xoxo, me

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Colorado, United States

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The End of an Era

A-choo's passing a week ago was the end of an era...  All the animals my husband and I have adopted together in the first 20 years of our marriage are gone.  Ames, the cat, died 7 years ago at the age of 15.  Simba the dog passed last September at the age of 16. And now A-choo has left us, 21.5 years later...

She went out as she lived - independent and on her own terms. She died in the middle of the night while we were sleeping.

I can't say we were surprised to wake and find her gone, but of course we mourned her.  Living to the ripe old age of 21.5 she was a big part of our life together. We adopted her from the Denver Dumb Friends League in 1992 when she was 10 months old. 

Suffice it to say, she was a charmer from the beginning. Why "A-choo" you may ask. When we first met her in one of the little visitation rooms at the shelter she was all over us - sweet and loving and cuddly as could be. But she sneezed. A lot. It was kind of cute. So we dubbed her A-choo. And she came home to join her big "brother" Ames. 

As I said - she was independent. So once secure that she was in her forever home (who knew it would be 21.5 years forever) the desire to cuddle lessened and she took on her role as aloof A-choo. We loved her all the more for her distinct personality and catittude! When we hugged her and she squirmed to get away we told her she need 2 minutes of "forced affection." She always let us do it.

She liked popcorn and would give you those eyes when she wanted some. (Only the puffy part so she wouldn't choke, though.)

She took catittude to new levels. 

She was silly

and she liked a good party.

And a good box.

She was beautiful. Not in an ordinary cat kind of way. She was really beautiful.

I will remember her as playful and silly and funny and mischievous. 
But mostly I will remember her as thoughtful, wise and special.
She was so special...

Rest in peace, 'Choosey. You will be in our hearts forever.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Roll the Dice

So I don't know if its this relentless winter (which brings on cabin fever and I know so many of you can relate...) or I feel I'm missing the passion I usually have for my projects... Or is it the [I think] really sweet thing Facebook did today. In celebrating 10 years of Facebook they did a little video - music and everything - of your personal timeline with your first updates, most liked posts and photos thru your years on Facebook.  

Or if it is an interview I read with Maria Shriver where she quoted a commencement speech she gave awhile back (and I'm paraphrasing):

"Take time to recognize the power of pause -- the importance of stopping and evaluating where you are in life."

She went on to say that sometimes people will say to her, "Remember that?" and she will think "I don't. I was too busy."  

She commented how important it is to slow your life down and find out if you are actually living the life you are meant to live. It's your job to know who you are, to know your value, your mission and what makes you happy so you know what you're supposed to be doing here.  

All of this compounded one upon the other today and it was like a huge wake-up call. Or at least a sit-down-and-really-think-about-this call.

As I stated in a prior post, this isn't exactly a new thought for me. Five years in business, 40 years in Colorado, 21 years married and turning 60 - 2014 is a thought-provoking year.

I shared with my Mister last night that I'm going to take time to think, reflect, evaluate and look to the future. We both have aging parents who need our help. Granted my Mom is 750 miles away but if she needs me I'll be there in a heartbeat. His parents are local and there is more I could be doing for them.

Aging - gez, we have our own aging cat who at almost 21 years old sure could use some more of my love and attention. Oh, A-choo...

And although Kizzie is a very good little girl, I sometimes forget that she isn't a puppy - she will be 6 years old in April. She won't be here forever and I want to enjoy every minute I can with her.

She came into our lives a mere 4 months ago. I regret that I didn't know her sooner so I could have loved her longer. I have said the same about my husband; I didn't meet him until I was 35...

And yes, as I stare down 60 I am aging, too. I find myself really questioning ~ what is my mission?

When I watched my little Facebook Timeline video I was struck by how, with the exception of one, my top-ranking "liked" posts were work-related; as were almost all of my photographs. That was an eye-opener. A friend joked that this was my Jacob Marley moment. I laughed, but thought ~ whoa, he may have something there...

I'm married to a guy who works hard, works a lot and enjoys what he does. So I work hard, I work a lot and - for the most part - enjoy what I do. But I see how work has taken over my life. And even though I created this "monster" there really is more I want to do.

I just have to figure out what that is exactly and channel it. And get this pervasive thought that I must always be productive out of my fricking head.

I get one roll of the dice. 

We all get one roll of the dice. We owe it to ourselves to make it a good one. It's all a crap shoot ~ but I think we can chant our lucky chants, kiss the die and guide them down the table a little...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Oh January...

Oh January. You're so... January.

The holidays and laughter and fun have passed, family has all gone home and all that lies ahead for [seemingly] ever is cold and gloom...

Living with a wee dog and no backyard requires one to walk several times a day. And it doesn't matter what the weather. My wee one loves to be outside.

In any weather.

But even she has her limits on days when the temps dip below Zero.

That's when I see a lot of this. 

On days like that I bundle us both up in our winter warmest and open the door to head outside she takes one look, promptly turns and makes a mad dash back inside. But, alas, she being a dog, she does eventually need to go outside - no matter the weather.

So we dodge ice and snow and dreary mornings.

And feel really sorry for ourselves.

But despite the snow and ice and cold, if we only take time to notice, nature shows us how amazing she is.

Ice crystals on the edge of the lake.

There are days when January redeems itself ~ if I just pay attention.  Days when the Colorado sky is so blindingly blue it hurts my eyes.

And mornings when it is so, so quiet I can hear the rhythmic whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the Canada geese as they glide gently above my head.

And of course there is the lighter side of our January mornings ~ those mornings when, while still a chill in the air, the sun in shining and the promise of a warmer day gives us a lift. Kizzie and I meet our fellow dog people and pups as we round corners. We chat with our Southern friend who has dubbed Kizzie not only as "Miss Kizzie" but has now added a middle name for her.  "Good Morning, Miss Kizzie Mae. How are you today?" he asks in his welcoming Southern drawl.

I don't know many people names, but Kizzie Mae and I know Daisy and Dolly and Chester and Murray and Max and Ricky and Barkley and Monroe and Annie (well, two Annies) and a few others we wave to (hands and tails respectively).

So in looking at the big picture of January ~ for the gloomy days there actually are a fair amount of beautiful days.

And then comes February...

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Kind of a Big Deal ~ This 2014 Thing.

2014. I read an intriguing question the other day. It simply said, "What would you do this year if you knew you only had this one year left to live?"  Wow.

This year is momentous on a personal level. 

In April I will celebrate 5 years in business with the Whee Ones® and cmh design LLC.

In September I will mark my 40th Anniversary living in my adopted home state of Colorado. (And 21 years married - 21... Vegas, baby)

In November I will turn 60 years old.

All of that, I would say, is cause for celebration and reflection. I've not really had time to do the reflecting part and the celebrations are in the offing.

But here is what I know:

* I am feeling that 5 year restlessness and wanderlust that sometimes comes with that 5 year mark of owning a business. I still like what I do. I am grateful to my shopkeepers and my customers. What I struggle with is the feeling that no matter how hard I work, I'm just kind of spinning my wheels. And the "making money" part?  Ha - that's funny. The "Oh it must be so nice to work at home and whenever you want" part? Ha - that's even funnier! So while I have no plan yet, I feel change in the wind. Maybe small; maybe not. I love what my friend Susan said to me once ~ life should be fluid.

* I love creating. I love new ideas and new projects. I love learning. Those things will never stop as long as I draw breath.

* I love Colorado but if you were to ask me at this time of year why I love it, I would respond, "Why am I not living within walking distance of the nearest beach where temps are about 85?" (Florida is out. Unless perhaps we talk Key West...) There's that wanderlust thing again...

* Colorado has been a blessing. I raised my boys here and I [hope] they had some fun growing up wandering the hills and valleys. I don't get to the mountains much these days (the reason I moved here - thank you very much, John Denver - in 1974), but I sure did in the past. Now I'm more citified and I get to galleries, museums, restaurants, delightful little shops and events around town more. 

* Colorado is by far one of the most beautiful places in the country to live and it [usually] has a very temperate climate. I fell in love with the big open blindingly blue sky and swear I can never live anywhere that doesn't have this same sky. 

* 60. I have no idea how to feel about that. I know that it used to sound old to me; now it sounds like a good friend; because most of mine are 60, or at least close. I do know that it has - already - prompted me to think some deep thoughts. Usually at the oddest times. Or to tear up. Usually at the oddest times. (And I am not a crier.) I don't know if that means I'm sensing my mortality or what. Whatever it is I want it to pass but I suspect it will be with me for at least most of this year.

* I know I do not like receiving mail inviting me to check out the new Assisted Living complex down the road. What year are we in? When did turning 60 mean you're ready for The Home?

* It's a scary thought to think that - best case scenario - 2/3 of my life is behind me. If longevity is in my genes and I'm a little kinder to my body than I have been I could have another 30 years. My Mom is 95 and going strong. But maybe I do hear the clock ticking a little... I really do need to make the most of each day. And for Pete's sake get this idea that I must always be doing something productive out of my head and out of my life. Period.

All that said:

* I promise myself to eat fewer potatoes. Potatoes are bad. Mashed potatoes are my crack. Only green veggies for 2014.
* I promise to take a little time each day to do something I enjoy on a personal level. Not domestic chores, not work, not taking care of the pets... something I enjoy just for fun.
* I promise to find a way to incorporate more travel into my life. There's always a way.
* And I say this every damn year - I promise to find balance between my professional life and my personal life.
* I promise to shoot more. Dust off some of my cameras and lenses I don't use and put them in a regular rotation. Shoot randomly. Shoot with a purpose. Just shoot.
* I promise to take more day trips.

And not one mention of the resolutions I made every year for the longest time ~~ quit smoking (I did in 1999); lose weight (I lost 28.5 lbs. in the last quarter of 2013); cut back on drinking (I love my wine, but yes, I have cut back); exercise more (Kizzie gets me out for 3 walks a day and that will improve as the weather improves!).

I promise to blog more. It's really just kind of a journal so I probably say too much - forgetting that the world sees this. But maybe I will reach someone who can relate. Or at least be humoured. Thanks for listening.

xoxo, me

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Adios 2013. You Were Quite the Ride...

Before we are too far into 2014 and I tell myself I don't have time for this because there are 10 other things I am "supposed" to be doing ~ I want to reflect for a moment on 2013. Most of it was as unlucky as one might expect with the number 13 involved...

I think it all started with Boda.

When my son moved to Austin in May it wasn't in the cards to take Boda Kitty with him so The Mister and I happily welcomed her into our family. Four days later after our Vet discovered cancer and a large mass on her liver, we said an extremely tearful goodbye to beautiful Boda.

My son leaving and moving out of state was emotional for me as well. After college he had opted to live near home and for the first time in my 22 year relationship with my husband, we had no children in town. We were truly empty-nesters. Not that any of that is bad; it was just an adjustment. 

June, July and August brought biopsies and ultrasounds and diagnostic tests to see if, indeed, cancer was roaming around my body. I'm the lucky one; it wasn't. But the whole summer was fraught with stress, anxiety and fear.

September rolled around and we knew that our time with our beloved 16 year old dog, Simba, was coming to an end. Our girl just wasn't there anymore. Our Vet suspected a brain tumour as messages from her brain just weren't getting thru. She couldn't remember how to go up steps and eventually she couldn't remember how to eat. On September 3 we made one of the most devastating decisions we have ever had to make and said a final goodbye to our sweet girl. The grief was overwhelming and consumed us for days. We didn't know how - or why - the world kept on spinning...

For some reason ~ who knows why except maybe The Universe thought we deserved a break ~ things took a turn for the better near the end of September. We took a trip ~ one that had been planned for months but the timing was perfect ~ we needed new scenery and a reason to celebrate. And celebrate we did! We, and 100 of her closest's friends, celebrated the life of someone so dear, so loved ~ my Mom, happy and healthy, as she turned 95.

The clouds started clearing and the sun broke thru after that. Life began to look a little happier. That is probably what led us to almost instinctively and on auto-pilot stop by the local shelter one evening and walk thru the dog kennels. We didn't speak of it but we both knew -- we were not leaving without a dog. And indeed, it was Kismet.

And in that moment, life changed. Everything changed. Joy came into our lives as she jumped deep into our hearts, settled in and opened up shop.

A month later the puppets I had shed blood, sweat and tears (literally!) over from January thru March came to life in the form of an Apple iPad App called Puppet Play. And there was my name for all to see. Wow.

Later that month my Austin son made a visit and our time together was like putting on old slippers and wrapping a warm blanket around us.

The Mister and I closed out the year alone - together - doing our favorite things ~ watching movies, making delicious food ~ relaxing and taking time off from our crazy, hectic work lives.

And then there was the surprise of the year ~ losing 28 lbs (and counting). All due to giving up dairy, chocolate, eggs, most gluten and most soy. Who knew? 

So a year that ~ for the most part ~ sucked, it turned out alright. My faith in love and luck and laughter has been restored. Gratitude for good friends and a loving family in place. Even though my sons, now adults, recognize I am flawed, they like me anyway. The Mister is still my best friend and confidant. My love for my little dog is ridiculous. Now two days into 2014 I am still pondering where I want to go in this brave new year, who I want to be. 

So that post is on hold for the time being.  Adios 2013. It was a ride.