Internet Gone Wrong

Last night, I stumbled a bit on the Internet and fell down the wrong rabbit hole. Have you ever seen something you wish, desperately, you hadn’t? That is just what happened to me. I saw a picture of someone smiling after committing an act that was, in my opinion, unspeakably cruel. The smile on this person’s face … the pride and joy at their “accomplishment” shining from their eyes … their joking words, which seemed to belittle what they had done, or, even, find humor in it. Every little bit of it was terrible and awful, and I wish I had never clicked the link. I didn’t go looking for this picture. I clicked a link to what I thought was a news story, but, even so, the picture found me.


Do you ever find yourself going along your merry way and thinking that, maybe, the world isn’t such a terrible place? I’m a fairly positive person. I tend to look on the bright side of things and count all the little, beautiful blessings in my life. I like to look at the world in wonder at the tiny miracles that are all around us. At the beauty and the grace of it all. And I find myself thinking, “Hey, this world isn’t so bad. It’s actually quite lovely in spots.”

But then, something smashes right up against my psyche with all the tact and force of a speeding Mack truck, and I am reminded that meanness and cruelty and brutal ugliness abound in the world around me. It becomes harder to see the blessings, and the miracles seem to become even smaller, until I feel they can never possibly outweigh the bad things that are out there. That picture was a Mack truck to my mind. I think my soul died, just a little bit, upon seeing it. I wish I could bleach the image from my brain, but I can’t. It’s in there. Forever.


I feel … sad. And small. And woefully inadequate to face the world today. I feel even more inadequate at the thought that, somehow, I have to guide my own child through a world filled with hate and meanness and the type of cruelty that eats away at our humanity, bit by bit. I wish I could tell myself to forget the whole thing and just crawl back into bed to hide away under the covers all day. It feels safe there.

But I can’t hide away. The world is out there, waiting for me to try and do my own part, small as it is, to make it a better place. The world is out there, full of terrible, awful, horrible, no-good things and people. But it’s also full of beauty. It’s full of grace and love and the kind of tiny miracles that take my breath away each and every day.


And so, I will still feel sad. But I will fill my mind with flowers and love and joy so that the terrible thing I saw might, one day, fade a little. I will remind myself that cruelty might exist, but that it doesn’t have to exist within me. I will live. I will love. I will do my best. Because that’s all I have, and because it’s enough.


I am sad today. One of my daughter’s friends is very sick. She ended up in the emergency room early this morning, and is now in the hospital. I’ve been thinking about her all day — thinking and crying and praying and hoping that she will be strong. That she can continue to be brave. That she will be all right. This is a girl who has played with my daughter. She has laughed and giggled and told me funny stories. She has run up to me at afternoon pick-up, brimming with smiles and excitement as she tells me all about her day. She is goofy and brilliant and creative and sweet. Every year, she grows out her hair so that she can cut it short and donate it to children who have cancer. She has a heart that is so big and so tender and so special. She is only a year younger than my daughter. If I close my eyes right now, I can picture her in my mind, her eyes full of happiness and a big smile on her face. I love this little girl. I feel scared for her and for her family.

Shenandoah 5

But the truth is, I also feel scared for myself. And for my own precious child. It’s horrible and selfish of me. But … I suppose it’s also a very human emotion. If this could happen to my daughter’s friend — to this dear, sweet, beautiful, precious girl — it could happen to my daughter, too. It could happen to my daughter. It’s a truth so terrible and frightening that it rings through my head with a big, final sort of sound. Like a gong going off in the distance, or a foghorn. But not a funny foghorn. A sad one: the kind that’s on a lighthouse, alone and shrouded in misty fog. It’s a truth that feels almost too much to bear. How can I live in a world where terrible things can happen, suddenly and without warning, to someone I love? How can I walk around in this world and pretend that everything is fine when I know that, at any moment, my heart can be ripped right out of me? How can I go on with my life when I know — I KNOW — I am a whisper away from devastation so profound and complete that it will utterly destroy me?

Because I fool myself, each and every day. I face the unknown with a bravado that, quite honestly, I shouldn’t possess. I get in a car and drive down the street, my butt parked right on top of a tank of gas that will explode if it’s hit in just the right spot. I think nothing of traveling in an airplane to visit my family in Texas. Six hours in a metal tube that, somehow, moves through the air at speeds I can’t even fathom. Metal tubes are not supposed to be up in the air. I walk around in blissful ignorance, thinking to myself, “Self, we’re doing pretty damn great today. We can handle this. We can handle life and whatever comes our way. We can DO stuff. Oh yeah. We are awesome-sauce.”

Just Starting to Dive

But sometimes, something happens that makes it impossible to believe all of those lies we tell ourselves each and every day. Sometimes, life walks up and smacks you on the back of the head and reminds you that you don’t have control over everything. You don’t have control over anything, really. There are so many days when I marvel at the sheer dumb luck that has allowed me to continue plugging along on this planet. And you know what? This is not a good feeling. It’s scary.

Today, I feel sad. I feel small. And the universe is big.

Expect the Unexpected

People always tell me this. They say I should “expect the unexpected”. I … don’t really understand this tidbit of wisdom. If I expect the unexpected, then doesn’t it become expected? Which, in turn, makes the more mundane stuff (the stuff I expected from the beginning) unexpected. So that I will then begin to expect the boring mundane stuff that I always expected. And that, in turn, once more makes the other stuff unexpected. And then …

Well, as you can see, it’s a rabbit hole of insanity. Around and around and around, circling that giant drain at the center of the universe. You know, the one where horrible ideas go to die. And then stop up the universe’s plumbing. Or something.

Harry Potter Hamster in his "sun room"

I have been thinking on this whole “unexpected” thing lately. Because my daily plans continue to be thwarted on a pretty regular basis. I don’t know what the universe is up to with all the shenanigans, but I’m pretty sure it’s sitting around laughing at me. A lot. I keep thinking, if I can just get through this next thing and, then, the one after that … maybe, just maybe, everything will fall into place. I will be able to tackle my life head-on, and all of my plans will, finally, work out perfectly.

So far, this hasn’t happened. I have simple plans for each day. They mostly consist of finding time to work out and finding time to write. The more blocked I get, the more important it becomes for me to sit down and just put words — any words — on paper. Considering I only have, on any given day, two things on my agenda, you would think reaching these goals would be easy-peasy.

But there are always errands to be run. There are always “things” that pop up at the last minute and need doing. My husband generally has plans of his own, which require my attention, and which, by the way, seldom coincide with my own plans. My daughter needs stuff, too. Like clean clothes. And food. Everyone in my house seems absolutely obsessed with eating regular meals. And they want said meals served off of dishes that are clean. I am beginning to feel my family is entirely too demanding. Perhaps I am so fantabulous at this whole Domestic Goddess gig that I have set their expectations too high. (This is not the case, by the way. I just wanted the opportunity to type “Domestic Goddess” out loud.)


And so, I have decided I shall stop expecting the unexpected. And I shall stop expecting the expected, too. Instead, I think I shall laugh and love and live all the way through my life, each and every day … no matter what it might bring my way. There will be boring things, like laundry and dirty dishes. There will be yucky things, like cat pee on the floor and dog barf on the carpet underneath my bed. There will be comfortable slippers in the evening and funny stories. There will be upsetting things, like a sick child or an angry spouse. There will be exciting things, like a surprise gift or a special trip somewhere fun. There will be sad things, too.

And all of it will sort of whirl and mix and mash together to create one big, giant bundle of life. Which, in the end, shall likely be much more awesome and amazing than I could have ever expected.

Upside Down Frown

So last week, I had a terrible day. An awful, no-good, horrible, stinky, craptastic sort of day. I woke up annoyed and feeling like the universe was out to get me. And, for a while there, it felt as if the universe had decided to prove me right. It all started off with a puddle of cat pee on the hallway floor and kind of went downhill from there. Really, they were all petty annoyances, and nothing earth-shattering or life-threatening. But you know how it is: those tiny things pile up and up and up until they feel like big, giant, gargantuan THINGS.

And so, that’s how it was. I was angry and grumpy and feeling oh-so-not-pretty and just kind of annoyed with the universe. I grumbled as I got into my car to run some overdue errands. I griped and cursed under my breath as I headed back into the house to get my phone, which I had forgotten. I cursed even more when I realized I had forgotten my stupid phone all the way upstairs, on the third floor. And, then, a little more as I tramped up the stairs, only to find I had forgotten to plug the phone into the charger … and so, it was dead. Dead as a doornail. Poor doornail.

I finally made it into my car and headed out, convinced the day was already a total and complete bust. It was only 9 AM, and I already knew it. Nothing good could come of this day. Nothing. But then, as I turned out of my driveway, I saw it: A cute little bunny, munching away on some clover. For a moment, it was as if the clouds parted and the sun began to shine. I was all, “OMG! BUNNY BUNNY BUNNY!!! I LOVE YOU!!”


Still, there was traffic. And then, more traffic. And some rude driver who honked at me when they couldn’t manage to fit their entire car into my back seat. Oh, and the person who parked so closely that I could barely open my door wide enough to squeeze into the driver’s seat. My bunny-love high couldn’t last through all of that, and I found myself back in the doldrums of annoyance and anger.

As I was leaving the parking lot, I saw it: A lone chipmunk, squatting cutely under a parked car.  For another moment, the sun shone and the birds began to sing. I was all, “OMG! CHIPMUNK!! I LOVE YOU!!!”


Life was good, once again. Until I hit traffic on the way home, with more rude drivers. And then got home to find one of the dogs had barfed on the carpet. Oh, and the cat had peed outside of her box — again. And then, my daughter called from school to tell me she wasn’t feeling well and needed to come home. I figured that was the last straw. I grabbed my keys and grumbled all the way over to the school. I grumbled and complained as I sat at the overly long red light. I grumbled as the person in front of me took too long looking at their phone and made me miss my green light, causing me to wait through another long cycle. I grumbled as I ran over the gigantic pot hole that had, over the last couple of weeks, slowly spread all the way across the road leading to my daughter’s school.

As I turned the corner into the parking lot, I saw them: A whole family of geese — Mother, Father, and three adorably gawky, fuzzy babies, all waddling across the road in front of me. And, in that moment, I was all, “OMG! GOOSE FAMILY!! YOU ARE SO CUTE AND FUZZY AND I LOVE YOU!!!”

And that’s when I realized it. The whole day, the universe had been telling me to buck up. Things weren’t so bad. There might be petty annoyances and irritations, and, sometimes, an awful, no-good, horrible, stinky, craptastic sort of day comes along. But a day is only 24 hours, after all, and there will be another day right behind it. A new beginning and a fresh chance at better things. The universe was telling me to turn my frown upside-down.

And so … I did.



I live in an area of the country that is stuffed full of people. If the region in which I live were a person, it would perpetually be pushing away from some huge buffet table with a burp and a whispered, “Ugh. Shouldn’t have had that last whats-it.” Everywhere I look, there are people. The streets are full of traffic and potholes — not because there’s no money to fix them, but because there is just too much traffic. Crews come out and fix the holes … they stay fixed for about a week … and then, there is a newer, much bigger hole. There are lines for everything. And noise. There is so much chaotic, crazy noise. People shouting over each other, just wanting to be heard. Cars honking — the mobile version of shouting, I guess — because they want to be the first to race to that next stop light or get around that next turn in the road. Most of the people around here are permanently stressed, frazzled, and grouchy. Not to put too fine a point on it, but people tend to be downright rude. Everyone has their own agenda, and they don’t care who they have to run over on the way to fulfilling their plans.

I think I’ve mentioned this in my blog before, but it wears on me. I’m not sure it wears on everyone to this extent, although I’m certain I can’t be alone in feeling chewed up and spit out by the big-city machine. I think I am particularly ill-suited for life here. I’m an introvert, which means I require a certain amount of quiet introspection and civility. Both of those are in short supply where I live. I’m also originally from S. Texas, which — at least from my experiences — tends to be a friendly sort of place. I grew up in a place where people chatted in the grocery line or held the door for each other or gave a friendly smile and wave. These things pretty much DO NOT happen where I live now.

Sometimes, I find myself struggling to see past my annoyance and anger to find the humanity and innate goodness in the people around me. Inevitably, this makes me feel isolated and sad. It makes me feel less than human, too — like I’m, somehow, not real, or like I’m just going through the motions of my life. There’s no real connection.


This past week has been a particularly tough one. The Black Dog has been following closely at my heels. Let’s face it: he’s always there. Depression isn’t one of those things that goes away — ever. I know this. But I have become better at dealing with things, so that I might feel my Black Dog ghosting me, but I don’t have to see him. This past week, I not only saw him every time I turned around, but I heard the clink of his collar and the click of his nails on the floorboards of my mind. It was just … bad.

Yesterday, I was out and about (reluctantly) running some errands after seeing a movie. As I was leaving Target, I looked up, and I saw a stunningly beautiful woman. She had such pretty skin and hair, and her jewelry was amazing. She was one of these people who just seem to glow from the inside. What is that? Is it happiness? Self confidence? True inner beauty? I have no idea. I don’t think I have this quality, but I can sure spot it in others.

It’s so completely unlike me, but I felt I had to reach out. I had to say … something. I had to, somehow, acknowledge the truth of this woman’s beauty. No matter how much I wanted to keep walking toward my car, with my head down and not daring to look to either side, I just could not do it. And so, I stopped and waited for her to catch up to me. And I said, “Excuse me, I hope you don’t think me rude, but I just had to tell you that you are a beautiful lady.”

My Cherry Tree 4

She stopped, surprised, and looked at me for a moment. And in that small space of time, I felt I could see everything expressed in her eyes and in the smile on her face. She thanked me, told me I had made her whole day with my kind words, and we parted ways.

Probably, I will never see that woman again. I know nothing about her or her life or the challenges she faces every day. But, in that moment, I felt connected to the universe around me through her sincere smile and the happiness I saw in her eyes. Her smile stayed with me for the rest of the day. And you know what? I felt a little bit beautiful, too — on the inside.

Inside a Raindrop

It’s chilly and rainy in my corner of the universe today. Over the years, I have come to understand that most people don’t enjoy this kind of weather. Most people love for their days to be sunny and bright all the time. And many people I know absolutely love the heat of Spring and Summer.

I’m a bit of an oddball. This statement holds true in so many ways, but it is particularly true with respect to my weather preferences. There are few things I love more than a chilly and rainy day. I love the brisk, clean feeling of “wet” in the air. This isn’t the heavy, overpoweringly humid dampness of a hot and muggy Summer day. This kind of “wet” moves through the air on the breeze, leaving me feeling refreshed and renewed. I love the way the murky light plays over wet streets and sidewalks, painting abstract pictures of reflections in muted palettes of sky blues, mossy greens, and soft gray-silvers. I love the way the sidewalks and streets seem deserted, except for that one intrepid person I inevitably see walking beneath the shelter of a bright red or pink umbrella. I love how my shoes make little splish-splash sounds as I walk, making sure I manage to tread through at least a few puddles along the way. I particularly love it when I am the lone, intrepid soul out there braving the misty weather as I shelter under my favorite umbrella, which has pictures of cats and dogs on it. (Get it? “Raining cats and dogs” … I know. It’s cheesy, but it always makes me laugh.)


Rainy days have always had a holiday flavor for me, even when I was a kid. Perhaps this is because I grew up in South Texas, which is full of scorpions and snakes and hot and sun, and not so full of rain. In my childhood, rain felt like the most fantastic thing — as if the universe had bestowed its most amazing treasure on us. I grew up in a tiny house in the middle of nowhere. Our house was up on a little hill, so we had a great view of a valley laid out before us. I remember sitting on our front porch on those rare, rainy days and watching the storms sweep across the valley. You could follow the line of rain and clouds clearly, from start to finish. It was frightfully beautiful and powerful, and it remains one of my favorite memories, even today.

Sometimes, though, the best part of a stormy day was being out and about after the rain was done. I would wander around our property, my old dog at my heels and at least one or two cats trailing along behind, just to see whatever I could see. My favorite thing was the way the raindrops balanced on the slender stalks of grass in the field in front of our house, bowing their heads and dressing them like shining jewels. The light would peer through the clouds, hitting each drop just right and giving them a silvery shimmer. Sometimes, if I looked at just the right angle, I could see a little rainbow, deep down inside some of the drops. I sat in the field, surrounded by gilded stalks of grass, and imagined each drop held a little world, all its own. I would picture whimsical, towering cities and fields of green topped by rainbows and charming cottages, all glistening and happy beneath a silver sky. I used to think it would be wonderfully amazing to live within a raindrop. A small world, perhaps, but unequaled for beauty and elegance.


It was … magic. There’s no other way to describe it. I still carry those memories with me. In the years that have come and gone, I have seen things that are bigger and more impressive and more important. But I have seldom seen anything to equal the quiet beauty of raindrops shimmering in the watery light left after the rain has gone. It still takes my breath away, just a little bit, every time.

Today, as our first round of showers ended, I happily grabbed my camera and headed outside. I found the weak light dancing over the raindrops mounded up on my rose bushes, like the pearls of nature’s necklace. I snapped my pictures, and I wondered, just for a moment, what it would be like to live inside a raindrop — glistening and happy beneath a silvery sky.

I Can’t Even

I’m having one of those today. An “I. Can’t. EVEN.” sort of day.

Do you ever feel like the world is closing in on every side, so that you can’t breathe and you can’t move and you want things to be different but you just don’t know which way to turn and you can’t even find a way to turn or a way out of whatever mess has become of your life? Yeah. That’s me today. I am one shallow breath away from bursting into tears, except I can’t burst into tears. I have to deal with the world today. I have errands to run and friends to see and responsibilities to uphold. It is not socially acceptable to burst into tears. Even if it was socially acceptable … even if people didn’t stop and stare at me or whisper about me behind my back … even if people gave any kind of a shit about why I was crying my heart out … they would just ask me what’s wrong. And I wouldn’t be able to tell them. There is no easy explanation for it.

How do I explain depression? And anxiety? How do I explain that sometimes I don’t even feel like a real person, and that I feel like I don’t belong anywhere? How do I explain my skin feeling too small and the world feeling too huge around me? And yet, there still isn’t any breathing space. My house is a mess. My life is a mess. I’m a mess. How do I explain that? How do I tell someone that I only want to run away — far, far away — and yet, I know I’ll never be able to run away. No matter how far I run or where I end up, I’ll still be me. And it’s “me” that’s the problem. How do I explain that?


I can’t. I mean, I can say the words. But, sometimes, words are not enough. It pains me, as a writer, to admit this out loud. But it’s true. Words aren’t always enough. Unless someone has been through this and struggled with this, they aren’t going to “get” it. Unless they have lived any of what I’m talking about, my words will be so much “blah, blah, blah” falling on sympathetic but ignorant ears. They will just be words, and the emotions will be lost.

Even if I could explain all of it — any of it — I have this sinking feeling that it would do no good. So what if someone understands what I’m going through? They can’t tell me how to fix any of it. There is no magic recipe for it. There’s nothing other than the good, old-fashioned method of pulling myself up by my bootstraps and working at fixing the things that are haunting me. Some days, I feel okay with this. I’m a big girl, and I can handle it. Today, it doesn’t feel okay. I think about all the times in my past when I’ve had to pull myself up out of the muck and chaos of my life — over and over again, it seems — and I feel … tired. And defeated. And like it’s not worth it to try. Today, I don’t feel capable of fixing or managing or changing anything.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. Maybe I’ll come back swinging at my chaos and anxiety and life woes and depression. Maybe I will be stronger tomorrow. Maybe I will be better. But, for today, I’m stuck with this: I. Can’t. EVEN.

Washer Woman

The day before yesterday was “laundry day” at my house. And so was the day before that. And, actually, a couple of days previous to that one, too. Laundry is a never-ending task. There are only three people in my family, and yet, it seems I do laundry all the time. All. The. Time. I think Dante had it all wrong, with his circles of hell. Surely, at least one of them consists of some poor woman, stooped and worn, who is destined to spend eternity yanking heavy , wet clothes out of a washer and flinging them into a dryer. Like some perpetual rinse cycle … always knowing she will never complete her task. Then again, Dante was a man. He probably didn’t wash his own clothes — especially back in the day when he was kicking around the planet. He was probably too busy “creating” … and stuff.

I blame my family. Not for Dante; even they can’t take responsibility for that guy. But for my own laundry hell. My family has this unholy fascination with wearing clean clothes. Especially underwear and socks. They want clean clothes Every Damn Day. What is up with that? It borders on obsession, really. I am beginning to think it’s all a bit unhealthy — for me, in particular.

Dirty clothes are finicky. You would think they’d be happy just getting clean. Not only that, but they get to have fun doing it. If you think about it, the whole wash/dry experience is like a water park ride and relaxing sauna, all in one. You would think clothes would be grateful. But … no. Some things have to wash on hot, and some only on cold. Some always dry too much, so you have to check all during the dry cycle to make sure they don’t wrinkle or shrink. Certain things can’t be washed with each other. And there is always that one piece of clothing left out at the end of everything. You know the one. It has to go on the gentle cycle and can only wash when birds are singing and there’s a rainbow outside the window. Even if all these factors collide into perfect washing conditions, I’m still left with the inescapable fact that this is a lone piece of clothing. I can’t justify wasting water to wash just one top or pair of pants, no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise. And so, it goes back into the laundry bin. I give up any hope of ever wearing it again, and it lurks there in the darkness at the bottom of the bin, mocking me with the knowledge that I’ll never, ever, ever manage to get all the laundry Done. I’ll never finish, and I can look forward into time and see washing day after washing day, all lined up and waiting for me. Gives me the shivers, just thinking about it.

(I could, of course, hand wash the darn thing. But … no. Washing machines were invented for a reason. I’m not a heathen.)


The funny thing is, everyone has opinions on laundry and how it should be done. If I let it pile up and up, my mother scolds me for being lazy and letting it go too long. (Yes, I’m 46, and my mother still scolds me. I’m trying to live with this knowledge, but it isn’t easy.) When I decide to stay on top of this most-hated task, my husband tells me I’m wasting my time with laundry, instead of doing “more important” things. He says I should leave it until I have a whole day’s worth to do at once. A whole, entire day spent doing laundry — wow, what fun! Not. Of course, my husband has never offered to do the laundry for me. I feel this shows a lack of conviction on his part. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for his sage advice. But, if your system really is better, then put your money where your mouth is. Let’s see it in operation, preferably with anyone other than me at the washing machine controls. This never happens.

Socks and underwear are the worst. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate washing, drying, and folding socks and underwear. Every time I have to do it, my soul dies a little bit. I think socks and underwear breed in the washer. If I listen hard enough, I swear I can hear them giggling in there, and I know naughty things are happening. Socks and underwear don’t deserve a day at the water park followed by a nice, relaxing sauna. They are the renegades of the laundry world, and aren’t worthy of having nice things. I feel they constantly take advantage of my kindness. There always seem to be more of them at the end of the drying process than what I dumped into the washer. (Because of the breeding, I’m sure.) They all stick together, and not in a positive and life-affirming way. And the socks never want to match up. No matter how careful I am when putting them into the wash, no matter how hard I try to pay attention and make sure each sock has a mate, I’m always left with at least one odd-ball, unmatched sock at the end. Always. I think my dryer is a portal to another dimension. A dimension where some unfortunate being sits around wondering why I keep sending him/her all my socks. This is the only explanation.

No … really.

Fat Suit


I wear a fat suit
Made of my own skin.
It’s not who I am
It’s not where I’ve been.

My Fat Girl can laugh
Oh, how she can love!
Her heart soft and frail
Gentle like a dove.

My Fat Girl is strong
She is brave and true.
None of that matters
Means nothing to you.

You are quick to tease
And also to mock.
No thought in your head
Toss your verbal rock.

You watch what she eats
Eat this, don’t eat that.
Pretend to give help
She don’t know she’s fat.

Fat Girl has beauty
And she has pride, too.
She hides from the world
Keep them safe from you.

My Fat Girl pretends
Holds her head up high.
She won’t let you see
Your words make her cry.

Does the universe
Give you right to judge
Fat Girl’s whole being
Based on outside pudge?

You do not know her
You don’t have a clue.
Fat’s the look of things
And not what is true.

I wear a fat suit
Made of my own skin.
It’s not who I am
It’s not where I’ve been.

My Dog Fae

My dog Fae is a gentle and timid soul. She tends to view the world with an anxious and worried demeanor. I think she’s expecting the proverbial “other shoe” to drop out of the heavens and onto her head. Or, perhaps, she’s waiting for the universe to come after her. She is afraid of pretty much everything: strangers, my cat, the dark, rain, butterflies, her own farts … Well, you get the general idea.

Fae 2: june 2013

Fae’s rather squirrelly outlook on life makes taking a walk a challenging adventure, even at the best of times. It always starts out quite well. At the first mention of a walk, Fae dances around in excitement. She wags her tail and uses little howls of delight to tell me all about the good things in life as I strap her into her harness and leash. She bounds out of the front door, tail held high and a huge smile on her doggie face. A walk! A walk! What could be better than that?!? Nothing, that’s what!

We always have to walk the same route. Even the slightest deviation causes Fae to whine anxiously under her breath and constantly whirl around to look behind us — just in case someone is following her. She is not a dog who wants to discover and sniff new things. Even so, she seems to have a good time, in her own way. Until we reach a certain spot, about ten minutes away from our house. Once we cross into that invisible no-man’s land, Fae sits down on the sidewalk and refuses to budge. She eyes me with nervous, side-long glances, as if to say, “This is the farthest I’ve ever been from home. I’m scared of what the next step might bring. What if the sidewalk ends and I fall off the edge of the world?”

We stop for a moment or two. Sometimes, Fae and I look at each other. Sometimes, Fae studies the grass and the cracks in the sidewalk next to her front paws. And then, I tell her, “It’s okay, Fae. Let’s just take one more step.” It’s enough to get past her invisible barrier, and we finish our walk. Perhaps not as cheerfully as we started out, but we hang in there until the end. And that’s what counts.


I think I’m a bit like Fae. There are times in my life when I think to myself, “Self, this is the farthest I’ve ever come. And I don’t know what to do now.” There are things I don’t think I can handle. There are things that scare me. There are times when it feels so much easier to sit down on the sidewalk and quit.

But maybe I can learn a lesson from my gentle, strange, and brave dog. I should take a deep breath and take a step forward — just one more step. Because, if I can hang in there until the end, I will have done my best. And that’s what counts.