No Title (yes, this is the title)

‘Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.’  Anonymous


I am trying to verbalize something that can’t be verbalized.    This is probably why I am still a student and not a master.  The one who knows doesn’t need to say and really has no questions.  The one who doesn’t know, thinks and asks in excess.

I think my horse trainer is a zen master and I think it is more relevant because it wouldn’t matter to him what he was.  That’s not what he is trying to do, that is just who he is.  I’m honestly not sure why it’s even important for me to write this down. I feel if I can understand it better by writing it down, somehow I will capture it in a way that will stick with me.  I know now after writing most of this already, capturing and clinging to it isn’t the goal.

There are several things that came to my mind on why I started looking at this from such a perspective.

  1.  Every time I assume to think I know what he is saying and repeat it, his response is always ‘no,no,no’.  Ok so I didn’t get it right…You never get zen right in words because zen just is and needs to be experienced.
  2. I took some notes one day when I was riding alone.  I wanted to ask him some questions on things my horse was doing and how I should respond to these things in the future.   He says ‘I can’t answer those questions, that day doesn’t matter anymore.  What happened then will never happen again in the same way, so those questions can’t be answered’.  Much like zen mindfulness and living in the moment… So there went my question asking session. Although he did tell me to go ahead and ask the questions, which I did, which may have stuck me in a place that I shouldn’t be (in the past or in the future and not in the present moment…)  I concluded that he doesn’t want me to think.   It’s better to react to whatever happens in the moment (knowing your aids), not overthink everything.  He would not say he was trying to tell me to do anything.
  3. When I ask him a question he seems to always answer ‘Do what you feel like’.   Is it ok if I ride with the reins long when I first get on her? he responds ‘do what you feel like and pay attention to what she is doing so you can react’ (mindfulness).     Another question ‘when she starts lifting her head really high to look at something should I keep her from looking (knowing she can get really distracted and ‘higher’ when staring at something)?  his answer… ‘you can keep her from looking but after a while she is going to start to resent you telling her what to do all the time’ (I think he is speaking from personal experience)…’Are my old habits going to come back and ruin all you have done?’ (I am spooky which makes her spooky and then we both are spookier…).  His reply ‘no, no,no!’  you can never ruin her, we just make things we might need to fix…It’s about the moments…not about the future or the past.  Just because she did something today doesn’t mean we should expect it’s going to happen tomorrow no matter why she did it.

Thankfully, I have had very similar learning experiences with other horse masters…so that when I hear what he is saying, it’s sinking into areas of my brain that have already had impressions placed.  Hearing the same things in different ways, from different views and life experiences creates an even deeper level of understanding.

I never had someone actually ride my horse at my house before.  It was always about me riding while receiving instruction.  I think a lot of assumptions go into that.  First and probably the worst is that the horse knows what to do and second that I know what I am doing to some extent.  Poor Repay.  Our continuous cycle of staying the same in a place of being inconsistent in our progress (frustrating each other) had a lot to do with both of our ignorance.    The trainer rides her twice a week and I get on her and she responds  consistently and peacefully.   He says he didn’t do any of that, it was already in her with good training from her previous training experiences but what he did was quiet her down so that I could feel all that was already there.  Plus he is so accurate with his requests that when he tells me what his cue or aid is, she reacts in a way that she is teaching me how to be correct as well.    I still have these bad habits of thinking (not zen) she is trying to evade something when it’s really the way I am asking that makes her think I want her to do one thing and she is trying so hard while I get frustrated thinking  (not zen) she’s doesn’t want to do it.

My favorite part  (and something I really never ‘got’) is that getting on and standing under the trees is something she needed.  Not working her was working her.   Being a thoroughbred off the track that was trained from a baby to get up and go when a person got on her back had never really been taken out of her.  Even in my own mind, you get on a horse and go.  Walk, trot, canter.  No matter if it was a trail ride or in the arena, it was always going.  Repay never had trouble going, she had trouble not going.  She had trouble even in her own self of calming down in every gait consistently.  One day she’d be ok, one day not so ok.  Even one of my favorite dressage teachers would say ‘she’s a thoroughbred, this is how she will be’ with such steadfast confidence.  Thankfully for both of us, we have a new way that has finally gotten into my head.  It seems pretty obvious and simple now that I really think about it.   We are still a long way from achieving our powerful quietness, but our path is more obvious to me now.




I love her tail in this picture…It was really, really windy that day!


Moving on

As I sit here trying to do some research on  my most recent critically ill patient with acute kidney injury I’m being distracted by the writing in the notebook I’m using to take notes.

‘Prepare the Honda’

‘Camping stuff’

Mileage to different destinations.

As I sit here trying to read on my most recent critically ill patient…
These lists taking up space on the paper where I’m trying to write about protein losing nephropathy and membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis. I’d much rather be planning a cross country motorcycle trip and writing down all the things I need to prepare for such an adventure then be reading about a disease that will likely never be cured. I can spell the camping stuff much easier too.

The mere thought of a freedom filled adventure with no responsibility, no places you have to be, no appointments to worry about. Just stop and go as you please…I can’t even have a thought about it that is not taken over by the tangles of responsibilities I’ve grown myself into 😦

This notebook, that’s over 20 years old, has a mixture of my ex-husband and my writings. My veterinary school notes,  his violin lesson notes,  his poems, my future landscaping goals and promises to stop eating chocolate and peanut butter.  They randomly take up space on the pages.  In no order whatsoever…a time when we had little money to waste paper.  At least that  is the only reason I could see why we were sharing one notebook for such a myriad of things.  Or maybe it was meant for me to have this one notebook full of so many things written by each of us so I would not forget.

As I sit here trying to read on my most recent critically ill patient…-3

It’s been 20 years since he went on that motorcycle trip. I can’t remember if he ever told me about it but I think that was the final goodbye.       I love my life and feel tremendously grateful for the  growth I experienced on the path I took.    Kirk, living on the top of a mountain, in a yurte he built himself, trying to figure out how to keep his bees alive in the Montana winter…there’s no doubt he loves his life with the same enthusiasm for living that I always knew him to have.

As I sit here trying to read on my most recent critically ill patient…-2

We are separate now and somewhat opposite in our thoughts and ways but we are the same in our contentment with our chosen spaces, which makes me feel like we did right for each other despite the trauma it took to get there.

My mom barely can remember us. The fact that we met in high school and that we were together 15 years and moved to Alachua after we got married. Like the amyloid in the glomerulus of the kidney which ruins its function, my mom has amyloid in her brain ruining its function, starting with the memory. And here, I write in a notebook that has the past, the future and the present swimming around its pages as reminders to never forget.

My mom doesn’t remember being sad and crying when we told her we were getting a divorce…What is reality  ? when one day you may forget it all?

Kirk introduced me to Buddha’s teaching when we were 16 years old. The ‘perfect dent’ discussion. He was so pleased with himself for being able to explain it that I’ll never forget the moment he sat there talking about it. After that I would look at things very differently. Everything you think is broken is not. It’s the perfect version of itself. My mom is one example of that.  Every day she may change a little, but she still is the perfect version of herself in the disease she has.

There are occasions that inspire me to start writing. This one was thanks to amyloid and an old notebook. I never want to forget why or how I got to where I am. The people that helped shape me along the way, whether the experience was a good one or not.   Without Kirk I may not have had the courage to take those challenging physics classes, the organic chemistry, calculus 2…or move to alachua to start the whole application process for veterinary school. People help carry your dreams with you and he carried a lot for me. Once it was achieved, he gently let us go. It’s strange to think of it that way because I was the instigator of our break up but he let it go and moved on. We both moved on.  Hopefully  urine will continue to move on through my patients ailing kidneys too and not become clogged with amyloid.  Sometimes moving on is the gift we forget to be thankful for.

As I sit here trying to read on my most recent critically ill patient…-4


When I look at Sally


When I look at Sally

I see an elderly lady


I see too many cats

A big heart

Trying to save them all

I see a veterinarian

That carries the same big heart

That sees a cat

Stuck in a situation

Seizuring, unable to stand

Skin and bones

Head twisted almost upside down

Ears full of infection and parasites

Feline leukemia virus taking over.

Elderly lady doesn’t comprehend

Just sees a life to save.

Veterinarian. Sees suffering and a life that should be let go. Knowing the home it would go back to would put her in a kind of cat hell where she too would want to live but would cycle through periods of being sick and then sicker, then back to sick again.

Ah but what do I know…

Sally. A constant reminder to not always take the easy (?) way out. To go with your heart.   Giving up not an option every time.

The profession of Medicine is truly a calling and to treat it otherwise is a tragic mistake.

Decisions are made and then you live with them. Good or bad.

You die, you live.

What is the determining factor?

Money can never really be the reason.

I understand it on purely profit driven business level. But what is profit, if not life? At least trying for a really good life in oneself.

There are always places where letting go is right.

Over the years I’ve found two places it’s not. 1. In any young patient. And 2. Anytime there is hope by someone, be it the owner, the doctor or the patient. Hope is the life saver.

I can remember times (countless) that someone comes in for euthanasia and we didn’t do it that day and I see the pet back a year later or even two years later or even five years down the line… and it’s like that thought (euthanasia) never happened and the patient is doing fine.

So Sally, with her head twisted and unable to stand, having uncontrolled tremors, a severe respiratory infection and feline leukemia seemed the perfect candidate for euthanasia.

But she was young and the owner didnt want to give up.

My two golden rules flashing like neon signs in my brain.

So we kept her, treated her with antibiotics, gave her fluids, treated her ears and killed all the fleas and dewormed her.

Every day the owner would call and ask how Sally was doing. And surprisingly Sally was getting better. Despite my poor prognosis. Sally was a tough one.

After 2 weeks Sally could go home. But only if the owner could keep her in, not around any other cats. She still had a head tilt and vestibular signs and wouldn’t be able to defend herself or be able to run and jump or climb to safety. Plus she had feline leukemia which is contagious to other cats and suppresses the immune system putting her at risk of catching every other viral or bacterial disease present in the elderly woman’s colony of cats.

This was impossible for the elderly owner so we offered to keep her , find her a home and not charge her for her time with us.

I love looking at Sally.


For all the reasons why I should fight for them and for myself.

It’s not about money or about suffering or about ego or pride.

It’s about the gift of life.

Precious, precious life.

It’s about the will to live, the desire to help, whether you are the eldery lady with too many cats or the veterinarian that gets paralyzed about what’s the right thing to do at that critical decision point, when you honestly can say you don’t know what the outcome will be with treatment but you know what will happen when you inject the euthanasia solution.

I alone can choose if you live or die.

That’s a tremendous responsibility and one that I love Sally for.

Because she proved me wrong.

‘What ifs’  are crushed by the spirit for the life that is clung to.

Sure she had some very hard days but the worst were before she ever came to us.

I’m confident she does not recall or worry or stress or have flashbacks of being so sick.

Over those mountain tops and through the valley she did go, never looking back, just looking for help and no one to squash her hope.

And we did it! We stuck by her side, helping her along the way, hoping with her and we were all successful.  Sally is healthy and active and getting fat.  The only reminder of her illness is a slight head tilt and a permanent squint from the nerve that was damaged when she was so sick.

I love looking at Sally.

There’s a million reasons why.

One day maybe I will find the words to explain it.



The dirt was moist from the recent storm. Humidity almost 100 %. The second day of December and still no break from the ugly, wet heat of North Florida.

There was a large hole in the ground next to what appeared to be a shallow grave. Sent here on a tip, I took the shovel and started carefully moving the dirt to see what it may have hidden. DSC_0483Sweat started to roll down into my eyes, I wasn’t finding anything so decided to take a break and crouched down at the base of a large oak tree. Mosquitos buzzing in my ears.

It felt like something touched me on my back, I reached back to see if I was sitting that close to the tree, but the way I was leaning, there was at least a foot of space between us. I started to feel a little scared. Why am I out here all by myself, in the middle of the woods with mosquitoes and spiders and now something brushing up against me that I can’t see??…shit, fuck, piss as my ex-husband use to say.

So I decided to take my camera and look around at the scene. I may not be able to find a murder weapon, but I will try to find something to make my time out here worthwhile.

I stood in the middle of aDSC_0360, all beautiful big oaks. Virgin oaks I like to call these, not a drop of 431983_651202204894115_1281380658_n hanging from them. I find that so interesting since nearly everywhere else you look,nearly all the oak trees are covered in spanish moss. What makes this particular plot of land so unique (or polluted) that spanish moss chooses not to come here?

I tried listening to the trees, seeing if they would give any clues. Most of these trees would have been here back then. Two murders. One in 1977, the other in 1989. I was unsure of their connection, but I was certain these trees were standing here and would know something about both of them.

I sometimes feel trees are like elephants. Their memory would be picture like and solid, without ever forgetting. How to talk to the trees… I’m sure most people would think I was DSC_0248 for thinking this way, even I think I am crazy. Crazy is not always a bad thing and I will continue to open my self to receiving anything that may help solve these murders.

As I continued to be quiet and listen, I started to feel sick to my stomach. I didn’t know if it was the heat or the length of time I crouched for (getting too old for that) or if the sickly feeling was a message I was receiving from the energy around me.

Very slowly I walked, observing.

A really beautiful, refreshing, cool breeze came across my face.  Anotherdsc_0957_2.jpg  coming. I looked down and stared at the ground, and saw a DSC_0367 under the leaves. A very tiny bone. I took a stick and gently elevated the leaves. It was a tibia from something very small. Probably a baby rabbit. And then I saw the femur.

So I kept looking for more bones. I didn’t find anymore bones but I did noticed there was a lot of DSC_0376 in this kind of circular pattern all around the final resting place of a tibia and a femur. I looked up. DSC_0378Imaging some type of bird, either an owl, hawk or crow had eaten their meal up there on a big branch.

Ahhh, one mystery solved, maybe the trees are talking to me.DSC_0394

My struggle with the sloth

This morning, the runner girl in me was quite stealthy…I woke up with no desire or motivation for exercise what so ever.  If it wasn’t for the giant Golden Retriever staring me in the face at 5 am, I probably would still be laying there.   I was completely exhausted and setting myself up for all kinds of excuses to not run the  10 mile run I routinely do on wednesdays.    I had to go to the health department to get a rabies shot.  I wanted to be the first one there so I wouldn’t have to wait..and then I had originally planned on going running on the way home.  The sloth was wide awake and ready to sabotage runner girls efforts with any and all excuses.

I didn’t give the sloth too much acknowledgment, which is something I have learned to do, kind of ignore that voice and just watch those excuses go by without getting too attached to them.  So I took a shower and started to get dressed.  Runner girl put on running socks.  The sloth skipped over the sports bra and picked a regular bra…Runner girl knew that wasn’t an issue because there is an entire running outfit in the car just waiting…Runner girl then pulled a running shirt off the hanger…the sloth laughed inside…you know how hard it is to put a sports bra on underneath a shirt in a parking lot…Runner girl just kept getting dressed, ignoring the sloth.

Sitting at the health department, waiting for my turn, the sloth started visualizing driving straight home to hang out and eat breakfast and have coffee with the dogs.   Runner girl started negotiations with the sloth.  We can just go for 30 minutes, no big deal.  The sloth said nothing.  The rabies shot came and went and it was still early.   Runner girl was beating the sloth and the sloth being a sloth, gave up the fight.  Putting the sports bra on in the parking lot was really easy, running 10 miles was easier then ever and going home and enjoying the much deserved breakfast was just perfect.

Just remember, your body can do whatever you have trained it to do…so can your mind 🙂  photo 3

It’s always a new day



Every day is a new day.

I get to drive to work at the most beautiful and refreshing the sun rises.

Often I will see these amazing scenes and have to pull over to take some pictures.  I am in awe of the planet we live on.

I am so glad that I can be in the moment to appreciate the beauty of life.

It’s always a new moment 🙂