Tear Stains on the Bench



She told me this week she was done…finished with tears in her eyes. Her voice was loud, direct and forceful with a hint of fear. I heard the fear mostly. I usually ignore the tears but I heard the fear. I tried to question her about the fear but it only made her angrier…more upset. She turned my questions into hate and accused me of hating her. How could she ever imagine in her mind that I could ever have the capacity in my soul to hate her? My oldest daughter…my first born…the child that changed my entire life and existence. I felt disappointment…sadness but hate, never hate. 
I picked her up from the barn after her riding lesson. She cried the whole way home. She said, “Mom…I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to ride anymore. I haven’t wanted to ride for a long time. I have been doing it for you. I don’t want to upset you but it is not fun doing something when you are always afraid.” That was all I heard….AFRAID. It was screaming at me AFRAID…it could have been flashing on a huge neon sign in front of my face. Your daughter is afraid. Now this is where I need to digress a little because you may not know me well but I hate fear. I loath fear and never ever want to be controlled by fear. So as you can imagine that was the worst thing I wanted to hear. My ability to only hear that my daughter was going to stop a sport that she has been doing from the age of 2 because of fear, was not sitting well with me. I tried in my way to counsel her on the emotion of fear. If you have or have ever had a fifteen-year-old daughter you can imagine that this did not go so well.
When we arrived home we quietly sat in my bedroom. I decided to stay quiet and let her cry. The tears streaming down her face and hitting the suede bench she was laying on. At times she would turn her face from me so she could not see mine. She said, “Mommy it is so sad.” I said, “Yes it is,” with tears in my eyes… that upset her more. I tried to ask if it is so sad for you why are you doing it. Again that upset her.  We sat quietly for a good thirty minutes. I had a million thoughts and feelings going through my head. I reassured her I was not mad, or angry and no I did not hate her. I told her I have never forced her to ride it was always what she gravitated to. I reminded her when she was five she gave it up for a year but decided she missed it too much. I brought up the time she broke her arm from a fall…I told her you never have to ride again. She was the one that showed up in my bedroom one morning with all her riding clothes on stating, I am riding today!” She nodded acknowledging yes this was all true. But, this is the kicker…truth is relative to each individual. In my reality her truth was she wanted to ride…she loved it no matter what happened and she was working hard to continue. Her truth was she loved the barn, she loved our horses, she was afraid we would sell them so she was going to try to ride through fear. Now I knew she was afraid and I would question her over and over again are you OK are you afraid…her response always, No Mommy I love Caesar…I know he won’t do anything.


I believed her! I wanted to believe her. I was so proud of her. Caesar was my big beautiful horse that I just could not ride anymore. A few back injuries made it very difficult for me to ride him without having back pain. She rode Caesar well. She rode him brave and strong and never showed the fear that was paralyzing her on the inside. I had a great plan. I always have great plans. Carina would continue to ride him and in three years when she leaves for college my youngest daughter would ride him. It was perfect I could almost see it. I guess I forgot that sometimes my plans don’t always work out, especially when other people and animals are involved. It really wasn’t so much for me that she wanted to stop riding and focus on the sport of Lacrosse, which is truly her passion that upset me. It was that something I share with my daughters…all my daughters, was coming to an end. I am at the barn many days with my girls. Many times we ride together…in the ring, on a trail, along a beach. Even on vacations their dad would golf and we would try to find a place to ride. There is nothing like being on a horse and having your daughters with you. I really was fortunate that this dream of mine…the togetherness lasted this long. I was so lucky that they all liked the barn. I spent countless hours and years in barns with my girls teaching them about life and love through the care of our horses. This is what I was thinking as tears rolled down her face. They rolled down mine as well. She was finally growing; learning how to stand up for her desires and dreams. Isn’t this everything I worked so hard to teach her? Well, here we are. She left my room sure but sad. She left while I continued to sit there and not move. She left and all I could see was the tear stains on the bench where she sat. I didn’t care that the bench was tear stained. I secretly hoped they would be there forever. They would mark this momentous time between her and I. 
I intellectually knew all of this but that other part of me, the strong fighter part of me wanted to push through. I wanted to tell her that she would experience fear for the rest of her life. Fear will seep into her when she least expects it. If you don’t guard against it that fear can shatter love, dreams and goals. Fear seeps in the night.  Fear is frightening, controlling and explosive if it becomes out of control. I wrestled with telling a fifteen-year-old girl that someday she may be afraid of her loved ones. She may be afraid of a boyfriend or husband. She may be afraid of loss. She may be afraid and feel like her life will never be the same. I wanted to tell her that was the time you stand up strong, follow your gut and keep pushing through fear. But I didn’t…I only saw her tear stains on the bench. 

She went to bed later on that night accusing me of not loving her anymore. I hugged and kissed her and told her I loved her tons. She later confessed that she cried herself to sleep because she loves Caesar so much. The next day we were quiet with one another. She accused me of being mad at her. She said that I wasn’t speaking to her so I must be mad at her. The funny thing was I wasn’t speaking to her out of not wanting to cry and go on my lecture of fear. I was trying to make it easier for her. To be honest no matter what we did, what we said or didn’t say it wasn’t easy for either one of us. We talked later in the afternoon. I should say she talked and I listened. She talked a lot. She said at the end, “I feel better Mom from our talk do you feel better?” NO, I didn’t feel better but I knew we were at a crossroad. This was it and it was big. She was making a decision for herself, for her life and I was going to give her the reins. It was her time to ride into the sunset so to speak or not ride into it but maybe run. 
We went to the barn the following day. She groomed Caesar and showed my middle daughter how to tack him up. She helped her bring him to the ring and she handed the reins off to her. She walked out of the ring and watched. She watched her sister’s lesson more closely than I ever saw. She even walked to the other end of the fence where she could see her better. She watched her sister ride Caesar for her very first time. She watched her sister collect him, trot and canter. She watched her sister relaxed, smiling and laughing as she rode this big beautiful animal. She looked at me and said, “Mom, they look so good together. Look how calm he is with her.” I just looked at her with a nod and said, “I know.” If you could have x rayed my heart you would have seen it swell with pride for my other daughter with a slight chip in the corner of broken sadness. She said,  “I am not giving up horses Mom…I love the barn and being here with you I just don’t love to ride anymore.” All I could say as I looked at her was, “I know. “
I walked back into the ring and watched Caesar’s next rider with a huge smile on her face. She looked so pleased with herself and almost shocked by the joy she felt riding him. I smiled back knowing that joy only to well. He is an incredible horse that has pulled me through many difficult times in the past 11 years. He was doing it again.  Many times I walked through the barn with a shattered heart only for Caesar to help put it back together. Sometimes I think that horse knows the cracks around my heart more than I do. Sometimes I think he has held my fears and sadness on every ride we have been on only to send me on my way healed a little more. Even though I am no longer riding him as I used to he is still a part of what continues to put each small chip back to keep my heart whole and strong. I feel blessed once again that he will continue to be a huge part of my life with the next generation. At least for now until my other daughters decide to take the reins of their lives and decide on their own how they will go off into the sunset. One thing I am sure about though. No matter how they decide to go I will be heading into it on horseback.

Dying To Be Beautiful

ImageHave you ever wondered what it means to be beautiful? The definition of the word BEAUTIFUL as an adjective is 

1. Having beauty; possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.

Well, that really did not satisfy what I was looking for. I simply can read a great deal more into the word qualities. I think each one of us would have our own list of qualities that qualify as beautiful. Then there is the age piece. What I thought was beautiful at 20 is not maybe the same as I think now at 40. However I think it is a powerful question. Giving the society we live in today and attempting to raise 3 socially conscious girls that will sometime soon be women, what is beautiful? 


To sound like a complete flower child I would start off by saying nature is beautiful in a breathtaking, stop me in my tracks way. The sunrises and sunsets that I am afraid to tackle when I paint. A valley filled with wildflowers that seem to dance to the wind as it sings to each bud as it goes by. That is true beauty to me. Birds flying and soaring through the sky or a butterfly silently flapping its beautiful wings as it sits on a flower. If I told this to my girls they may stop and think for a millisecond, sure…. than back to fixing hair and makeup in the bathroom mirror. Not that I can judge them, I was that teenager not too long ago. I understand trying to achieve the ideal of being beautiful, what society and the media states is beautiful. But at what cost? How far will we go to be beautiful? I think pretty far. 


This is what I have learned recently. I goggled harmful chemicals in skin care products… 1,760,000 results. Are you kidding me? Anyone that can read and has access to the Internet can do his or her own mini research. We have all the information we need to know about what is harmful for us. It truly is all there. Yet we continue to feed our ego with products that are harmful to our bodies for the sake of looking better. The Beauty Industry is said to be about a $69,000,000 industry. That means a lot of people are making a great deal of money selling products that are harmful to our health. That is staggering, don’t you think?


I learned that there is no law what constitutes something labeled Natural…   “In the United States, however, neither the FDA nor the USDA has rules or regulations for products labeled “natural.” The term “natural” on skin care or food products is an unregulated term and does not mean a thing. Many of the synthetic items that are put into the products for skin care are actually carcinogenic and eventually build in your body until you get cancer and diseases in the later years…


I started reading labels on everything; my cleaning products, my food and yes my skincare products. I realized it wasn’t so much if I was buying natural for my family but buying organic. I switched all my cleaning products over four years ago to help with reducing my allergy symptoms while at the same time reducing chemicals that will be put back into the environment. I feel even if my allergies don’t subside it is better for the planet. I did the same thing with my food. I try to buy organic when it is available and affordable which does not always go together so sometimes I have to pick and choose very carefully my produce, meats and dairy products. I knew all this and was happily living in, what I felt was, a healthy home. Yet, I seemed to have forgotten something…. I loved those gel manicures, Brazilian blowouts and smelly body lotions as much as everyone else. I mean sometimes I can wait over a week to get a manicure appointment. The salons are BUSY! With all their hairspray, hair dye, Brazilian blow outs and manicures that guarantee the polish stays on for life, and I mean life unless some sort of sandpaper is used and I am still not sure that will take it off. Is it hard to imagine that I really did not think about how much my skin, my nails; my body absorbs the products that I put on and use. I knew very well about what I put in it and what I clean with because I don’t want to inhale something toxic but hey lets slather it all over on my body because it promises I will look younger, glowing, thinner and smell good all at the same time. There was a real disconnect happening here. You can bet if it was happening with me than it was certainly happening with my children. 


One of my daughters that shall remain nameless, out of fear that she will get me while I sleep, was having a small acne problem. Not all over her face but enough to cover her forehead with blemishes that looked like they were painful not only to look at but also to deal with when attempting to survive a suburban middle school as a teenage girl. As the great parent that I am, I purchased acne products that can be bought through a Dermatologist at a very exuberant high cost. After using these products for a while her face was clearing up…or it could have been that it was “ripping the skin right off my face,” as she eloquently put it. Hmmm I wondered what could be in it…. Well, I won’t bore you with a list of ingredients that could rip skin off her face or yours for that matter because quite honestly I think you can figure that out, lets just say I told her to stop using it. She responded with, “I already have.” 

This brings me to my journey of Pangea Organic products. No, this is not a big infomercial…it’s an I wish someone told me this a long time ago mercial. I found Pangea a few years ago and started buying their Body Oil. I was hooked from the moment that oil hit my bath water and I smelled the calming lavender after an event filled day with three almost teenage daughters at the time. I never knew a skincare product that was organic and good for you could honestly make my skin feel so smooth and really smell good at the same time. You know those organic products that smell of dirt and a little more dirt… Not Pangea. I immediately went back to the website and ordered body lotion, shower gel and more body oil. Could this really be true? Everything smelled wonderful, nothing greasy and my skin was only absorbing ingredients that if I really wanted to, which I did not, I could eat. So…I returned to that website that now was saved on my browser and added the hand soap to the other list of ingredients that I was continuously purchasing. These add on items every time I ordered continued on for a few more years. I was happily moisturizing and smelling good, it was my bliss. Then Pangea emailed me…. would I be interested…. Beauty Ecologists…. selling Pangea Organics to friends and family…. have a facebook page…. get your products discounted…. WHAT!? I can get my products discounted…I can get that yummy Body Oil at a discount? It was to good to be true. Lets just say I didn’t think twice about signing up to be an Independent Beauty Ecologist for Pangea Organics. With that I would just like to say that I have added the hand and eye cream to a long list of products that I HAVE to use.


So here is where my journey is not ending but only beginning. I have come full circle. I am not only treating my body well on the inside but now on the outside too. I am happily using organic and mostly vegan products to help me define what beautiful is without smelling like dirt…. I smell really good. I am not afraid that the cream that I put on my face in the morning and at night will somehow be the blame for not only how young I look but helped cause cancer going through my body. I love that I can sit down with friends at their house or mine and share my passion of using healthy skincare and helping them choose their favorite Pangea product.  I love knowing that I am teaching my daughters, who will inherit the earth after I am long gone with their children, to have a better understanding on how to love our bodies, our planet and one another by the conscious decisions we make everyday with the products we purchase and use. And Yes my lovely, beautiful, teenage daughter is now using her Pangea Organics skincare to keep those blemishes away without ripping her skin off. 


I would love if after you read this blog you said I am ordering Pangea Organics from now on. But really, if this just stops you and makes you think. Really think and then you stop and look into what you are using on yourself, your family, in your household than that would be good enough. Real, true change can only start with small steps forward…not backwards but forward. What will your forward steps be today? I know what mine will be. When I am done here I have a very important date with this great smelling body oil….Image





Grandmother’s Rocking Chair

ImageGrandmother’s Rocking Chair…


If I close my eyes gently I can still see her. Her smile lit inside of me a feeling of love and trust. She was the one constant, strong and honest person in my life. I knew if I felt scared, hopeless or in danger, I could go stay at my grandmother’s house. I am not sure if her house was similar to any other grandmothers in the 1970-1980’s but I have always felt it wasn’t. She was not the typical grandmother of those years. Sometimes it seemed as if God preserved her in a time warp for me so I could have some home grown old fashion goodness instilled in my spirit.


Growing up in those years felt like things moved fast, she didn’t. We had old fashioned, family, Sunday dinners. There were family games played outside and many hours helping her in the kitchen. If she needed something at the store…we walked. She didn’t have a driver’s license and didn’t want it. She wore knees highs or tights everyday because that is what a proper lady wore. She wasn’t a woman of leisure or means but she was a woman of integrity, decency and goodness. Her qualities extended to family, friends, neighbors and yes, strangers. Really, she never saw a human as a stranger. They were someone she just didn’t get a chance to meet yet. She smiled and talked to everyone and they all smiled and responded back matching her kindness.


There wasn’t any toys, money, or any of the little extras around her house. I don’t even think she had a Grandmother’s rocking chair to hold her grandchildren in. I didn’t see any of that or need it with her. I saw her life full of love, hard work and joy to have her family around. There were hardships behind her smiling eyes but they were lessons she taught me silently, without words. She taught me with the touch of her hand on my hand, warm caring eyes as she looked at me her eyes seem to say… it will all work out in the end, don’t worry. I did worry though. I worried a lot. I was the kid with anxiety, stomach aches and some aches I can’t quite categorize even now with my adult vocabulary. She knew though, she always did. She would just sit me down and feed me. No real words of wisdom, just language of love through her labor. She understood and knew pain and heartache more than anyone. She buried two sons and a grandson. In her later years she buried her husband too. I never saw her break but I am sure she must have wanted to at times. I witnessed her family torn apart and put back together through the years but again she did not stumble or waiver. She guided each one of us as she went. It was our choice to listen and follow though she never used force. There were a few times, however, when I was really young she threatened me with the wooden spoon but I digress…


As her Birthday approaches next week I find myself thinking of her more. Not a day goes by that my strong Italian grandmother does not somehow influence me. I keep her with me through her recipes in my kitchen and through my oldest daughter Carina Rose who proudly shares her name. I have planted her a tree in my yard and many times through the year I am under it silently speaking to her still. I will always be thankful to the simple, happy, good and kindhearted woman named Rosina for helping my parents shape me and mold me to the woman I am today. Her heart is my heart and her spirit is the fire that burns bright inside of me. If you see me and experience my light in this world just know that is a light that has burned over generations. I hope my own future granddaughters will continue to be the torchbearers of Rosina’s light.

It Only Takes One

I have always held a passion for educating girls. Maybe it comes from the fact that I was once a girl wanting to be educated. It could have been that amazing all girl school in the mountains of Berkshire Massachusetts where I fondly spent a lot of time. It could have been my strong willed, Italian mother who insisted I would be different. I would be an educated female in my family. All I know is that a fire has been burning inside of me for years that girls need a real education. Not something they just slide through but an education that awakens their soul and opens their eyes to possibilities that they never felt possible.
So it should be of no great surprise to anyone or myself that I attended a screening of a movie last night on just this topic. I made sure I brought my husband and daughters along. It is always a good idea to share knowledge with others if you want your passion to spread.
So there we were in a beautiful, new movie theatre in Downtown Hartford getting ready to watch Girl Rising. If you go on www.girlrising.com the website describes the film as groundbreaking with 9 extraordinary girls from 9 countries. The theme is educating girls to eradicate poverty. As you can imagine these nine girls live in extreme poverty. Conditions that even one would consider not possible living in 2013. Yes, they may be stories we have heard before. We have seen the pictures through the years. It is not really unheard of it is just unimaginable. As I sit in this theatre living through each girl’s heartfelt trauma, experience or plainly their everyday life, I can’t stop glancing at my three daughters, my daughters whom represent the ages of the girls in the movie.
I wonder to myself, how has it all come to this? How is it that parents are selling their children as slaves, wives, and prostitutes? How is it that elementary aged school children are forced to have sex and birth babies but they can’t read or write? How is it that as humans we have fallen off the course of what is right and true and betraying not just strangers but our own? Where has our humanity gone? Can we really be this lost as a race?
My children like so many others who, have a nice home for shelter and attend schools that express the importance of educating the individuality of a person. What do they really have to worry about in the morning? “Does my shirt match my pants? Is my outfit in dress code? Did she really say that about me? Do you think he really likes me?” Trust me I am not trivializing the problems of the young. I understand that it is relative and to even my own children what is happening to them is important to them at the time, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering…. I think of Sokha living in Cambodia an orphan child that was forced to live in a dump.  I think of Ruksana living on the streets of Kolkata. Yasmin living in Egypt, who was raped at the age of 12. Senna living in Peru and has the heart of a warrior but speaks and writes poetry. Azmera living in Ethiopia, and thanks to her brother has not been a child bride. Amina living in Afghanistan was married at the age of 12 and bore a child. Her dowry money was used to buy her brother a used car. Wadley in Haiti, who literally fought for her seat in the classroom after the earthquake. Only 8 years old but her desire to learn outweighed anything else she could do with her time.  There is Mariama a girl in Sierra Leone who has the bright future ahead of her in radio. Lastly, I think of Suma a beautiful girl living in Nepal. She was forced into bonded labor at the age of 6. Forced to work from dawn until the middle of the night. No food, no rights, no love and yet a heart full of hope and strength. She now rescues other girls from a fate that was once her own.
These girls that live in the worst possible conditions but have a light inside of them that glows of pure strength, beauty and resilience. A smile on their faces a persistence that they can and will beat the odds that were handed to them just because they were born a girl in their country.
Then there are the unspeakable crimes, the rapes, sexual assaults, trafficking, and these girls with no rights. No rights over their bodies, because they are girls. Some of their parents try to be strong for them but what can you do for your child when your own government doesn’t give you the power to protect your own. It all sounds so hopeless, maybe too big to even contemplate some sort of change. And yet there these girls are with hope all around them, the spirit of the fight strong and bold. You could almost sense the change around the corner. I think it only takes one, save one girl and she will pay it forward. One will multiply into hundreds, hundreds in their communities, in their families, and than in our entire world. It only takes one! Somewhere along the way I always knew that. Even when I was young, I would try to help a stray animal or give the only money I had to the guy in front of the grocery store who collected for others in need. It only takes one. I think my mother worried about me that I was too sensitive to the needs of others. She would often say, “You can’t save the world!” She was right in a sort of way that mothers try to teach their children a lesson. Know who you are giving your money away too before you do. Is your money going to whom you want it to and helping the right people? These are important lessons that as a child I did not think of, as I would give what ever I had to whoever asked. As a logically thinking adult I do truly understand that.
Yet, there is a nagging inside of me saying if we all had that innocence of a child would we be living in a better world? If we as adults took care of our kids to the best of our abilities, not because that is how generations did it before us, but because in our hearts we knew it was the right way to treat another human being, another soul. Just because we grew up a certain way does not mean that people should continue down the same path of history instead of progress. We know this about so many things but seem to lose it in raising our young. Our young girls are the hope, future and promise of tomorrow.
I ask that if you can see this movie, donate or learn more about the work that 10×10 is doing please take a look. I ask that in parenting your kids show them how they can be an ambassador for humanity and the betterment for all. I ask that you remember the importance of educating girls to be all that they can be, leaders, mothers, doctors, and lawyers. Film makers, writers, artists, and whatever they aspire too. The importance is education. When you educate a girl you change who they are and who they can become for them, their village, their country and for our world.

Home Again


Home AgainImage

I am home again after five amazing days in majestic Montana. Five amazing days with a family of friends that I just met. Who knew I would meet so many soul friends in such a short period of time. Maybe it was the magic of Montana, the fresh cold air or all the vegan food that we ate. I can’t say for sure what is attributing to this new connection of love but it’s there. So now what to do when you spend five days in a feeling of bliss. What to do about school runs, laundry, grocery shopping, answering the phone…. could that same recording phone call please stop calling my house. Walk the dogs, clean the dogs, and make those lists. Pay the bills, teach CCD class, did they pick a Pope yet? 

 I am not even sure how to eat. I never had a problem with that, though others might say, “She was always a picky eater.” Can I really ingest animal products ever again? Well, maybe a turkey meatball or chicken cutlet would be fine but I have no desire to have it right now… sorry Mom! 

My mind is buzzing with all this information but it’s floating in circles without processing anything. It’s a borderline headache, heartache and any other ache I could come up with. Sure that goes over well, sorry I am unable to function today because I have been staying in isolation with ten other strangers in Montana who, by the way, are my new family.  Even though you really are my family and I am home and I am happy to be home, I just can’t function. Maybe it was the plane rides, time change or just the really friendly guy that tried to talk to me the whole time on the plane when I just wanted to sleep. 

Really I am not asking for sympathy, empathy or anything else with athy attached to it. I have downed 6 cups of the Woman’s tea blend that I brought home, which is supposed to help with hormones. That could explain the light headiness,  but to no avail I am useless. Maybe I should head over to the Coffee Traders in Avon for some high octane. That is my favorite afternoon run when a pick me up is in order. 

To understand that spending five days, writing, talking, sharing…..no negative comments please!!! Maybe I will use that with the girls; time for dinner, homework, clean your rooms…….no negative comments please. This trip has awakened a fire that wants to spread, move, burn but its course is unsure. Especially with water sprouting everywhere threatening to burn it out. Yet it is just day one. I am sure in no time I will adjust and be running around like the crazy mother, wife, dog owner, horse lover, painter and now writer that I usually am. If you see me around town anytime soon and I look like I just left a cult it’s OK really. I will be back to myself in no time at all.

The Rescue Dog

IMG_0010The Rescue Dog

Posted on March 7, 2013

Tibet the Rescue Dog…

He sat in his cage at the pound not moving. He was dirty, filthy dirty. In his left eye was a large, swollen bubble of skin. I would later learn that is called a cherry eye. He looked very sad and quiet. Everyone else was looking at the cute little Shih Tzu named Bella. She was wearing an even cuter sweater and jumping up and down with the prospect of meeting a new family. But he just sat there, not moving almost not breathing, as if to say I know you won’t pick me. My heart felt complete sorrow for him. I didn’t know how old he was. I didn’t know his history. I didn’t even know if he liked kids when I asked for him to be taken out of his cage. I would learn that he had been there for three weeks and no one wanted him. I would learn that the volunteer at the facility was worried he would not become adopted and would be ruined by being in the pound for so long.  I would learn that he was sick with worms, and a double ear infection, which most likely caused him lots of pain. I would learn that he rescued our family when we rescued him.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I drove out to the pound out of complete need and desperation. We had just buried our beloved family dog Tucci less than 30 days before. December 9, 2010 to be exact.  The Christmas Holiday was a blur that year. I found it difficult to walk around being joyful when I only felt grief and loss. We went away for a week right after the Holiday. While flying home I knew I could not return to our home without a dog…dog less felt so raw and I wasn’t willing to do it any longer. I knew I needed the presence of a dog in our home.

You see I am the one that spends the time with our dog. The kids go to school and my husband goes to work but I stay with our dog. I feed the dog, walk the dog and play with the dog. I like to say I have a dog… our dog likes to… I hadn’t truly accepted that I was without a dog. With a car packed full of luggage and hearts filled with hope we set out to meet our new dog. We made one stop to meet some friends. They offered to make the trip to the pound with us. They brought their dog along hoping we could find a dog that liked to be with other dogs. Our friends knew the importance of the trip and how it would help us heal.

When we arrived at the pound the original dog I was hoping to see was no longer available to us. “Sorry but we can’t adopt him out to anyone with small children. He snapped at someone today.” Our hearts fell, our faces fell and so did our spirits. The nice woman must have noticed because immediately she said, “Please go look at these two dogs back there but that’s it, just these two.” So we went. The kids were all excited as if it was Christmas morning all over again but I wasn’t. I didn’t want to deal with one more disappointment.

As I looked into the eyes of our soon to be dog it was if his pain was mirroring my pain. I felt that the last month led me to this exact spot looking at this exact dog. I felt his need for us matched our need for him. He wanted love, food, water, a warm shelter to call home and a gentle hand to guide him. We wanted a dog to love, to play with, cuddle with, to give a better home to, and to be the gentle hand that would guide him. We both had needs that needed to be met. The question was could we meet them for each other?

When we brought him to his new home,we gave him a name, Tibet, we gave him a collar, a leash and his very own crate. I told him he could borrow Tucci’s bed. I told him he had some pretty big paws to fill. He immediately set out trying to capture my heart. He followed me around begging, pleading with his eyes for love, daring me to open my heart to him. Eventually he earned his own dog bowls, toys, and blankets and yes his very own bed. He slowly worked his magic over all of us. While we healed and opened our selves up to him, he healed by basking in our love. He has earned the “Top Dog” spot in our family. Someday some other dog may be told as they lay on his bed, “You have some very big paws to fill.”