Homage to an Old Friend

Alright ya’ll, it’s story time. Anyone who has spent any time with me has learned that I’m a dog person, through and through. I’m a dog groomer of 5 years now, and 95% of my virtual conversations with people include dog memes or talking about dogs in one way or another, just to give you an idea. Currently, I’m in the process of starting my own mobile dog grooming business. Whoop whoop, here’s to 2018!

I share a connection with animals, but especially dogs, that grounds me. I have a very dear friend who connects deeply to music through the lyrics. She’s moved by the emotion behind every word and it gives her the freedom to feel her emotions fully. Another special person in my life connects deeply to metal. He listens loud and low, flooding not only his ears, but his senses with vibrational energy. This energy, however you experience it, is the vibration of the universe. It is the greater “thing” that people try desperately to put into words.

If I try to put into words the personal connection I have with the universe, it may diminish or dampen the magic. Because the beauty of finding what grounds you, the special connections you have that bring you peace, is simply unexplainable.

Religion, government, war, cults, secrecy, deceit- these are all products of attempts to explain this vibration to other people by trying to possess and control it. Sheep are cool and all, just watch out for the wolves. That’s all I’m saying.

Getting back on track now.. dogs. They ground me. They remind me of the nature within us all. They remind me that language isn’t important. They remind me that nothing is important, nothing at all!

Being present. That’s all there is…


When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with dogs. I remember watching them from the time I was just a toddler. I would pet my first dog Sassy through the gap in our metal fence from the driveway in the morning and again in the afternoon. She was happy- the kind of happy that most adults chase after their whole lives.

Sassy was an outside dog. I was born in Mobile, Alabama and lived there until I moved to California with my mom when I was nine. Most dogs in Mobile were outside dogs at the time. It’s pretty common there, even now, to build your dog a run or a house and keep them outside. It’s neither bad nor good, it’s just different from how things are in California.

My grandmother had an unspayed dog and sometimes she would have litters. Before the puppies found new homes, I would be fascinated by watching them interact in the backyard. I remember a time when I was only a few years old standing on a retaining wall, hands and face up against the back fence watching the dogs. I was glued and before I knew it, the tights under my dress were full of fire ants because I was standing on a big anthill. (If you haven’t experienced fire ants in the deep South, consider yourself lucky!)

Eventually a little black scruffy terrier named Sydney was added to our little family. When my parents divorced, Sassy stayed at the house with my dad and Sydney came to live in the apartment with my mom and I. Unfortunately, Sydney fell sick and wasn’t around for very long. By the time we moved to California, we had adopted my first cat, a tortie whom I named Precious.


Over the years, we adopted other dogs. My mom remarried a man who always wanted a dog, but never followed through with taking care of it. So we ended up with untrained dogs who didn’t have their needs met- they didn’t receive enough training, one-on-one time, walks, socialization and other important bonding activities that keep a domesticated dog from losing it’s mind.

To my mom, who grew up in Alabama where dogs were always kept outside and some were big, scary, fence-barkers, every dog we adopted was a risk. We had an American Staffie who who would never hurt a fly that tested my mom once and scared her. We had a senior Rottweiler with dominance issues who was unpredictable. We had a maltese that barked too much, a terrier that was snippy, and a couple puppies that pooped too much in the kitchen. It seemed like each dog left as quickly as it came.

Until one dog.
Austin2010

Austin came to me in 2008, when I was 17 years old. I was doing my volunteer hours to graduate from high school with a rescue that adopted out dogs on the weekends in front of local pet stores. Austin was about 4 years old at the time. He was separated from the other dogs, sick with kennel cough and overall pretty grouchy. Despite his unfriendliness, I felt something inside telling me he could use my attention. For two weekends I sat inside a metal doggie fence on the concrete outside of Petsmart with Austin in my lap. When he was sitting in my lap, we were both still. Our heartbeats seemed to match and the same energy flowed through both of us. Remember how I said before that it might ruin it if I try to put it into words? Well, that’s Austin.

I asked my mom if we could just foster him since the rescue had their hands full and he was already a few years old and I would take care of him… yadda yadda yadda. She agreed and he never went back. From then on, I gained a friend whom I would never forget.

Two years ago, Austin’s physical form left me. For seven years he was by my side. He moved all around Los Angeles with me. We lived with roommates, hung out with art school students, had lots of parties, moved to Beverly Hills and went on countless adventures.

In January of 2016 I was on a plane headed to Hawaii for the first time. I was going to visit my uncle whom I’d neither seen nor talked to in 15 years and to surprise his mom, my Mimi, who visits him every winter. I got off the airplane, greeted my family, and loaded up in the car to head to my uncle’s house. As soon as I was situated in my room, I got a call. “Are you sitting down?” were the first words I heard.

Austin had lived the last three years of his life with congestive heart disease. He was on blood pressure medications, diuretics, and vasodilators. He was a tough little dog, but he was dealt a bad hand. Gingivitis spread through his body and infected his heart. For years he had a murmur and I never even knew. His heart grew weaker, and on that fateful day in January, he suffered a painful bodily death.

For months I had nightmares. I felt so guilty that I wasn’t there for him when he passed. Some days I wish I had been there to hold him while he screamed. Other days, I’m thankful I didn’t watch him pee and poop himself, frozen in pain.

Even though I’d had dogs in my family for most of my life, Austin was the first one I lost. He was the only dog I’d had in my life for that long. He was my ground.

I learned a lot about myself that year. Mania took possession of me and I threw myself into any creative outlet I could find. I painted and quilted and gardened. I got my first sewing machine. I wrote, I cooked, I volunteered. I did anything and everything I could that year to keep the nightmares at bay. I eventually quit my job and vowed never to return to dog grooming. Every single dog reminded me of him and the flood of emotion numbed me. I was overwhelmed, so I shut down.

But like I said, I learned a lot about myself. I grew stronger and eventually my heart healed. As I go into the new year and get ready to visit my uncle and Mimi for the third year in a row, I remember Austin. I didn’t understand before what people meant when they said that your loved ones never really leave you, but now I do. He is with me always. He is a part of me, literally. We share the same energy and a connection with the universe that is unbreakable.
dogtattoo

Last April, a very talented and close friend of mine designed this tattoo for me in remembrance of Austin and to symbolize my love for, and connection with, dogs. I love and miss my Aussie boy every day, but I carry his heart with me. I remember the way I felt when he was near, the calm he brought to my nerves, the way he understood me and listened when I needed a friend through tough times. I’ve learned how to ground myself through his memory, and grow into a kinder, gentler human through his love. ❤

Always with love
xoxo
Dee

How It All Began

At the beginning of 2017 I set some goals for myself. Pushing toward these goals has really shaped the way my year has gone. I’m finding that it’s really important to always have something to strive for. Even the smallest things can make a huge impact and keep me focused on positive change instead of negative behaviors.

In previous goal-less years, I fell into the same old patterns:

-I worked at jobs that sapped my energy and drained my passion
-I made friends with people who were not good influences on me
-I was less active, eating worse, and having health issues
-I was smoking cigarettes, drinking excessively and having thoughts of suicide
-I was reckless and promiscuous

Basically, my point is that while all ya’ll been bitching about 2017, I’ve been growing exponentially. Setting goals was only the first step in a year-long journey of self-love and acceptance.

On October 27, 2016 I went for a 1 mile run. It took me over twelve minutes and I was so incredibly sore afterwards. Of those twelve minutes, I ran four and walked eight. Despite this performance that would normally discourage me, I got up the next morning and ran again.

Here’s the key to how I did it: I didn’t get up to run so that I would get fit or lose weight. I didn’t get up to run with a hidden agenda or any real reason. I went for 1 run, 1 morning in the dark of October and during that four minutes of increased heart rate, I was present. Instead of focusing on the pain in my lungs, I focused on the euphoric rush of blood to my brain. I focused on the clarity of my mind and the rush of my senses. I breathed deeply into the icy cold chill in my chest instead of letting it consume and discourage me.

Don’t get me wrong- it wasn’t all beautiful. My muscles ached, I choked for air when I slowed to a walk. My lungs, heart, and muscles were completely out of sync. My lungs were weak so I wasn’t delivering enough oxygen to my bloodstream which caused my brain to briefly starve of air. Desperate for oxygen, my circulatory systems powered down a little to give my brain more power. My muscles were unnecessary at that point. My legs grew so cold it was painful to touch them and I just couldn’t run anymore. I literally COULDN’T.

But I was so curious. During that four minutes of blissful synchronization, I felt as if I could run forever.

A little backstory may help: I was fresh (I mean, DAYS) out of an abusive relationship with a toxic alcoholic. This first run must have been aligned to happen exactly when it did, because those four minutes I felt like I was truly running away. Everything behind me and a blank slate before me, going on a run that cold morning in October was the best thing that happened to me all year. It started a journey towards my Personal Legend (Any fans of The Alchemist out there?) that has led me all the way up to today and the creation of this blog. Crazy.

Over a year later, I’m sitting here analyzing what that run really means to me. It was the moment of greatest transformation for me. When I decided to get up and go for another run, I was really starting to get better from all those “illnesses” I’d been “medicated” for in my late teens and early twenties. I just didn’t know it yet.

I know that seems like a big jump to say that going for a lousy 1 mile run around a well-paved, well-lit upper middle class suburban neighborhood at a leisurely pace of 12 minutes and 13 seconds had has any dramatic effect in my life.

But if you need proof that the universe provides signs, that intuition is real and powerful, and there is a greater force in everything, take a look at where I went running…

California Wildfires
This is after it burned down this year, of course
Image-1
Here’s the map of my run from my iPhone

 

coffeybefore3
Here’s what it looked like before the fire

I did a lot this year. I set lots of goals. Let me stress how important it is that: I DIDN’T ACCOMPLISH THEM ALL. And that’s okay, because if I shoot for the moon, I’ll land among the stars. First I had to break down my own self-limited beliefs.

In the beginning of the year, I started carrying around a notebook.

Every time I think of something I want to do, an idea I have, a positive affirmation or just a place to brainstorm I turn to this journal. I’m uploading some of my favorite pages for you in hopes that it may help you learn to love your progress as it taught me.


 

2017 has been like no other year and I am just so emotional about the amount of growth I’ve done, but I’m not done yet. I have some plans for 2018. As it grows nearer, I’ll fill you all in.

I’d like to take some time to recognize those of you who have reached out to me during my journey. I’ve received numerous messages on many different platforms, but especially on Instagram. Some of you I’ve met, others I haven’t. Some of you I see every week, while others I haven’t seen in years. Thank you all for your support, your kind words, your encouragement. I am so touched by your bravery to step forward and support another human in a world where we are taught to compete. Your messages inspire me to continue my journey and share what I learn.

“Your perception of me is a reflection of you”

So for all of you out there sending kind words and love my way, you are sending kind words and love to yourself as well. I am but a mirror. The good you see in me is the good you will learn to see in yourself.

Always with love
xoxo Dee