figuring it out


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”–Anatole France

I’ve buried two beloved pets in my life. It’s one of the least pleasant parts of living in this world. I buried Callie, my first dog, 15 years ago. A piece of me was buried when I lay her into the ground. Sorry for being so morose.

When Elin and I let our vet inject our cat Lycklig with the drug that would soon stop her heart it brought back in nightmarish fashion the same experience I had with Callie,  my sweet chocolate Labrador with whom I enjoyed years of three-hour walks and long runs and snuggling on the couch in violation of house rules. In that life, when I would come home from work, Callie came to me wagging her entire 90 lb. body and whining with joy. Sometimes she got so excited she peed.

figuring it out


“To some degree we all find life difficult, perplexing, and oppressive. Even when it goes well, as it may for a time, we worry that it probably won’t keep on that way.” – Joko Beck

We have a cat named “Worry.” He is the apple of my eye. Most cats meow. Worry chirps. Sometimes he moves his mouth and there is a delay in the sounds he makes, almost as if he is a feline ventriloquist. As a kitten, he fell off a lumber pile onto his head. Ever since he has been prone to stop and just cry out. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the day or the middle of the night. It’s as if he is saying, “Hey, I’m here. Where is everybody?”

Elin and I chuckle alot about the irony of his name because most of the time he is one chill dude.

In humans, worry can be malignant. We are among the only beings who can envision the future and thus fear all the things that might happen. We fill our heads with worst-case scenarios, “what-ifs” that the science says are no more likely than positive outcomes. Yet our brains are hardwired to anticipate possibly harmful outcomes. It goes back to our days fighting sabre-toothed tigers.

health and wellness


“Be like water; water has form, yet is has no form. It is the softest element on earth, yet it penetrates the hardest rock.” Bruce Lee

Inside I was a desert. Arid. Dehydrated. Dangerously so.

You’ve heard the mom’s rule to drink at least eight cups a day, although that’s not based on any hard science. The Institute of Medicine, a scientific research organization, says women should drink at least 11.4 cups of water a day. For men, it’s higher: 15.6 cups per day. But, according to the CDC, 43 percent of Americans drink less than four cups per day. That includes about seven percent who drink none. I’ve heard that as many as 75 percent of Americans walk around dehydrated and don’t even know it.

Dehyration is bad news, especially if you are sick, as I had been for weeks. Wiped out by a nasty virus, I ran between teeth-chattering chills and sauna-like sweating. I was too weak or too lazy to sit up to drink. All I wanted was to curl up and sleep. Big mistake. When I couldn’t shake a high fever and difficulty breathing, my doctor sent me to a local hospital ER. There doctors ran a slew of tests, one of which indicated what they said were ridiculously high lactic acid levels, an indication of severe dehydration.

health and wellness

off kilter

In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with stealth and balance. — Patti Smith

The pile of discarded, used tissues lay beside my bed in a little mountain of white. My raspy breathing reminds me of the value of air for which I struggle. Each coughing jag is a dagger in my throat and chest. For more than two weeks, I have been “under the weather.” My immune system, the shield supposed to protect me from the viruses floating around, is full of holes. My work and my life have seemingly come to a halt.

figuring it out

standing at the bridge waiting to lead across

I am confident that, in the end, common sense and justice will prevail. I’m an optimist, brought up on the belief that if you wait to the end of the story, you get to see the good people live happily ever after.

–Cat Stevens

I have been trying to write this essay for weeks. It started out as a hopeful end of the year review. Then I was going to write about how 2016 felt like a sucker punch year, starting with such promise then dishing an unexpected uppercut: With the surprising–and troubling–election, the deaths of beloved musicians like David Bowie and Prince among other celebrities, and a seemingly chaotic world with shootings live on Facebook.

With so many sad and tragic things, how could anyone be hopeful for a better 2017?