Ten Years Ago Tomorrow

I found this photo randomly while scrolling through my photo collection and happened to notice the ten year anniversary of this event. It’s a terrible picture but the best of many terrible shots because I couldn’t bring a better camera with me that day.

January 30, 2008 – I woke up early and drove to Denver alone to wait in a line for over two hours with thousands of other people to hear Barack Obama speak at the University of Denver’s Magness Arena. This was back when most people didn’t think he had a shot of winning the Democratic nomination, let alone the election. The energy of everyone there that day made me believe hard that maybe hope really did have a chance.

As we all piled into the stadium—totally packing it, I might add—I happened to find a spot not too far from the stage and not too far from where he would enter the stadium. The crowd pushed their way towards the ropes when he entered, and he took the time to shake some of the hands poking out here and there. Although I couldn’t see over the many heads in front of me, I stuck my hand over someone’s shoulder and felt a shoot of goosebumps blast up my arm as someone touched it. I’ll never know if it was him or not, but I’ll always believe that I shook hands with a future president, President Barack Obama.

I don’t remember much of what he said, but I remember that it aligned with all that I dreamed of for our country, especially about the environment, human rights, and education. I remember the excitement of the crowd coursing through arena and the euphoric feelings I had as I left that day, believing that I had participated in something truly auspicious. Things were going to be okay from now on.

It breaks my heart now to look at these pictures, at my optimistic innocence. I love Obama even more now for his compassion and integrity, and it horrifies me how much of his dream was blocked during his time in office. It kills me to learn how 45 and his lackeys are decimating all that he was able to put into place. My only hope comes from the thought that maybe the chaos will burn itself out, that we will all emerge from this nightmare a little bit wiser and more careful but definitely more impassioned about what truly matters in life.

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May 2017

May was lovely with so many little adventures and projects, and, of course, the arrival of light and warmth and freedom from work for the next two months. Here are a few of our adventures:

Adventure #1

We started out for a hike up Red Mountain in Manitou Springs in early May. As the day looked warm and sunny without any chance of rain, we didn’t even bother to bring sweatshirts.

There were lilacs blooming everywhere in Manitou!

This was our goal—Red Mountain.

Okay, so something very strange happened. The storm clouds started moving in. With them looking serious, we decided to pass by the trail up the mountain and instead headed down Intemann Trail towards Ruxton Avenue. As we hit Ruxton, the farthest point from our car, the rains began. We had to run from awning to awning down Ruxton and Manitou Avenue, sometimes stopping in shops to dry off a bit. But two magical things happened: 1. We discovered the coolest market with organic food and Colorado-made products, Lu Style Local Goods. We had smoothies while trying to wait out the rain. The rain never let up. 2. We stopped in a shop with Latin American imports and found an Amate Bark painting for super cheap that we fell in love with. So now the challenge became getting not only us, but our painting, back to the car in one piece.

We stopped for a while at the arcade to wait out the storm. The rain never let up, so we dashed several blocks back to the car, running harder than we had run in a long time, stopping under awnings and trees here and there to catch our breath. The painting arrived safe. We arrived safe. As soon as we drove out of Manitou, the rain stopped. It was still sunny in Colorado Springs.

Adventure #2

(There should be mountains out there but it was so dusty that you couldn’t see them.)

We set out for the Great Sand Dunes the day that my summer vacation started. Worried about the wind, I checked my weather app, and it told me that the wind was blowing at 10mph. We arrived to find a dust storm. Knowing that the Sand Dunes can be horrible with just the slightest amount of wind, we decided to play in other parts of the Sand Luis Valley, like the UFO Watchtower.

And Colorado Gators!

I also held the alligator after Billy did. But there is no picture to prove it.

Some of our friends at the alligator farm.

Then we stopped in La Veta on the way home where we bought pie and batiks and had insightful conversations with the super friendly locals.

Adventure #3

Gardening. The adventure continues on into June.

We are replacing the vegetable gardens with flowers, mulch with rock, lawn with rock, rotting logs with large rocks that we are gathering from the hill behind my family home. It is expensive and time-consuming and tiring, but well on its way to looking super nice!

Adventure #4

Building Castle Boogers. We built a tower for our cat, Boogers from Styrofoam insulation, carpet remnants, vinyl adhesive floors, and linoleum floor sample tiles. So far, she absolutely loves it! She sleeps on the top level and looks out the window. She sleeps and sulks like a melancholy teenager on the ground floor in the dark. She emerges from her castle to eat and to rub against our dog Emma.

It took us 12 hours and cost three times the amount we thought it would, but we love our creation.

Adventure #5

Alexander Calder and floral lovelies at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

More random photos from May.

Our snowball bush was gorgeous this year!

A puppy in our neighborhood named Belle. She looks so much like our dear, sweet Winnie that we always stop and pet her when we see her.

Good old Emma is just about 13 years old.

 

April 2017

April was wracked with grief for me because of the recent loss of my dog Winnie. Also work was stressful and busy with preparations for a big event that is now, thankfully, over. Precious and few were the moments that I had to myself. But at least it was starting to look and feel more like spring.

We took a hike in memory of Winnie and left flowers for her at the top of Mount Muscoco. She never took that hike but would have loved in when she was in her hiking prime. I’m so happy that it’s starting to be hiking season again.

I’m grateful for my two surviving pets, Emma and Boogers.

Boogers suffers in the spring and summer. We just had an allergy test done on her and are waiting for the results. I may have to give her allergy injections soon. Fun!

Doña Emma is nearly 13 years old now.

My dad and my mom both celebrated birthdays this month. Yes, I have two headstrong Aries parents.

And then there were the flowers (and the year’s first ladybug sighting) . . .

Happy spring!

March 2017

Just two days before she left us.

I have put off posting pictures about March because it has been too painful. On March 28th, we lost our Winnie. She was sick and old, but we loved her like our child. We had her for nearly twelve years, ever since she was little more than a puppy. I’m not able to write much about her, about the experience, but her loss has left such a big hole in our lives and our hearts. Losing her has caused a marked shift in my life that I still cannot comprehend. I don’t know what is going to happen, but everything seems dark, and it feels like there is little left to lose. Here are a couple of the last pictures I have of her:

That came at the end of the month, the rest of the month brought walks and hikes and bike rides and flowers. Here are a few highlights:

We rode our bikes around the Deaf and Blind School. Although I have driven by it probably thousands of times, I had never set foot on campus before. Such beautiful, old buildings.

A snowy hike in Mueller State Park

Mueller State Park

A friendly neighborhood turtle

A walk around my old alma mater

A walk near Cheyenne Canon

It got dreary and rainy at the very end of the month, much to match my mood.

I loved all the spring flowers in the rain. New beginnings yet still draped in the tears that come with the ending of chapters.

February 2017

February has been an interesting month—life-changing in many ways. It came in like a lion with this snowy, foggy day (in an otherwise dry, dry winter):

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Within a day or two, our temperatures climbed to unseasonably warm weather and stayed that way for most of the month. Here are some shots of our hike in Red Rock Canyon Open Space:l1170723 l1170739 l1170742 l1170750 l1170758

I had two life-changing weekends in Denver. One was a module for my 300-hour teacher training, during which I took these pictures during a lunch break in City Park. The other was a Level 1 Reiki Training. Just how they changed my life would not be interesting to anyone else, but I am entering March feeling more powerful, directed, conscious, and open and trusting to life.

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February was very much about family. I am so proud of my grandma for being named resident of the month at the retirement home where she lives!

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It has been hard to clear out the home where my grandparents lived for over sixty years, to let go of items that I have seen for my entire life. So many memories, so many emotions that I haven’t been able to begin to process. Especially hard since my grandpa built this house, every inch of it is him. But life is change, and all we can do is keep moving forward. Here are some shots I took in and around the house last weekend:

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And lastly, on this same day I took these pictures, we lost my uncle Doc. I wanted so much to be in Arizona for my family and for the funeral today, but I had too many work obligations to go out of state. I ache to be around my kin in their grief and to honor this incredible man.

January 2017

January has been a hard month. It has been a struggle every day to keep up faith and hope and not let myself drown in despair. I haven’t been taking a daily picture, but I thought this year I’d post some pictures from the highlights of the month. This month had few highlights. All work and no play. Then the cold and extreme wind. But it’s now February and things are starting to look up. This month, we are learning the hard way the true meaning of this quote:

“By your stumbling, the world is perfected.” -Sri Aurobindo

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We saw spurts of snow, extreme cold, and hurricane-speed winds this month.

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Winnie had a rough spot earlier this month but is on some new medication and is doing well.

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Boogers is still cute.

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Emma has been slowing down a lot (she is so pokey on our walks), but she still seems to feel pretty good.

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All of my babies at home on Billy’s birthday.

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Even though the dogs have slowed down, we still walk them most days. But we are starting to take ourselves on more walks because we need more exercise than our dog walks can provide.

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Foggy, cold.

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I’m proud to have participated in the historic Women’s March on January 21st. In Colorado Springs

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At the Women’s March, riding the powerful wave of energy and change.

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I finally sold my Saturn, my car of 15 years, this month. Working on letting go of many things and trusting the path forward.

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The last weekend of the month was warm, and the four of us enjoyed a long walk.

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I made a new hat.

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So excited to see a touch of green.

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Goodbye to January. I’m so anticipating spring’s arrival.

Happy 14th Anniversary to Billy!

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Me and Billy last week

I have spent the last two weeks honoring the people and animals in my life who have passed on. I haven’t done this to be a bummer or to dwell in sadness; rather I wanted to honor them, to celebrate them, to relive moments both happy and sad through memories and photos. Yes, it was also a way to deal with the grief I have over losing them, whether that grief is new or residual. I recently learned that grief never goes away, only our relationship to it changes. These people, these pets will always be in my heart, they will always guide me, but I want to be ready to step forward along my path without holding onto any unnecessary sadness, woe, grief, pain, or guilt.

I try not to dwell on the negative (I try, it doesn’t always work but it’s part of my practice) because in life we have both gains and losses—without the dark we cannot have light—all of it creating the beautiful tapestry of our lives. And so I welcome a new year, 365 days of new opportunities to live life to the fullest. Each day an opportunity for lessons. There is much that we cannot change and control. There is much that I fear in this new year; the future of humanity looks bleak. But the best I can do is live my life in the way I want to live it, without letting fear and doubt hold me back, and especially fear and doubt in which I have no control over the outcome. I have spent forty years as a worrier. I think that’s enough.

I do want to dwell on the positive a bit here. Sixteen years ago yesterday, I lost my beloved grandmother. I never thought I would look forward to a new year again. Two years later, I found my true love. It was only a few months after I had lost my cousin Kirk that I started at a new job. And there he was at the desk next to me. To make a long story (that involved me doubting myself, doubting love, doubting life, having to get rid of the insanely insecure control freak I was dating but involving Billy’s unwavering faith and love and commitment) short, within one month we were together. On New Year’s Eve 2002, Billy left what is now a quite rare and valuable Kid Robot figure on my doorstep when I was out with my friends for New Year’s Eve. When I got home, I freaked out because although we both liked each other, I had decided what was best for me was to be alone and not date anyone for a while. So on New Year’s Day, I decided to return the Kid Robot and tell Billy that I couldn’t date him. I went to his house, his sweet little house with no furniture except for a computer, desk, chair, and bed. And I saw Billy, acting so nervous to see me, and I knew he loved me and that I loved him. I was scared because I had never had a good relationship before and I thought I was doomed at love, but when I saw Billy at his home, so sweet, so trusting, I had to give love a chance, I couldn’t let fear and doubt stand in my way. So New Year’s Day became our anniversary. Fourteen years ago, it’s hard to believe how fast the time goes. I can’t imagine how anyone could put up with me for fourteen years! He’s still sweet and loving and patient and unwavering and wise and so much more!

We took this picture not long after getting together. Billy bought a digital camera and we hooked it up to my TV. We took some of the funniest pictures ever; this is one of the normal ones. We were so young!

We took this picture not long after getting together. Billy bought a digital camera and we hooked it up to my TV. We took some of the funniest pictures ever; this is one of the normal ones. We were so young!

Joy often follows intense pain. Last year, one week after losing my stepfather, my dog Winnie had to have emergency surgery to remove her gall bladder. She only had a 30% of living, and she is napping in the sun right now. Twelve years ago, one week after losing my grandfather, my dad got terribly sick went into ICU. We almost lost him, but the experience changed his life. He’s now about to go take a bike ride on this cold, January day because he loves riding so much. It all makes you realize what’s important, who’s important, not to take life and those you love for granted. I’m so grateful to have Billy, my now husband of six-and-a-half years, in this same little house now filled with too much stuff. I’m grateful to have my strong, amazing, loving dad in my life, to have my sweet little spunky Winnie still here. And also my mom, my brother, my Grandma Cook, my dog Emma, my cat Boogers, and other family members and friends (to many family and friends to name individually), mentors, teachers, guides, and of course, those in my life who have died, but I know are always with me.

There is so much in each life to be grateful for if we look for it. Every moment holds the opportunity for gratitude. Find the people, the animals you love and hold them close. Make “thank you” your mantra. Make love and compassion your guiding stars. Happy 2017!