Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

“Rather than deny our vulnerability, we lean into both the beauty and agony of our shared humanity. Choosing courage does not mean that we’re unafraid, it means that we are brave enough to love despite the fear and uncertainty.” ~Brene Brown

Years ago, a man I was dating could sense I was holding back and my block was preventing us from moving forward. He said to me, “you know, it’s okay for you to be vulnerable.” You would think Thor directed a lightening bolt at our clasped hands because I bolted. Tucked my tail and ran like a terrified puppy. By the mere thought of sharing with him my battered heart and letting him see my pain. Mind you, I literally did make a quick exit, and there’s no way to elegantly hoof it when still wearing a walking cast. The hobble is not dignified or efficient.

He became the first man I ghosted. *I know, I know….* And it was brutal! I was such a coward. He’s a good man, and he treated me remarkably well, and he deserved far better than what I gave him. And it was painful for him. Both of us were clumsily trying to navigate dating, both having experienced similar trauma of discovering our significant others were unfaithful to us. Years later, we reconnected.

Funnily enough, he reached out to me after seeing a young woman hobbling on crutches which reminded him of our first date. We are friends…. after he read me the riot act for disappearing. Which I accepted. He’s happily married to a wonderful woman and they share a healthy, beautiful, blended family.

And then the day came,

when the risk

to remain tight

in a bud

was more painful

than the risk

it took

to blossom.

Risk ~ Anaïs Nin

And I’m often still that clumsy, scared puppy when comes the terrifying thunderclap or being called upon to share my intimate parts of me with others. However, here in Oaxaca, that’s more likely to be fireworks exploding overhead than actual thunder…..

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I’m currently dealing with a lot of vulnerability and exposure in a way that I normally tend to work very hard to avoid. I’m absolutely, definitely, without a question the person who will cut and run and avoid authentic connection in almost every scenario in effort to avoid being emotionally eviscerated again. Even though, so far, I’ve proven that you will be able to recover from every loss, broken heart, abandonment, and betrayal. It doesn’t always feel like that is possible, but I have a 100% recovery rate.

Here’s a rub, though: there are times during which channeling massive courage for authenticity and vulnerability will not be rewarded by receipt of the outcome you put yourself out on the very ledge of exposure for…. and it sucks so hard! Aaaaah, that feeling is the worst when you’re emotionally naked, and the lights are on, and… and… and… no.

A few years ago, when I was nearly hysterical from what I was then experiencing as a vulnerability exposure fail, a friend said to me, “it’s scary and it’s hard to show people our ugly.” Yes. It’s scary. And it’s hard. It’s hard to constantly live in your truth. Because when you’re being truthful and authentic all of your time, you’re going to turn off some people because they don’t tune in to that vibration. But it’s not easy, and again, the fear factor, for me, is intense.

Also, trust. Can I trust my instincts regarding this person? Can I trust this person? If I open up my heart, is this person going to take that vulnerability to hurt me? Because… that’s what happened before.

I’ve held myself back. I lose out on the possibility of the kind of connection I want, and I also deny someone the opportunity to receive all the weird, wonderful, quirky, and beautiful parts of me that lie beneath the surface of fear and anxiety. But the part of me that craves that connection and depth doesn’t call to me as loud as the part of me that begs me to stay closed to protect myself.

I learned that fear through a traumatic abusive relationship. I came to accept I wasn’t worth more than what he told me I was worth, through his hurtful words and his injury afflicting actions. Then, another one, this time a true wolf in a friendly skin told me I hadn’t come as far in my recovery and ability to protect myself from a predator (when you learn your ex is a convicted felon as he goes back to prison… yeah that happened). Trusting myself, and trusting others… that’s hard. It’s scary.

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I keep coming back to this picture from when I went on a (divine) yoga retreat in Costa Rica a couple of years ago. When my friend snapped this picture of me, I had no idea she was even there. I had just been wacked in the back of my head by my longboard on what was one of my most awkward falls I ever made when surfing – and just believe me when I say I wipe out better than I ride.

But my smile is so real. There was nothing anticipated or commanded. This sunburned mug is radiant with sheer joy. If I had let my anxiety and self-conscious nervousness about how not-good I am at surfing get the better of my earnest desire to ride those perfect baby swells (I know my limits of my skill level), I wouldn’t have ever known how delicious and fun Costa Rica waves are for long boarding.

One of the things about surfing – especially at the beginning, is learning how to read the wave and determine which ones, and when, are good to ride. Because I don’t get to surf often, I miss quite a few, and in the split second of hesitation, that wave is gone. But there’s more. There’s always more!

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ~Brene Brown

When you’re told repeatedly you’re not worthy of love and sincere affection without conditional approvals, your mind can hold onto those messages. Despite a hell of a lot of work I’ve done to reclaim myself and recover, I still have triggers. But those aren’t my truths – only as much as I want to allow myself to continue to subscribe to that story. I still have doubts. It’s like that song from Bob Dylan, Just Like a Woman.

Whether puppy or little girl, I have to willfully force myself to stand present in front of someone, whether a new friend – usually a man wanting to build an emotional connection – I have to resist and push down the initial reaction to run and choose to be courageous. I’m a good emotional runner. But a terrible physical runner. Too many ankle and foot fractures.

And so also goes with finding the courage to continue to take the exposure and painful anxiety of vulnerability. We get better at what we practice. Sometimes the ride will be good. Sometimes we get knocked in the head by a surfboard. Right now I’m feeling the knock in my heart. But I really don’t want to miss any more waves because I hesitated.

Vulnerability is not for anyone faint hearted! If you want to live authentically and with appropriate vulnerability, you have to be a warrior. A love warrior! And better yet, be ready for the ride.

XO,

Jennifer

Nosara Costa Rica Surfing Vulnerability .jpg
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Lin-Manuel Miranda quotes galantine's day

“I think a lot about trying to meet the moment as honestly as possible, because I don’t pretend to have any answers. In fact, I have infinitely more questions than answers.” I can generally not get enough Leslie Knope, but on this Galentine’s Day, I’m all about feeling Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Galentine’s Day Spotify playlist he made for us ladies. It’s even better than when I came across an artist’s renderings of Leslie Knope quotes. Talk and dance about this is chock full of fantastic, empowering, and energetic songs from strong and sassy female artists and it’s all girl power.

Today is a day for ladies to celebrate ladies, and while my ladies are north of the border, so there’s no rose sipping and bruschetta noshing. But, thanks to international data plans and What’s App, I still was able to access some of my lady loves’ therapy sessions. I love my poetic land mermaids and rule breaking moths.

I firmly believe one of the reasons I don’t struggle with loneliness, despite an almost constant run of “Singleness,” is because of my epic circle of friends. I date, often, but rarely meet someone worth investing deeper into the sacrifice of my personal time to be with him so I generally choose to be alone. Fact is, there’s not yet been a single person I’ve been with romantically in which I feel like I received a net neutrality or gain compared to the sacrifices I had to make to be in the relationship. That’s not what I want…. I want to be with someone because my life is more colorful, peaceful, enriched because of what I share and experience with him. Not to miss time I could be spending doing other things because of what I’m giving to him. And that’s how I know I’ve never met my “lobster.” But Galentine’s Day is a fun day for celebrating my friendships.

It’s also an excellent day for me to not ponder so hard about a particularly confusing romantic “situation” (see some of above) and just enjoy… Oh, and write… and write, write, write. Always to write. Even though I cry – a lot – about my dissertation challenges, I know… I just know it will feel so good to be done. And it will feel good to give a smiling “fuck you” to my naysayers. There’s a list.

And because I’m having a particularly rough time of rewriting and reanalyzing my research data and I want to quit it all so close to the end, another push for stick to itness and perseverance. Anytime you write something, you go through so many phases. You go through the I’m a Fraud phase. You go through the I’ll Never Finish phase. And every once in a while you think, What if I actually have created what I set out to create, and it’s received as such?”

Pop a bottle of pink tinted wine, crank up your speakers, and enjoy this day – if you want, you can join me in a virtual dance party. Oh, and as a matter of fact, living deep in Mexico is not helping me improve my dance skills any better than sleeping with textbooks under pillows helped my knowledge of calculus in high school.

Centro Cultural San Pablo Oaxaca Mexico

By the way, what do you think of my new hat? I picked it up last week at Mercardo Benito Juarez. Hat hair for days. Which is beneficial being that my dueña can’t get the hot water to stay on in my apartment and hair this thick and long is a miserable washing experience in cold showers (I’ve been going over budget and visiting a salon for washes and blow outs). We’re also working on the pest situation because I found a scorpion in my room the other night operating as my head board.

Happy Galentine’s Day!

XO, Jennifer

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Ways to hold space for a grieving friend this holiday season

Chances are, like me, you probably have someone close to you who is experiencing his or her first holiday season without someone dearly beloved and painfully missed. Cliches exist for a reason, and what they say about the holidays being an especially lonely time for many people certainly rings as true as the Salvation Army bells outside your local CVS, Winn Dixie, Galleria, you name it. If you have a friend who lost someone this year, a pretty sure bet is your friend is in some extra need of love and spirit this holiday season. But how, right? How can you support a grieving friend when navigating your own holidayness?

You’ve probably heard and read about “holding space” for someone. What does that really mean, anyway? Well, I’ve determined it means a lot! The gist of it is how you can support someone in need. Without judgment, no matter how well intended. But, here are four things you can do to hold space for your grieving friend and make his or her holiday season less like a vacuum and bring some love into that void your friend is surely feeling. Really, anything will be recognized and appreciated.

Ways to hold space for a grieving friend this holiday season

Snail mail. Send a card. Go ahead and send a standard holiday card in your big batch. But find another card – not a sympathy card – something more nondescript. Write out a brief note to let your friend know you’re thinking about her. The card is great because it’s physical. It can be touched and held. Reread if wanted. And doesn’t force your friend to face a conversation she may not want to have. I’ll tell you this: there were numerous times I wasn’t excited to talk to people, even people I dearly loved. It exhausted me when merely getting through a day exhausted me. But I loved, and for a loooooong time I held onto, every single card. Another reason the card works so well is because it’s a break from the influx of happy holiday cards. Don’t get me wrong; I loved those, too.

 

Invitations help. Perhaps my busiest holiday calendar ever was the Christmas of 2012. Planning my party attire and which cocktail dress I would wear for each party was an excellent antidote and distraction. Which I know contradicts what I wrote in Number 1! But it helped. I did not accept every invitation, but I sure as heck appreciated and felt included and loved with every invitation I received. When making an invitation, be specific. When someone would invite me for lunch I’d vaguely respond. But when someone said, “I’d like to take you to lunch on Tuesday, are you available at 11:00? I’ll pick you up and we can go to the hot bar at Whole Foods….” I accepted. What she did was she eliminated any burden for me to plan and also created a specific image for me to look forward to.

 

Doorstep treats. If you live in the same area, consider dropping by with a bouquet of fresh flowers or a pot of herbs (Trader Joe’s makes my flower world go round). There’s something about fresh botanicals in a living space that makes it feel more vibrant and beautiful. Not into flowers? How about a magazine, some baked treats from a cookie exchange, or a box of herbal tea. It would be acceptable to bring them by when your friend is home as well as dropping off on the door step to greet your friend when she returns home. If you don’t live nearby and you have the budget, a small something, whether a book, a gift card to take herself out for a cup of coffee or tea, flowers,…. Will go a long way. Something to encourage her self care.

 

Pick up the phone. Even if you leave a voice mail, and yes I dodged some calls because I was lacking energy, consumed with grief, you name it…. But for every voice mail I received those words embraced me as fully as a hug. Drop a quick line or send a text message to simply say, “I’m thinking about you.” You don’t need to be a close friend to reach out. In fact, some of the unexpected contacts were among the most touching.

 

I found the first year following my dad’s unexpected death excruciating and crushing, particularly that first run of weeks from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. There was not enough fudge, cookies, and wine to get me through the season. I was lonely, but I also wanted distance… my emotions were as volatile as winter weather and storm patterns. Too much time with anyone would render an eruption of some sort. Too much time alone lead to hours in an unmade bed, greasy hair, and well, you can see where I’m going with this. It wasn’t pretty. But those were all reasons why I needed to know from my friends that I still mattered to them and they were still standing by my side. I am grateful for my friends who understood I wanted to share stories one minute, then cry another, and needed to be alone the next minute and respected my needs… and understood my moods were not to be taken personally or a result of them.

 

I was then, and still am, terrible at asking for help. When I most needed gentle love, I was the least able to ask for it. The grief was too strong, and I was too focused on trying to look like I had my you-know-what together. I could see it in my friends’ faces. They were concerned and they wanted to love me and comfort me. I thank God for my friends who did not forget me during their holiday hustle. Your friend will fell and will remember the kindness and love you give.

 

Having deeply reflected on what could have been said or done to help me, I believe there is no “right” thing to say or to do. There’s no fool proof recipe – this isn’t a Toll House cookie. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can stand up – or sit down – with and support your friend who is grieving a lost loved one this season. Acknowledge the loss and the pain. If she opens up, listen. Just listen. If you know the loved one, share stories.

 

By being “there” and showing up to support a grieving friend in a way that is authentically you to offer your space, thoughts, and energy, you’re going to give one of the best gifts of the season.

 

Have a very merry and lovely holiday this year. Lots of love to you.

 

XO, Jennifer

Ways to hold space for a grieving friend this holiday season

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There women with whom bonds are formed that transcend mere friendship. I never had a biological sister. Kellyann is, quite literally, the sister I never grew up with. Her daughter calls me “Auntie Jen.” We’ve had knock down drag out fights that have been utterly brutal. And we come back to each other because that’s what happens when a friend is a sister. The friendship doesn’t die. We fight for it and we understand each other more for it.  That is a love and a sisterhood we made over years of connection and investment.

The following is an excerpt from a text message conversation I had with my BFF in Connecticut. The backstory is she didn’t completely appreciate me text messaging her a picture of the info display in Stupid Scandinavian Car that displayed an outside temperature of 60 degrees at 7:00 tonight.

Snowed-in-her-condo-bestie: “but, but why? were you cheering for the steelers yesterday or something”
Me: “goodness no!”
Me: “I’m a sourpatch kid”
Snowed-in-her-condo-bestie: “watermelon or sour apple?” (huh? Bestie doesn’t ask why I just called myself a sourpatch kid? Bestie just… accepts?)
Me: “apple of course”
Snowed-in-her-condo-bestie: ” well i guess that makes you a tart… lol”
Me: “Gasp!”
Me: “I shld tell you to take that back, brat!”
Snowed-in-her-condo-bestie: “oh come on you practically laid down a welcome mat on that one… lol”
Snowed-in-her-condo-bestie: “ok, ok i take it back”
Me: “Hahahahahahahahaha! It was clever.”
Snowed-in-her-condo-bestie: “thank you. i learned from the very best… hehehehehehe”
Me: “Eeeeeeeee!”

THAT’s what friends are for.

And for letting myself cry snotty-faced over and over and over for a guy, same guy/new guy.
And for reminding me that any woman who can squeeze her bum into size 4 ANYTHING should stop calling herself fat/chunky/hefty.
And for picking my ridiculous ass up when I miss my flight and have to land three hours away from my destination so she can drive me hours to my final destination. No questions asked, no lecture given on better planning and time management.
And for knowing how to make me laugh, hear me rage, or let me cry…. For whatever tickles, affronts, or breaks my heart.

 

Come to think of it, I think I may have the world’s most frigging awesomest best friend. Even if she does call me a Crackhead. Even if I do act like a Sour Patch kid. Even if we’ve wanted to shake each other with frustration and were one level beneath throat punching.

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I can’t say if anything prepares you to say goodbye. The experience of the loss of a pet can crush your core. Chloe could have cared less for even getting out of bed. High-pitched sing-songs for “breakfaaaaaaast” were ignored. I hadn’t given her any insulin Monday evening so the lethargy and disinterest in food could have been because her blood sugar was higher than normal, which the vet was going to check out. I packed her food, insulin, sweater, and some softie toys for her to have smells of home. 

My first update from the vet came at 9 am. She won’t eat, she won’t drink. They administered sub-cutaneous fluids, an antiobiotic, anti-nausea, antacid… and painkillers – she was “resting comfortably now.” Initial blood work from the previous night checked out okay. The vet recommended testing for pancreatitis to see if there was a flare up and also valley fever, but she wasn’t displaying any symptoms of either. Her liver enzymes were very high and with complete certainty, little Chloe was ill and they needed to try to find out why. They would call me back when the vet got out of an upcoming surgery and let me know of any progress.

A little over an hour later, I hadn’t heard anything, and called. And was placed on hold. For a long time. Just so we are clear, by the end of the day,  I was ready to punch this vet. For THIRTEEN AND A HALF YEARS I have been taking Chloe to this veterinarian office and I had NEVER been blown off or disregarded like this frigging vet was treating me. I finally ceased communication with her and spoke with one of the technicians.

Chloe’s 13th b’day party/”bark mitzvah” thrown by her “Auntie Heather & Uncle Kevin”
When I would ask, “exactly HOW SICK is Chloe” I couldn’t get a straight answer.
By noon, Chloe had been given additional fluids, more anti-nausea, and more painkillers. I couldn’t help but do the math because the costs were adding up, very quickly (and I resented that I was doing the math). By 1:30, Chloe was being administered IV fluids, electrolytes, pain killers… and was “resting comfortably.” And I started to understand, because know one was telling me but I could read between the lines, I was going to have to make a decision, at what point was I going to HAVE to say, at 13 ½, I cannot justify additional costs just to try to find out what is ailing my little dog.
 
My biggest fear was staring at me through the black face of my blackberry screen. At 13 ½, when do I say, my little dog has fought long enough. She has come back from near death multiple times already, has had multiple surgeries, already, and was such a strong, sweet, little fighter who even when in pain (already) and sick (already), would still be just so sweet and so happy.
 
Such a quiet, little, loving, stoic. Chloe could not stand on her own, her fever was not dropping, I was going to have to transport her to an overnight emergency vet for observation through the night, but for now, she was “resting comfortably.” Umm, no. She was stoned out of her mind.
Looking for clams in Mexico.
Was I really giving up on her by saying $1700 (total cost of treatment up to that point — that day — and still not-performed-but-recommended-tests) is too much money to try to find out what’s wrong — $1700 before we can even begin attempting to treat (if we even can treat) what we might find out is wrong? And was I really being fair for her for thinking oppositely, and deciding that, no matter the irrationality and (frankly) irresponsibility of accruing whatever cost I could to try to keep her with me? When would I decide that my little fighter has held on long enough, that it’s okay for her to go, that she can let go?
 
At my totally open-office-environment, in the company of a good colleague, I broke. As he talked me through the reasons why I could the best doggie-mom NOW and help her let go, NOW. I started sobbing. I totally and fully… LOST. MY. SHIT. On the work floor. In plain sight of employees, other managers, other directors, I could not have created any more of a circus if I channeled PT Barnum. COMPLETELY UNPROFESSIONAL.
 
And, as he gently explained to me, I had made my decision, and I didn’t need to feel badly about my decision… for her, I was making the decision. And, he was right. I was right, and this time, I did not want to be, right. I wanted to hear the vet tell me what she wouldn’t tell me. I wanted the vet to tell me she could fix Chloe. I wanted the vet to tell me Chloe still had more fight, more life in her.
 
But I didn’t get that answer. In fact, I got NO help from that awful woman (why oh why couldn’t have Dr. Jensen been here one more time to help Chloe and me?).
Here she is, healthy — about 7 years ago — looking at how full her little belly is… by the time she passed, I could encircle her “waist” with my hands. At her healthiest she was 19 pounds. She weighed 13 pounds on 01/11/11.
I left work. I called my mom, whom I had been texting – my mom actually is the one who found and purchased Chloe. And my mom, alone, knew exactly how significant Chloe was to me. In fact, Chloe was originally my mom’s, but my mom gave her to me when she realized my Chihuahua liked her (my mom) more than me and Chloe and I had a sweet little connection. My mom heard my voice, cracking and choking, and she knew. I knew. We both knew what I had to do.
Swimming lessons. Chloe liked to chase lizards. She fell in the pool once and sank. Fortunately, we were outside and rescued her. We decided she needed to learn how to swim.
I did not want her to hang on in pain. She gave me far too much in my life for me to force her to live in misery. I did not want to come home from work – or anywhere – one day to find she died when I was away, to think that she could have died painfully, and alone. I did not want to get a call from any vet office telling me they lost her, and she died, locked in a little kennel, away from smells and sounds and textures she knows.
 

I called the vet office and spoke with Theresa, a vet technician who I have been working with at the office for years and years. And I told her, “we’re going to let Chloe go, tonight.” And Theresa finally told me what no one else would. “Yeaaaaah, Jennifer, she’s not doing well. We don’t know what’s wrong. I think you’re making the right decision. You’re making a good choice. I’m so sorry. I’m really sorry. We tried, we did.” We made arrangements for me to arrive in about 30 minutes and they would have a family room ready for me to spend with Chloe for as long as we could, and Chloe’s euthanasia would be the very last thing the vet did that day. I stopped to get some cheese. To hell with the diabetes and the bladder stones and the damaged pancreas, cheese would not hurt her, anymore. And she loved cheese, and couldn’t have any because of her restricted diet. My little dog was going to have cheese, if she could eat the frigging cheese.

And I got to the vet, and I was brought into the room, and I waited for Chloe. Theresa told me she called Dr. Jensen, who wished me to have her regrets and condolences, and who also stated that Chloe has fought a lot, and even though she’s not there to see Chloe herself, it sounds to her like “it’s time.” I actually appreciated that a call was made to my primary vet, even though the answer was what I didn’t want to hear.

When Rachel carried her in, my limp little dog smelled me, and perked up, and got a little shot of energy. Rachel put her on the ground, curious to see of Chloe would stand, and she ran right to where I was sitting. And she wagged her little tail-nub – and I swear she smiled. Rachel exclaimed amazement and stated that they had not seen as much energy from her in the entire day. I picked her up, and she just melted into my lap, and fell asleep, instantly. I held her, alone in that room, my tears falling on her little, white, forehead and I brushed back her eyebrows. And I spoke to her. And fed her come cheese, before she lost interest in even that.

She couldn’t even stay awake as I held her. And I sobbed. I didn’t even try to be quiet. I cried, completely heartbroken. At 5:47, the vet came in. She medically, sterile-ly explained how the injection would work. I carried Chloe to the table, and she looked up at me, with her huge, brown eyes, and she just looked so tired, and… sad. I gently laid her on the cushion on the table, and then embraced her.

 
I stared at her left eye, the only one I could see from the angle which I held her, and I alternately sketched back and forth to the needle I allowed the vet to stick in her little leg, and the blue solution – a powerful blend of barbiturates that would shut off all functioning in her brain. I knew, in less than moments, she would be gone… because I signed a paper (and paid $1048) and gave the vet permission to humanely kill my dog. In front of me, because I held my helpless, trusting, little, Chloe when the poisons were injected into her.
 
She’s gone.” 
 
That’s what heart break sounds like. A true shattering of one’s core. 
 
Her heart stopped beating after I knew Chloe was really gone. I knew the instant “Chloe” left. I saw her eye change, and that’s when I knew the barbiturates entered her brain. There was no shudder, no sigh. She left, still and quiet.
Getting blessed by one of the Franciscan Friars from St. Mary’s Basilica at “The Casa” (Franciscan Renewal Center) for the annual blessing of animals.
AND I KNOW that Chloe (is) “just a dog.” I KNOW. But she was mine, wholly mine. The one thing I haven’t totally fucked up as an adult. Chloe. Was there for every break-up. EVERY break-up. The big ones, the unexciting ones. She was there when some jerk wouldn’t call, and she was there when the loser-who-couldn’t-get-a-clue wouldn’t stop calling. When I broke up with my best friend of 13 years from high school, she was there. When I found myself terrified in my condo, living alone for the first time in my life, she was there. She filled this horrible little condo with life when I was a veritable walking dead woman. She helped me build a home, and I probably invested far more of my emotional self into my little pup, but she was the constant in my adult life.
In fact, it’s easier for me to think about what part of my life hasn’t had Chloe in it. She has flown across the country, road-tripped into Mexico, tag-alonged to interstate polo tournaments, investigated cattle on a New Mexico ranch, and stalked horses…. Chloe hiked and camped all over the state, swam in the ocean with me, camped on beaches. Heck, she was featured in a local news promotion spot as a doggie model…. Where hasn’t she gone with me?
 

People can disappoint. We lie. To each other, to ourselves. She didn’t, not once. She kept me honest, she kept me accountable. I had a rhythm in my life that revolved around my little dog. That rhythm, the heartbeat that depended on my protection and my nurturing (the rhythm and heartbeat that stabilized my own rhythm and pace), stopped, somewhere between 5:51 and 5:53 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2011.

She’s… gone.

The last picture I took of her.
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