It has been four days since we said good-bye to our sweet, old dog, Samwise. He was diagnosed with cancer about a month ago, and though they thought he would have about 6 months left, things went sideways this time last week and quickly spiraled.

It was simply his time.

Even as a grief writer and author, I’ve found myself at a loss to really convey the depth of what I’m feeling or the nature of our relationship. Though perhaps anybody who has been lucky enough to be blessed with the love of a sweet old dog already knows the depth and nature of which I speak.

They say that those who have cancer travel close to God, and I figure this must be true of Sam as there was something so pure and angelic about him he always felt otherworldly. He was the guardian angel of our family and inhabited the deepest and softest part of our hearts.

And so I’ve found myself on a new grief passage, learning new lessons on grief that I don’t really feel like experiencing or learning. Recent years have brought a lot of loss into my life and after a while you get tired of the losing.

But nobody ever wants to take a grief passage; they are never convenient and rarely welcome. Yet that doesn’t matter to grief- it simply appears in its own time, and we find ourselves unwittingly stepping onto its landscape.

Grief comes in and rearranges us, and all I’ve learned to do is offer myself up for the rearranging. Read More

Thick & Thin

It is difficult to trust in uncertain times.

Trust Life. Trust the Process. Trust Spirit. Trust Higher Power. Trust that it will all work out.

There’s many dimensions and layers of trust, and yet it all melts down to the same core truth- either we trust that things are moving towards our own good and wellness, or we don’t.

At least that’s how it translates in my mind as I come back round to the question of: “Well girl, do you believe the universe has your back or not?” Because that answer makes all the different in my mental and emotional state and how I go about my days.

I write these words as my sweet dog Sam is laboring to breathe next to me. He has cancer, and though we were told he has about 6 months left, and he’s been having more good days than bad, thanks to the medications he is on – – this is one of the bad days.

All the plans I had for today have been deferred to just be present with him, watch over him, and be available for care.

This news has come during a rocky season in life. Not rocky bad per say, but not rocky road ice-cream awesome either. Just rocky in the sense that I’ve been in a change cycle since moving to Kauai almost a year ago. Almost everything has been in flux. Read More


(Note: I keep another site called Sunshine In Winter. It’s where I got my start writing and blogging and figuring out how to string words together in meaningful reflections that I could share. Today was my 6th anniversary on Sunshine, so in lieu of a weekly update here, I thought I would share the words I wrote over there – – as the core and the heart of my truth holds the same wherever I’m writing.)

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It’s funny how small steps can accumulate and lead to bigger things.

We don’t always know where we are going when we take the first step, but years later we can look back and see that we were on a journey the entire time, we just didn’t realize our own destination.

Six years ago I started this blog.

At the time it was a way to process rediscovering myself after my divorce. There’s been a lot of shape shifting on Sunshine over the past 6 years; exploratory essays gradually shifted to exploratory prose and poems gradually shifted to mostly just poetry after I had a little growth as a writer and subsequently started another site under my writer’s name.

But I’ve kept Sunshine around out of a certain sense of fondness as this is a space of becoming.

The words here reflect those initial single girl lessons on what love is and what love isn’t, transitioning from being single to being in a relationship to being married, the unexpected loss of my brother and the grief journey I took afterward, and finding myself again after loss which led to my eventual move to Kauai.

Sunshine has seen me through an awful lot of change and growth. I learned to be a better human here. I learned to be a better writer here. I learned a lot about growing up here, and I’m attached to the words I’ve shared throughout the years. Read More

My Heart, My Home

The concept of home has been on my heart the past few days.

What defines it. What creates it. Its multidimensional layers- house, location, family, heart, belonging, connection, love- there are many ways to define home.

I’ve been working through my own relationship with home ever since we found out our sweet old dog, Samwise, has cancer and only a handful or so of months left. The complexity of my grief is heart-achingly substantial, but as I’ve deciphered its stratum, I’ve come to understand the breadth of my attachment in deeper ways.

Sam’s presence in my life has seen me through some significant passages including buying a home, getting married, losing my brother, quantum leaps of personal transformation, selling a home, closing a practice, leaving Alaska, moving to Kauai, and reestablishing a new life here- which is still a process undergoing construction.

That’s an awful lot of change for a 10 lb dog, who looks like a walking stuffed animal, to witness, and yet he’s witnessed it all and just accepted and loved myself and our family wherever we are at.

Samwise is a fundamental part of my concept of home and has been since he entered our lives in 2014, when I decided I needed the golden love of an old dog in my life and believed our family would be better for it.

I found myself cycling back to 2014 this past weekend. Read More


They say the best way to learn something is to teach it.

I teach grief. I already knew the language fairly well, but I learned to speak it fluently when going through the loss of my brother, and in that fluidity I took my words, wrote a book, and have been an author and voice on grief since.

It’s not that I think I’ve learned grief’s lessons- I will forever be learning and relearning some of those lessons. But since Brent passed in 2016, the heart of my grief is further away than what it once was.

Those ripping reds and tumultuous blues in my alchemy have quieted to softer pinks and deeper grays with only occasional bursts of loud color.

The grief is still there, but it’s different.

Then last week I got the news that my sweet old dog, Sam, has cancer, and we’re looking at about 6 more months, maybe less, and I’ve got new reds and blues and eruptions of color exploding all over my heart palette.

There have been moments this week where I’ve felt like my heart is going to rip itself out of my chest, so heavy and hurting it feels. It’s suffering break and ache, and I’m trying to attend to it as best as I can.

Sam is still with us, but there is an anticipatory loss from the concrete knowledge that we’re going into all the lasts. Last summer. Last memories. Last moments.

I keep looking at him- he holds so much of my heart- and cannot imagine life without him, even as I know I’ll be okay, because I have enough love inside of me to get through this.

The profundity of my grief, as I write these words, is such that my eyes are so raw I’ve taken to wearing sunglasses in public, my throat is full of the unshed, and I’ve found myself doing tasks of grief that surprised even me. Read More