The very best girl…

They say dogs bring many happy days into our lives and one terrible day…the day you have to say goodbye. Boy do I feel that. One of the things that has been suggested to help with grieving a pet is to write about them. Since that has helped with other things in my life, I thought I’d give it a try. It made sense to do that here because she was actually part of the journey that I write about here.

May 5, 2009 – April 14, 2023

We drove an hour and a half to a rescue place in Pennsylvania to pick up a dog named Blue. That’s right…we weren’t even supposed to get you. We saw you on their website, but you were listed as not available for adoption. You were the runt of the litter and the owner didn’t think you were ready. We got there and were taken to a little fenced in play yard where you and your siblings were playing. All the puppies, but you, came running over to say hi. Blue was excitedly jumping up and down to greet us. You were over in the corner sleeping while all of the commotion was happening. We said hi to Blue and he was cute as a button with stunning blue eyes (hence the name) (smile). We asked if we could hold you because you were just so tiny (what they actually named you) and cute, and we fell in love. I guess we looked trustworthy because the owner said she was willing to let us take you. We were so excited!

Since it was a long drive home, we stopped for a potty break for us humans at Wawa. We put your harness on and leashed you up so you could have a potty break too. You went under a bush and suddenly our harness was empty! You were so tiny you came right out of it. Scared us! We thought we lost you. Luckily, we were able to reach in and grab you. We should have known then that having you as part of our family was going to be an adventure.

Your first days at home were not the easiest as is normal with owning a puppy. You didn’t like being in your crate at night. There were a few nights that I slept next to it to try to get you to settle down. I promised you that it was only until you were house trained and enough out of your puppy stage that we could trust you not to destroy the house. We also needed to make sure you got along with the cats. As you grew, we realized that the sleepy little puppy at the rescue was just an act. You were the most energetic dog we’d ever met. After you settled in, we took you to puppy training. You were a good student and graduated with no problem. You were not thrilled with the graduation cap and hid under a stool. We improvised to get a picture. It was all worth it because you also graduated from the crate a few weeks later.

We know that your mom was a husky and it was clear that you had border collie in you. This made you an energetic, smart, spunky, and sassy girl. We got you a year after our journey (the purpose of this blog) began. You went on many late-night walks with me in those beginning years as I processed everything. You didn’t care about religion or what people thought and you were a good listener as I vented about those things on our walks. You loved everyone which is what I wanted to do…no matter what. Having you as a distraction helped me from losing my mind with worry. You kept me busy. It was near impossible to wear you out. You LOVED balls and we would throw them in the yard for you to chase for hours. Kensie would take you out with her scooter and you would pull her down the sidewalk. Even after that you still wanted to play so we would sit on the sofa at night and throw your ball down the basement steps for you to chase. Sometimes we would have to take your ball away because you wouldn’t stop begging for us to throw it and we knew you needed rest. But it was so much fun and a welcomed lightness in the midst of hard things. Your love of balls never ended.

You were a smart cookie. We taught you to ring a bell when you wanted to go outside. You knew lots of commands like come, leave it, sit, lay down, wait, etc. You could catch food when we threw it in the air, you could jump through hula hoops, you could shake hands, high five, sit up pretty on your hind legs, turn in a circle, and roll over. You even played hide and seek. When I cooked dinner, you would dance with me. I would chop some veggies and you would bring me your ball. I would kick it into the family room and you would chase it and bring it back. I always play music when I cook. I would start to dance and you would get so excited. While keeping your ball in your mouth you would gallop towards me as I backed up and when I switched to go towards you, you would jump backwards. We would go back and forth “dancing” a few times, and then I would go back to cooking for a few moments until we did the whole thing all over again.

You were our guard dog. Our doorbell. Our mailman and delivery announcer, and our people greeter. You were a crazy, sweet girl that was loved by many. I don’t think there was a day that went by that you didn’t make me laugh. You brought us such joy.

You were good at getting yourself into predicaments. You loved chewing sticks and since we have some trees behind us we were never in short supply. I would rake the sticks down our big hill and you would steal them and take them back up the hill. One day you came in the house and you kept pawing at your face. Low and behold you got one of those sticks stuck in the roof of your mouth. Off to the vet we had to go. You ripped your toenail digging in the ice and snow. Off to the vet again. You ate a mushroom at the state park that could have been poisonous so yep…off to the vet again. Once when playing with another dog you took off running when the dog had your ear in his mouth and ended up ripping your ear. Let’s just say the vet was used to seeing us. Sadly it made you not like it there very much.

One of your best friends was our neighbor’s dog Brody. He was a year older than you. One day you asked to go out in the backyard. I thought you needed to go to the bathroom. When I realized it was taking you longer than normal, I went out to call you in. You weren’t there! I panicked and started calling your name. I heard you bark and looked over to see you on our neighbor’s deck like “hey mom!” I looked and saw that you and Brody had been working together to dig a hole big enough for you to fit through to his yard. I guess we didn’t plan enough playdates for you both. We were always filling up holes. You tried to deny that you were the culprit, but your nose would say otherwise.

Another crazy thing you did was attack our tree in the backyard. It’s a unique tree in that it is two different trees in one. One part has white flowers and the other has pink flowers. The branches with the pink flowers are lower and when it would rain you would run and leap into the tree and hang from the branches. Sometimes you would get a chunk of the tree to come off and you would run around the yard with it. Luckily you didn’t hurt yourself doing this…so no trips to the vet over that.

You were my shadow. You insisted on following me everywhere. The only thing you didn’t do with me was take a shower (smile), but you would wait outside of the bathroom for me to finish. You were always either sitting next to me or at my feet. And when I was in the sauna, you would wait outside of it on a chair. At night, you would sleep on your dog bed next to my side of the bed or at the foot of my side of the bed. In 2017, I started working from home and you always joined me in my office. All I had to say was it was time for work and you knew just where to go. I only work about 3 hours a week so it never took up much of our play time together. As you got older, you would lay behind my chair and snore the whole time. Boy do I miss that sound. You were the best companion. Becoming an empty nester was made a little easier because you were always by my side.

Who says dogs and cats don’t get along? Benry was your best bud. He loved you SO much. Every morning he would wait by the sliding door for us to get back from our walk. Every morning. When you went out for your potty breaks during the day, if he knew about it (basically if he wasn’t snoozing), he would wait at the door and meow to let me know you were ready to come in. At night, he wouldn’t go upstairs when it was time for bed until he knew you were coming too. He would rub all over your face as you were trying to go up the stairs. You were a good girl and shared your dog bed with him and even shared my lap with him. The day after you left us he sat at the sliding glass door pawing at the glass. I think he was looking for you.

As you got older, I knew our time was limited and I knew it would be hard to say goodbye. It has been harder than I even imagined. You were a part of every part of my day.

The very first thing I did every day for the last 13 years and 11 months when I got out of bed was get dressed and take you for your walk. You loved going for a walk and we went in rain, sleet, wind, and snow. It didn’t matter to you. The only time we didn’t go was if the sidewalks were icy. You didn’t like that, but I always told you that if I fell and broke a hip we would miss way more walks. So mornings now are really hard.

I can’t leave the house without thinking of you because every time I left I would tell you to be a good girl and let you know that I would be right back. A routine that started when you were a puppy and just stuck. And then every time I come back home I expect to see you at the door because you always greeted me when I got back.

I can’t cook dinner without thinking of you because it reminds me of our dancing. And then when I sit to eat, I think of you because I always shared my last bite with you. You always waited patiently for that bite…well most times. It’s especially hard to have french fries because those were one of your favorites.

When I open the sliding door to go out to water my plants on the deck, I think of you. I still expect to see your little head strained to see what I was doing because there was no way I was going out there without you coming with me.

I still can’t believe you are gone. Just last month a neighbor stopped us to ask how old you were because you were still so energetic and got around so well. They were shocked to know that you were just a few weeks away from being 14. Learning you were sick and then having to say goodbye so quickly has been really hard.

There is nothing that I have done this last week and a half that doesn’t make me think of you because you were always with me. I feel like I’ve lost a limb. There wasn’t a day that at some point I didn’t get down on the floor with you to give you a belly rub (something you loved) and a little kiss on the head. I am confident that you knew you were loved and that gives me comfort. You were my Lucy, Lucy Lou, Lucy Goosey, Goose, and forever my puppy pup.

You were my very best girl.

Rule follower…

I am a rule follower. Always have been. I’m pretty sure my parents never worried about taking me places with them because they knew I would behave. My dad reads most of my posts so dad feel free to call me out if that’s not true (smile). I’m not saying that I was perfect, but I truly did care about following the rules.

I get very uncomfortable if people talk about bending the rules or breaking a rule. A couple of years ago, I went to the movies with some friends. It was in the middle of the day and it was at one of those fancy movie theaters with the really nice seats that recline. You knew where to sit by the number on your ticket stub (they were assigned unlike other theaters where you can sit wherever you like). When we got into the theater, it was completely empty. So…my friends decided to sit wherever they wanted. I was reluctant because, after all, I was given a ticket that told me where I was supposed to sit. They held up their arms and said, “Who is going to care?” I reluctantly gave in and sat with them…in our non-assigned seats. The movie was about to start when one more person came into the theater. ONE. And guess who they walked up to and said, “You’re in my seat.” ME! I was mortified. See…THIS is why I follow the rules!

We have laws (really serious rules) that we all have to follow as citizens. Things like paying our share of taxes, taking care of our environment by not littering, waiting until we are of age to drink, etc. A lot of these laws are in place to protect us. Things like wearing our seatbelts when driving and following the speed limit. There are laws that we follow to protect our fellow citizens like not stealing from them or harming them in any way (this of course also protects us if they follow the law as well).

Part of growing up is learning the rules. There are rules in school, rules in your family, and rules in sports that you play. Just watch a referee make a bad call and see how important the rules are to fans (Super Bowl anyone). When you start making friends, you learn that their families have their own rules as well. I remember being in middle school and having dinner at my best friend’s house for the first time. In their family, her father was served first. Everyone waited until her dad had his plate before they dished out food onto theirs. This was totally foreign to me as we did not do that in my house. When we had dinner, you were allowed to fix your plate any time. I had many dinners at that friend’s house and I respectfully waited until her dad had his food because that was their rule.

I’m still seeing a lot of “chatter” online about a bill that was passed back on December 8th of 2022. There are people that are very upset. The bill is called the Respect for Marriage Act. What does that mean? It’s a law (rule) that will ensure that interracial and same-sex marriages are legally protected even if decisions like Love and Obergefell are ultimately overturned. Why would people be upset about that? Well…it goes against their beliefs (rules). When we have beliefs about what our behaviors should be, you could say that they are our set of rules that we follow. But here’s the thing…you are absolutely entitled to your beliefs. What you aren’t entitled to is insisting that other people follow your beliefs.

The comments that I am seeing are about how this bill will destroy families. I really don’t understand that argument. I saw the same comments back in 2015 when the supreme court made same sex marriage legal. I’ve yet to see a family destroyed by it. In fact, a lot of the straight kids that I knew in 2015 have grown up and gotten married to opposite sex partners. Some of them have even started their own families. I don’t know anyone who has gotten divorced because same sex marriages were made legal. There is a lot of fearmongering around this issue.

I’m not trying to be flippant. I know that this is really important to a lot of people because they think God is being removed from our culture by allowing things like same sex marriages. What they fail to realize is that many of these gay couples getting married also believe in God. I’m not sure you will ever understand the turmoil a gay Christian goes through searching God for answers until you sit down and listen to their story. When the gay person says that they believe God is ok with them, many people say they are only hearing what they want to hear, but sit down and listen to their story and you will soon see that is not the case at all. At least not with the precious people I have met along this journey. Maybe it’s easier for me to believe their stories of God’s whisperings because I have experienced those myself as a parent of a gay child.

I have listened to way too many stories of despair from people trying to mold themselves into what others believe they should be. I’ve seen too many people hurt by the demands that Christians have placed on them. Demands that they should ignore the voice of God that they have personally heard, but instead to listen to the voice of that person’s personal beliefs (rules). I’ve seen the pain of being kept a secret to avoid the anger and in some cases abuse from families that don’t accept you.

There are a lot of bills out there waiting to be voted on against the LGBTQ+ community. Laws that could take away their rights. Imagine that happening to you. We need laws in place to have order and so people know what is expected of them. Imagine someone’s belief that you didn’t agree with becoming a law that you had to follow.

What if I had come home from my friend’s house and insisted that our family have the same dinner rule? I don’t think my parents would have gone for that. It’s not that it was a bad rule…our family dynamic was just different. Both of my parents worked full time and they pretty much divided up the household chores. It wasn’t unusual for my dad to cook dinner or do his own laundry. Each family is different.

Gay people marrying is not hurting anyone. It is two people who love each other and want to make a commitment to each other.

And their love matters…

Let it go…let it go…

Don’t hate me for getting that song stuck in your head (smile).

When I was a little girl, I had a white “leather” coat. It wasn’t really leather of course, but it had the look of leather. It had two square pockets on the front of it and a belt to tie around your waist. I LOVED it! I’m pretty sure it was a fancy coat to go with my Easter outfit that year because Easter was early and it was a bit chilly. Once Easter was over though, my mom let me wear it outside to play.

Since I was only seven years old, it was inevitable that one day I would outgrow my beloved coat. But I wasn’t letting it go without a fight! As the months went by, my coat was getting tighter and shorter much to my dismay. Then one fateful day my coat was the cause of a bit of a catastrophe. I was wearing it as I was outside playing with friends. I don’t remember what we were playing, but there was running involved. I don’t know WHAT possessed me to run with my hands in those square pockets on the front of my coat. Since the coat was quite small at this point, my hands did not easily slide into those pockets…and they also did not slide out easily. As I was running down the sidewalk, my feet made contact with a small crack in said sidewalk. The momentum caused me to lurch forward…and I did a face plant onto the sidewalk. My hands were trapped in the pockets and there was nothing to break my fall. I had a nice scrape under my nose just in time for school pictures. My mom was none too happy about that.

Sadly that was the end of my beloved coat. I had to let it go.

As I write this, we are in the first week of yet another new year. The older I get the faster the years seem to go. I don’t really do new year’s resolutions. Instead I tend to look back at the year that has come to an end and reflect on the highs and lows. I feel like 2022 was a unique year for me in that I spent a lot of time on myself. To be honest I’m not used to that and it felt very foreign to me. There were two good reasons that it was necessary…my brain and my body.

The end of 2021 I was met with something I’ve never experienced before…a panic attack. The year was filled with strife that I was indirectly a part of. By nature I am a peace maker. I don’t like conflict…AT ALL. I feel like I have the ability to see both sides of situations, but not everyone wants peace. I lived in that tension for a year. At the end of the year I lost 3 family members within two weeks of each other…two on the same day. Add to that the residual effects of the pandemic and the daily struggle of living with an autoimmune disorder and my brain broke.

So 2022 was a year of healing for me and that meant I had to focus on me. I learned a lot about myself. The biggest lesson learned was that I don’t take care of myself the way I should. I have always been a head down, boots to the ground, I’m going to beat this no matter what kind of person with just about every situation that comes my way. I especially felt that way when it came to my health. An “I’m not going to let no autoimmune disorder stop me!” kind of attitude. To be honest…I never really accepted that I had one. I tend to handle stressful situations well when they hit and I then tend to crash afterwards. The problem was that I never tended to myself in the crash. Boy did that catch up to me at the end of 2021.

I had to look back at many situations that have happened over the years and realize that I never really dealt with them. Just keep soldiering forward was my mantra. I didn’t realize that this is what I was doing of course. And in some cases I didn’t feel like I had a choice…you do what you have to do kind of thing. Like losing my mom at 28 with two young kids. I really didn’t have the space to grieve and I’ve had to learn how to do that 26 years later.

Probably the most helpful thing I learned this past year was to let go of expectations that I had for myself. One of the burdens of having an autoimmune disorder that causes fatigue and pain is that when you do try to rest you feel like you are being lazy. I know this is not just a me thing. I’ve heard others in the same boat express this as well. So I would push myself constantly even when my body protested. I would rest some trying to convince myself that I was taking care of myself by doing so, but I was kidding myself. It wasn’t enough and my body finally said enough is enough.

I spent the first two months of 2022 in front of the television. I still worked my job which is very part time, but in my down time I watched shows that took place in beautiful places. I watched tons of renovation shows which tend to be my favorite. I watched baking shows, and pottery shows, and a sweet little show about dogs who find their forever homes. It happened to be what my brain needed to slow down and allow my body to catch up. I had to let go of that I’m being lazy feeling. And it helped…a lot.

I ended 2022 on a much better note. I still feel like I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all (smile). I’m working hard at not falling into my old habits. I’m learning to continue to let go of expectations that aren’t healthy for me and I’m looking forward to what 2023 has for me to learn.

Sometimes we need to let go of possessions…like our favorite clothing item that no longer fits…and sometimes we need to let go of things that aren’t healthy for us. I guess you could say it’s an act of loving ourselves. We won’t be good at loving others if our tanks are empty.

And love matters…

A not so small problem…

When I was eight years old, I transferred from a public school to a private Catholic school. The public school wanted me to skip the third grade and go right to fourth. My parents didn’t want to do that. I’m very thankful for that because although I was ahead of my peers in the public school I was behind when I went to my new school. This school went up to the eighth grade, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to go to a new school for the sixth grade. This was also a private Catholic school so most of the kids had been together since kindergarten.

Being new as a third grader with kids that had been together for a few years was much different than starting at a new school as a sixth grader. Puberty is beginning to kick in and the last thing in the world you want to do is stand out in some way. I was so nervous my first day. Each class had an area to gather outside before the bell rang and most of us got there early so we had some time to socialize. What if I didn’t go to the right spot? How would I figure out where to go? I was shown where the sixth graders gathered in the morning when I was accepted and got a tour of the school, but did I remember correctly?

The big day came and my mom drove me to school that day instead of having me take the bus that first day. She dropped me off and I walked over to the sixth grade spot.

“You’re in the wrong place,” one of the kids said to me. My heart leaped into my throat and my stomach dropped to my feet.

“I am?”

“Yeah…third grade is on the parking lot over there,” someone else chimed in.

“I’m not in the third grade.”

“Oh sorry…fourth grade is also on the parking lot, but they are down by the fence,” another person offered.

By this time all eyes were on ME.

“I’m in the sixth grade. I thought this is where the sixth graders stood,” I replied.

That was met with a lot of “You are??” exclamations. “Man you are small.” I was mortified. Yes I was small for my age. And yes I probably looked like a third grader. I’m sure they were trying to be helpful, but all it did was make me feel like I had a big, giant sign on my head that said I don’t belong here. To this day, 44 years later, I still remember exactly where I was standing, what the kids looked like, and how it made me feel.

I was teased relentlessly because I was small. And for some reason boys thought they could just pick me up and spin me around whenever they wanted to because of my size. I hated that! So many times I yelled, “Put me down!” But as much as I was teased, I was never told I was wrong for being small. I was never told that I was lying about being small. I was never told that being small was a phase that I would grow out of (good thing because I didn’t…smile). My parents were never blamed for me being small. They weren’t told I was small because they wanted a small child. And they were never threatened for taking me to the doctor when I would get terrible growing pains in my legs.

I wish I could say the same thing for the LGBTQ+ people that I know and their families. They are under attack…especially given that it’s an election year. It seems that politicians these days can’t stand on what they have done or plan to do alone. They need to have a villain to get you to be against to gain your vote. That’s why this ballot is so important to me. I will be meticulously researching every candidate. Some of them make it easy as they don’t hide how they feel about the community. Others it’s not as obvious. It’s clear that they don’t do any research as what they spew is false information. It saddens me when people I know repeat the rhetoric they hear from these politicians. When I ask them questions, they are unable to tell me why they believe what they just said. It boggles my mind. And the kids are the ones that suffer from this verbal shrapnel.

I am the leader of a private FB group of moms of LGBTQ+ kids from the Maryland, DC, and Virginia areas. Something new is happening in our group. We are having moms from other states asking to join. The reason being is that they are looking for refuge in states that are more accepting of their kids and they have heard that Maryland, DC, and Virginia are better than where they live. I let them in so they can ask questions to be sure that they are moving (sometimes clear across the country) to safer places for their kids. Imagine that. Moving is no small feat…especially in the real estate climate that we are in right now. Not to mention the parents having to look for new jobs in the area. But in some of these cases they have no choice. There have been death threats. There have been threats from child protective services because there is so much misinformation out there particularly about transgender kids. Parents are not taking their children to doctors to have their body parts cut off.

As hard as it was for me to adjust to a new school, I can’t imagine what it is like for these kids. I can’t imagine dealing with being different in a way that people think you have control over. That you choose to be different. Folks if that were the case families would not be fleeing from the states that they have lived in their whole lives. What scars will these kids have 44 years later? Will they survive that long?

I hope you will research what you believe to make sure you know the truth about what you believe. I hope you will think of these kids and their families when you vote. They deserve to live the same kind of life that you are privileged to live. I will be voting as if their lives depend on it because in many cases they do.

I will vote for love…because love matters.

My family thinks I’m garbage…

When I think of my childhood and the bullies that myself or my friends encountered, there are two phrases that come to mind:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.


I’m rubber and you’re glue…whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.

It was a contest of sorts to get the second statement out fast enough so that you were confident that the words would bounce off of you and stick to them. Then the snickers would commence as you congratulated yourself for outsmarting the bully. But did you?

Oh how I wish it were that easy. How I wish that words from long ago didn’t somehow still sting that little girl in me.

I attended a Pride festival in my county this past Saturday with a table for Free Mom Hugs Maryland. We were very excited this year because we were actually able to give out hugs. We attended last year, but due to Covid we refrained from hugging. Instead we gave out little “hug monsters” which were made out of yarn. So many people told me that they still had theirs from last year when they came to our table. They also were very excited that we were giving out hugs this year.

It was a beautiful day and we had lots of traffic at our table. The festival is four hours long, but it’s a bit longer for the vendors as we need to get there early to set-up and then stay later to break down our tables. There was about 5 minutes left until the official end and I was putting things away. As I was rolling up my banner, a girl came up to me and asked if I was still giving hugs. This is not unusual. I think sometimes people are hesitant and it takes them some time to get up the nerve to come over. For others, I think it’s that they don’t want an “audience” when they get a hug.

I said that I absolutely was still giving out hugs. I’ve mentioned before when talking about Free Mom Hugs that sometimes you feel a transaction happen when you give a hug. There are times that I will say something to the person, and other times it’s a quick hug that doesn’t seem to need words. This particular time as I embraced this young girl I told her she was loved. She said, “Thank you. My family thinks I’m garbage.”

I have to tell you that this has haunted me these last couple of days. When I talk to people that are in this situation, most of the time the issue is religion. I would have liked to have told this girl that her family will eventually come around, but I know that’s not always the case. I know too many people whose families have not let go of their belief that they need to shun their family member because they are LGBTQ+.

Today is National Coming Out Day. Someone you love may come out to you. It may be your child. Please don’t be a bully to your child. Words hurt, I would venture to say, sometimes more than sticks and stones. And there is no amount of rubber that will make your hurtful words bounce from your child’s memory and heart. It may be a shock to hear the words. You have time to figure that out. What is most important in the moment is that you let your child or loved one know that you love them. If your religion tells you that you can’t love them, maybe you need to take a hard look at that belief.

Before the girl left, she went to the board pictured here. She carefully selected two post-it notes that had the messages that she needed to hear. I can guarantee you that she will carry those around with her for a long time. It’s the affirmation that she longs for from her family.

Church…you need to do better. If people need to find love in a post-it note, then we have failed. A child being told they are garbage…surely God must weep.

If someone is brave and comes out to you, love them. Because love matters…