Yes, I’m looking at my comfort zone in the rear view mirror…

Recently, someone commented that I seemed stoic. Then someone commented that I seemed so comfortable in my own skin. Wow…

Neither of those observations are how I feel about myself, but I am glad that I give off a sense of calm and peace. Now, let’s be clear, I am at peace about many things, and have learned to accept many things I can not change or control. But comfortable in my own skin? Maybe at times. It would be more accurate to say that I have been out of my comfort zone every single second since that phone call at 5:34 a.m. on October 9, 2013, and I am learning to make peace with that fact.

Before that call, I was in my comfort zone. I was cruising. Life was exactly what I wanted it to be. My kids seemed to all be as healthy and happy as they could be, we were expecting our first grandchild. Life was good. Really, really good.

Then Sam died, and from that minute on, I have been looking at my former comfort zone in the figurative rear view mirror. We now try things and meet people we would never have connected with prior to that change of life.

Some days, I long for that comfort zone of old. But trying new things, meeting new people, trying to be as open to the world as Sam was is pushing that old comfort zone farther and farther away. And that’s okay.

“Doing a Sam” was not my intention in my life. Sam was going to do his own “Sam-ing”, not us. But we have the obligation, and the honor, of trying to live our lives to the fullest both in his honor and because it was what he always wanted us to do, no matter how uncomfortable we may be in doing so at first. And maybe we are helping others do so too, at least I hope so.

So, as I reflect on where we are now as opposed to where we were on October 8, 2013, I can say that I am okay at only seeing my comfort zone in that rear view mirror, fading fast.


True Icy Love

I have written about the constant and unwavering love of our animals many times. As you know, just about a  year ago, our two lambs Lana and Hila came to live with us. After they lived in the house until they were big enough, and it was warm enough for them outside, they transitioned down to the alpaca barn, moving in with our elderly alpaca Ellsy (short for Ellsbury, honoring Jacoby Ellsbury who played for the Boston Red Sox).

Ellsy has always been a very smart alpaca. Very curious. Beautiful, gorgeous fiber. And scared of his own shadow. When we had other alpacas, we had to hand-feed him because he was so docile and submissive he would give up his grain to the other alpacas. When his last alpaca buddy passed away, the vets suggested giving him a couple of lambs to protect, feeling that at his age, any new alpaca would be so dominant over him, it would be a problem.

So we brought Lana and Hila home, and eventually, they moved in with Ellsy. And the most amazing relationship was born. Months later, they are such a close-knit family. They share their food, they play together, they are together day and night. Ellsy has gone from being an exceedingly shy alpaca to being very assertive when he feels someone or something might be a threat to his babies. The funniest part? He now plays like a sheep. He plays tag with them, running and jumping like they do, and it is so much fun to watch his joy and love.

Right now, Vermont is in the midst of a nasty storm. Sleet and freezing rain have fallen for the last 30 hours, and everything is coated in a thick layer of ice. Everything. And Ellsy…


Now, why is he covered in ice when he has a nice dry barn to keep him out of the elements? Because of true love. True icy love in this case. Lana and Hila like playing out in the sleet. When he was alone, or just with alpacas, Ellsy would stay inside for days instead of venturing out in unpleasant weather. But if he stays inside now, his girls will be unsupervised and away from him, and he can’t let that happen.

The sleet continues to fall, snow is coming later today, and Ellsy follows Lana and Hila faithfully, keeping an eye on their safety, playing when they want to play, and never going inside until they are ready for their nap. When they nap, they go into what was their lamb pen, and curl up, and Ellsy comes in, cushes (the way an alpaca lays down) by the opening to the pen, and sleeps a bit. Now, he’s completely warm himself, that thick layer of beautiful fiber ensures his comfort, but still.

This is the image of true love. Ellsy loves his lambs so much, he stays out in the weather, getting coated in a layer of ice himself, to be with Lana and Hila.

Everyone and every creature should be loved that much!