A Love Letter to my Big Baby

Sometimes in life you find your perfect match in something or someone else: maybe a house that you feel instantly connected to, a job that inspires you to work your hardest every day, or another person who you want to spend your life with, …two years ago I found that match in Jessie. I have had several dogs in my life, but Jessie was my one true love. She could drag an open bag of flour all over my house, eat the arm of my sofa, break my windows trying to bark at people outside, chew up my new shoes, scratch up my historic front door (all things that she did over our short few years together)… and I would always forgive her and try to help her be better next time. Because above all else, we loved each other. Together we moved into my first real home, together we biked all over the island going full speed and trying not to crash, together we hit up happy hours and play dates and yard parties, and most importantly, together we connected with hundreds of children as Pet Partners at my school.

Jessie was full of so much love that she wanted to share with every person she met in life, so her greatest joy was going to school with me once a week and loving on all of my students. The hardest thing for me to think about right now, is how I’m going to break the news to all of those same students who would call out “Jessie!” excitedly from down the hall as they spotted her, and would ask daily when she was coming back to visit again, who would shower her with hugs and kisses, and let her return the favor. How will I tell them that she won’t be coming back any more? How do I let them know that she is gone forever and way too soon?

Today I came home from a day out at the zoo with my family; I had been gone for about seven hours, nothing more than a usual day. The first thing I saw was trash strewn around the floor. Jessie LOVED to get into the trash can, so I had upgraded to a fancy locking one, but she was too smart and could still break in if she really wanted to. I could smell that she had pooped somewhere too, not unusual lately, since I brought a new foster pup home who liked to mark his territory. I was not happy that she had acted out and when she ran into the room I scolded her, took her by the collar, and put her outside so I could clean up the mess. That’s it. That’s the last interaction we had. After I had let her out, I realized that the water bowl was drained, items were knocked off of the counter, and things looked a little off. As I took the mess outside to throw away, I saw Jessie laying in the grass, in the pouring rain, not moving. I called her name, but knew instantly something was wrong. I ran to her, dropping paper towels all over the yard, and grabbed her, screaming her name. She was gone. Somehow my parents were called, and they arrived to find me hysterically crying and screaming and hugging my big, sweet baby, willing her back to life and apologizing for not knowing she needed me when I first came home. I will forever regret that the last thing I said to her was “bad dog” as I threw her out, resenting that I had to clean up her unnecessary mess. She had somehow managed to stay alive until I got home, and all I did was get angry.

As we carried her body inside and I started surveying the trash she had spilled more closely, I found an empty bag of dark chocolate chips. I remember taking them off of the top of the fridge, after discovering that I have a mouse visitor, and almost putting them in the cabinet. I opened the cabinet, set them in, and changed my mind- tossed them in the trash without a thought. That one action, seemingly innocent, was fatal. I know that I can’t blame myself for living my life and making a mistake,  but, still, I will never forgive myself for letting my last interaction with her be angry. She was the best dog in so many ways- smart, loving, unconditionally forgiving- and I hope that above everything else, she knew that I loved her beyond what I thought I was capable of.

The hole in my broken heart will labor my breathing, and ache my bones, and cause me to cry at unexpected times. It will heal slowly, but not without pain. Whatever I feel as I grieve, I will always know that we needed one another during the time we had. It was only two years (in fact, almost exactly two years), but we grew up together in those years, and made each other’s lives better and full of joy. She was my best friend, my soul mate in dog form- a bit of a mess, but a big, sweet baby that just wanted to love and be loved. Well, I love you, Jessie. I love you forever.

jessie and B

Double Chocolate Paleo Cookies

As I’m learning more about the best way to set up a blog for writing and posting recipes, it seems that creating multiple categories is easiest! So my I am re-posting my delicious cookie recipe under the blog category “recipes.” Here it is again… Make them for real!

I’ll start with my favorite chocolate cookies from PaleOMG- these protein packed, chocolate almond butter bites will fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth! Seriously, I could eat them all day… and then make more… and eat those… you get the idea. Try them for yourself!!!

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Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup thick almond butter (I used Barney Butter Smooth Almond Butter because it’s similar to thick nut butters. If you use too oily, the cookies won’t come together. You were warned.)
1 cup coconut sugar
1 egg, whisked
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
¼-1/2 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together almond butter and coconut sugar using a large spoon. Then add egg and mix again until well combined.
Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder at a time. At this point, I used my hands to incorporate the cocoa powder into the dough. Add all the cocoa powder and completely combine.
Then add baking soda, vanilla, salt and chocolate chips and combined until everything is well mixed. This was all hands for me. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. (This should be a very thick dough at this point. If it’s not, you need a thicker almond butter like I said before).
Use a cookie scoop to scoop out around 2 tablespoons of dough and make into a round ball. Place on silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. This dough will create 13-15 cookies that size.
Once you’ve placed all the balled dough onto the baking sheet, use a fork to press the cookies down just slightly. No need to really flatten them out, just get them to look more cookie shape instead of ball shape. If you press them down too much, they’ll come apart when they bake so be careful.
Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes until removing from baking sheet to place on cooling rack. If you try to remove these from the baking sheet early, they will come apart. So don’t be stupid here. Patience is a virtue.
Eat up!

http://paleomg.com/soft-chewy-double-chocolate-cookies/

Persistent Alone-ness (not to be confused with loneliness)

Persistent alone-ness, by my definition, means deliberately choosing to be alone despite the possibility of companionship. The reason for this could vary for different people: perhaps you hate the idea of someone else inhabiting your space (physical or emotional), or you have seen one too many bad marriages (or experienced a bad break up of your own) and don’t believe in the idea of relationships, or maybe you just won’t ever like anyone as much as you like yourself… so why bother??

Any of these reasons could be the cause of my condition on a given day… sometimes it’s one more than the other, but, ultimately, I persist in my quest to be alone. Yes, I realize that this goes against everything we are taught growing up; the importance of finding a soul mate is a concept so heavily hammered into us that my Spice Girls Barbies were getting hitched before I could even double knot my laces. However, past life experiences (particularly tough ones), mixed with current life experiences (particularly happy ones which result from my single-ness), have outweighed the societal impact on my pre-adolescent brain and allowed me to feel totally fulfilled and ecstatic to be living this life on my own! No, alone does not mean that I do not have family- in fact, my parents’ involvement in my life almost definitely makes being un-attached a more enjoyable and less lonely lifestyle than many assume it to be. I have a built-in support system, people to eat a homemade dinner with, extra hands for big yard work and someone to bring me soup when I’m sick- I am not truly alone in life, but I am alone in the intimate details. The big bed I sleep in is filled with pillows and dogs, the air filters only get changed if I haul out the ladder every 6 weeks and get it done- and no one is there to pay my mortgage if I over extend my credit limit. I am the last person I see before sleep and the first person I greet each morning. I treat myself to massages and cook my favorite meals; I even take myself to the movies on occasion. I have no one to nag for not doing the dishes or emptying the trash, no one is disappointing me by forgetting to put the sheets on the bed or leaving their towel on the floor. I am responsible for my own happiness, therefore it is a priority.

Having said all of that, I want to emphasize that I am not cynical about relationships, in fact I love seeing my friends find people who make them happy and improve their lives- it is a beautiful thing! And I make a GREAT third, fifth, or seventh wheel! I do not shut people out and am not resolutely against the idea of ever dating someone; I often re-consider whether I could be happier than I am, or if I feel that something is missing, and consistently determine the answer to be “no.” Sometimes I’ll meet a nice guy, we’ll text a little bit, then I start to slowly become reabsorbed into my very busy schedule. I forget to respond for a few hours, then a few days, then ever at all, and soon it’s back to life as usual.

My main purpose in writing this post is not to flaunt my happiness in a sadly desperate way as an attempt to prove to my coupled friends that “I really am doing ok!!!” My purpose is also not to tell others that they should break up and be alone because I am living a better life than they are. I just want to reach out to my fellow “single pringles” (as my students would say) in solidarity, and acknowledge that we exist. We are eligible women without severely destructive personality traits (as far as we know), who are choosing to do our own thing and don’t feel inadequate for it!

And, if there ever is a man (or person) who changes our perception of life and our own happiness, like we’ve always been promised, then more power to him for having the confidence to jump into our world- we will welcome you and try not to sleep like starfish all over your half of the bed.                baby starfish