For the Love of Dogs

My friend shared with me that his beloved 12 year old pup suddenly passed away. This has been on my mind…

As a result, I am mindful of when I was 4 years old & living with my family in Michigan with my Doberman, Hans. I have vivid remarkable memories of Hans. He was a true Doberman Pinscher, as the breed is known for being, “Always Faithful”. He was a big boy – I remember the age I was standing eye to eye with him & then I grew to be a little taller. My father was a brilliant dog trainer & the original animal lover. And my big brother & I loved playing with Hans in our back yard in the winter snow & the summer grass. Quite often, as I dashed out our back door, my dad would hand me a small paper bag full of trash to toss out in the big metal can in our yard. Each time, Hans would hide behind the trash can & as I approached, suddenly Hans would leap out & he’d jump & hop around me with glee! I laughed till my sides hurt! I fell for this again & again as he continued to lovingly play his own brand of hide ‘n’ seek behind the big trash can. I never got my dad to admit if he taught Hans how to hide & tease me in this way. But what I do know is that when our family suddenly moved into a small apartment the summer of 1962, before I started kindergarten in California, sadly we did not bring Hans with us. I am unable to remember where my beloved play mate’s new home would be that day – but I do know Hans took a piece of my heart with him. I wonder if it is possible to fill that special void of the loss of a fine dog. Perhaps it is due to that lost love that we must freely give to every dog we see in our new life with out our faithful friend at our feet. I do know, that with out the great companionship of Hans, the unexpected fun & laughter, the feeling of being protected – I would never have experienced that great level of unconditional love & compassion – as my heart grew to realize I’d never see Hans again, I experienced a painful sense of loss at much too young of an age. Hans was one of my greatest teachers. Perhaps my first teacher. My memories of Hans are my strongest childhood memories of Michigan when I was only 3 & 4 years old.

My entire life since the summer I turned 5, when ever I see a Doberman, my joy filled heart gravitates towards him & I hear myself softly say,”Haaans! I remember you. Thank you for teaching me about unconditional love. I will love you forever, right back!” For I too, am “Always Faithful”.

Budge in uniform 1955

I continue to whisper out loud, I am doing the best I can, of course I will be ok and this too shall pass – I know this to be true. However, with that being said, I just had to share my truth for today with you, my universe outside my window.
I do not sleep well, however, last night I slept from 11pm straight through to 11am this morning, until the pains in my body woke me up like an angry old-fashioned alarm clock. Every ounce of my body felt like I had gotten bounced around in a bad car accident, or perhaps I stumbled and fell down a flight of stairs like a lifeless rag doll. This is nothing new and the description of the physical pain isn’t necessarily needed to make my point here… It’s the description of the emotional let down that haunted me since my tear filled eyes opened this morning. As if some kind of a grief for my own body landed heavily on my emotions during my sleep last night. It has not lifted from me for a moment today. A ball and chain wrapped around my emotions along with a king python showing no mercy. An emotional death grip.
Yes, yes, of course I count my blessings. Yes, my faith is strong. Yes, I have everything I need. But all around, every tiny crevice of today, was rough. Every movement of my body. Every thought that passed through my brain. Every beat of my heart. Every blink of my eye. Every moment I kept my focus in front of me. Tying the bow on each shoe lace. The hair touching the back of my neck. The lost voice of encouragement. Today. Today was an enormous insurmountable death defying effort as I gently wrapped my hand around the handle of my great-grandfather’s cane. Please, let’s keep our balance.
My list of things to-do will wait for me. Unanswered Emails will stand by in their inbox. Messages from doctor’s offices on my voicemail will wait. My cat, and my father’s cat, will still nap on the foot of my bed in their perfect harmony. The lizards and Quail will still stop to look in at us through the sliding glass door. The laundry will still patiently wait to be washed. My car will still be there when I feel up to driving it. And the sun will surely rise again tomorrow.
Nonetheless, somehow, without my permission, life is passing by too quickly for me. Like learning how to play double-dutch jump rope for the very first time, I am unable to skillfully jump in and join my friends. And my friends, bless their hearts, they continue to play outside without me – and I get that – it happens. But today I opened my eyes and something had shifted like Andrea’s Fault deep below my surface. Today I do not have the energy to be “happy for them“. Today I had a realization of the soul that I have officially missed the last flight to freedom as I struggle to withstand the force of the exhaust that successfully pushed me to the ground on the filthy burning hot runway in the desert.  
I have a grueling fantasy that maybe, just maybe, they are missing out on what I still possibly may have to offer. They are missing out on the beauty of my humble back yard. They are missing out on the nature that unfolds before my eyes as fall begins to get closer to winter in the desert.
As I continue to remain at rest in my bed, I look out my large south facing window and see the silhouettes of the trees darken on Tucson, as this particular day of important painful spiritual growth comes to an end. I’ve come to know that, “slow is the new fast”. Why not? It could happen. So, I’ve personally granted the body to take all the time it needs to get as well as it can. And that will be enough for me. And in this moment, as I witness the white stars begin to appear outside my window to the universe, I become acutely aware of what a blessing the life is that breathes in and out of my body. I am blessed – and for that – I am enough.

I misplaced my heart in Tucson

cactus heartI’ve missed writing immensely. I just have not been up to it. It’s not because I’ve been on vacation. It’s not because I’ve been too busy throwing dinner parties or something. And it sure isn’t because I’ve been out riding my bike. The reason I’ve missed writing immensely is, well, because I’ve missed me immensely. My life as I knew it – as well as the woman who lived it – seem to be long gone. Not just with my chronic health challenges. But at this moment, it is my truth, that as soon as my 85 year old father was diagnosed with his cancer, something shifted within myself as well. The shift happened deep with in my soul. And since I said goodbye to him the morning of February 20th, 2014, my heart has been missing – perhaps misplaced in Tucson somewhere.

What an amazing lesson I’ve learn as my life was turned upside down in a heartbeat – the greed of both of my father’s ex-wifes came gushing towards me.  Now, I’ve seen cheap. And I sure have seen frugal. But, greed? Never have I seen such a sight. It is quite unattractive in a person. I can see now why greed is included as one of The Seven Deadly Sins.

I’ve had to pull the plug on my dark thoughts quite often. And it sure can come out in my writing. Which is bringing me back to the beginning: I’ve missed writing immensely – it is just too dark to share.  And I miss my father so deeply that it’s completely unbearable. How do people do this? I do not know how they have gone before me, but for that I am grateful. Yes, I am grateful for every woman who has shown me that it is possible to continue living with out their father. I am sorry for anyone’s grief who has walked this path before me. For now I understand. For now I know.

It has been too long since I have felt good physically. No one really can actually know the depth of my health challenges – I believe the reason is that it is so personal. And because what I really need in a conversation is hard to come by – don’t give me unsolicited health advise – give me encouragement. And the only person who filled me with encouragement my whole life was my father. He was not perfect. But he never left me. He did not speak negatively of his ex-wife (my mother) when she walked out on us when I was a child – he gave me encouragement as he himself tried to do the things “the mom” is supposed to do.  He did not offer much advise unless I asked – but he sure did give me encouragement! Someone like that is hard to come by. I miss the lost art of encouraging words. I miss my father… I am grateful and honored that I got to be his voice. And I am grateful and honored that I’ve been given the opportunity to be in Tucson.

As for my heart, it is just misplaced, I’m sure I left it here somewhere. Soon, I will hear God’s voice directing me towards it. And just maybe, just perhaps, it will be better than it ever was before…

my new refuge in tucson, az

Once I thought that I’d live in California forever. But I didn’t.

Once I thought that my dad would live forever. But he was not able to.

I never ever thought that I’d live in Tucson, surrounded by my father’s memories.

But suddenly, I do.

I’ve never known the depth of this grace.

I’ve never known this level of humbling fatherly love.

My gratitude is bottomless. My blessings quiet me.

My love is deep. Therefore my grief is deep.

I am a lucky girl because I am my father’s daughter.

the little road to my refuge. I never thought it would be a place to begin to heal, but it is...

the little road to my refuge. I never thought it would be a place to begin to heal, but it is…

I am just going through the motions day after day, missing my father immensely.

But it is with these motions that I will persevere & find my way & a new life.

Because this is how my father taught me to live.

Keep on pushing until I reach the top of the mountain.

For the better part of my life I’ve jumped into a nice hot shower, gone to bed and fallen fast asleep.  Who doesn’t, right?  For approximately 5 years now, the level of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue that I live with has made these 2 things incredibly difficult, painful and troublesome. I’ve come up with several survival plans to manage these necessities of life. However – during my father’s illness and passing and the domino effect that still continues to follow – it’s been quite, shall we say, challenging.

For tonight, I will execute one of my little feeling better tricks: The Gratitude List. More often than not, writing it works a heck of a lot better than thinking it… And I am so grateful, that, somehow, I am still sober…

I am grateful for the Tucson clouds.

I am grateful for the Tucson clouds.


I am grateful for my favorite flowers.

I am grateful for my favorite flowers.


I am grateful for, Peaches, my father's cat.

I am grateful for, Peaches, my father’s cat.


I am grateful I live on a quiet cul-de-sac.

I am grateful I live on my father’s quiet cul-de-sac.


I am grateful for the times I remain hopeful that some day I will live pain free.

I am grateful for the times I remain hopeful that some day I will live pain free.


It is June 11th once more – today is my son’s 29th birthday. The following is a re-post of the day of his (fast) birth… And today, during this time of grieving for his grandfather, it is a joy for me to celebrate the man who my son has become.  After putting himself through night school for 2 years, my son received his MBA shortly after my father passed.  Not only do I celebrate my father’s life – I also celebrate my son’s huge achievement and my excitement for him and his brilliant future.  My son is my family. And what a blessed family I have…

Here’s the post I wrote 4 years ago, HAPPY DAY OF BIRTH, SON:

For many years on his birthday, I’ve called my son at 10:08AM – the time he was born.   I get a kick out of being that kind of mom.   25 years ago I was only in labor for 3 hours.   (Yes, I said three hours.)  When we arrived at  the hospital and got on the elevator, the contractions were so intense that I had to awkwardly squat down on my knees for fear I might fall from the pain.  Some how I spoke through my agony as the elevator started to move, “Oh my God, this baby is ready to be born”, I gasped to my then husband.  The people riding on the elevator with me did not say a word as the doors opened when we arrived on the maternity floor.   A couple of people helped me up and off I waddled – on my way to give birth!  My son was over due, ready, and starting to be born while I was still in the labor room (I’ll spare you the details) and by the time they finally wheeled me into the delivery room, Tyler was on his way!  I noticed my doctor had not even arrived yet.   “Where’s my doctor?!!”  Needless to say, things were getting a little exciting during my speedy “FedEx” type of delivery and apparently I thought that was as good of a time as any to start screaming my head off.   No, not like a woman in labor, but, perhaps like a woman who was witnessing a murder or something.   At that exact moment, my doctor literally burst through the doors of the delivery room.  He held his cloth face mask over his nose and mouth with his hand as the untied strings hung freely and  touched his plaid shirt.  As he was holding the face mask in place, I noticed he had on a beautiful, big artistic silver turquoise ring with a matching watch and band.  Incredibly masculine.   I felt relieved at the sight of my cool and hip doctor and stopped screaming as I got back to business and continued to push.  To my dismay, my cool doctor started to scold me for screaming at the top of my lungs – he had heard me from down the hall.  “Geeze.  Well, where have you been?”  I said to him.   And then he started to explain how first babies usually don’t arrive so quickly while one of the nurses started tieing his face  mask on for him while another helped him with his scrubs while I was pushing and pushing and . . .  then  . . . . silence  . . .  “It’s a boy!”   More of that silence.   (But he is lavender?  Are they all like that? Lavender?)  More silence followed by my son’s father crying and barely getting the words out, “I knew it was going to be a boy!”  He looked at me and said, “Can I hold him first?”  I nodded my head, “yes”.

The silence that was getting my attention was that my son was not crying, he didn’t even peep.  Not a sound.  It made me feel uneasy, I mean, after all, he was lavender too.  I did not remember receiving a memo on lavender babies.  “Is he ok?”


“Why isn’t he crying?  Isn’t he supposed to cry?”

“You know what?  I don’t think your son feels like crying.  He is just fine.  A fine, healthy baby boy.”  I’ll never forget my doctor’s words.

Quiet new son Tyler was being held by his grateful sobbing new daddy.

And that is pretty much how my baby boy has been for most of  his 25 years, incredibly mellow, cool, calm and collected.  Totally together during any kind of confusion, chaos or stress that life can bring.   He just has that kind of demeanor, along with an occasional  joyous loud laugh that makes anyone want to laugh along with him.

Yep, amazing to think he was born 25 years ago.   My son was born in 1985.  I got divorced – as well as sober – in 1987.  The odds were completely against me to make it on my own, let alone be a good sober mom.   No child deserves a drunk parent.  A drunk parent can change even the most mellow of kids.   There is no reason or excuse to be drunk, especially when there is a solution and a joyful way of life to be found.   It is always possible to find a solution, eventually.

My last drink was on August 1st, 1987.  My 30th birthday.  I was ready.

My blessings are abundant.

 20131115 airplane clouds


20140217I am forever eternally grateful that I listened to my heart and still was in Tucson, and not in LA, when my father suddenly took his last breath. Dad was my entire family on his side of the family. Gently, yet tightly, I held him as I looked at him with his perfect haircut he had just the day before.  I carefully, gently, slid my hand underneath the back of his neck and shoulders so I could hold him for as long as I needed – no one would dare ask me to let go of my dad. I intuitively knew that he could still feel my love, protection and admiration. My tears, endless, as I softly spoke into his ear, “You did good Dad. I’m so sorry that you were sick.  I understand that you were sick. You did good – please know that.  Please know that I understand.  Know you are incredibly brave, strong and sensitive to my feelings all in the same moment… I love you Dad… You did good. You did a good job raising me and my brother.  You were the original full-time single dad and you did a good job on your own with out help. God is with us.”…. As I slowly lifted my head off of the crook of my father’s neck, one of my gigantic tears had dropped to the inside of my glasses.  Ironically, my vision blurred. So hard to focus.  To take it all in. The moment important. The pain unbearable.  My dad so handsome.  His features resembling my grandmother so much that, momentarily, it startled me.

me Tucson trails

My heart has been so painfully broken since that morning on February 20th, 2014, that I am worried that I will never be my self again. It has been 3 and a half months and it seems I have lost my true voice. The voice I hear is not the old Julie I once knew. I don’t like to talk on the phone. I don’t like to talk to people when I go out side.  My body continues to decline from chronic pain and bone crushing fatigue.

What I especially don’t like or appreciate is, on the 9th day after my father passed and I saw him for the last time, I was coldly, cruelly and bluntly greeted with being told I must now get out of my home of 5 years. Who was this self-seeking self-loathing mean old woman who believes her own life of lies? The impostor drill sergeant stepping on landmines waiting to explode in the depth of her self imposed victim’s pot of poison –  orders screamed with ugly eyes of misplaced rage and envy, a block of black ice where a heart never ever was to begin with. Was it blood that I witnessed dripping from the black crevices of her empty soul? A clearly planned betrayal with the absurd transparent demand to immediately give up my familiar surroundings upon my return from Tucson and to say good bye to my many neighbors who had become my supportive friends.  I especially don’t like that I was forced to move away from my precious, precious little neighbor-friend Emma, who, once a week for 2 years, helped me with chores I had become physically unable to do myself.

I don’t like that the majority of my belongings, my few pieces of furniture, my comforting photographs, my old books of recovery I’ve read over & over for 27 years, sentimental knickknacks and all my clothes except for the suitcase I packed in my haste, are all in storage somewhere, I do not know where, but in Northern California somewhere, while I find myself suddenly living in my refuge, my safe haven, in my father’s guest room in Tucson Arizona. Along with my cat and my father’s 12 year old cat.

Now is the time.  Now is the time that I have been given. The opportunity to find out just what I am made of.  How deep does my courage run?  How strong is my faith?  Will my love and belief carry me though this time?  Am I steadfast and true as I allow God to continue to lead my way?  I continue to demand that my voice be heard. My vision is still as blurry as the morning my tear drop landed on the inside of my glasses as I leaned to hug & kiss my father goodbye…

I become mindful of my father’s words to me when I was a young teenager.  We were back packing  the switch backs up a particularly steep mountain in the High Sierras. I was looking up and feeling defeated as I was taken in by the gigantic mountain that was still in front of me.  It was looking down on me, daring me to come closer.  I did not like not knowing how much further I had to push myself before my father set up camp for the night. Exhausted I stopped and reached for my canteen that my father had hooked on my belt for me hours earlier.  Being acutely aware, my father gently held my shoulders and said, “Turn around Julie, and see how far you’ve come.” As I turned, with my father’s hand guiding me, I looked down behind me at the path we had just climbed.  I was overwhelmed by the dense beauty of the vast Sierra. The view before me was breathtaking and magnificent.  And it felt good.  I had done good and my father was able to prove it to me… Today I can turn around again, and see just how far I’ve come from LA.  It was not in my best interest to remain in my home – because home is where the heart is. No heart to be found there. I do not need to double check this lesson from long ago. This stage of this journey of mine remains in God’s hands.  And His plan is too brilliant for me to see right now. I look forward to that day when I will once more “turn around and see how far I’ve come”.


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