A Sam Story — maybe a couple of them…

As I have shared, the last week has been very difficult for us. Often as we tried to make sense of the news, I implored Sam to intervene, or if he couldn’t do that, at least give us a sign of his presence around us.

On Friday, I was outside feeding the animals when a small squall hit. As the sky darkened then got lighter, I begged Sam to send us a rainbow to show us he was with us. When it didn’t happy, I admit, I yelled and swore, telling him to “just do it!” As tears ran down my face, I turned from where we normally see rainbows to get hay, and as I turned back, a rainbow filled the sky.


That rainbow helped. It helped a lot.

Then yesterday, we went for another medical appointment. Coming home we felt a little more centered than we had in a week, just from getting some information. As we drove south, another weird squall hit. Again, I implored Sam to give us a sign of his presence by sending a rainbow. I know my husband begged him too, just not out loud like I do. I again admit to swearing, telling him (Sam) to listen to me, and give us a rainbow. Then I started muttering about him not listening to me, and the rant went on…

Just then, I realized that we had been behind the same truck ever since the squall had started. This little white truck. Looking at it closely, I realized what the back of the truck said, and I started to laugh, poking my husband to get him to look too. What did the truck say? It said “Rainbow Acres.”


The moral of the story? Sometimes what we most seek is right in front of us, and we are so closed-minded that we can’t see it.

Another Unwanted Journey…

This past week, we started on a new journey, one not wanted and one that is terrifying. We haven’t yet fully internalized the magnitude of that journey, but it is time to write about it because it is time to see if I have fully integrated my own message of unconditional love, connection to nature and gratitude as a way to live no matter how great the darkness or how scary the journey.

This past week, the love of my life was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This diagnosis came completely out of the blue, as we had known something was going on, but had no idea this was a possibility. ALS? Seriously? We can’t win the lottery, but we can have a disease that occurs in a rate of less than 20,000 people a year?

We are just in the beginning stages of understanding the plan of care, the prognosis, and all of those details. Right now, it is completely and totally overwhelming, raw, and all-consuming.

One of my first sensations upon hearing the diagnosis was actually feeling my heart break — you all know how much I love my husband, and how much we have planned to live to at least 150 years old to do all we want to do together. Then started the rolling waves of crashing emotion. Fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, and then it would start all over again. I have cursed the universe, have used expletives in very creative ways, and probably will continue to do both.

Then, knowing that we needed to keep the news very quiet until we could see our children face-to-face to tell them, we had to stay quiet and answer the normal, “How are you?” questions without breaking down. Only a few people knew during this incredibly long, stressful week, and they bore the weight of being our supports while also having to hold our secret.

Now that secret no longer needs to be kept, we are sharing this news. And I am wrestling with how to find gratitude right now. The love? That’s easy. Gratitude? That’s much harder.

But, if I truly believe it can help, I need to try…

I am grateful for our parents’ support, even as they struggle themselves. I am thankful that Hila is getting better by the day. I am thankful for medical insurance. I am thankful for the few people who knew this week and held our hands, handed us Kleenex, brought us food and chocolate, and reminded us of how loved we are. I am thankful for moments of breaks in the stress, such as watching the lambs run and play. I am thankful for the love we share as a family and as a couple. I am thankful for the strength and humor of our biological and non-biological children. I am thankful for sunshine, fresh asparagus, music, and inappropriate humor.

We do not know exactly how this journey will unfold, but I do know that we have chosen to undertake this journey as we have with others before this one — with love, humor, openness, honesty, a healthy dose of expletives and sarcasm, and a fierce optimism and full out battle mode. We promise to ask for help, we promise to not try to do it all ourselves. We will do what we have to in order to fight this disease until there is a cure, and we will also hold to our priorities that love (and gratitude) are at the center of our lives, no matter how great the darkness. We promise to live every single moment with love, purpose, and hope.

Truly, love is all that matters.

The countdown has begun!

OGG Cover


Today is May 8, 2019, and it is only 13 days until Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude will be in stores. Now, I know that it has already made its way into some stores, and maybe, just maybe has been sold to customers. But the fact remains, the official store (and print copies sold through online retailers) release date is only thirteen days away. That is pretty exciting.

Again, as mentioned in one of my FB posts, if you send (or post) a picture of the book in a store, I will send you a “Do A Sam” gift!




A sheep story…

As some of you know, our little Hila had a health scare last week. She suddenly came down with what is called polio (it’s not really polio), and it is caused by a combination of not having yet developed enough of a particular bacteria in her stomach, and a lack of thiamine. Thankfully, we caught it early, and the vet thinks she will make a full recovery — but as of right now, she still is partially blind, and very subdued.

Today, we decided that her sight had improved enough that we were ready to send Lana and Hila out into the pasture to graze freely for the first time. Opening the gate, Ellsy raced out and rolled in the burdocks and evergreen needles, and now he looks like a giant pincushion, sigh. Lana came tearing into the pasture, and just ran and ran and ran. Hila finally ventured out, clearly nervous with her limited sight. Here is Lana, just admiring her new playground.


A half-hour later, I went out to check on them, and bring the lambs back into their normal pen, so that they wouldn’t get stomach aches from eating too much new stuff. I couldn’t find them! Not in their barn. Not behind the aviary. Not anywhere that I could see them. Then I heard a “baaaaaa” and turned to find the two lambs in the chicken coop. Clearly, they had decided it was a cool little lamb playhouse! Later, Paul would tell me that Lana had actually climbed up into the coop itself, and was standing in the chicken door looking out proudly while he mowed the lawn.


So the girls were in the fenced part of the coop, so I shook the grain bucket at them, thinking they would come running. Nope. So I climbed into the coop. Yes, it was a sight to behold. They ran out. I followed them out, and they ran back in, and we did this over and over. Finally, I cornered Hila, and picked her up to carry her back to the pen.

There I am, hot, tired, carrying a really mad, squirming, heavy lamb down the hill, and suddenly, Lana decides that we all are playing, and she starts taking running starts and jumping on my back. Yes, in the end, I had muddy hoof prints all down my back.

We made it back to the pen, and I let a very thankful Hila down, and they scampered off to find water and grain, and I went to find a cold drink and a hot shower.


Thank you for the memories!

Today I had the opportunity to talk with two people who gave me the gift of time with some great memories. First, I spent some time with a friend who has been part of our lives since our youngest was about five, and has shared many, many Otter Valley Walking Stick Theater moments with us. We talked theater, and we talked grief, and we teared up, and we laughed. The second was a professional with whom I shared a case many, many years ago. I shared with him a recent note I had received about our shared student, we laughed, we mourned, and after our conversation, I had the gift of the time driving home thinking about that student, and that group of students, and smiled at the memories.

Giving others the gift of the time to share memories is such a wonderful thing to do. Thank you!