My (Non-Exhaustive) Great Moms List 1

My (Non-Exhaustive) Great Moms List

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! This has been a rocky year for me with so many changes, uncertainties, and ups and downs, and I wouldn’t have gotten through it so comfortably without the help of my mom. Thanks, Mom! She prefers to take photos instead of being in them, so I improvised.

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Improvised photo of my Great Mom

That’s Stella in the window, by the way. She’s a half-coyote, half-Australian Cattle dog I took care of the first week of May. She’s super sweet and the most hilarious sleeper I know. I took approximately 40 pictures of her just sleeping on the couch.

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In addition to my mom, there are other Great Moms out there that I admire. This list is by no means exhaustive, but when I think about this last year in particular and leaving Norfolk (it will be one year since we left on May 14), these women are of special note.

First is Heath’s mom, who made it a point to teach her sons to cook and clean. When it comes to domestic skills, Heath is far and away the champion in our household, and I, unfortunately, am the weakest link. I am incredibly grateful Heath’s mom prioritized these skills in her children.

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Next is Annie’s human mom, who may be my greatest cheerleader for new endeavors and experiences. She is always enthusiastic about my choices, even though a lot of them mean we don’t get to spend that much time in person for the foreseeable future.

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There’s also Fergus’s human mom, who has a special place in my heart for giving me so many opportunities to take care of Fergus and even paying me to do it! She’s been rooting for me to find my place in this world and I am so grateful for her love and support.

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Photo by Sonja Zinke from the Norfolk Library 2nd Annual Pet Parade

Up next on my Great Moms list is Dottie, who will be turning 101 this year! A hug from Dottie can turn your whole day around. She is a bright and shiny beacon of light in this world, and I miss seeing her smiling face. She also hosts one heck of a tea party!

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My friend, Barbara, is also on my Great Mom’s list. Barbara and I would listen to music nearly every week I lived in Norfolk. It’s because of Barbara that I can identify Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream within one second of hearing the first note.

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Cecily may not be of this world anymore, but she’ll always be on my Great Moms list. Cecily had a true zest for life, and we bonded every day over our love of Dodger. Cecily also loved going out and about with Heath on her arm, and I found her endearment towards Heath so charming.

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Speaking of Cecily and Dodger, I’m including Dodger’s new mom on my list of Great Moms because I can’t imagine a better home for him. Dodger turned 15 on April 19th, and he’s doing remarkably well for his age. He is loved, adored, and well-cared for, and that’s all anyone could ask for in a second dog mom.

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Last but not least on my Great Moms list is my 86-year-old best friend, Arlene, who lives in North Carolina. We recently celebrated nine years of friendship in February. I admire Arlene’s wit and wisdom. Her penmanship is practically perfect. She loves dogs, horses, and writing. It’s because of Arlene that I know and love Rilke and that I had the courage to find my own writing voice. Arlene once wrote an essay years ago about how “the truth will set you free.” I think about her essay often and how her writing has such a profound effect on my life. Although I don’t have a photo of Arlene readily accessible, I do have this photo of her penmanship to share. When Heath and I eloped, I carried photos of my loved ones in my pocket. I also didn’t have a photo of Arlene then, but I did have one of her letters.

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So that’s my (non-exhaustive) list of Great Moms. Although I am not a mom and much prefer to be the “fun Aunt Kelly” to children and animals, maybe that will change in the future. When I went to the Boulder Farmer’s Market yesterday, I took this picture and sent it to Heath:

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Have a great day, everyone!

April (Snow) Showers 13

April (Snow) Showers

This past Friday, Heath and I drove to Longmont, CO. The gray skies turned white on the way back, and snow began falling.

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When I woke up on Saturday morning, a winter wonderland greeted me.

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I love winter and snow. Yet, the high temperatures of 80 degrees on multiple days last week and the fact that we’re heading into May made me less welcoming than I usually am to our surprise winter guest. I decided I didn’t want to go anywhere. So, I picked up my phone, opened the MeetUp App, and changed my RSVP from Yes to No for the cold water plunge I’ve been attending semi-regularly at a park in Boulder.

I felt good about my decision, even when I second-guessed myself. During those moments, I practiced some compassionate self-talk and told myself that I was allowed to change my mind, especially because it would take me over an hour to get to the park on the bus. I especially wasn’t keen to wear my wet bathing suit under my clothes for the long bus ride back to Lafayette (where I’m currently housesitting).

Then, I took my new favorite friend, Arthur, out for our morning walk.

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Everyone, meet Arthur!

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Arthur is a big love bug and one of the goober-iest dogs I’ve ever known. We both enjoy naps on the couch, which means we get along well.

While I was walking Arthur on Saturday morning, a small beam of sunlight broke through the clouds and shone down on us. I immediately felt overcome that I had made the wrong decision – I needed to go to the cold water plunge instead of staying home. I still had enough time to make the bus, and that’s exactly what I did.

As I rode the bus, I marveled at the beautiful winter landscape that befell me. I couldn’t see the mountains because of the cloud cover, but snow-covered prairies stretched for miles. This was definitely the right decision.

At least, that’s what I thought until I almost missed my bus stop because I had been listening to an audiobook on my phone. I jumped up, grabbed my bag with towels and other cold plunge necessities, and hopped off the bus.

About twenty feet from the bus, I stopped cold (pun intended). I reached up to my head. My glasses weren’t there. With a sinking heart, I remembered I had set them down on the seat next to me. I took them off because I can’t read with them on, and I wanted to make sure I could quickly look at my Google Maps app in case I couldn’t remember my bus stop (oh, the irony).

I turned around. If I sprinted, I may be able to reach the bus before it turned the corner. But the Achilles tendon on my left foot has been inflamed for nearly two months. So, I wavered. And I lost my chance.

Needing to do something, I pulled out my phone and found the number for the Boulder transit lost and found. To my surprise, even though it was a Saturday, they had actual human beings you could speak with to help you figure out where and when you could catch the same bus to retrieve your lost item. The incredibly kind woman gave me two different times, and I vowed to be at one of them.

Because there was nothing else I could do at that moment, I did my best to push away my worry that my glasses would be forever gone. Who would want prescription glasses? I told myself. Instead, I focused on the beautiful (albeit sad) juxtaposition of the bright spring flowers covered in snow.

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By the time I arrived at the park, I felt better. I would be reunited with my glasses, and all would be well. My mind mainly focused on our deep breathing exercises, and I only would worry about my glasses every so often.

I completely forgot about my glasses the moment we entered the creek.

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I’m waving at a bike rider! For privacy reasons, I blurred out the faces of group members.

Based on my past experiences, I would guess that the water was somewhere around 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Ninety-five percent of my body and mind love it! The remaining 5% is in my feet, and once we settle on a place to live (fingers crossed, we’ll know soon), one of my first purchases is going to be water shoes for future cold water plunges.

Today was extra special because of the beauty of the snow. I enjoyed the company and the connection, and the cold plunge itself was everything I wanted it to be. Yes, I had definitely made the right decision to be here. Everything would work out with my glasses.

After the plunge, I felt great joy and optimism as I made my way to the Boulder Public Library. I planned to hang out there until it was time to meet the bus I had ridden that morning. Before I knew it, it was time to head to the bus stop.

When the bus pulled up, I felt relief when I saw it was, in fact, the same driver from this morning. I greeted him and asked if anyone had turned in my glasses.

I held my breath.

No, he told me. He had even done a sweep of the bus. But look around, he encouraged.

So I did. They weren’t on the seat I had left them, nor were they on the floor. Every time the bus stopped, I scoped out different sections of the floor in case they had fallen and were sliding around. Sadly, nothing.

All too soon, I had to give up hope that my glasses would magically appear. But I felt determined to do everything I could to get them back, so when my bus stop came, I approached the driver again to give him an update. He was kind and courteous, and I left feeling optimistic that perhaps someone would turn them in.

About thirty seconds after I got off the bus, I again stopped cold (pun even more intended). This time, I had left my gloves behind!

I had been so focused on my glasses and ensuring I talked to the driver that I left them the seat next to me.

Seriously!?!?!?!

I had hoped that by the time I wrote this story, there would be a wonderful moral about listening to the little voice inside my head or how everything works itself out. But, alas, I am still stuck in the middle of it without my glasses. By no means do I think the story is over. How it’s going to resolve itself is still a mystery.

In the meantime, I will dig out an old pair of glasses from my luggage, snuggle with Arthur, and hope for the best.

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Dogs and Cats in Bunny Ears 22

Dogs and Cats in Bunny Ears

This year, I’m celebrating Easter with dogs and cats in bunny ears.

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These photos bring me joy, and I like to think that the time I spend creating them is one way I demonstrate my love and affection for the animals involved and their associated people.

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Now that it’s almost April, I only have a few more days with Basil and Irving. This month with them has gone by way too quickly. I’m no longer convinced they’re cats. After careful consideration, I believe they’re wizards and that they’ve cast a love spell on me.

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The level of ardor and devotion I have for these two is unprecedented because they’re, well, not dogs. I’m as surprised as anyone!

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I did put in an offer to be added to the list of people called if there’s ever a catastrophe and their humans need to find them a new home. I’ve been fantasizing about packing them up and taking them with me, so I’m pleased my offer was accepted. Maybe someday we’ll be together again; of course, I don’t actually hope for this outcome to happen. But it’s nice to know that I can now count wizards in my extended family.

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Happy Easter to all who celebrate! For those who don’t, Happy Sunday!

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Meet Irving and Basil! 29

Meet Irving and Basil!

One of the reasons I’m so fond of my little buddy Fergus is that he’s an excellent napping companion. When I’m napping, he’s napping. Because I enjoy naps so much, this relationship works out well.

Napping on the couch with Fergus.

Imagine my delight that the two cats I’ve been taking care of since the end of February are also champion nappers. Everyone meet Irving and Basil!

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Irving and Basil are ragdoll cats. One of their more adorable behaviors is refusing to drink from anything except a watering can.

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It’s been a joy to take care of and nap with them. Since I’m still recovering from last week’s daylight savings time change, I’m taking the easy way out with this blog post by filling it with more pictures of these adorable kitties.

Meet Irving and Basil! 32 Meet Irving and Basil! 33 Meet Irving and Basil! 34 Meet Irving and Basil! 35

The kitties live in North Boulder, which, to my amazement, is even more beautiful than South Boulder. These photos were taken on Saturday morning, after a two-foot snowfall on Thursday.

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I hope my body and brain will have adjusted to daylight savings by the time I post again. In the meantime, here’s another Irving photo to make you smile.

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Dog Days of Norfolk 39

Dog Days of Norfolk

I’ve now returned to Boulder after 2.5 weeks of taking care of my buddy Fergus back in Norfolk, Connecticut.

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Such a distinguished gentlepup.

There’s a lot I could say about the trip, but for right now, I’m not yet ready to share because I’m just starting to process some “life just sucks sometimes” events that have evolved these past few days.

In the meantime, I am overwhelmed with the amount of love and friendship I developed in Norfolk since September 2016. The support these past few days has been comforting and uplifting. From dogs, yes, but also the people. I got to visit with so many friends and friends who are like family. I love you all so, so much.

Some highlights from the week include:

a tea party worthy of Downton Abbey with some friends who are the epitome of aging well (can you guess who in the group is 100?)

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walking with Dodger, Fergus, Dodger’s other dog walker, and his adopted mom in the Barbour Woods,

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many walks with Annie in the woods, which also means I got to see Annie’s mom a lot (she is also very near and dear to my heart),

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a walk up Haystack mountain with two friends, but because I’ve been trying to distance myself from my phone, I didn’t take any pictures,

and discovering that the groomers missed one hair on Fergus’s head.

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I hope by the time I post again I’ll have some happy updates to share. If not, well … I’m sure I’ll have some more dog photos.

My Greatest Achievement in 2024 (Perhaps) 45

My Greatest Achievement in 2024 (Perhaps)

One month into the new year, I remain entirely unimpressed with 2024. I also fear that my greatest achievement is already behind me.

On January 3, I posted a comment on the Instagram account Frannie’s Fight.

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As you can see, it’s amassed almost 14,000 likes! I have never had something I said on the internet be this well received. So it very well could be my greatest achievement this year.

There are obvious reasons I’m so invested in Frannie’s Fight. As her first-ever Instagram post shared with us, “She is an 8-year-old, 125-pound golden retriever who was set to be euthanized due to her weight. She could barely even sit up and was defeated. She lived outside and slept on concrete her whole life leading to massive callouses on her legs. Her tail has been rubbed raw due to her sitting on it as she cannot sit normally due to her weight, in addition to her hypothyroid condition.”

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Frannie was rescued by Rover’s Retreat and adopted by a vet student (a hero, in my opinion). They’ve been posting updates on Instagram regularly, and I find myself repeatedly opening my Instagram account to see if there is any Frannie news. This habit sure beats doom scrolling the news and other social media accounts (which I’ve stopped), so I can’t be too hard on myself.

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Based on the other comments I read on Frannie’s posts, A LOT of us seek emotional uplift from this content. I can’t help but wonder if we’re all feeling stuck, aimless, and out of sorts.

I offered to be president of the Fran Club as a way to find some much-needed purpose, but because this was one comment out of literally thousands, I’m not surprised it got no response.

In the meantime, I continue to love all the dogs I can here in Boulder (and soon-to-be Norfolk when I return for a 2.5-week visit starting on Thursday). I especially got to show my love to a dog named Copper, who had such a wild case of spring fever on Thursday when temperatures here climbed into the 60s that he snuck out of his fenced-in yard and took a hike on the Shanahan Ridge Trail.

I just happened to be standing on the back deck when I noticed a park ranger holding onto a dog by the collar as they navigated down the trail. The park ranger was on the phone, and it became clear that he was trying to figure out how to return Copper to his family. I waved and called out with an offer to leave Copper with me until his human mom could get him.

So that’s what we did.

Everyone, meet Copper!

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Special thanks to Foster, who had to watch us from the window without helping and who had to share his leash and water bowl. Also, thanks to Heath for bringing Foster’s leash and water bowl onto the back deck so we could keep everyone safe and happy.

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Foster, just in case you forgot what he looks like.

Copper had a happy reunion with his mom, and I went back to Instagram to see what was new with Frannie. I was generously rewarded.

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If you want to follow along with Frannie’s Fight, her Instagram account is @frannies.fight.

24 in 24 52

24 in 24

So far, I am not impressed with 2024. On a macro level, that is. The big things I want, like my own bed and home, continue to be outside my reach. I will nevertheless persist because that’s the type of person I am.

On a micro level, however, things are going well. The podcast discussion group I lead finished off 2023 with some Gretchen Rubin “Happier” podcasts. Gretchen and her sister each came up with 24 in 24 lists, which are 24 goals they’d like to accomplish this year.

Most of us in the discussion group liked this idea, and we had a fun time creating our own. Here’s my list:

  1. Order a passport to replace my stolen one.
  2. Move for at least 24 minutes a day.
  3. Meditate for at least 24 minutes a day.
  4. 2-4 minutes of breathwork, 2-4 times per week.
  5. 24-hour social media breaks every week.
  6. 24-hour game breaks every week.
  7. 2-4 months of news fasting.
  8. Review 24 dog books for a new Instagram account.
  9. Create 24 dog posts for a new Instagram account (same new account mentioned in #8).
  10. Eat 24 baby spinach leaves 2-4 times per week.
  11. Revise 2-4 manuscripts I’ve already written.
  12. Watch 24 sunrises outside.
  13. Do yoga 2-4 times per month.
  14. Visit 2-4 friends out of state.
  15. Go rucking 2-4 times per week.
  16. Meet 24 new dogs.
  17. Write and post 24 new blog posts.
  18. Listen to 2-4 Great Courses.
  19. Attend 24 cold-water plunges (assuming we stay in CO).
  20. Buy 2-4 outfits I genuinely like and that feel comfortable.
  21. Hike 2-4 times at Rocky Mountain National Park (assuming we stay in CO.)
  22. Sell my book, D Is for Doggo, at 2-4 events.
  23. Give 2-4 psychology presentations.
  24. Color 2-4 times per week.

Three weeks into the new year, I’ve kept my daily tasks, such as meditating for 24 minutes every day and 24 minutes of movement every day. I’m on track for my weekly tasks, as well, and I’m enjoying the heck out of rucking.

I had never heard of rucking until late last year when the NY Times ran an article. Essentially, rucking is hiking/walking with a weighted backpack. Should I ever get hired somewhere, one of my first fun purchases is going to be an actual rucksack. Right now, I pile barbells and books in my regular backpack and use that. It’s certainly sufficient, and as a minimalist I appreciate using what I already have, but I would love less bulky weight, as well as a pack that has hip and chest supports.

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Sunrise rucking session on Thursday,  January 18, 2024

I find my list manageable and doable, especially when I use the two-to-four mindset for activities I’d like to do but aren’t my highest priority, like doing yoga 2-4 times a month.

And for anyone who knows me, I also just like setting goals and achieving them!

I’ve already met three new dogs: Packa, Karmine, and Nala, and I’ve even been to Rocky Mountain National Park once already in 2024.

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Hiking to The Pool at Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday, January 5, 2024.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of my new canine friends, but you can enjoy these photos of Willow and Mookie. I came back to Fort Collins for a housesit two weeks ago, and now I’m back with them again.

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I’ll be here until Tuesday. After that, it’s back to Boulder for the time being. Fingers crossed for some macro-level progress in the coming weeks.

 

Thinking about Death in the New Year: 2024 Edition 57

Thinking about Death in the New Year: 2024 Edition

It’s time once again for my annual death meditation. Every year, I imagine what my life would be like this year if I knew it was my last one on Earth.

Previous death meditations have prompted me to visit more National Parks and go all in with my writing. Last year, because I knew 2023 would be filled with immense change, I made it a goal to keep breathing to get through what I knew would be stressful times.

Now that 2024 is here, I still need to keep breathing. The stress and uncertainty that lived with us for 2023 is sticking into 2024. Despite my best efforts, I still don’t have a job. And finding decent housing in Boulder is proving to be much more challenging than I ever thought possible.

But through it all, I’ve learned what I really and truly want, and that information is priceless.  It’s just three things: a bed, a home, and a Heath. Anything else is a bonus.

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What I want more than anything in 2024 is my own bed. A bed that I picked out for its features, comfort, and design. I want to buy my own sheets (bamboo for warmer days and flannel for colder ones) and comforter (style and material yet to be determined). I want to wake up feeling refreshed and energized, ready to tackle whatever comes my way. I don’t know if that will ever be possible because of narcolepsy, but I’m ready to do all I can to get a good night’s rest.

I also want that bed in my own home. I love housesitting and meeting new furry friends. Taking care of dogs brings me joy and purpose. But I also need my own space. A place to return to that holds the most important things in my life. Heath has been my “home” for nearly eight years, but we both need a physical space that belongs to us. Heath has been saying this for years. I am now 110% on board.

Thankfully, I already have a Heath. At least for now. The future can be amazing and wonderful. It can also be challenging and cruel, a reminder to never take anyone for granted. We all know what it’s like to lose someone too soon.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much. I’m certainly willing to do the work. Fingers crossed that the stars align sooner rather than later. I have never been more ready than I am right now.

Happy New Year, my friends!

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Happy Howlidays! 60

Happy Howlidays!

In honor of all the animals across the United States I’ve had the privilege of loving and caring for this past year, I present Happy Howlidays 2023:

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Happy Howlidays! 62

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Thank you to everyone who has shown us support, encouragement, and love this past year. It hasn’t been the easiest to be on the road since May but fingers crossed we’ve found our home in Boulder.

See you next year 🙂

Dogs, Cat, Book 64

Dogs, Cat, Book

Greetings from Boulder! After a couple of weeks housesitting outside of Taos, New Mexico, we are back housesitting in Colorado until next year. Haha! Can you believe 2024 is a little over a month away?! Seriously, though, we’re here through December.

There’s been a lot of new animals in my life these past several weeks.

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Friends, say hello to:

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Tobi, a sneaky German short-haired pointer with the snuggly heart of a little dog, and who nearly always has his emotional support stuffed animal with him.

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Gus, the ring-leader of the New Mexico pack, who zooms with style and gusto when we’re out on our walks.

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And Puddles, who may have some fluff for brains, but also wins over hearts with just one look.

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I’ve posted multiple times on this blog about my love for walking dogs (especially Annie and Dodger) in the woods. It turns out I also love walking dogs in the high desert of New Mexico. Few things in life have brought me as much joy as walking with Tobi, Gus, Puddles, and Heath on a one-mile stretch of dirt road that leads to a national forest. We walked together every day, and every day I felt connected to something greater than myself. Dogs really are magical that way.

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Although I was sad to leave our housesit in New Mexico behind, I wasn’t sad to leave New Mexico. It’s a beautiful state, and I saw shooting stars in light-pollution-free skies. But, it’s not a place I want to live.

Which brings us to Boulder ….

Friends, I would love to stay here for the foreseeable future! I’ve applied for so many jobs back in Connecticut, none of which have panned out, that I’m forced to conclude it’s not yet time for us to return there. Of course, I could get a job offer tomorrow and then we may be packing our bags and humming a different tune come January. Until that happens, Boulder is the place I (we) want to be. I have honestly never seen Heath happier anyplace than here.

Unfortunately, Boulder is absurdly expensive and has limited options for housing. We’re using this time housesitting to investigate whether we can realistically stay. For me, that means applying for jobs in the area. Monday I’m going to visit a few places in person to network and see if I can make some connections. I’ll also continue applying for remote jobs. So if you know anyone who needs a talented research psychologist with excellent communication and community engagement skills, feel free to send my information their way.

In the meantime, I’m savoring my time in Boulder. The house we’re staying in is at the base of the Flat Iron Mountains. We got a couple of inches of snow over the last few days and I’m filled with wonder and awe every time I look at them. To make my heart completely buoyant, I’m also walking one of the sweetest, lovey-dovey-est dogs I’ve ever known.

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Everyone, meet Foster:

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Foster is half couch potato/half love bug who enjoys walks as much as I do. I love taking him outside for our daily sojourns and we’ve become good friends.

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Foster also has a cat brother named, Joey.

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Joey is aloof most of the time until he absolutely wants your attention. Which, he then lets you know. He’s a champion mouser and very vocal about his trophies so I’m learning to deal with some circle of life stuff that I’d rather pretend doesn’t exist.

While in Boulder, I’m also sorting out what it means to be a self-published author. Yes, that’s right – I took the plunge and decided to self-publish an illustrated book about dogs (BIG surprise there) and the ridiculous ways we describe them.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know it’s my dream to be a traditionally published author. I’ve been working at it for seven years now and I reached the point where I wanted to see something published with my name on it.

So, I took this book of silly dog poetry I wrote nearly six years ago about doggolingo (the internet language invented to better describe our dogs), purchased some photos from Shutterstock, and hired a book designer that I connected with through Facebook. I’m thrilled with how the finished project turned out.

What’s not so thrilling is that the self-publishing landscape is not easy to figure out. For example, I don’t know why my book is available through the Barnes and Noble website (you can buy a copy HERE), but not Amazon. Lest I let perfection be the enemy of good, I’m simply embracing my I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing  ways and leaning into the discomfort.

At the very least, it’s a good (albeit expensive) learning experience.

Thank you to everyone who’s been reading this blog throughout the years. I’m grateful that you’ve been with me on this journey. Now, onward and upward. I’m excited to see what happens next.

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