You Are Loved

you are loved

Yesterday, I was hurrying down the street, freezing, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw this mural. It was so beautiful, that I walked over to take a picture. Then, as I got closer, I realized that there were phone numbers on it, phone numbers for addiction recovery programs. This was a mural telling those struggling with addiction that they are loved, and giving information about getting help!

So I stood on the street, and started to cry. What a beautiful piece of art, and an even more beautiful message. Love, that those struggling with addiction are loved. Now if you have loved or love someone struggling with addiction, you know that. But this wall shouted it to the world. And I am so very thankful for that!

Brownies with a Side of Rage

Yesterday, we made brownies. Maybe we did it because we didn’t have cookie ingredients in the house. Maybe it was because they sounded good. Maybe it was because deep down, I was struggling with the emotional baggage of the book about surviving losing Sam being released in e-version.

I don’t know what prompted us to make the brownies. What I know is that they weren’t the best ever made. New type of mix, maybe? I don’t know the reason, but the edges were hard as rock.

I seem to struggle with baking brownies. Often the edges are like hockey pucks. Maybe that was why Sam always took the middle of the pan — no hard edges.

In the midst of thinking about the brownies, I learned that a former student had died of an overdose, and it hurt more than I can express. I am so very tired of hearing that funny, loving, giving young people are being taken from us. I am so tired of seeing the broken hearts of families and friends.

Yes, I cried. Writing this now, tears are running down my face. This student made me  laugh, even when I wanted to stay serious. She was loud, funny, and no matter what, always had a smile for me — even when I was having to be the disciplinarian. I ran into her last summer, and was so happy to see her, to get a hug, to see her always impressive fake nails and hear about her young daughter.

Then, after the tears, the anger came. When will we stop this epidemic? We need to stop pushing drug abuse and addiction to the side, we need to face the reality of the issue, and work as an entire global community to solve it.



Today is the day that the e-version of Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude is released. It seems surreal to have it finally launch into the world beyond that of the group of people who follow this site, or are connected to me via social media.

As I have said before, I never planned to write a memoir. I certainly never planned to write one about grief. When Sam died, it thrust us into a world that we never wanted, never planned to experience. And so if writing about that process helps someone else, then I feel that I have brought some good out of such a horrible situation.

With the e-book launch, I again pause to think about what Sam taught me. He taught me to laugh at myself when I get too intense. He taught me that there is always more than one point of view. He taught me that every single human being is worthy of love and respect. He taught me that a good burger, friends, and warm brownies can lighten a heavy heart. He taught me to open my heart to those different from myself.

As this book launches, I hope that others will read it and realize that no matter how dark the day, there is always something to be grateful for, and that no matter what, love is truly what matters.

Love, love, love

The other day, I wrote about the love between our two alpacas, Ellsbury and Kahuna. Since then, we have been doing what I refer to as “alpaca physical therapy,” where at least three times a day, we go make sure that Kahuna gets up and walks around carefully to make sure his other muscles don’t get to stiff or start to weaken. We give him his medicine, we massage his sore leg, and the whole time, Ellsbury stands guard. Kahuna walks outside to check things out? Ellsbury goes along. Kahuna gets a shot of anti-inflammatory medicine? Ellsbury stands right next to us as we give it. And when Kahuna is walking around, and Ellsbury gets boxed into a corner by the human helpers, which would normally result in Ellsy giving a swift kick to the humans? He just hums at us and moves away, no kicking involved.

Love, it’s love, pure and simple.

Love — smelly, fuzzy love

Love comes in many forms, and is not limited to humans. Humans love our animal companions, and those companions love us. But what about the love between our furry friends?

This past week, our Kahuna hurt his foot.  It seemed to be improving, then he seemed to be struggling more, perhaps due to the brutal cold and deep snow. So last night, the vet came to pay a visit, and see how she could help him feel better.

Now Kahuna is a big, furry, skittish male alpaca. He likes to watch people, but doesn’t really want to get near them a whole lot. His buddy Ellsbury? He loves to watch his people, and will let “his” people get near him and cuddle with him. But strangers? Nope! Ellsbury is very, very shy and will try to stay away from anyone new.

So here is the vet in the barn with Kahuna, who at first didn’t want to get up. She poking and prodding him, giving him shots, taking his temperature, listening to his heart. And the whole time, shy Ellsbury was right there. Yes, he was clearly very nervous, but his love for his buddy — the buddy who tries to take his grain every day — that love was so strong that he would be right next to a strange human so he could keep humming to his friend. He even got so brave as to come up to the vet as she was massaging Kahuna’s leg, and touch his face to hers, as if asking her to help his buddy.

Then, in a beautiful moment, he walked back to Kahuna’s head, and bowed down to touch noses with him, as if reassuring him everything was okay.

Much later that night, I went down to the barn to check on them, and Ellsbury was cushing across the door to the barn, right near Kahuna, but also on guard so no one could come near his buddy without him knowing it and protecting him.

Love comes in many forms. Sometimes it is romantic love between humans, sometimes it is a terrified and shy alpaca going up to the vet to ask her to help his friend.

Winter in Vermont

It was a beautiful day in Vermont today.  Over night, we got 5-8 inches of new snow. Big flakes, fluffy, fluffy snow. When we got up this morning, it was a balmy 20 degrees.

Tomorrow and Friday are supposed to be bitterly cold, as the brutal weather continues its march across the country hits New England.

Such weather, both the beautiful snow and then the arriving cold, make me think about how lucky we are. We have a snug house, lots of dry firewood, a furnace that works well when we need to use it, safe vehicles with good tires, food and water. It reminds me that so many people don’t have that level of security, and have to struggle daily with their basic needs. This again reminds me that sometimes the little things that I find irritating, such as my snow boots dripping on the floor, are things that I instead should be grateful for — how lucky I am to have warm boots that fit me!

How can we all re-frame how we look at the irritations of life?

Introducing Dr. Marlene Ringler!

As I have said before, one of my favorite parts of my writing/publishing journey is that I have gotten to know amazing authors. Dr. Marlene Ringler is one of them, and I am so pleased to share information about her recent book, which as a former Special Educator, the topic of her book is near and dear to my heart!


Author Biography:

Dr. Marlene Ringler is a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature as well as a trained and certified teacher, CEO and founder of the international Ringler English Language Institute. Her company was recognized as a lead vendor for global training for multinationals including Toyota, Intel, IBM and Microsoft. She pioneered the concept of in-house training specifically in business settings.

When living in the United States, Marlene was the co-coordinator of the English for Specific Purposes and English as a Second Language adult training programs for refugees and immigrants in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland.  Her program was nominated for special recognition by the White House for its work in adult literacy. An advocate for persons with disabilities, Marlene encouraged people in school systems in the US and in Israel to develop programs for students who might not otherwise be able to function in a typical classroom. She counseled and guided teachers, administrators and parents to recognize the needs of the disabled population.

Today, Marlene works closely with service care providers to maximize the potential of the autistic population in a work setting. In addition, she counsels and advises parents about resources, opportunities, and the legal aspects of raising an autistic child to adulthood.

Marlene and her family currently reside in Israel and  sponsor, host, and organize conferences, social events, and gatherings in order to promote awareness about the needs of the autistic adult.

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About her Book:

I Am Me is a  courageous story offered as a gift of hope, inspiration and love to anyone whose life is affected by an autism spectrum diagnosis – a candid and moving personal narrative about raising a son with the devastating diagnosis. One out of 68 children today is diagnosed with autism. One of those happens to be Marlene Ringler’s son. Yesterday’s autistic child is today’s autistic adult. As mothers, women  worry about just  what will happen to their  child when they are  no longer around to provide guidance and support.

Who will look after him? Who will care? Who will love my son?

Marlene Ringler directly addresses those very human questions as she pays special attention to research findings and current investigations into the spectrum disorder. Her journey provides a firsthand look at the highs and lows of raising a son with this diagnosis, leading towards a greater understanding of how recognition of an autistic diagnosis can be viewed as part of our human condition.  I Am Me is a straightforward , honest, and touching story of how a family copes when one member is on the spectrum. It is a journey told through the prism of a mother who offers hope, belief, and conviction that the life of a child with autism can and should be fulfilling and rewarding.


Looking to buy a copy?

I Am Me is available worldwide in bookstores and through your favorite online bookstores. However, if you are like me, and tend to go right to Amazon, here is the link.

I Am Me — Amazon


Want to connect with Dr. Ringler?

Snow, snow, and more snow

Over the last week, we have had a lot of snow. And rain. And freezing rain. And sun, and rain and snow.

Vermonters joke about how you can often have all four seasons in a week. Heck, you can sometimes have all four in a couple days.

These last couple weeks have felt like we were going through the seasons at a breakneck speed. Bitter cold, then sun and warmth (too warm for the hot tub), then snow, then rain, and then do it all over again.

We had almost fifteen inches of snow not long ago. We had no more finished cleaning up from that storm, and we had rain that left the barns and coops completely flooded. Then the temperature dropped, leaving glare ice everywhere, now it is snowing again.

One of the things I love most about living in Vermont are the seasons. I love the changes of the seasons, and I love how each season is different. I do have to say, though, that I am not so keen on having them all in one week.