Saturday was a sad day at our house. We lost Butter. She had been losing weight, which we discovered was a kidney problem. We gave her fluids and she seemed to rally a bit, but she was not improving. And on Saturday, her little body showed us just how tired she was, so we released her. It was a hard, hard thing. I have moments when I wonder if maybe she might have been able to turn things around if we had given her another couple of days, but the reality was that we probably had already held on to her for too long. Our cats owe us nothing, but they give us everything. And Butter certainly gave us all she had.

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And the Weather Says Stop.

Expecting today’s ridiculously long training day to be disrupted by heavy rainstorms, I stayed out last night later than I normally would. I hung out at a great neighborhood bar on the east side of Austin, playing Scrabble and Yahtzee with friends, old and new. I would have stayed out longer if I had known for sure that it would rain this morning, but I got myself home and to bed somewhat reasonably just in case the weather cleared for my 112-mile ride and hour run. It didn’t, so today I’ve been at home.

It’s well after noon, and I’m still in pajamas. I’ve emptied and reloaded the dishwasher, put fresh sheets on my bed, cleaned off the table that gets piled with mail and other stuff throughout the week, and almost completed my laundry. I’ve chatted by text with some friends. Mom came by for a while for coffee and conversation. Now I’m sitting down to write.

Today is the sort of day that reminds me just how much I love my space. I love my little house. I love that the “laundry room” is a closet in the living room and that I can hear the tumble of my clothes no matter where I am in the house. I love that I can burn a gingerbread candle in the kitchen and enjoy the scent throughout my space. I love that I can say, “Children? Where are you?” in a regular voice and Bread and Butter can hear me and come running even if they are clear on the other end of the house. My space is small, warm and inviting.

Before moving here, I lived in a 3000 square foot five-bedroom house all by myself. I bought it when I was dating someone I thought I might marry and then spent nearly a decade in it alone. I loved that two-story structure with its beautiful plantation-style white columns, but large and empty equalled lonely, so I left it. This house, my little country space, is much better suited to me.

I think about leaving it sometimes. I think about going to a new city or even moving back into town closer to where I work. But when I leave, whether it be for two months, two weeks or two days, I quickly am ready to return to this space. That doesn’t mean I expect to always live here, but I do envision it always being a home to me – a place I can return to as often as I need or want to rest, recharge and hear my thoughts more clearly.

Today, though the sun has now come out, I choose to stay in this space for the rest of the day. I choose to sit on this couch and just be with my family.

“Children? Where are you?”

A Wednesday List.

Something has shifted in me since my wonderful retreat to Whidbey Island. I’m home and feeling grateful for the women I met there – the friends I made. I am feeling grateful generally and thought I’d take a few minutes to make a list of wonderful things happening right now.

  1. I’m writing again. My silent time on the island kicked that off.
  2. I spent a wonderful evening on the phone last night reconnecting with a dear one. And if that wasn’t gift enough, Bread insisted on sitting on my lap the entire time.
  3. I had coffee at home with my mom this morning before heading in to work.
  4. I was able to attend Toastmasters today after more than a month of missing meetings.
  5. I just made plans to meet my friend Erin for a run and breakfast before she heads to Barcelona next week.
  6. I’m meeting a friend I’ve known for years but don’t often get to see for dinner tonight, in part to celebrate how close she is to having her first child.
  7. Tomorrow, I get to meet with my financial advisor, who has become a most trusted friend, to talk about retirement planning and goal setting for 2013.
  8. I leave for the Grand Canyon on Friday to celebrate the fortieth birthday of one of my favorite people in the world. (Happy birthday, Jenny!)
  9. I finally know exactly what I’m doing for my mom for Christmas. I owe my new friend Gretchen, from Whidbey Island, for the gift idea.
  10. I made my Christmas card list on my way up to Whidbey Island last week. Looking at it – and realizing now that I have some additions to make after last week’s retreat – I’m reminded at how rich my life is in friendships.

Happy Wednesday, everyone. I hope yours is as sweet as mine has been.

A Companion.

This morning, I made a new friend at my training session. I train with the very cute, very sneaky Jake of Sweat Shop ATX. I say “very cute” because he’s downright gorgeous, which always makes hard work a little more fun. I say “very sneaky” because so many times I find myself thinking, “This is so much harder than he made it look.” The difficulty just sneaks up on you.

This morning, very cute and very sneaky Jake brought this little guy to my session:

This is Baxter, perhaps the sweetest, most gentle, most wonderful dog ever.  He’s cute, huh?  Baxter walked along with Jake and then, while I worked out, sat sweetly on Jake’s sweatshirt – because, of course, there was nowhere else to sit. Watching Baxter and his complete and utter desire to be near Jake made me happy and sad.

It made me happy because that kind of desire is terribly sweet. Dogs are great that way. They love with boundless energy and are so quick to overlook being fed late or not being taken out for a walk. They just want nearness. It made me sad because I once dated someone who would say, “I’m like a puppy. I’m very trainable.” Now of course I’ve never thought of anyone I’ve dated as dog-like, but I loved hearing those words because the heart behind them was so…pure. The spirit was one of a best friend forever.

I read a quote somewhere that is something like, “I want to be the person my dog thinks I am.” I don’t have a dog. I love dogs but anyone who knows me knows that I am a cat person at heart. (I have my littermate black and white tuxedo cats named Bread and Butter, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I used to joke that I wouldn’t trade them for anything except Skylar, the gentleman mutt-Siamese I had for eighteen years before Bread and Butter, but I quit saying that when I realized that Bread and Butter really do understand everything.) But I love that statement. If I had a dog – if Baxter was mine – I would want to be person he thought I was. I would work really hard at that.

Thank you, Jake, for my workout. And thank you for bringing Baxter along. Bring him back anytime.