“I am thankful for laughter except when milk comes out my nose.” ~ Woody Allen

So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for in my life. It’s also the season of buying gifts and I’ve been working my little fingers to the bone making stuff as well! However, my son has told me he doesn’t want another quilt from me even though he loves the ones I’ve made him over the years: it’s a storage issue and I understand!

Anyhoot, I was putting the idea of thankfulness and gifts together in my mind (🙄) and realized that the people and things I’m thankful for have given me lifelong gifts I cherish.

Ma has given me so much over the years that it’s hard to sort them all out. I think the biggest gift she’s given me is that of support. I actually call her my bra because no matter what, it’s there holding things up. Yes, sometimes there’s chafing, but that’s to be expected. If I said “Ma, I want to fly to the moon and plant a quilt I’ve made on a pole by the American flag” she would say “That’s a great idea…how can I help?” I’m not kidding…her support is unconditional and always there. I have taken that gift and tried to pay it forward with my son. When he wanted to quit his job at Verizon and start a photography business, he needed to live with me to save on bills in order to buy equipment he needed. I was happy to do this for him…even though there was some ‘chafing’ there too! He had lived on his own for a few years prior to this and for both of us to live together again was sometimes a challenge. (The best part was when he’d make me supper…he’s a great cook! The worst part was me seeing my basement full of dirty clothes…he’s not OCD’ish like I am 😐).

I also supported him in his move to Texas…just like ma supported me when O’s dad and I moved to Kansas for his job (O was born in Kansas). Ma visited a lot even though it was 8 hours away and we yacked everyday on the phone. Back then our phones were ‘on the wall’ so I’d sit with O sleeping in my arms while talking to her on her work line so I wouldn’t have a humungous long distance bill. Thank goodness for that…I don’t think B would have appreciated that.

My first visit to Texas!

I went to Texas as much as I could…at least every 12 weeks or so and I know O appreciated it (since I cleaned up the apartment and bought food) and I always loved seeing his face looking for me as I exited the airport! One day he came home and said that another guy was in the store that had moved and he hadn’t seen his parents for a couple of years. He told me how much he appreciated my effort in seeing him so much and that just made my heart sing.

And what has O taught me? Love. It’s that simple. Yes, I loved people very much before having him but the love of your child is just a another thing entirely. The minute he was put in my arms I thought: “I would kill for you, kid…I already adore you that much” and it grows everyday. Literally. It’s hard to explain how much space he takes up in my heart…but I know that no matter what ever happens in this world, the love I have for my boy lights me up from the inside out.

And my pop? He’s given me so much as well but a couple of things really stand out. First is the love of running he instilled in me. I began running in the 4th grade when pop started our local running club and have pretty much run since then. Pop has gone to EVERY single race I’ve ever run in…whether they are in town or miles away and whether they are a 5k or a marathon. I love running…it’s not a chore to me but a pleasure and I know that comes from him. When I train for marathons, pop rides his bike next to me and those are the best times I’ve spent with him. We talk and reminiscence and say things to each other we probably never would have in another situation.

But he also gave me the gift of being a good neighbor. Pop has always helped neighbors and made sure they are taken care of. He mows, scoops snow, helps unload trucks, takes food to those who can’t get out, and the list goes on. I’ve done the same in my neighborhood. I raked my leaves last Sunday and then raked 2 more neighbor’s yards. One of the old men came home while I was working on his lawn and asked why I was doing it (we’re friends…he was being sweet) since he was able too himself and I said this: “Norm, you are always helping out neighbors and I wanted you to do the same for you!” He was so thankful and it made me happy. I guess pop has shown me that helping and doing for others is a gift of enjoyment for yourself.

My sissy has given me so many gifts too but I think the most important one is that of being authentic. My sissy is who she is…she doesn’t wear masks and has the attitude of ‘take me or leave me’ like I am. I love this! She is so strong and when we were little, she was my protector. Every pic of us when we were kiddos shows her with her arm around me and even now she wants to look after me. For example, she has offered to punch various guys in the face and tell them exactly what she thinks of them…which I know would include some VERY colorful language! If I need to vent or cry or bitch or anything, she’s there to listen and do what she can for me.

Me, sissy and ma!

She also has the biggest heart…especially when it comes to kids. She adores kids and is Gramma T to the dozens that have come into her life. Kids adore her too and she knows how to spoil any kid rotten. I don’t know if I’ve ever told her this but I love this about her…it’s her ‘soft’ side and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

I’m really thankful for my pets too…Edward and Mally (they don’t mind me using their full names 😉). All of my pets, past and present, have taught me patience, joy, affection, loyalty, enthusiasm, and most importantly: unconditional love. It doesn’t matter if I’m down, grumpy, manic, sick, or stressed, I get snuggles, cuddles, wagging tails, licks and life is just better because of that. Wouldn’t it be nice if people could do the same (especially the licks 🤭)?

And my students? Wow. I’ve had thousands of students over the 25 years I’ve been teaching at my college and they have all had an impact on me. They have taught me strength, motivation, compassion, understanding, kindness and have given me the huge family I always wanted. They are the recipients of my passion and I’m the recipient of them…each individual ‘them’ that put just one more spark in my heart. They are the best.

I could add so many other people I’m thankful for like my extended family (my nieces and nephews rock), colleagues (especially you Grand Poobah, who can be quite the ass at times which means we get along great), neighbors, friends, and the list could go on and on.

But I’m also thankful for the things in my life that I tend to take for granted: my cozy house, my Jeep, my job, the fact I always have enough food and clean water, etc. How do you even begin to count all of these blessings?

Finally, I’m thankful to all of you, my sweetie readers! You’ve supported this blog for the last couple of years and I’ve made wonderful connections with you…as well as a super great friend (Hi Susan!). Writing is an outlet for me and for you to appreciate it makes it all the more special.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you…eat a lot of turkey, stuff yourself, fall asleep on the couch while you digest, and then wake up and have just one more piece of pie. K? 🦃

Kristi xoxo

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” ~ Charles Schultz

So, y’all know that my Little Dottie has been gone for about a month and I can finally talk about her without crying (most of the time at least). A while ago, my son, his girlfriend and I picked out a puppy from a friend of my pop’s and the little fart will ready for us on April 1st. I’m having a lot of mixed emotions about the pup and just wonder if I’m ready, or even up to this.

My Little Dot

After Dottie was gone, Edward moped around the house horribly and has gotten to where he won’t leave my side. It doesn’t matter if I’m eating, pooping (😳), sleeping, cleaning, etc. he’s always there. Eddie is a very ‘needy’ and social creature and it breaks my heart how lonely he is. I know he needs another little friend and I also know he’ll mother the puppy because that’s just how he is. Bill and O are excited too and ma can’t wait to meet her newest fur grandbaby.

But me? I just don’t know.

A huge part of me feels like it’s too soon…like Bill having a date a couple of weeks after burying me (I’d haunt him forever if he did 🙄). I don’t want my Little Dot to think she’s being replaced…no other dog could replace my baby diva. And, I also wonder if my heart is ready to love another puppy and not compare her to who Dottie was.

But then I remember how I felt after Scooter, my first dog, died and how distraught I was then too. B, my hubby at the time (shutty the mouthies, peeps 😐) took me to see some puppies just about a week after Scooter was gone. I wasn’t thrilled. O and B picked out a pup and I held him and all, but felt nothing. No excitement. No love. No want. Since he wasn’t going to be completely weaned for a couple more weeks, I had 14 days to worry about everything…remember, those of us with bipolar are GREAT worriers and ruminators…it’s really at a champion level 🥇. On the Saturday when were getting ready to pick him up, I told B I wasn’t going. I didn’t want too…I wasn’t going too…and if he made me, I’d hate him forever.

Me and Squirty

So, we left shortly after. O had already named the pup Squirty (a nickname my grandpa called my grandma ♥) and he was excited. We got there, picked up Squirty and made it home. I set up his little crate and playpen, etc. and went about ‘mothering’ him with nothing in my heart. Nada. Zilch. He wasn’t my Scooter and never would be…therefore, I didn’t want him.

Now mind you, I wasn’t bad to him at all…I’m a great nurturer…I can nurture the hell out of any animal or person. But I was just going through the motions…doing what I ‘had’ to do. Finally, we were outside in the middle of the night for him to pee (while B slept peacefully I might add 🙄) and for some reason, he looked up at me and his eyes broke my heart. It’s like he was saying “What’s wrong…why don’t you love me?”

My heart did a quick defrost and Squirty was my buddy ever after. After B and I got divorced, it was decided by B (as was everything else…go figure… 🙄) that Squirty should stay with him in the country and with our German Shepherd who loved him to pieces. So, I ‘lost’ him after just a couple of years.

Then came Dottie and I adored her from the start. O and I were struggling with the divorce and Dottie was our comfort and fun and we could feel playful even with the heaviness our hearts experienced. Because of this, and how Squirty helped me move on from Scooter, my family (and I) thought it would be good for me to get another pup this spring. Hmmmm.

Millie Grace

When O, K and I went to pup’s home, there were 3 pups in the litter still not taken: 1 boy and 2 girls. O and K each held one of the girls and I held the little guy. They were adorable and only 4 weeks old…their eyes had just opened and their little faces couldn’t have been any cuter. As much as O and I were liking and cuddling the pups we were holding, we kept glancing at the one K had in her arms. Right as she said: “I feel a really good vibe from this one” O and I looked at each other and nodded. We had actually felt it too.

K handed her over to me and I looked in her little face…she was precious. So, I told Chuck that she was the one we’d take and he literally said this: “Oh! You chose the one with the white dot on her paw!”

Heh? White dot? I hadn’t even looked at her paws but there it was…in a sea of red poodle, there was a perfect white circle on her little paw and I started to cry.

You see, the night before we trekked to the pups a couple of town away, I had asked my Dottie in heaven to ‘give me a sign’ about this. Yes, you can call me crazy (as if that’s never happened before, for fuck sakes…😐) but I believe in the supernatural…the spiritual…the ability to ‘talk’ to my family who are already in heaven with my pets included. I said this: “Dottie, I need you to let me know if this is right…if you’re OK with this.” And I believe that the dot on the paw was sign enough. She was the only pup to have this. We named her Millie Grace (from the Andy Griffith show of which I’m a HUGE aficionado) and were told to be back in a month.

So I feel like I have Dottie’s blessing but am struggling with something else too: Millie Grace isn’t a rescue…she’s from a breeder who is NOT a puppy mill and has a stellar reputation for how he breeds and treats his dogs. I’ve rescued 3 dogs in my life, Edward included, and feel guilty going to a breeder. But I’ve always had a toy poodle in my life and love the breed so much, and there are NO toy poodles to be rescued around this area…I’ve looked and looked. But like my pop said when I voiced this concern, getting MG doesn’t mean I won’t rescue again…I’m sure I will many more times in my life; it does mean that I’m giving a pup a great home though and that’s a wonderful thing no matter what.

Anyhoot, I don’t know how this will all go. Will my heart open to little Millie? Will I compare her to Dottie and not let her be who she is? Will I have the capacity to nurture her like I did Dot? Am I ready for this at all? I hope so.

I’m the type of person who will literally run around a bug on the sidewalk so I don’t squish them…talk to my plants so they don’t feel unloved…dote on Edward like he’s next in the royal lineage. It’s hard for me to think of not being a good ma to Millie but I want it to be genuine. Real. I want to love her and I keep reminding myself that loving Millie doesn’t mean I love Dottie any less. I’ll love my Dot until we’re together again someday.

So here’s the thing Little Dottie: you, my sweetie, were the best dog I’ve ever ever had…the funniest, bitchiest, cutest, and orneriest of all. If I hadn’t loved you so much and miss you so much, I’d never want another. But you showed me the joy a pup gives…the wonder and blessing of having a dog for as long as I had you…the everyday happiness and comfort a dog can give…the sense of fulfillment in terms of being a ‘new’ mommy again. In other words, Millie will never take your place. It’s because of the awesome legacy you left that I want another in my life. I hope you understand and also hope you’ll look down on us from time to time and grin at the antics this one pulls. And Dottie…I’ll keep you in my heart forever. There’s just no where else I’d rather have you.

Kristi xoxo

Dottie’s Rainbow Bridge

So, I’ve written about a lot of things in this blog: having bipolar, being sexually abused, being in an abusive relationship, and the list goes on. However, this is the toughest, and shortest, post I’ve had to write so far.

Yesterday, my son and I took our Little Dottie for a Quality of Life exam at our vet. She was almost 15 years old and was blind and deaf. She also was losing control of her bladder and back legs. In other words, she was suffering. After talking with the vet and her examination of Little Dot, O and I made the decision to have her put to sleep. We said our goodbyes, I sang her special song, and she died in my arms.

I don’t know what to feel. When Bill got home last night, I cried louder and harder than I ever have in my life…I made myself sick. I’ve never ever been in my house without her…and the emptiness of it is overwhelming. I see her everywhere.

Maybe people with pets can’t understand this, but she wasn’t a pet to me. She was my baby…my best friend…my comfort…my joy. It’s hard for those of us with mental illness to make real friends and I can honestly say I have only 3 human ones and that includes Bill. So Dottie was my bestie. She didn’t mind my bouts of depression and would lay down with me whenever I needed too. She didn’t care if I was manic…she’d be right along beside me watching me paint and getting drops of it on her back. When I had a mental breakdown, she was there…centering me the best she could. When I cut myself, I would hug her and try to forget the pain. When I attempted suicide and got off my bed to throw up the pills I had taken, Dottie was right by me…her brown eyes telling me I had way too much to live for.

There’s no words that can describe what she did for me, and I hope, with all my heart that I was a good mama to her. I believe in God and I believe he made animals for us to love. I truly know that my Little Dot is in heaven now…in my Grandpa’s arms…bossing everyone around like the diva she was.

Dottie: you were my precious baby and you are now my angel. I will never ever forget you and you will be in my heart forever. Someday, I’ll be making my way to heaven and I know you’ll be right there at the gate…barking at me to hurry up because you want to play fetch. And honey, I’ll do it.

Kristi xoxo

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