Category Archives: Family

On Breast Cancer and Dying and Other Brutal Truths

Read this first

My beautiful friend Jill died from breast cancer eight years ago, leaving behind her husband, two small girls, and a devoted step daughter. Jill ate well, breastfed her babies (one was still breastfeeding when she was diagnosed), did all the “right things” and was diagnosed early. These things were not enough for her.

Based on the type of cancer she had, the doctors at diagnosis said her chance for survival to 5 years was around 5%. With those odds in mind, she made a mindful decision: Skip the surgery-chemo-radiation route, and instead spend her last good months on the beach in Hawaii with her beloved daughters and the husband she would leave behind.

She got a lot of flak for that, for not following the doctor’s prescription, for not “fighting.”

I’m saddened to think that women like Jill often feel alienated by the happy-happy-joy-joy celebrations, the talk of “ta-tas” and “early detection!” and “wear pink!” that runs rampant during October. The article I linked has a point: Is our focus on being upbeat and optimistic obscuring the hard reality that cancer is, seriously, really really bad news? Is it possible that we use the upbeat images of proud survivors to hide from the fact that some of us will die, 40,000 of us this year to be blunt, from this disease?

I can’t help but think about the implications for other parts of life too. We spend so much of our time trying to “prevent” accidents and “treat” illness that we forget that sometimes really sucky things happen, and there’s no freakin thing we can do about it. Life can be brutal.

When we ignore that truth, we may shield ourselves from its brutality temporarily. But at some point we’re going to be slapped in the face with it and then what? If we have not talked about the possibility, the very real reality, of death, of leaving family behind, of orphaning our children, of separation and loss and grief… then what will we do when we are faced with it?

While Jill was dying, before they moved to Hawaii, I sometimes sat with her daughter Laurel during Jill’s doctor appointments. I remember Laurel asking me to play make-believe with her, and repeatedly these games kept ending up with her mother dying. I kept trying to make them end well, to make her mother okay, but Laurel kept insisting on going back to that place. I was trying to do her a favor by reassuring her that things could end well, that they WOULD end well.

Looking back, I realize I was trying to shield her from reality, while she was trying in her child-wise way to do what she needed to do: Accept the brutal truth and figure out, through play, what happens next. What does it mean. What is it. To face it. To learn what to do when the worst thing we can imagine happens.

Perhaps the biggest reason I tried to protect Laurel from the truth is that I didn’t believe it myself. I did not believe Jill would die. I did not believe it until I got the call from Meredith that it had happened. Even then I had a secret theory that it was all a put-on, that one day I would run into her somewhere and she would laughingly explain that it was just a big joke, sorry to have bothered anyone. Crazy, I know, though I suppose a psychologist would describe it as a natural part of the grieving process: Denial.

The point is, I did her a disservice. By failing to face the reality, I did not provide her the support I could have otherwise. I was not fully and PRESENTly there for her.

I’m not saying that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a bad thing. Or that pink is a bad color. What I’m saying is that perhaps we will do well to avoid sugar-coating the issue, and instead to face it head on: Cancer blows. People die. Young mothers die. This is serious stuff. And we can’t fix it, we can’t stop it, at least not yet.

So what is there for the moms, the aunts, the grandmothers, the daughters, who are dying? What is there for their families? In all the time that we are spending buying pink bracelets and racing for the cure, are we also letting a friend cry on our shoulders, sending soup to the woman down the street who is going through radiation? Are we letting the children affected by this disease begin grieving and are we helping them to understand what will happen for them next?

Or are we too eager to reassure everyone that it will all be okay to stop and realize, that for some people, it will not. It just will not.

____________

Update: I posted this originally on Facebook, where I am connected again with the beautiful young lady little Laurel has become. And here is what she wrote in response.

“Jill Butterworth was my mother she was strong she was brave she fought cancer with love and peace she came to terms with the fact she must leave her daughters, Me and my little sister and our dad but she gave us something even though she left this earth she left behind her love, her strength and her dreams I will never forget her…..I cant she is me she lives through us the ones she meant something to……the ones she touched.”

And then:

“she was the strongest person I will ever meet”

This is Laurel. Beautiful Laurel who looks so much like her mother and in whose soul Jill lives on.

186723 100004215761537 1986537932 q On Breast Cancer and Dying and Other Brutal Truths

So here is the thing. Sometimes it is not okay. That is true. And also: When we have the courage of little 4-year-old Laurel to face that truth then, well then, in a way, it IS okay. It really is.

And THAT is why we must not hide behind pink and ribbons and the faces of survivors. Because only when we face the other side, death and loss and grief, can we reach this powerful deeper truth. The one that sometimes we need a 4-year-old to teach us.

Ferluh and the Water Gods (and also my son is a genius but I’m not bragging really)

ferluh 225x300 Ferluh and the Water Gods (and also my son is a genius but Im not bragging really)
Eli's First Book

This is the book Eli, age 8, and I are writing together. He tells me what to write, and I write it. After a long stretch of being too busy, we returned to it recently. We read the portion he had written earlier, and then had this conversation:

Eli: Mommy, we have to add another chapter, and it has to go at the beginning.

Me: Okay, we’ll do it however you like.

Eli: Good. It’s just that I’ve been listening to the stories we read that other people wrote [he’s referring to books like Ender’s Game and Harry Potter–we read good books together daily] and there’s something I noticed about them. They always talk about what life was like before the big thing happened, so you can see how things change. So we need to add a chapter that’s just an ordinary day in Ferluh’s life before we talk about what happened. Okay?

Me: Uh. Yeah. Okay.

Who does that? Who the heck does that? His little brain, constantly taking the world apart into pieces and seeing how they fit together, then using that information to improve his craft.

And he’s conscious enough of what he’s doing to talk about it, and conscientiously apply new principles as he understands them. Most ADULTS don’t do that. Is it the unschooling? An unusual turn of mind? He does this with art, too–remember that painting he bought at a yard sale and then examined, and then applied what he learned to his next artwork?

I’m really not bragging, I’m not. Okay. Maybe a little bit. Just a teensy, teeny weeny bit, because I’m really terribly crazy about this kid, all three kids, they’re so amazing. But I don’t believe, in my heart of hearts, that my kids are actually better than yours. Well, maybe a little bit. Just a teensy, teeny weeny bit, because, well, just because. (Doesn’t everyone believe their kid is better than everyone else’s? You’d better say “yes” because otherwise I’m calling social services on you. OF COURSE your kid is better than everyone else’s.) Forget that whole paragraph, really. Just forget I said anything. Your kid is awesome. Moving on.

Eli pays for this brilliant turn of mind with other things. Like the fact that he’s 8 and still barely reads and writes (he’s dyslexic, he’s making progress, it’s hard, thank goodness we’re able to provide an environment where he’s never shamed for it), and the fact that he has trouble stringing six words together to finish a sentence when there’s even the teensiest bit of pressure on. Like if someone casually says, “Quickly, I’ve got to take the water off the stove!”

Or “We’re leaving in ten minutes.”

Or “Eli, take it easy, we have all the time in the world.”

He doesn’t often finish sentences.

Also, he’s often so involved in his own world that people don’t even notice he’s there because, in a very real way, he’s just not. And so while people who know and understand him really appreciate him, to most people he’s practically invisible. And there’s the unremitting anxiety that twists his little tummy into knots and gives him headaches.

He also whines a lot. Loudly and at a very high pitch.

So, you see, my kid is not better than yours. He’s just different.

Back to the point. Eli is going to do something some day. I can’t wait to see what. What are your kids saying these days that is blowing you away?

Why I love Monday.

Monday 300x225 Why I love Monday.I love Monday. Strange, but true.

It wasn’t always this way. I remember a time when Friday would come around and I was all, “TGIF suckas!” And don’t get me wrong. I love weekends too–I love family time and letting work emails sit unanswered for a couple days and picking what to do and building things and lazing around with computer games.

But also I love the work week. I love working with my clients, telling their stories, building my training products, envisioning the future & direction of my company, taking chances, stretching myself, learning new things, focusing on my brand and reputation, solving problems, building systems…

I have learned more in a year as an entrepreneur than I did in four years of college (and I went to a great college!), and I am more who I want to be today than ever before… and expect to be more who I want to be tomorrow even than today.

Lots of folks would love to be where I am. So let’s talk about the top three reasons they’re not:

  1. Money.
  2. Money.
  3. Oh, and Money.

Money is tough. It’s scary. You put everything you have on the line at first. Some people figure out how to use other peoples’s money to do this, and that’s great for them. A few come into it with enough money to carry them for a while, but most of us start out using our own money, our own assets, our own credit lines. Even when business is good, cash flow can be tight because you have so many obligations. If you’re like me, you take care of your people and make sure they get paid first. Then you try to keep the lights on. Eating is your third priority.

I’ve talked to many a long-time successful business person and I’ve tried to figure out for years how they did this thing at first, this getting started. What I’ve figured out is that most of them (us), initially, just have to let go of the idea that financial security is the goal. I mean, YES, eventually. Eventually you hope to be making enough money that you don’t even have to worry about “security” any more.

But in the short term? Forget that 401k, the equity in your house, and college savings (except whatever has been given as gifts to your children–lock that away safely for them, because it’s not fair to use someone else’s money to fund your dream without their informed consent). Forget, for a while, knowing where next month’s mortgage check will come from or how you’ll buy groceries next week. Because, unless you’re already well-heeled, there is no starting a business without some really scary money stuff.

Sometimes you’ll want to quit because money is just that bad. Creditors will be calling and you won’t know what to say to them because you don’t have the cash to make the payment right now and you don’t know when you will, and probably it won’t be until after you get your son to the dentist for fillings and your dog to the vet for antibiotics and then tally up whether you still have enough for groceries that week. And you’ll be so fed up and tired and worn out and you’ll be ready to throw up your hands and say, “Uncle!”

I tried to quit  a few months ago. I got scared and decided to get a job, a nice comfy job with health benefits and a 401k and a steady paycheck. And an employer paying part of my social security tax (did you know that the self-employed pay more taxes than employees?). I dressed up my resume, created a personal website, spiffed up my LinkedIn account, consulted with my leadership coach to create a great message & strategy for launching my job search. I was ready.

But then God butted in: “Seriously? WTH, chicka?” I mean, God sounded really annoyed. “Seriously, what are you doing? What what WHAT are you doing?”

Okay, reality check. I don’t think God personally meddles in our daily affairs as a general rule. Or, actually, ever. But I do believe God speaks to us if we listen.

Take it how you will, this is what happened: It was the day before I made a public announcement of my intent to seek a job. I walked downstairs to the office mailbox, expecting it to be empty, but it wasn’t. In the mailbox was an envelope. It was from a former client who was no longer engaged with my company. Inside the envelope, to my surprise and consternation: A sizable check.

I called them up, laughing, and said, “You guys must really love me–what do you want me to do with this check you’ve sent me out of the blue?” They laughed too and said, “It’s a deposit to start our program again in August.” I bit my lip. This was unexpected and… complicated. Would I be in business in August? Should I cash the check (I really, really needed the money)? Send it back? I said the only thing I could think of: “Well, thank you.” I decided to sit on it a few days.

The next day, someone called me up and asked for a quote on a project. Another, smaller, check arrived in the mail that day too. Two days later I had three major new contracts, one of them with a client likely to send me regular business. Even all together these projects & contracts were not enough to catch us up on everything we were behind on. But it was enough to bring me to my senses.

I cashed that darn check, set aside my resume, and stopped answering calls from creditors who never have productive things to say to me anyway. I realized that the worst possible thing that could happen on my current course is that we could end up going bust. Best possible thing? I could create a lifestyle and a career that I love. And become financially wealthy at the same time. Either way, I will learn and grow and sometimes fall down, and then get back up and go.

Had I decided to quit & get a job, I might always be safe, comfortable, taken care of (until the company has to cut jobs, that is). Perhaps that would be nice.

I also would always be spending my energy, my creativity, the best hours and days of my life…

My one wild and precious life…

Creating someone else’s dream.

What a trade-off.

Since then, my client base has sky-rocketed. I work with the best people and companies my market has to offer. I’m building processes & programs that will allow me to scale my business up and grow it in new and exciting ways. I chose this. I love it. I am still paying the price. Have we caught up financially? Ha! Check back in a few years. Is it terrifying? Every single day. Would I trade it for a job where TGIF is the best thing I have to say on a Friday afternoon?

Hell no.

Why? Because there’s not much I would trade for this one simple fact: I love Monday.

Me Being Awesome and Other Stuff

It’s really hard to get going again. You know the feeling? The longer you go without posting to your blog (writing in your journal, calling your mom, apologizing for a mistake), the harder it gets to pick it back up again. Yes, that. In this case, it’s mostly because there is so MUCH to report. Let me break it down.

On the Internets:

Me pretending I’m a Minoan snake goddess on the Curiosity Cat blog

I wrote about increasing lead capture for BellaTEX on my marketing blog

Uncle Pierce runs a brisk business in captured flies that later supports purchasing the meds he needs to treat his dysentery on POW Diaries

I wrote about trends in business education for GCB magazine (you’ll have to actually open the magazine view and flip through to find it, unfortunately.)

I also wrote a bunch of other stuff for clients. Some of it will show up in my marketing blog over time.

In Business:

I’m putting the finishing touches on a presentation I intend to deliver at rotary clubs and other civic organizations around town. It’s part of my personal marketing push, developing my network and so forth. I’m excited and nervous and also… beginning to wonder if it might be overkill. I’ve got so much already in my business pipeline that I may be near capacity two months from now. Not a bad problem to have.

Gunner:

Gunner Graduation 300x225 Me Being Awesome and Other Stuff
Gunner the Graduate

Gunner graduated from Beginner Obedience class at Petsmart. He did awesome. He knows “sit” “stay” “down” “off” “sit-and-say-please” “touch” (a basic recall command), and “Okay, I’m leaving now” (which he learned all by himself. This command apparently means “dance excitedly to the door, push your way out the door, run to the car, and attempt desperately to influence the course of events to end in “and Gunner’s coming with me.” Can I emphasize enough that he learned this ALL. BY. HIMSELF. I’m certain he’s a doggy genius.)

What he has not yet learned:

 

  • Cats are not toys
  • Neither are ducks
  • Or goats
  • Or small children
  • Or chickens
  • Or squirrels
  • Or Mommy’s favorite pair of heels that she wears to work almost every day and is heartbroken to have to throw away but can’t wear with one heel missing and the toe chewed out

What he has also not yet learned:

  • Running in the woods is really really fun but more fun if you don’t run off and get lost and make someone late for work and come home really really muddy so they never want to take you for off leash runs ever again
  • Other dogs are great playmates but it’s okay not to stop and say hi to every single one you pass in the road
  • Mandarin Chinese

In Other News:

We took up the “can you live on food stamps” challenge and won hands-down. We totally made up the challenge and still won. Actually, *I* made up the challenge and its rules and THEN won it. Sort of. I mean, I did win. But I didn’t *totally* make up the rules. I read about it somewhere, or maybe Carey did. The idea is, folks living on food stamps get the equivalent of $30 (a bit more) a week per person in the family, and the author of whatever it was I read (or Carey did) wondered whether that was a reasonable amount and asked the readers whether they thought they could live on that.

I said yes, and took it upon myself to prove it. It wasn’t that hard, really. I used to do it, years ago when we were poor. In fact, I fed three of us on $35 a week, ten years ago. That’s $35 total, not $35 each. Now, with five in our family, our allowance would be $150 on food stamps.

I’ve been feeding us on $100 a week for two weeks now. And by “I’ve been feeding” I mean I’ve been purchasing super cheap ingredients and Carey’s been cooking.

Okay, so we already had some stuff in our cupboards. And it isn’t exactly fancy fare we’ve had. It’s been chicken and dumplings (with homemade dumplings–flour is cheap), rice and beans, turkey hash, and hot dogs. I wouldn’t want to do it indefinitely. It’s not easy to bypass all the yummy stuff, and it’s hard to squelch that desire for more.

On the other hand, there is something delightful about getting to the cash register with your carefully selected items, and discovering that you have $5 left after paying. What will it be? A gallon of ice cream? A watermelon? A bag of peaches? A treat becomes a treat, a true treat. The actual enjoyment of that watermelon or peach… it’s higher when the fruit is purchased so dearly.

In Yet More News:

Our Internet is very, very spotty at home today and yesterday. Don’t worry, we’re holding up fine. We’ll be okay eventually. It’s just hard right now, you know? The worst of it is that I can’t play my favorite (guilty pleasure) online MPG because I keep getting bumped off the server. So sad. But I’ll survive.

Also, it’s amazing how productive I’ve been today and yesterday. I refuse to believe there is any correlation between the previous paragraph and this one.

Finally, don’t forget to subscribe. Very important. I don’t really know any good reason why you should subscribe but as a marketer I know it’s important to include a call to action so there you go.

(P.S. Above this line is an excellent example of a poorly executed call to action, demonstrating the classic mistake of failing to provide an incentive.)

Subscribe and I’ll mail you  a beautiful unicorn pony, a real one, with feathers.

(P.P.S. Above this line is an excellent example of setting unrealistic expectations, also known as outright lying, and I don’t recommend it.)

Subscribe because I’m funny.

(P.P.P.S. Almost but not quite.)

Subscribe and I’ll send you updates every time I post something fun here.

(P.P.P.P.S. Okay, but no sense of urgency.)

Subscribe tonight and I’ll send you a copy of my never-before-published short story called “Sleeping Panther.”

(P.P.P.P.P.S. And also updates every time I post a new goofy update like this one.)

And also I’ll do a happy dance.

Wait. Subscribe before tomorrow night and I’ll do a happy dance AND VIDEO RECORD IT.

(Notice I did not say whether I would post the video.)

If five people subscribe before tomorrow night I’ll video record it… and post the video here.

(There. That’s not bad. Bring it on.)

Update to June 9, 2012

Please, we need your help. 16 years of marriage hangs on your intercession.* Carey seems to think my last post was highly offensive, and not just because I talked about cadavers. Actually, he didn’t even mention cadavers. Are you even paying attention, Carey Stephen Head?**

This is the part he took exception to:

“Carey, however, was trying to look inconspicuous and pretending not to know us. I’m not sure why. ”

He says he was NOT in fact pretending not to know us. For which he puts forth the following evidence:

1. It was his idea to go to Rivergate for the live music in the first place (true).

2. He bought the book Monty was reading (true).

3. He bought the safety pins that were holding up Everett’s pants so he could dance (true).

4. He took most of the pictures and video of us dancing (true).

5. He kept his eye on Everett, who was meandering from group to group and eventually settled on playing ball with another family (probably true. Evidence: Everett did not go home with anyone else last night. I am not sure this is a point in Carey’s favor).

6. He was enjoying himself and being a part of our family, even though he doesn’t like dancing and especially in a public place but that doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy watching us dance (could be true but he can’t prove it).

Probably it wasn’t at all fair of me to make him sound like a spoilsport or not participating in the fun just because he doesn’t like to dance. On the other hand:

1. I said he was “looking inconspicuous and pretending not to know us” BEFORE he made any of the above arguments. And I said it IN WRITING.

2. I was very tired last night AND I DANCED ANYWAY.

3. I am highly skilled in the use of capital letters. Capital letters make everything truer. TRUE STORY.***

4. Carey did not show up in ANY of the photos or videos. Highly suspicious.

5. Carey threatened me in the very comments of my own blog with a digitalized equivalent of a giant metal chicken.

6. I have more Facebook friends than he does. I think. I haven’t actually checked. Will someone go look please and let me know? Thanks.

7. He didn’t even notice that I talked about cadavers in the same entry. Clearly, he doesn’t even read my stuff except when he can complain about it.

So. Can you help us? I need you to convince Carey that he’s wrong and I’m right, so we can move forward here. Thanks.

P.S. There is a P.S. to this but I think it belongs below the other footnotes, so I’m going to put it there.****

*Not really but it sounds more dramatic this way, plus allows me to link to earlier material, which increases readership. It’s a fundamental rule of media: Readership over truth. Deal with it.

**Exhibit A: He wasn’t paying attention.

***Not really but a lot of people think so and who am I to argue?

****This is the P.S.: P.S. Carey is actually absolutely correct and was a great deal of fun last night. I only said the thing about him trying to look inconspicuous because it seemed like an amusing thing to say at the time and my sense of humor, however un-funny it may be to anyone else, often trumps my common sense and sense of fairness. Also, Carey and I aren’t actually arguing at all.*****

*****Actually, we are arguing, but only because we think it’s funny. It’s how we say “I love you.”******

******My next entry won’t have so many asterisks. I recognize that it’s gotten a little out of hand. I apologize.*******

*******Please don’t tell Carey he was right. I would prefer to win this argument. Thank you.

Heather Today, June 9 2012 (Updated at the Bottom)

Here is what we did tonight:

Here is what Everett thinks is the epitome of performance art:

Hint: He’s shaking his booty.

Monty & Carey were there too. Monty was reading a book he heard about on NPR. Reading. A novel. That he heard about: On NPR. <3 TOTALLY acceptable excuse to not be dancing. Carey, however, was trying to look inconspicuous and pretending not to know us. I’m not sure why. So all the pictures are of Eli and Everett and me:

Dancing at Rivergate 225x300 Heather Today, June 9 2012 (Updated at the Bottom)
Dancing at Rivergate

What you don’t see here are the various little kids that occasionally joined our dance-a-thon and laughed and talked and showed us new moves, and then later shunned us because their parents told them about “stranger danger” and then they were too scared to look us in the eye. I have lots to say about that, but I’ll just give it a single sentence for now: Use a little common sense, people. Also: Stop scaring the crap out of your kids. Finally: They’ll be safer if they learn to distinguish between “safe” and “unsafe” interactions rather than a blanket “all strangers are dangerous.” Finally: Sigh.

And: Everett spent part of his time playing ball with a family nearby that also had children and a dog, and who were within full view of us at all times, and he is not afraid of strangers and I like it that way. This is the last I’m going to say on the topic (for real): I read this in a parenting magazine today and liked it: “We can’t keep them safe all the time, but we sure can drive them crazy trying.” That.

In other news, Carey and I have now been married for 16 years.

Wedding Party 300x225 Heather Today, June 9 2012 (Updated at the Bottom)
Happy couple--with Rebecca Catalanello, Keli Enzweiler, Julie Head, and Mary Whittemore

We made it this far. And shhhhhhh… I think there’s a good chance we’ll make it the next sixteen, but don’t tell Carey. It’s a surprise.

Also I am so tired I can’t even process much of what is being said to me, so I’m a little worried about what I might have said here tonight. So I’m just going to hit “publish” and then go to bed. Because going to bed first and then hitting “publish” after I’ve had a chance to check my work in the morning when I’m slightly coherent would be quite sensible and also very boring. I like to live on the edge. Wild thing.

Also, I’m planning to let Gunner tell his story soon.* Maybe.**

*The one he’s planning to dictate to me.***

**Probably.****

***For pretend.*****

****As soon as I’m less tired.******

*****The mythical fact that he’s dictating is for pretend but the story is for real.*******

******Or at least more coherent.********

*******To the best of my knowledge.

********Does anybody know if that’s ever the case?*********

*********And can someone please count the asterisks and see if I got all the footnotes in order?**********

**********Thank you.***********

***********I’m pretty sure I should go to bed now.************

************Note: Never use footnotes when you’re tired. Trust me on this.*************

*************Colons are dodgy too. When you’re tired, I mean: Not colons like the body part. You need those ALL the time, even when you’re tired: I mean the grammatical (punctuation?) colons. The ones that look like this: : Those: They’re dodgy. When: You’re tired. Also: Body part colons you really only need one of ever. **************

**************Unless you get cancer or something, in which case you might need a second one, probably from an organ donor aka cadaver. This is all really highly inappropriate to be joking about. Cancer: Really serious stuff. Also organ donation. And it’s disrespectful to talk about an organ donor as being a cadaver. Just for future reference.

***************I should have hit “publish” when I said I was going to.

(UPDATED: When you get done reading this one, there’s an important update here: http://heatherhead.com/updated-june-9-2012/)

Heather Today, June 5 2012

Gunner Update:

Best. Dog. Ever. He spent a fair portion of the day lying across Monty’s lap watching television. Then he came to Petsmart with me, where he promptly impressed everybody by getting so excited he couldn’t control himself so that I had to leave and come back later. The poor pup has probably never been in a Petsmart in his life, nor seen so many other dogs at once.

But then when I did come back, with Monty to help, Gunner amazed everyone by behaving as though he’d been coming to Petsmart all his life and, oh hi, look, there are other dogs here isn’t that interesting? He got carried away a bit a couple more times, but altogether did extremely well.

We also figured out how much fun it is to walk around the lake together off-leash (the lake is fenced, and rarely frequented by anyone else). I’m training him to recall on command, and he’s doing very well with sit and stay and come as well.

He and the cat are still not happy with each other. Inara is living in our bedroom now, and really hates being taken out to see the dog. He gets excited and scares her and … it’s just not a happy relationship right now. Hopefully it will get better.

Me Update:

Guess what? I looked really great today. I know that comes as a surprise. But everyone said so. My secret? My friend Mary Beth. She’s a custom clothier with this really cool service for professional women. Among other things, she came to my house and went through my wardrobe with me. She’s having most of my clothes tailored to fit better. She helped me clear out some things that just weren’t working for me, cataloged what I have, showed me new ways of combining and dressing up my things, and altogether made a whole new wardrobe out of what I already have–one that actually reflects who I am and the professional message I want to send. Amazing. Then she told me what to wear this week and said that I would immediately start getting compliments on my appearance. And boy did I ever. From the moment I walked into the office this morning to the end of the day with a visitor in our house, I got comment after comment. And it was all clothes I already have! Amazing. Check her out.

Elsewhere around the Web:

The Faerie Palace on Curiosity Cat Within a ten minute walk of our house, we have access to woodland streams, giant boulders, a frog pond, and many other wonders. Our favorite is the Faerie Palace. Come see it.

Lev Grossman announced the winner of the Great Magician Song Cover Version Contest. It wasn’t us. We didn’t even get an honorable mention, but that’s okay because there were so many great entries. I haven’t told the kids yet–I kinda forgot this evening. They’ll be disappointed. Then they’ll remember that we had a blast doing it and they’ll be glad we did.

Big Doggie Noses

Gunner is settling in nicely. Biggest problem so far is that he won’t leave me alone long enough to take his picture.

Nosy Gunner 300x225 Big Doggie Noses
Nosy Gunner

Well, that and the fact that he has been abandoned just a few times too many… and so when Carey left this morning he decided to go with him… by following his car… on foot… at full speed… clear to the highway where he ran into traffic. I could hear the honking, even though I was so far behind I couldn’t see him. Please don’t yell at me about this. It was a temporary oversight. I had to call Carey to come back. As soon as Gunner saw his car return, he calmed down and came running up to us.

Poor guy. He doesn’t know yet that he won’t be abandoned again. He also cries when I leave the room.

I haven’t told his whole story online because I don’t want it getting back to the wrong people. But he’s had it tough. And yet he’s the sweetest, calmest guy ever. And he adores the kids. The only way I can get a decent picture is to get them to distract him.

Everett Gunner1 300x225 Big Doggie Noses
Hi! I'm Everett! I'm Gunner! I just met you and I LOVE YOU!

Everett and Gunner are exactly alike. Neither has ever met anyone who wasn’t their best friend. They already love each other immeasurably.

Gunner is also the smartest dog I’ve ever worked with. His foster mom trained him in basic commands–sit, come, down, off. Since he’s been here, we’ve added “heel” and “stay” and “shake” and he already gets what we want from him and is happy to comply. Such a great guy.

He also follows me around the house all day.

The only one not happy about the new arrangement is the cat. I hope she’ll get over it.