoughts whirled through my head. And I was thinking to look back to what was going on a year ago and do a sort of a scan of the year and my state of being and the state of affairs in general - mine and the global affairs of this great earth and all of us in it as we navigate through the human experience that we call our lives.
This was the plan anyway.
I even pulled up the writing I did from last year at the end of January. It is a good one - Balance, Boundaries And Bone Broth - and my thought was to start with those things in this last year's post and then integrate in with where I am now. Put it all in alignment. Make it all make sense.
But then, ah, I got stuck on my pup. As I went through the photos on my phone, to find the best one to top this writing with that would inspire readership, I came across the one of my beautiful and smart and always perfect Doberman when she was small.
How friggin' cute is she!!!
And I just couldn't resist. I had to share this picture with you. And then I thought hey, why not put a now pic alongside the then pic.
I was still, at this point while I was posting the puppy then and now, thinking that I had kinda abandoned the introspective and more mindful piece and had truly moved on to some serious puppy prose but then I saw it. For, in keeping with my original thought theme of reflecting back and integrating in, the image of my before and after puppy so captures not just my perfect pup as we all know she is, but also so perfectly captures my original theme: the before and after of things. The scanning and reflecting and seeing where the changes lie.
The funny thing about photographs that capture the changing of things is that this is not really as accurate as we want to believe. While the outward manifestation of change certainly shows over time and is capture in stillness as the photos we keep, the true movement and moments of change are internal. We can't see them but we feel them and often times they do not line up with the physical changes that we see when we look at our form.
Things don't always match up.
Often the outward change we see so clearly do not mirror the internal beings we are. Think of our grandparents, the old and wise woman we maybe aspire to become someday, the elder of the tribe and the teachers from our youth, and how they say - time and time again - that they still feel like their twenty year old self even while their body is old and perhaps ready for sleep.
I feel this. My sixteen year old me is this me still in so many ways. And though certainly I have grown in maturity and wisdom and mindful intention, the essence of me is the same as I was then.
Like my perfect pup. She looks totally different in her before and after shots. But her spirit, her essence, her drive and her focus and her soulful connection to me is the same. She, in so many ways, is that pup even while she is this dog. And though she has grown and matured and is so fully herself now, the self that she is was there all the time.
She, like our younger selves that are ourselves still, is the same in her spirit even as her body as grown big and strong.
But then other times the change that happens is the exact reverse of this.
Especially now I feel this. Not just within me but within us all. Just as the shifting that is happening in the universe is hard to see but we feel it in our bones and our heart, the changes that are happening within us come fast and sure and don't show up on our faces even while they sit solidly in our souls.
And so we look in the mirror and see ourselves looking just as we did yesterday as our eyes shine back at us from a new place. We are collectively coming alive in new ways. We are connecting in as we create community. Women's circles and New Moon dancing. Men's collaborative and mindful meditation. Common causes and constant conversation. We are shifting and changing and adapting to the world fast and true. And so what doesn't match up is the reverse. Because we look the same. But we are totally different now.
I love the balance of this.
That sometimes it is the soul's turn to shift and the stability is in the constant of our bodies as the familiar place we live in. And other times, the change is physical and the constant that we hold as the place that we land is our internal knowing that we are still ourselves.
I planned to write about my beautiful and perfect and sweet and smart and so high drive puppy who is really no longer a puppy but still acts in that puppy way when she plays or runs or cuddles in, because she turned three this past weekend. On Saturday. January 20th.
I was not with her on this day. I was in Massachusetts at the memorial service for my mother-in-law who died a few weeks ago. Right before her own birthday. And so, when I started writing about my puppy, and acknowledged that I was not with her for her birthday, my writing quickly became a reflection of this weekend. That is the beauty of this writing that I do. So often it becomes the thing that it is supposed to be, not necessarily the thing that I thought it was when I sit down to write each week.
This writing today, inspired by my dog, is about my heart.
My heart was very opened on this day, January 20, 2018. Funerals do this. We come to them opened up to welcome in the connections we all have with each other through the connection we all have with this person that is with us in spirit in the most literal way.
My dearest friends were there. Friends that my husband and I spent so many, as in almost every, weekend with for many years. They were here to mark this day with us. To sit in this connection. They filled my heart.
And my sister came. With my brother-in-law and niece and nephew. Taking the drive down to the South Shore to be with us in this moment celebration and mourning, of remembering and letting go.
And I had my children there. God, I love being with my children. My son and daughter-in-law (I just realized only recently that daughter-in-law means daughter by law, as in by marriage, that the words mean exactly what they represent. I love this). And my daughters by blood who flew across the country with us on a too long flight but thank goodness the hotel let us into our rooms early so we could sleep for a few hours before the memorial began.
And the room was filled with family - brothers-in-law (that phrase again) and a sister-in-law and niece from that side, too. And family cousins who we only get to see at funerals where we mark the moment saying how much we love to see each other even though we only get to see each other at funerals.
And caretakers. The many that were in her life and helped her son and her most trusted friend fill her many years with joy and love and and health even as her mind drifted away.
I spoke at this memorial service. I read this piece that I wrote a few weeks ago. And was surprised when I first walked up to speak, and then again while my words were shared, that my eyes held tears and my throat was full not just with these words.
I was sad this weekend. As I write this today, I am no longer surprised that I was. But in that moment it was unexpected. This happened before. My feelings these feelings and being surprised. It was right before we moved to California, back in August four years ago. We went down to Hingham, to my brother-in-law's home to see my mother-in-law. And when it was time to go, I remember leaning in to hug her good-bye. And my eyes held tears and my throat was full.
I did not think that I held this emotion for her by this point. Just as I did not think I held it still when I spoke two days ago in her honor.
And this not knowing that I would feel this way, I am holding on to this. I have marked it as a remembering that needs to be kept in the light. This knowing that I felt a connection that I thought I had already reached closure on, this is an important lesson.
It is not wrong that I thought my relationship with Mardi was complete. Because for a time it was. And then, in these last moments of reflection and connection, it wasn't again. For just a time, I know.
We think we can wrap things up. Work through our feelings and put it all neatly together in a way that allows us to move on or move forward. But then something new happens and we often will realize that those feelings are not gone, but merely at rest for a bit, waiting for the time when we are ready to walk through them again.
There is this feeling of being in alignment with who we are/who we are meant to be. Of following our path where the world feels in harmony because the intention is in balance with our deepest essence and our purest purpose.
We all know what this feels like. Where we channel our words and deeds. Where we glide through our projects and our preparation is smooth and unfolds with ease. Where we don't have to think about being because we just are.
We find these moments in many moments. In excelling in a sport that we do or an art form that we love. In dancing and singing. In our work where we are doing exactly what is right for us at this time in our lives. In being with others in synchronicity. In creating community that nurtures and honors all of us. We know we are in it when it does not feel that time is part of the place that we are. When the actions and motions and movements and words and emotions are all interconnected in that way where the moments are effortless.
It is a place of grace.
And it is the place we strive for, for it is a place of peacefulness and it is the place that we search for in this journey through the human experience. We are here to stand in our truest self. To capture our greatest potential and to harness our wondrous gifts. We are here to discover ourselves, to remember who we are, to know that we are love and to stand in the perfect balance of connection to ourselves and to each other.
I wrote about this once before. I realized that I did when I started this writing today and the words were familiar. My writing is a remembering, too. Sharing both this new writing today, and then one that came before.
Thank you for reading my writing today.
The Practice Of Speaking Our Truth
The practice of speaking our truth is not just the outward manifestation of what we say but the inner workings of our souls breath. The alignment of our spirit with our minds and our hearts. It is not the words we speak out loud that carry the fullest weight and move us forward but the gentle mantra of our knowing when we feel it ripe in our bellies.
When the way we journey on our path is right and good and full with the truth of us the tension that often will seep into ourselves shifts away. Sometimes for just moments, often times an instant that we stand in true form as one with that cosmic energy we call knowing. It is here that our power reigns free. Here that we call forth our wisdom and our teachings. Here that our essence, the one that we truly are, shines fully.
It is here we must honor and nurture so we can return to this place until it is the only place we are.
I was joking around with my sister last night. On Zoom. I love Zoom. It's this really nifty (did I really use that word) online meeting software like Skype or GoToMeeting but better. You can have these huge meetings with lots of people or just a one to one and share your screen and track who is on the call and who isn't and all sorts of other stuff I'm sure. I really don't know because I don't use a lot of what it probably does. But I do use the meetings. And the screen sharing. Which is really fun.
So I was on Zoom with her, because we were going over her website that she is just finishing up. She is a coach. A quite brilliant and amazing and I am not just saying this because she is my sister, but she really is quite Navalicious (this means really really good for those that don't read my writing on a regular basis and so don't know that I have a perfect Doberman dog named Nava and so Navalicious is quite extraordinary). Anyway, my sister, the courageous and dynamic coach... you can find out more about her here. Though her site is not quite done yet so you'll hit her landing page. But keep checking back. The site is coming!!
I probably should have waited to plug her once the site was actually up (I will have to plug her again once her site is actually up).... but it is all part of this point that I am trying to make here and it just flowed out this way and so the website had to be shared in all its not quite finished glory.
So we were on Zoom, websiting and all and we got to talking about other stuff. And I know what you are thinking, especially those that know her and know me and know us together. You are thinking that we probably were talking more and webbing less but this is not the case. When we have a task at hand, she and I, we are in it! Like we are committed. And so when she asked me to look at her not quite up yet site, well, that is what we did.
Ok, there may have been a bit of other stuff thrown in like what she may wear when we meet in Florida in March to see our parents with my older sister, too. And also to celebrate my birthday because how cool is that, that the three sisters will be with the two parents for my fifty-sixth (holy shit) birthday year.
So we may have talked about that. And we may have talked about food. As in the cookies she ate. Which, honestly, are made of such unnatural ingredients that calling them cookies is a stretch. They are the ones you get at like Stop & Shop or Vons. They come like eight-four cookies to a plastic container for like $3.99. And they are "vanilla" with that, you really are not quite sure what it is made from, frosting that comes in unnatural colors like Barbie Pink or Robin's Egg Blue. She ate one and a half of these. If I had been there, I would have had ten. I LOVE these cookies which really aren't. I truly do. I also love the really cheap birthday cakes sold at these supermarkets. God, I love them so much.
So yes, we talked about clothes. And food that isn't. But mostly we talked about her site. Until we were done and then we got into a real conversation about weight. As in how we feel about our weight and our bodies and our weight on our bodies. And this is what this post is about. Finally.
I was going to make this short and to the point. And funny. I was going to write: in the winter I gain like five to seven pounds and I hate it even though I need it. And that is all.
And then I was going to share some photo's of my perfect dog and the beach in the morning and maybe a picture or two of my shoes because I love my shoes. But then I got to writing and realize there is so much more to be said about this. So here goes:
In the winter, every winter, I gain five to seven pounds because it is cold. Yes, even in beautiful and warmer then most places, sunny California, in the winter it is cold and my body is like what the fuck we moved across the country to get away from the cold and it's like friggin freezing in the mornings here cold. And so I gain weight here, too. And though my body needs it my mind does not like it. Well wait (not weight), not all of my mind does not. There is a part of my mind, the healthy and self-loving part that is able to say hey, this is good, thank you beautiful and wise body for adding weight to my self so that I will stay warm in the winter when I need this extra fat.
Unfortunately, the other part of my mind, the self-doubting and unforgiving and eating disorder throwback mind is just plain unhappy about it all. And I don't have an answer for her that will satisfy her dissatisfaction.
Just as I don't have an answer for the countless other women (people, not just women, people, like men too, but this post is probably more aimed at women because I am one) who also have bodies that tend to protect them from the cold in the winter and do this beautiful thing and wrap them in an extra layer of warmth to ward off the cold.
I don't have an answer but I do have the question.
Why do we do this?
Why is it so hard to recognize the amazing and miraculous and extraordinary and mystical and magic ways that our bodies do all these incredible things - like add a little extra warmth to our frame when the temperature drops to like six degrees! (ok where I am in Cali, its thirty-five degrees which feels like spring to those in New England right now. I know and I am sorry but it's all relative and I am cold. Not cold like you are cold. I will give you that).
And it's not just about weight. It is about so much really. We forget (I forget) to see the wonder and brilliance of all that is me in favor of seeing the not quite enough and something is not right and why can't it be better than it is. And so I love my winter coat more than I love my winter self (it is quite an amazing coat actually. I've included a photograph below).
I am not sure that I will do much more than recognize that I do this. That I discount my worth rather than honor my girth (I did not plan this rhyme, honest) in these winter months. Or anytime really. But the conversation is an important one to have.
And this is all I have.
Oh, except pictures. As in why I included above those pictures of me. Teagan took them for me, a few days ago. I needed some new ones for my websites and was like do you want to take them for me now? and she said sure and so we did and I really liked the funny faces ones. We, as in me and my kids and my husband, too and also my parents and their kids which is me and and my sisters, we would play this game. We'd say make your face small or make your face wide and come up with all these silly faces. It was fun and made us laugh. And when I saw the photos Teagan took of me and so these few the plan was to use them and write something about that. But then I wrote about this instead. And used the pictures anyway. So that is that.
And here is the pic of my awesome coat.
When I first met my mother-in-law she did not look like this. She was fifty-eight. It was 1984 and she lived on Fresh Pond Parkway in a dark brown victorian that was as dark on the inside as it was on the outside. Except for the kitchen which would get intense sun during a portion of the day. This is why she bought the house. She wanted sun and light and this room gave her that. The rest of the house did not but this one bright room was enough, it seems.
I did not spend a lot of time with her in these first few years before Garth and I got married. At first it was really just saying hello to her as I walked up the stairs with my husband-to-be to sleep in his too narrow bed that seemed to work anyway. And then to say good-bye as I left the next morning to head back to my senior year in college as Garth headed off to work.
By the time I graduated and left Massachusetts, Garth had then moved into his own place in Watertown and so my visits to visit were with him there and not very often over to Cambridge and to his mom's house. Only for birthdays or Christmas's really.
But in the summertime, when we would be down in Cohasset, in the suite in the Big House, I would take early morning walks with her when the tide was at it's lowest. We would head out to Brush Island, sticks in hand so that, when we landed on land, the seagulls would not hit into our heads because our sticks were the tallest part of ourselves.
We didn't really talk much about our current lives on those walks or the times we would sit on the beach together. She would talk about her past a little bit. Sometimes she would share her sadness at the things she missed out on, sometimes she would talk about the love she wished to have now. I wasn't a daughter-in-law yet, but in some ways maybe a daughter. And definitely a friend.
Garth would frequently tell me that this was not the mom that he grew up with. That her slightly disheveled hair and her quirky ways of eating, her obsessive need to get certain things done but her inability to actually get these things completed, that this was not who he knew.
But for me, this was the Mardi that I knew from the start.
Once we got married and had Braxton, I spent a lot of time with her. She would come to the house two or three times a week or I would meet her in Cambridge or at the Science Museum. She loved her time with my boy and was so good with him. She bought him books about dinosaurs and birds and he learned the name of every bird when he was still so young.
But then one day, after she left my house to head to see her parents, who lived in Concord, she arrived back an hour later, having never made it to them and disturbed and crying. She had gotten off at the wrong exit on route 128 and then got back on the other way. And then off and then on and then off and then on again, in a perpetual figure eight because she was not sure which way to go would be the way to get her where she needed to be.
How she finally figured out how to get back to me, I really do not know but Garth and I did know that she was struggling worse and worse. It was sad and it was hard. And by the time I was pregnant with Teagan she was living with us.
And then we found Mary.
Mary started working with my mother-in-law during the day, but as time went on, Mardi needed more and more care and we bought out Mary's contract with the care organization she worked for and then she just worked for us. Or rather for Mardi.
My time with Mardi became less and less. I think this was partly relief - Garth had been her guardian already since Braxton was born in 1990 and I had been her caretaker. Helping her with her bills and her shopping, making sure she got where she needed to go. Visiting doctors to figure out what was going on with her health and her mind. Plus we had two kids now and I was in law school and Garth was working hard and Mardi had Mary.
We would see her on Christmas's or birthdays or when we were all in Cohasset. But things had changed for me and Mardi.
After her own dad died, Mardi moved into the Big House. It was hers, from her dad, and a place that I know held incredible significance for her. It was important that she live in this place. That this was her home now. And so Garth had it winterized and Mary and I went shopping for furniture and picked out fabric for curtains that we knew she would like in oranges and greens and teals. And the house became her home. Her's. And Mary's. And my brother-in-law, Gregg's.
And then the times with her were fewer still.
Once I remember walking in waist high low tide to Brush Island - with my kids and my dog and a friend of Mary's who would help out when Mary was away - and Mardi, not having come on this familiar adventure, was up on the lawn and lost as to where she was going. I ran up from the beach and took her back to her room. I changed her clothes and helped her get washed and made sure she was safe in this space that she knew. I was a daughter-in-law but no longer a friend. Just a caretaker really. I had lost that first connection when we used to walk in the low tide together. We had lost the way I knew how to be with her.
I would sometimes think about this. About when we first met and were friends for a time. And about those years I spent with her and the care I know I gave that, over time, faded from my memory as it probably completely disappeared from hers. And I felt myself distance myself from her more. And from Mary and from Gregg, too. I didn't fit. We didn't fit, my family and I.
I think maybe we were too big. In energy and spirit. And I think I felt a resentment or an animosity around Mardi. That we didn't belong even though I do not think we tried to belong.
And so, by the time the Big House and the Boat House and the land that held these homes and generations of memories had passed to the brothers three, and Mardi had moved, with Mary, into a home that was bought by Gregg, we were separate. Coming for birthdays and Christmas's but that was really all.
She said to me once, while she was still living with us in Newton and my belly big with Teagan, that she wanted to die before her mind got worse. And would I help her. I said I'm the daughter-in-law, I can't do this for you, you have to tell your sons. And then it was too late for her to make that choice.
And so my mother-in-law faded into her mind just as she faded from my mind in many ways. I often wished she would have died, projecting my own feelings and beliefs onto her and feeling that I knew that she would have been happier having left us sooner.
But I didn't really know that to be true.
And then she did die. Three days before her birthday. And, as I said aloud the words I feel so sad that she did not have the full life she should have, I knew that I was wrong. And in getting it wrong I missed seeing her clearly for many years. For this was her perfect life. This was the soul contract she had made, this was the space she chose to sit in with the people she planned to play this beautiful game with.
And in this choosing she created community.
In Gregg And in Mary. And in all the caretakers that came to love her and care for her over twenty-four years. And in her dog and her cats. And her sons. In her grandchildren who didn't really know her well. And in me.
And so now she sits in distant slumber. No longer in human form and now free to choose the next life that she will lead. Garth shared with me that he read that the moment of death, while we think it is sad, is actually a moment of rejoicing and freedom. That our soul is lifting out of the confines of a body that held us tight so we can walk the journey we need to walk. But that moment of freedom, it is joyful and beautiful.
As is my mother-in-law. Margaret Bemis Rose.
She was a life well lived. She is a soul well loved.
Mardi with Garth.
With my dad at the rehearsal dinner for Garth and my wedding. I love this photograph of her.
With Gregg at our wedding. The dress she wore was white and she dyed it her favorite salmon color for the wedding.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Dog and Cat lover.