Red Lights

One of the really great things about bluetooth being a common thing in cars now is that I get to be myself without worrying about other drivers and/or pedestrians thinking I’m bonkers. It’s normal now to see people moving their lips in conversation when there are no passengers in the car. Which is comforting, even though I know that 95% of the people I pass while driving are in their own little world and don’t even notice the fact that I am having some pretty intricate conversations. With Myself. Outloud. While driving in my car. Alone. Though I really shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks about me. It’s bad enough what I think about myself. Here is a small glimpse of the other day’s conversation while driving downtown Spokane in between my sales calls, mostly at red lights: 

Me: Wow. She should maybe wear a different style of shorts. She’s a United States Postal Service Worker. Where is her pride? 

Me to Me: You have looked way worse in shorts so you should probably shut up. 

Me: That’s so rude. I have never once worn shorts with tights.

Me to Me: It’s cold out. Look at the temperature: 42 degrees! 

Me: My point exactly! Why isn’t she wearing a different style of shorts? Like PANTS. 

Me to Me: (Distracted from the shorts topic) Look out for the f’ing scooter rider! Dear Jesus he’s coming at you! 

Me: I SEE him. He is clearly NOT following the rules of WHEELED VEHICLES

Me to Me: Still you don’t want to hit him. That would make you late for your next sales call. 

Me: (Jamming on the breaks and NOT crashing into the motorized scooter person who is J-Riding) I don’t understand why they don’t wear helmets. Especially when they ride like kamikazes. I can’t wait for winter so these damn lime scooters get benched. (Screams) MORON!!!!

Me to Me: PREACH SISTER! 

Me: I wonder what David is going to do after high school. He is so talented. He could probably do anything he sets his mind to. 

Me to me: Why are you getting so far ahead?  He’s just a junior. 

Me: I’m gonna blink my eyes and graduation will be here. 

Me to Me: Maybe he’ll be a plumber. Our bathrooms all need serious plumbing. The house is seriously going to hell. 

Me: Oh LORD! 

Me to Me: WHAT???

Me: I forgot to make the mortgage payment, buy Mitchel’s book for English and get Dan’s WSU account unfrozen so he can register for next semester before I left the house today. 

Me to Me: I feel like I would have better understood The Odyssey if it had been a graphic novel when I was in high school. Mitchel is so lucky. 

Me: (At a red light.) Well. Thank God for Amazon Prime. The book will be here tomorrow. Boom! 

Me to Me: (Next red light) Mortgage Payment PAID! Boom! Technology is the BOMB. 

Me: I Hate FAFSA/LOANS/College Shit. Dealing with that is just not something I can accomplish at a red light. 

Me to Me: Look at that guy! High as a kite and dancing to music in his head. What do you think he’s listening to? 

Me: Let’s see…maybe some Bob Marley? 

Me to Me: He can’t be older than 20. Do you even think he knows who Bob Marley is? 

Me: Maybe some Post Malone. 

Me to Me and Me:  (Simultaneously) Dang. I miss Dan.

Me: “Car: Play some Post Malone”

Me to Me: That’s not how you do it. You have to push the button first. Then ask. And don’t say CAR. Dork. 

Me: Or at the next red light I can find it on my playlist. WITH MY FINGERS. I’m handy that way. 

Me to Me: You’re going to have to figure out this new car eventually. 

Me: Wait. OMG! Ingrid Michaelson is on! Awww. It’s “Maybe”. I really miss Maria. She’s eventually gonna come back. In the future. 

Me to Me: Why aren’t you drinking enough water. I thought that was one of the seven daily things you committed to in 2019. What is wrong with you that you can’t even drink WATER? That’s the easiest thing on the list. 

Me: All I said was that I miss Maria and Dan. Why you gotta just PICK PICK PICK? 

Me to Me: I was trying to change the subject. The next sales call is in two blocks. No sense being all weepy. Not that you could MAKE a tear right now on account of not being hydrated. 

And this is how it goes. On and on.  All day. Everyday. My inside voice talking to my outside voice. And getting stuff done at red lights.  

As Is

“As is” is a portal to creation, to new life. “As soon as” is a form of delusion and therefore soul death. -Anne Lamott

Anne wrote these words in an essay on her encouragement to writers on the NaNoWriMo website, an acronym for National Novel Writing Month which starts every November 1st. 

Oh Anne, could we meet for coffee? Your words sounded like whispers from heaven and felt like a kick in the ass, which is what good friends do to you when they know something is important: whisper kick. 

I had thought to commit to NaNoWriMo2019 and once again get back to the novel I am still ‘writing’ (it’s going to be good, I promise!) instead of pursuing a blog post every day during the month of November. And quite frankly, that would have been much easier to fail at. I could have at least hidden a little more easily under the premise of writing a novel. No one would know I am actually playing Words with Friends or binge watching Netflix while I am holed up in my office with a sign on the door “MOM IS WRITING. LEAVE HER ALONE: which by the way is a much different sign than “DO NOT DISTURB: DOING YOGA” which apparently means disturb as often as possible. 

Novels are this mysterious thing you can keep to yourself and no one knows except you if you have written five words or a thousand in that little window of time you desperately and adamantly carve out for yourself and keep safe from all of the SHOULDS and HAVE TOs. 

I decided to write 30 Blog Posts so my accountability would be more public and therefore more painful if I fail to write everyday “AS IS” in the middle of my personal and work chaos, without excuse or fear.   

But blog posts are instantly public and can make me feel so exposed if they are written and published before I think I have made my thoughts clear. I can’t tell you how many times I have pushed the PUBLISH button on WordPress and then thought “OMG what have I done?” And to commit to writing a post everyday for 30 days when it sometimes takes me an hour to write twenty words, well, I know there is going to be a lot of that in November. 

But I’m okay with that. Because I looked back to the last time I committed to 30 blog posts in November which was in 2014 and I only wrote sixteen posts, which continues to haunt me. You see, I made a commitment to myself and didn’t keep it, for various reasons that I find to be understandable but also unforgivable. If I can’t keep a promise to myself, how can I be trusted with other people in this world? 

Writers write. They don’t talk about writing. And no Anne, I don’t want to be 70 and look back and think “Dang, why didn’t I pursue the one thing that is more important to me than breathing?” So thank you for reminding me why I committed to thirty days. Because there is only one thing that is more painful than bad writing and that’s not writing at all. 

Is there is something that you are not doing that you will look back and think “I regret not doing that; my life is not complete because I chose ‘as soon as’ instead of ‘as is’? If the answer is yes, oh my dear friend START, right now in the middle of all your life chaos. 

Start. 

Just start.

 

Maybe My “WHY” is Just to Breathe In AND Out

Below is an excerpt from this month’s eNewsletter that I put out from my company to friend/clients (some of whom follow my blog site). I feel the need to elaborate on it a bit in today’s blog post: 

There is so much talk on social media and elsewhere about knowing what your WHY is. I don’t know about you but I sometimes feel like I have more WHYs than I do time or answers. I spent my thirties just trying to remember to breathe and keep both my kids and career alive, so during my highly energetic forties, when I came up for air, my list of “what ifs” was so extensive it was exhausting! I like to call that the sorting out decade. It turns out that there are more things that are NOT my why than are. So that’s good news. 

Now that I’m in my 50’s there has been a SUBSTANTIAL amount of paring down in terms of who I want to be when I grow up. That’s really what this whole WHY thing is right? Not so much what your trade is (which can change at will, if you’re willing)  but how you DO whatever it is you chose to do. The person, substance and cause behind the actual doing of things. 

I do think there is a lot of pressure to find out what our WHY is when maybe we SHOULD all just relax a little and breathe (in AND out). I mean it’s hard enough having the human curse of reason.. If dogs could read our minds on the whole “I think, therefore I am” deal they would be like: “Dudes. Chill out and see if someone will toss you a ball a few hundred times. You’ll feel so much happier after!”

But, also I think that it’s really important that we all do a regular self check as we breathe through our lives. With the burden of reason comes some responsibility to be our best selves in this world. I mean why not? There is more to a good life than Netflix and Cheez-It binges. At least on the weekdays. 

So here is a short little checklist of questions that I ask myself regularly to touch base with where I’m at  in my journey that may help you feel a little less pressure in your own quest to discover your ever elusive WHY: 

  1. Would my dogs be proud of how I treat people and other animals? (If not regroup and change some shit.)
  2. If I died today, what would be the ONE thing I wish I had done? (If I am not doing this one thing, I’d best get off my ass and do it or I will be walking the earth as a very unhappy ghost, making other people miserable)
  3. What will people say about me at my funeral? (Those bitches better be careful. See #2. I’m probably going to haunt them)

Any how. I think it’s super important to do a little self recon from time to time. But it’s also important to breathe in and out, enjoy the journey and maybe not worry all that much what your WHY is. It will come to you when you are relaxed and open minded. Just ask your dog. Or your neighbor’s dog if you don’t have one of your own to talk to. 

But I have to say: you should get a dog. That’s the real advise of this blog post.  

What If We Only Fell Back?

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I’m so mad. I completely slept through my favorite holiday “Fall Back”. This is terrible! I honestly don’t know what is going on this last year but something has got to change. I mean who the heck SLEEPS for eight hours a night? What is WRONG with me that I would be so lazy and miss getting up at 5:30 am on Fall Back Day, go for a run, have a cup of coffee, a shower and STILL have it only be 5:30 am? It’s the only day of the year I get to stop time (my chosen super power if I could have one)  and I missed it by sleeping in until NINE THIRTY. It’s no fun to wake up at 9:30 and say “Oh yippy. It’s only 8:30.” Lame. There are no giddy feelings about that. The day is pretty much OVER at 8:30. There’s no getting a jump on my life at that time of the day. Not even on a Sunday. I’ve got shit to do!

I have heard that it is possible that this could be the last year the state of Washington (and six other states) fall back an hour and I’m super worried. In fact, I think I have finally found something I feel strongly enough about that I might bombard social media, make t-shirts, signs, file a petition, and chain myself across a building somewhere all in protest  to SAVE FALL BACK. 

It’s not about the daylight saving, or energy saving that I’m concerned about (the original reason for the world renowned ‘daylight saving’ idea of springing forward an hour and back again in the fall). It’s about the TIME. And I have an idea. What if the state of Washington was the only state to only fall back an hour every year and NOT spring forward and we changed it to just “Day Saving Time”. In twenty four years, Washington would be one whole DAY ahead of all the other states. Think about what that could mean for productivity AND tourism. People would visit Washington just so they could say they time traveled! 

But I am kind of digressing. I really want to talk about all this sleep I have been getting. I think that this is the first year of my life that I am sleeping a good eight to nine hours a night for most of the days of the week. And I’m not talking light sleep. I’m talking dead to the world sleep. So deep that I’m dreaming full movies in color with theme songs playing that stick in my head all day until my head hits the pillow the next night to start all over again. It’s exhausting! And to answer your question, NO. I’m not taking drugs of any kind. My husband even told me I kept him awake the other night snoring. WTF! I don’t snore. It had to be one of the dogs. The nerve of some people. 

What does this mean? Have I lost my will to live that I would sleep past my favorite holiday? Am I no longer motivated, inspired or excited  enough about my life to meet the day like a WINNER at 5 am? 

I’m thinking about calling a sleep clinic to be assessed: “Yes. I’m really struggling with sleep. I’m just getting too much of it and it’s ruining my life. I’m wondering if I have a problem. I just feel way too rested.”

Anyhow. This is probably just a weird phase of happiness, peace and contentedness I’m going through. I will try to push through it as best as I can. Don’t lose any sleep over me. I’ll be okay. 

The Interview

 

My daughter Maria is in her third year of nursing school at the University of Portland and a while back I called her on the phone while I was walking my dog Bella at Wyakin Park, a nature park down the street from our house. I called her mainly because I was creeped out by a guy walking a ways behind me on the same path. I told her this and she immediately said “MOM! Why don’t you call dad? I’m pretty far away to be able to help you.”

“Your dad is always warning me to not walk in Wyakin Park alone so I don’t want to get a lecture. Just know that if I go silent call dad and tell him to call 911 and then drive here super fast because I’m most likely either killed or abducted and he needs to get Bella. I don’t want anything to happen to her.”

We kept on with our chatting while I walked the park, the creeper long disappeared, so it was probably nothing, though it’s good to be more safe than sound I always say.  The subject of her needing to conduct a two part interview with someone about suffering came up. 

“Well, you can interview my uterus, it’s suffering right now. Why is it that every time you come home for the summer my path to finally completing my year long adventure toward menopause is disrupted? Now my plans for a party are screwed up. I was TWO MONTHS away from official menopause day. I feel kind of mad at you and your alpha she-wolf hormones for messing me up. I’m too old for this crap.”

She laughed and we chatted about how crazy hormones were and other female topics that I think we both crave as the only two girls in a family of eight. Then we talked about possible people she could interview that we know have suffered a lot and whether or not it would be weird for her to reach out to them and finally decided she would interview me (not my uterus). I had gone through a rather rough patch of time when I lost three loved ones: my grandma, my mom and my friend Libby all within a seven year span, and all the experiences leading up to and after those difficult days created all kinds of suffering. I felt enough time had passed that I would be able to give a good interview on the subject of suffering. We scheduled the first interview and I put it on my calendar when Bella and I arrived home unscathed from our walk. 

Now, I have never been a fan of FaceTime which was the required method for Maria’s interview, unless she could do it live and Portland is an awfully long drive from Spokane. So I was a little worried about that part. I am always distracted by the little box at the top with MY face in it. Do I have boogers? How does my hair look? Do I have the phone positioned so I don’t have a double chin and my big boobs don’t steal the show? Also, the image of me I’m looking at is a reflection of the reflection I see in the mirror every day so it’s a mind bend seeing how other people might see me everyday. The thought makes me want to part my hair the opposite direction and turn my head to the right when I am face to face with people, which is my bad side but actually shows THEM my good side. It’s so confusing. And extremely self absorbed. 

So with that in mind, enter interview number one. I made sure my hair was done nice and I put makeup on so I would not be distracted by wishing I HAD done that. And then there was Maria, on my phone, who had clearly done the same. Her hair had grown longer since I last saw her, making her look older, more grown up and OH my FILLED UP HEART so beautiful. I felt this deep sense of awe that this delightful woman came partly from me and I was distracted from my own face in the corner which was good. We made some giggly small talk about how good we both looked and then got into the interview.  

I was fully prepared to just coast through the questions and as is my way, try and make it lighthearted and fun. I feel like I am pretty together and practical about suffering: it’s a human condition that is hard to avoid but I myself have lived through it thus far and relatively unscathed. What I was NOT prepared for was how meaningful the interview was for me and how my daughter shined with empathy and poise that had things spilling out of me that I did not at all expect, including tears and some amazing ‘a-ha!’ moments including the realization that I have pushed down a little bit of anger about the death of my mother, because I didn’t really want to talk about that part of my suffering. She should still be here. 

Now granted, I’m a talker. I have never had trouble talking or writing about almost any subject, including what my heart feels at the moment. It’s how I’m wired. But I have learned to keep some of my deepest things closely guarded, namely because people just don’t want to hear about suffering, at least not all the time. But also, it has been important to me as a mother that my kids don’t worry about me, at least not on a grand scale like I did my own mother for so much of my life. So it was a little bit unnerving actually being given permission to talk about my personal suffering, especially by my daughter in what felt like a professional counseling session. 

We ended the first interview and I found myself excited for the next one but worried that I had worried her.  

We were both less concerned with how we looked on the second interview and got into it pretty quickly. She had some follow up questions for me that were hard to answer because they were very thought provoking. These are the ones that stood out to me: 

  • What support was missing for you during that time? 
  • What have you learned about yourself through suffering? 
  • How did suffering affect your faith? 
  • What gives you a sense of hope when you are in pain? What IS hope in your mind, what does it look like?

Lots of big questions and I found myself meandering a bit with my words in search of what the answers were which was cathartic in and of itself. But here are a few answers I discovered:  

I know that I have never lacked support because I have learned how to ask for it from the people who I know are willing and able to give of themselves when it is most important. What I do know is that it’s not always the same person I turn to and that each person in my core has a different way of supporting and loving. Three words from the men in my life can sometimes be as powerful and soothing as hours of wailing with a soul sister. Different love languages for different types of suffering.

I have learned to understand that suffering is a gift when I look at what it would mean NOT to suffer which is one of two things: I’m dead or I do not love.

My faith has been altered but not shaken from suffering. I have had a few fights with God along with a more expansive and less defined by ritual understanding of who my maker is. I’m still pondering this one a bit but my spirituality as a whole hasn’t wavered much. I figure if I’m yelling at God, it means I’m a believer. Or crazy. Maybe both. 

But looking into my daughter’s eyes as we dove into our deep and powerful conversation,  I realized with a most profound and solid certainty that she and her brothers are the very definition of what hope is for me. My children, each with their unique gifts and personalities,  will absolutely make the world better, long after I am gone. What could be more hopeful (and soul soothing) than this? 

I got to witness first hand Maria’s healing gifts and know with certainty she has chosen the right path for her life “You should be a geriatric psychiatric nurse. Is that a thing? Old people need to talk this shit out before they die! You are amazing!” I said, wiping happy sad tears from my eyes. “I wish I could have had this kind of talk with my mom. That would have been amazing. This is priceless stuff. You’re welcome by the way.” 

“Ahhhh…” said my daughter “there she is!”  

Homing In

It’s gotten super cold where I live. The temperature dropped to the 30’s earlier than usual this year. When the temperatures become dramatic, whether it’s extreme cold or heat, heavy rain/snow, or nasty wind, I worry even more about people who live outside. 

Notice that I did not call people who live outside “the homeless”. I guess because it is a term that is used so much in my city that I’ve grown weary of the label. “What to DO about the homeless problem” is a hot topic in the news, on social media, on every political platform, and is an issue that’s never going to be fully resolved no matter what we do. Want to know why? Because people are complicated, whether they live inside or outside. Complicated, difficult and messy and impossible to “fix” when dealt with as a mass. It’s like mindlessly shoveling snow in a blizzard to clear a walkway instead of appreciating each unique snowflake in the pile. So much easier to just keep shoveling the pile aside. And most of the time way more practical. 

I personally have some serious emotional conflict regarding people who live their lives outside instead of inside, like I do. I continue to question what my responsibility is, especially because there are always going to be a few complicated, difficult and messy people who disagree with what I think, do and say whether I’m trying to save all the people, dogs and sea turtles with my actions or instead sitting on my ass happily sipping a latte through a straw, mindlessly scrolling chewy.com on my phone wishing I could buy toys for my own dogs, whom I paid money for instead of finding them on a rescue site, all while closing my mind to the fact that in the alley nearby, people, some of whom have dogs, are trying to sleep in dirty puddles. Is it so terrible enjoy a rarely purchased latte without complication?

About five or six years ago I volunteered every Friday at the House of Charity. I peeled potatoes and helped serve lunch and got up and personal with a few people who where having a tough go at things and listened to stories and information the other volunteers told me about some of the patrons.  How to tell when such and such hadn’t taken his meds for schizophrenia, and if he hadn’t to not make eye contact with him when he came through the lunch line. How such and such had lived purposefully on the streets for 30 years but was tidy and clean and proud of who he was; he just had this fear of being inside. I wonder to this day what happened to him as a child that gave him this resolve to never sleep indoors. How such and such will always ask for two desserts and how I was to say no to her, because it was breaking the rules. I once snuck her two pieces of chocolate cake, smooshed together on one plate so it didn’t look like I was playing favorites. She was so delighted, with her sweet-tooth(less) grin. Rules be damned. 

A few years after that I did a couple of winter night walks with a group of people, handing out coffee, bologna sandwiches and socks to people who were camped out in tents under the freeway overpass. I was the only female on these walks so I was able to have conversations with the ladies who were afraid to come out of their tents if men approached them. I remember one older gal: she was so sick, a hacking cough that was deep and worrisome. She was grateful for the hot coffee. I also had a scary confrontation with a couple of younger men who demanded to know why we didn’t have coats. “Fuck socks, we need coats.”

I once got in a banana throwing battle with a guy I passed regularly on my drive to work every morning. He was old, dirty, and looked like alcoholism was going to take him sooner than later but he was generally pretty friendly. I sometimes gave him granola bars, sometimes a water bottle, and one day all I had was my breakfast banana, so I handed it to him through my car window. But he tossed it back at me. I tossed it back again, saying, “Take it, it will be good for you.” He tossed it back to me saying “I don’t want your stinking banana.” I was holding traffic up at this point but I was now highly annoyed and refused to budge on this. “Hey Mr. Grumpy, I’m thinking that SOMEONE needs a little potassium today!” I yelled and threw the banana at him a little harder than I probably should have, based on the stunned look on his face when it hit his chest as I sped away, banana war won. He was a part of my life for over a year. Then one day he was just gone. And I’m not going to even pretend he had a happy ending, save for maybe the afterlife being better for him. I can only hope for this. And wonder. I miss my weird daily connection with him. 

I have found myself so angry at the people who live outside. The other day the alley behind my office was FILLED with trash. I’m talking needles, feces, urine, food, wrappers, clothing, a broken bike, all produced literally overnight.  It was disgusting and right out of my self righteous mouth came the words “Fucking street people!”. I actually kind of jolted at my nasty words. Especially because just the other day, during a torrential downpour, I witnessed a gal carrying all her possessions in a hefty bag that suddenly broke, her clothes pouring out onto the sidewalk. I happened to be stuck behind construction when it happened. Two gentlemen, both in scrubs walked right past her, either ignoring or oblivious (I don’t judge at all, she looked pretty hard to help). But I rolled down my window and yelled at one of the men, “Hey! Can you give this to her?” I happened to have a giant bag with handles from one of my manufacturers I sell for in the back seat of my car. The guy looked at me blankly and I pointed to the gal struggling in the rain with her stuff. He said no at first and I said “OH COME ON! Just give it to her!” I tend to be pushy sometimes. He finally rolled his eyes and took the bag. She had no idea it came from me or even the guy who gave it to her who tossed it at her feet and walked away before she saw him. When she saw the bag, she looked up into the sky and made a thank you gesture just as the traffic began to flow again, which was FANTASTIC. God sent her a bag just in the nick of time! Ha! And I was reminded how easy it would be to cause messes like the alley when you don’t have a good sturdy bag to carry your stuff around in.  

Fast forward to the second half of the day, coming out the back door of my office without my coat, intending to go to Dutch Brothers to get a cup of coffee. The alley was still trashed, but my eyes zeroed in on a man sitting up against the cement railroad bridge that runs along the length of my office. He was just sitting there, dazed, maybe wondering “what’s next?”. I shivered without my coat and thought how it would feel to be outside all the time, cold to the bones in the winter, sweltering and angry in the summer. And I also had a little epiphany: this man didn’t cause all this trash. But I blamed HIM, lumped him into the masses when I said the words ‘fucking street people’. It’s no different than saying the ridiculous words ‘all blondes are dumb’ or ‘all priests are pedophiles’. I wandered over to him and asked him if he wanted a coffee, that I was going to get myself one and had enough cash for two. “Yes please ma’am” and then  “sugar and cream” when I asked him what kind of coffee he would like and a “thank you ma’am” when I handed it to him. I didn’t linger. He didn’t want to chat with me. But he was polite in receiving and my rage about the trashed alley diminished. I also decided that my inside living, with it’s trash cans, toilets and cupboards to put my stuff in made it so much easier to appear like I have it all together. When I peeked outside later to see if he was still there, he wasn’t. Nor was his empty coffee cup. 

See here’s the thing. I do not even pretend to believe that any of these people remember me or any interactions I had with them. Most of them are in survival mode and I’m pretty sure I made zero or at least very little difference in their lives. I know this and I’m okay with this. But oh my gosh, I remember my encounters with THEM and I am better for it, saved daily in fact. You see, much of what I do in this world, I do to save me from myself.  That’s the total honest, and pretty darn selfish truth. I call it homing in on myself: creating a home in the here and now,  by meeting myself right where I am in an encounter with whomever is in front of me, unique humans, good, bad, or indifferent, living indoors or out, and do then my best to think and act with clarity and truth.  I know I can’t save anyone, not really. People need to go their own way. My responsibility is to save myself by remaining present in my messy, complicated and difficult life and in the process maybe see a few snowflakes through the hard to manage snow piles every now and then. 

Are My Dogs Having More Sex Than I Am?

No amount of natural family planning education could have prepared me for the conversations about sex that I have had with and about our dogs Cooper, a big, beautiful un-neutered 2 year-old yellow lab and Bella our 1 year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, who started her first period five days ago. Even if we HAD been paying attention and not giggling during most of the six week long NFP course we enrolled ourselves in over 20 years ago when I decided to throw away the pill after the two oldest boys were born and be free spirited and open to whatever and whoever came our way. Grant willingly went along for the ride which resulted in four more kids. 

The instructor was LOVELY and very knowledgeable but everyone in the class was so dang serious, taking notes and nodding their heads. Meanwhile in the back of the class Grant and I were giggling and drawing pictures of penises and making gagging noises every time the instructor talked about the consistency of the deposits left on the woman’s undies when she was ripe for the picking. Who KNEW that was a thing? And though I will admit that by number five pregnancy I did say to myself a few times that perhaps we should have paid attention a bit more, David was my most mellow and happy baby, so I was rewarded more than I was harmed by my inattention. And we DID learn enough to only get six instead of twelve kids. So I’m happy we took the classes but also glad we were not super rigid on the “rules” or we’d not have had near as much fun during the chaos. Nor would we have these six amazing people in our lives.  The truth is I never felt like my people where all here until our youngest arrived fourteen years ago. And then I just knew that was that. And it was. Even though we continued with our free spirited approach. 

BUT I am really struggling with the dogs and the subject of sex and teenage dog pregnancy. 

Now mind you, I have had many conversations with my kids about sex. I think we’ve been relatively open about the subject without being over the top. It’s my and Grant’s job to try and steer them to live their best lives by making good choices for themselves and for others. My standard line is “Sex always complicates things, so you’d best be certain your relationship is strong before you go down that path.” That is really the only true advice I can offer my kids about sex, to be sure you are in a good relationship before complicating things. And I feel like my kids are going to do their best to be mindful about a very personal subject. 

But the dogs? I’m not completely certain they are listening to any advice I’m giving them.  

Now. Before you judge you need to know that we have ALWAYS spayed and neutered our pets in the past which I GUESS it’s the right thing to do. Though sometimes I wonder what the animals think about us controlling their lives so much. If someone forced ME to get spayed, how would I feel? I’d rebel of course. It would be Planet of the Apes all over again. Only super different. 

But with Cooper and Bella things kind of just snuck up on us. Cooper is technically our oldest son’s dog (which is a whole different story). But we all agreed that we would wait until he was full size before we discussed taking his balls from him because of the research we did about neutering dogs too soon. But now, here he is two years old, with GIANT balls that seem wrong to take. And the boy/men in the household, who love Cooper almost as much as I do, adamantly believe with deep, full body shudders, that he should keep his balls. 

When Bella came into our lives at about 12 weeks old, I was in this place where I felt like I could take on anything, including Chesador puppies. We had agreed to wait until after her first cycle to get her spayed (that full growth thing again) but I had that deep down longing to just let nature take over. My life has gone quite well with that approach (save for the whole bank account thing). Besides, why should it be the girl dog who has to be the one to go through the pain of getting spayed? Girl dogs are people too!  

I felt great about this idea until Bella got her period. And then holy hell. She is currently a moody messy pile of stinky insecurity. It didn’t help her self esteem a whole lot when we put her in these flowery Velcro dog panties with a hole for her tail. “CuteBone Dog Diapers”.  She doesn’t know this, but she is soon going to be the spokes-dog for these diapers. I submitted a 5 star review complete with pictures of her to Amazon Prime, so I’m sure we’ll be getting the six figure contract any day now. Or at least some free dog food.

Cooper and I have talked a lot about how sex complicates things and that Bella is much too young to be a mother and he just looks at me with those beautiful, serious brown eyes and wags his tail in agreement, so I mostly feel like everything will be fine. He’s a good dog, with morals and convictions. And he has professed his deep love for Bella so I feel certain he will wait until they are both sure it’s the right time. It’s clear how much he loves her. 

He also told me that he LOVES puppies and would be a stay at home dad if Bella wanted to be a working dog mom. Do you see how great he is? Just look at that innocent face (he is sitting on our dining room table in this picture): 

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But Bella? I’m pretty sure she’s a total slut. The boy dogs ALWAYS seem to get blamed, but seeing the way she is starting to act as she gets closer and closer to prime puppy making time I feel like the boy dogs might be getting an unfair tail shake. Consequently, when we leave the house, she is the one who gets locked in the bathroom for safe keeping. I know it’s terrible to talk about her this way. She’s normally so cute and funny and smart. But right now, she’s completely lost her mind. Here she is looking like a circus monkey, sulking about her diaper on the couch:

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Yesterday, when I was doing yoga in my daughter’s old room (now dubbed the yoga room) I forgot that no one else was home when I shut the door. The dogs always want to be on my matt and interfere with my awkward chubby girl stretching so it was habit to close them out. Five minutes later, a loud banging started up against the yoga room door and I pulled out of my downward facing dog pose super fast, hobbling to the door with a now tweaked back and yanked the door open only to find both dogs right outside the door looking very guilty. Bella’s diaper was pretty much in tact and  it turns out that they were fighting over a tennis ball but I still yelled at them, my chillaxed attitude about sex and mother nature and making good choices pretty much out the window: “YOU MAY NOT HAVE MORE SEX THAN I DO! THIS IS MY HOUSE TO HAVE SEX IN NOT YOURS.” I swear Cooper nodded his head in serious agreement, but Bella? She just smiled her stinker face dog smile and said “Why don’t you just close that door again woman and get back to your chubby yoga and we’ll just see about your silly human rules.” 

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