Want to Know What Online Info You’re Putting Out for the World to See?

Take this LollipopAs part of my work, I have to use social media for myself and for clients. That said, I HATE the massive loss of privacy that we pay in exchange for using these platforms. And, in general, I could not be more angry with the direction all online participation is headed with continuing to rob us of being able to choose what we share.

Because I’m  a geek and I probably know way too much about how easy it is to find out anything about anybody, I have all my privacy settings on everything cranked to the max. Yes, that means using private browsing, and clearing cache, search history, and cookies from my computer every night, etc., etc. Even with doing all that, I’m only moderately more protected than the average bear.

So when something like this makes it easy to drive the point home, you can bet that Cait is “strongly encouraged” to watch. : )

Go ahead– click on the image. It will take you to the “Take this Lollipop“website.

If you’d like to read the context for the above link, here you go. ” What are you revealing online? Much more than you think .”

Please be as safe as you can be online–remember to regularly check your privacy settings.

Public service announcement over and out.




What Do You Say…?

We live in a culture that’s not very good at helping us face the death of a loved one. A friend’s beloved father just died yesterday. Knowing that I’d already faced a lot of death, just a year ago she asked if I had any words of wisdom to help her deal with what she knew was coming. I sent her an email sharing a few thoughts. Today, she emailed me to say that she’d kept that email and reread it many times over the past year. She expressed thanks for how much it had helped her and asked that I share it in the off chance it may help someone else.


You may already know all of what I have to say. I won’t worry about what you know–if you already know it and I share similar sentiments, it can’t hurt to have those reinforced. If some are new thoughts to you, maybe they can help. So I’ll just ramble on for a bit…

When experiencing loss of any magnitude, we all go through a stage of raw emotion; the roller coaster of composure and insanity. I believe this is because the energy body is rearranging itself around a new configuration. When we’ve been one energy pattern for so long, it’s quite uncomfortable to experience being suddenly shifted into a new pattern that feels like it’s being blown full of holes.

At least initially, it feels overwhelmingly incomprehensible, inconceivable, unbearable.

Some people find themselves going in and out of a kind of haze, not really sure of what they feel. That’s a pretty common coping mechanism. When in doubt, people are inclined to find a placeholder and stand on it.

What I’ve actually found to be more productive is to let yourself fall apart. Let yourself feel what you really feel. That’s what’s been necessary for my spiritual, mental and emotional health. In the short term, it may appear quite messy to others, but I let that be their problem. It’s really important to let yourself fully experience the experience. Try not to store anything up, thinking you’ll deal with it later. Later never comes.

Yep, inevitably, the death of a loved one does set your life up to shatter. But all that can shatter is what you no longer need anyway. This may be hard to believe at the moment, but I can tell you from experience; all that can break is what is not real, what doesn’t matter, what is a waste of energy. The shattering reveals who you really are. It’s painful but this is a very good thing. Initially, you may experiences the loss as unspeakable, but eventually you’ll come to see that there is a different kind of connection that comes out of all this that will allow you to stay in touch with your father.

While you may not feel lucky at the moment, you are in fact very lucky. You have the advantage of knowing your father is getting ready to shed his physical form. You are being given a chance to say goodbye to what was. And you can begin right now to start building a new bridge to stay connected to your dad when he passes .

After my dad died, I felt the actual presence of him for quite some time, but I didn’t know what to do with that because I was misinterpreting it as a memory of him, which made me sad. But if I knew then what I know now–that I should have accepted this experience of my dad’s presence as real–I would have felt loved and not alone. What I’ve come to learn is that death does not separate. Actually, it fully joins together. Expect that up front, and that will become your experience. I can promise you that.

Suffice it to say that you’ll never lose the connection to your dad through death. That is not possible. You can lose it through depression, anger, and other human emotions.  But you can’t lose the connection through death. If anything, it sharpens and clarifies. It helps the connection because all of the distractions are removed and all that’s left is the pure connection to pure love.

On a more practical level, when you’re with your dad, share what bubbles up. If you’re worried about overwhelming him, wait until he’s asleep and then just hold his hand and talk to him like he’s your dad before age, dementia, and illness stole him. That part of him that’s still that man will hear you. And if you also let yourself listen, you’ll hear him talking back to you.

Fill yourself up while you still have him in a form that you readily understand. It will help bridge the gap for however long it will take you to rediscover how to connect to him when he’s no longer in this form.

I’m so glad you’ve reached out. Nobody should face this alone. I’m only an email, a phone call, a drive away– any time of day or night. And so is everyone else who loves you.



Don’t Leave Home Without ‘Em

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that they’re getting blown out of their seats at the movies now? Like so?

blown-away-man ad

But I’ve found the perfect solution.
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Howard Leight Laser Lite Foam Earplugs No Cords
foam ear plugs

  • Self-adjusting Foam
  • Expandable foam provides comfort and long term wear
  • Each pair individually packaged in poly bags.
  • 32dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR 32 dB)

I always carry a few in my pocketbook. Even Cait loves these and brings a pair to any concert she goes to.

I figure these are much cheaper than having to invest in hearing aids later… : )


The First of Many Lasts

mikeThe official countdown of “Lasts” has begun, as Cait rolls into her final quarter of her senior year.

Last night was the last talent show that I’ll ever attend with Cait at her high school.

After an exhausting day of  long meetings and short deadlines, I got home well after supper. Cait took one look at my bedraggled self and said, “Mom, you don’t have to come.”

I didn’t let myself sit down at the table because I knew that would have been the end of me; I wouldn’t have been able to drag myself anywhere except to bed.

I didn’t even take off my coat. I grabbed a bite standing up, walked back toward the door and said, “You driving or me?”

Now, if you’ve ever been to a school talent show, you may be wondering about my willingness to subject myself to this special brand of torment.

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Aside from the fact that this is always something Cait and I have done together, there is just something about the whole experience that transfixes me.

Last night was no exception.

Without fail, every year, there’s some poor kid who’s pushed himself outside of his comfort zone to share something personal he loves to do. Last night, this badge of courage went to a sophomore boy who played the guitar and sang a song that he’d written.

He was so painfully shy, that I reflexively cringed for him. He scuffled over to the mike, took a couple of strums on his guitar and launched into the quietest and most quivered singing I think I’ve ever heard. He stumbled over the first few words, then stopped to compose himself. Hands shaking, he started all over again. My heart dropped through the floor for him.

We all know how cruel kids that age can be. And you might have expected that this kid was in for some pretty heavy heckling for his less than “American Idol” worthy performance.

You’d have been wrong.

An auditorium full of jocks and emos and geeks all roared with encouragement and applause. Any time he stumbled, the heartfelt cheering of his peers raised him back up, until he finally finished to a standing ovation.

An equivalent of that has happened at every school performance I’ve ever been to. That’s why I didn’t want to miss the show last night. I knew there’d be that moment where my spirits would get lifted to the heavens.

Many people don’t hold out much hope for the younger generations. Getting to witness what’s so very, very good about this generation– I’ve come to learn just how worthy they are of great hope.



How to Protect Your Dog in Cold Weather

After two days of reasonable winter temps, we’re headed back for another brutal cold snap. All kidding aside about Graidy and Wink being winter wusses, they both have conditions that make the cold and snow more difficult for them to handle. Both  have very fine, single layer coats with little insulation value (versus Kiera’s thick 2-layer winter coat with undercoat). Graidy, at 10 yrs old, has a touch of arthritis and Wink’s short legs often put his underside in direct contact with the snow.

The easiest solution is to keep dogs inside except when they need to relieve themselves.

But what do you do when you have a dog with high exercise needs, like Australian Shepherds or Border Collies? Well, this is what I did.

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dog-coatK-9 Overcoat™
Abrasion-resistant insulated jacket

The Ruffwear K-9 Overcoat™ is our classic cold-weather utility jacket. Sturdy, durable materials keep up with the most active dog. Wind- and water-resistant outer fabric keeps the elements out, interior fleece layer keeps body heat in. Auto-lock buckles on each side provide easy on/off.

Cold Weather Dog Boot

Summit Trex™  Everyday paw protection
(Set of 4 dog boots)

Summit Trex dog boots provide everyday traction and paw protection from extreme temperatures, abrasive surfaces, and salt or other snowmelt chemicals. The Ruffwear-designed outsole provides flexible traction while an integrated stretch gaiter protects legs and locks out dirt and debris.


Musher's Secret Dog Paw WaxMusher’s Secret

This easy-to-apply all-natural wax-based cream protects paws from harsh surfaces. Protect paws from sand, hot pavement, ice and salt with all natural 100 percent wax-based cream. When applied to pads and between toes, dries in seconds to form a semi-permeable shield. Non-toxic, non-allergenic, non-staining formula can be used weekly or as needed to prevent abrasions, burning, drying and cracking. Perfect for mushing, hunting, walking or before any outdoor activity. Acts as an invisible boot to prevent potential paw problems. Easy-to-apply formula contains vitamin E to moisturize and help heal wounds and keep paws healthy. Available in pack of 7-ounces. Measures 3-4/5-inch length by 3-4/5-inch width 3-4/5 height.

Here are some additional conditions from the AVMA  to be mindful of:

Know the limits:  Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets.

If you’ve found any tips or special gear that you love, please share!



How Cold is It…?

King Charles Cavalier in snow It’s been in the single and negative digits here for days, as it has been for many states across the Mid West and North East. Too cold for man or beast to dally outside.

When Kiera was here, she’d have pointed out that I wasn’t a man and she wasn’t a beast–and she would have insisted that we go walking.

She’d have looked at the thermometer, noted its mercury nose-dive with a nod, as if to say, “You gonna let a little thing like that scare you?” And I’d have laughed and put both of us in our “snow suits and boots.” And we’d have at least made it down to the horse farm, if not all the way down to the end of the road.

We both always felt much better after taking in a little fresh air.

But Graidy and Wink…? They’d completely agree with the “better inside for beasts” motto; they don’t have the same constitution for the cold. Even trying to convince them that it’s in their own best interest to go out to relieve themselves takes some doing.

If you asked them, “How cold is it?” They’d tell you, “Hell has officially frozen over!”

How cold is it where you are?


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