verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Boo: Take Two

It's starting to dawn on me that sometimes wisdom is acquired through making the same mistake over and over again until you get so tired of starting over that you finally decide to NOT make the mistake again and try something different. I've known this for a long time but I didn't have the wisdom to have this wisdom. 

But anyway, here's Libby who saved the day by demonstating her own very keen wisdom on Friday when she came along to walk Boo. Libby's about the size of a peanut and has the mental precision of a diamond cutter.  Details.  She knows details and can catalogue them in the files of her memory and then immediately retrieve them when you ask.  She also has an uncanny ability to plan ahead. Details, again.  If you have a job that needs to get done, put Lib on it.  Done.

And the bonus:  Libby reads the blog which proved to be my lucky strike on this particular day.

So there we were, cruising the 'hood with Boo and enjoying one of the most beautiful days of the summer.  It was warm, clear, sunny, breezy, friendly.  Of course the cynic in me was silently scolding it for being too little and too late but I would take it, nonetheless.  And we were chatting and planning her upcoming move when Libby looked up, stopped walking and quietly said "uh-oh".  Boo had stopped, his tail was still, and his ears were up and forward leaning (Try to do that with your own ears. It's an amazing demonstration of 'focus').  And Boo was indeed 'focused'.  Strangely familiar single-point concentration.

Libby said it again but this time it was "Mom, uh-oh. Mom, look! Mom!" I looked at Boo.  I looked at Libby.  I looked back to Boo. That's when I saw it: barrelling down the street coming staright at us at full throttle and with a faint hint of a grin reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in the Shining ("Hhhhheeerrrrre's Johnny!")  was--yes--you guessed--that UPS truck again!  And by the time I understood what Libby and Boo were anticipating, Boo was already in the process of becoming one with the truck in his inimitable style. 

Thank goodness for Libby!  And thank goodness she reads the blog and pays attention!  And even more thank goodness she knew about Boo and the UPS truck! And especially thank goodness Libby was Right Here Right Now so that I was able to compose myself for the thunder of their union just in time!  And as the truck swooshed by and Boo tried to lunge, Dr. UPS leaned forward to watch the effect, and when he saw that we were all hunkered down, he rounded the corner, stopped the truck and looked back to see if we were flung every which way. We were not.  I was (almost) solidly on both feet.  My arm was still (almost)attached to my shoulder.  Boo was still Boo.  My clothes were askew and my hair was pretty torn up but we were standing. Libby laughed hard.

But if Libby hadn't been there?  Well, that thought is what led to my opening paragraph.  I'm still deaf to the reality of the UPS truck.  Like the day's weather, I was also too little and too late to have any awareness of the UPS truck. Still more practice needed.  Maybe even more suffering.

And, if Libby hadn't been there...

But Libby has always been here.  All the way here.  And I don't just mean in the physical sense.  But in the intuitive sense.  They're hidden behind her sunglasses, but she has enormous brown eyes.  When she was born, they seemed almost too big for her tiny face.  They're deep, huge, beautiful.  And they've seen many things.  She has taken those many things and woven them together with an intention and a devotion that takes my breath away.  Her focus, her determination, her laughter, and her Right Here Right Now-ness will take her far as she sets out on her new journey.  How excited I am for her--and how I will miss her! And though she won't be right here exactly, I know she will always be exactly right here...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lady Millicent

Affectionately known as Millie by her inner circle, Lady Millicent is the poster child for Bedlington Terrier-hood.  While she lives up to their reputation as bright, spunky, fast, and friendly, she has learned to temper her Bedlington-ish urge to rule the world.

Actually, Millie prefers not to rule the world.  On the times she has tried, she is greatly relieved to abdicate her power and be the assistant-in-charge. I frequently take her with me to walk Boo.  She has a way of greeting her walking partners with such enthusuiasm that if we were to hold a contest, she would win Miss Congeniality.

My favorite time with Millie is when the two of us are walking alone.  I am walking along side of her, but I can't take my eyes off of her.  She's so happy-go-lucky that her feet make contact with the ground only every 3 or 4 feet of distance.  She dances rather than walks, and at times I feel as though I am walking a butterfly.  And it's not a loud or boisterous kind of happy--the kind of happy you might feel when you find a forgotten $20 bill in your pocket or on the first day of summer vacation. It's more the kind of happy that involves no thought, no prize, no reason, no care.  That kind of happy. 

Sometimes it's contageous, sometimes not.  On the days that I can't quite 'get there' with her, I take the seed and plant it.  It's an idea, an intention.  And with that little kernal, happiness grows.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Bodhicitta: The wish to attain complete enlightenment in order to be of benefit to all sentient beings -- beings who are trapped in cyclic existence (samsāra) and have not yet reached Buddhahood. One who has bodhicitta as the primary motivation for all of their activities is called a bodhisattva.

Meet Boo.  He's on his way to Buddhahood.  I managed to take his picture during a recent walking meditation.  He's a dog of few words but one feels his presence in the room and he has assumed the role of the wise sage in his home and neighborhood.  He lives the life of a monk, spending hours in quiet contemplation and taking up the smallest amount of space possible.  He shows unparalleled gratitude for any offerings related to food and taste.

I'm not sure where exactly Boo is on his path towards enlightenment but he's gotta be getting close.  In a past lifetime, he was a perfume tester.  He can't resist finding tidbits of odor-laden treasures to slather all over his back.  He was also a cat--he's especially tolerant of cats.  He was never a chipmunk--no apparent tolerance there, anyway.  This lifetime, he has chosen to come as a Golden Retrieverist, and clearly it's good karma for him.

Boo walks, and with attention to detail.  He observes.  He doesn't judge--at least not in words or woofs.  He has an odd curiosity about electric power boxes and can't pass one without inspecting the hum.  Or perhaps it's not a hum, but an Ommmmm.  Boo's more attuned to the Path than I am.

Take today, for example.  We're walking our walk.  Actually, Boo is walking our walk, and in doing so he is at one with the ground, the sky, and the birds.  And I, I am lollygagging along, and instead of being 'at one with', I am 'at about six with' a variety of thoughts, concerns and ideas.  I'm telling Obama what to do, planning next summer, adding up the outgoing bills against the incoming checks, arranging furniture in wherever I'm going to live next, remembering to tell the girls how to make gazpacho, thinking of ways to either paint or blow up the backyard fence, when all of a sudden I am jolted into the Right Here Right Now by Boo who is now determined to be 'at one' with the UPS truck.  Arrrgghhhh--the UPS truck! I always forget!  Boo has uncanny radar for this guy and if I had been 'at one' I would have noticed his approach in the distance.  His truck is unmistakeable.  Don't all UPS trucks sound the very same?  Have you ever noticed that?  I swear--the sound must be manufactured right into them. I mean, it's not like this was a foreign experience to me.  But Boo, in all his 'one-ness' heard it because he was of course tuned in to the Right Here Right Now.

When Boo wants to 'connect' to the UPS truck, he adopts the same MPH that the truck is going and runs along side in parallel fashion.  His coat streams behind him like Buddhist prayer flags high up on Everest. He actually becomes the UPS truck.  He doubles--no, quadruples--in size and stature, and his feet become big round rubbery tires that cling to the pavement and go to someplace that is not right where we are at that moment, and he likes to get there very fast--as fast as the truck we are trying to become.  And I, I am snapped out of my stupor--my right arm now 4 tenths of a mile longer than it was before becoming one with the truck--and I find myself unwittingly airborn, doing some sort of yogic flying or levitating or god-only-knows what, still firmly attached to Boo, the leash, and my arm. And the driver seems to think it's fun.  Well, I have some thoughts about guy must be 'at one' with the monotony if that's his idea of fun.

And when my arm has shrunken back to its shorter length, and Boo, busy, is realigning himself with the absence of the UPS truck and the presence of a granite boulder on the left (piddle is a great channel for experiencing 'at one-ness'), I look to Boo and thank him for reminding me to pay attention to the Right Here Right Now.  I laugh and ask him for more gentle reminders, but this one will stick for awhile. 

As Boo would probably say, take two Tylenol and just say Ommmmm.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Madly Maeve

Now I want to be very clear that I made a rule for myself about posting 'people' pictures and already I am having to make an exception.  Bear with me as I explain.

You may be looking at this photo and thinking that you are seeing my parents with their cute little corgi named Maeve.  That is not what you are seeing.  You are actually seeing a picture of a Type-A corgi named Maeve tending to her flock.  It happens the flock is comprised of my parents among others, and I too am one of the herd. Because I have documentation proving my residency in Massachusetts, I am given permission to leave the paddock when necessary.  You probably don't realize it, but you are in fact, are also part of the herd.  No, really. Just park your car long enough to say hello and you're, well, you'll see what I mean.  In fact, if you are skeptical you can even try this:  borrow a school bus and just drive it down the road past their house and back.  You've been flocked!  Or, pretend you're the mail carrier and leave mail in the box.  Flocked again.  Or, disguise yourself as a hawk and fly over the house.  Flocked you! 

Let's just put it this way:  There is way more than a blog entry contained in this particular dog.  There is a book series, possibly a movie, and a reality television series. And its necessary to include this photo that shows Maeve with her charges.  No one would recognize her otherwise.

Maeve is a dog on a mission.  She's bionic.  She doesn't run; she rockets.  She shoots out of the gate like she's been shot out of a cannon.  Look out, look out!  Here she comes!  And when she whizzes by her pink tongue is curled back behind her in the rush of wind.  Why it isn't frayed, I don't know. And she's smiling because she has Something Important at hand and she's taking care of it.  She revels in her work.  Why sit still when you can accomplish something? Might I add here that the members of the herd seem to mimic these qualities.  Need 237 tomatoes? Check out the garden.  It's art and earth in a single plot.  Need storage ideas?  Tour the kitchen.  Every thing has a place. Every job hs been done and done well, at the time it needed to be done, and with great satisfaction.

Maeve can spell.  She can tell time.  If you ever want to know when it's 5:00, go stand in the kitchen.  She's there, waiting for dinner.  That means it's exactly 5.  If one flock-ee is upstairs and needs to holler down to say something to the other flock-ee, Maeve becomes The Announcer and persists in sending alerts that there is an incoming message.  She's so persistent with these alerts that both flock-ees must seek each other out to be heard over them. 

My favorite trick of hers is "Not Jumping".  When someone arrives to visit, Maeve understands "Don't Jump" so after about 6 or 7 shall we say cleansing "Jumps", she settles into what I call "Not Jumps".  She somehow keeps her rear quarters on the floor but uses some form of yoga to stretch herself all the way up to your waist while setting her eyes intently on you, and then she smiles.  And quivers.  Wait.  You're not looking.  Quiver and stretch a little more. There.  Now you see me.

Maeve does eventually wear herself out.  She sprawls on her back in the sun in the middle of the hot driveway.  No need for a pillow or shade or anything too comfy.  She also curls herself on Dad's feet when he eats.  She appears so mellow.  But we chuckle because we know better.

Maeve is having exploratory surgery tomorrow for a persistent sore on her nose and in her mouth.  Hopefully all will go well.  In her absence the chain of command will shift.  While there may be debate amonst flock-ees as to who will serve as interim chief and while they each will surely assign themselves to the role, let there be no doubt about it.  The Massachusetts member has everything under control.

Fenway Follow-up

My Grandfather, who was a die-hard fan like Buddy, had a boxer who was named Sox. 


And also naturally, they'll be back--the Sox, that is.  Don't let the Yankees thing fool you.  Not for one minute. 

Right Buddy? 


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fenway Faithful

This is a rare moment for Buddy.  I caught him the other day without his Red Sox hoodie. Granted, it's way too hot to be wearing a Red Sox hoodie right now, but fans like Buddy don't often easily yield to the weather when it comes to matters of the Nation.  Nevertheless, Buddy's choice to forego his fan gear netted great results:  a whopping 14-1 victory over the Yankees.  (In case you didn't hear that quite right, let me repeat that score for you:  14-1). 

Buddy is the senior citizen of his circle.  A quiet old gent, he lives his days snoozing in between his sessions mentoring Remy, a very young Newfie pup who has recently joined the family.  This is Buddy's second Newfie so he's undaunted by the size difference, which is almost comical.  Guthrie, Buddy's original Newfie, passed away nearly a year ago.  Remy is keeping Buddy young-ish acting and puts the zip in his day.

In fact, Buddy sleeps so soundly that each time I go see him, I must nudge him awake, causing him to jump right up and, understandably, holler at me for waking him up.  After I gently remind him who I am and why I'm there, he gladly accepts my invitation to go cruise the 'hood and talk Sox.  We have a little ritual:  we go where he wants to go.  And nowhere else but there.  I love that about Buddy.  A dog of his convictions. 

Like my Grandfather, Buddy is no-nonsense when it comes to his way of life.  You know right where you stand, and you know exactly what the plan is going to be.  No doubt about it. But you also know what it takes to be among the Fenway Fathful and so you know that Buddy will never ever ever ever stop believeing in you, no matter how much you may startle his sleep.  That was my grandfather, and that is Buddy.  But unlike Gramp, Buddy saw the magic in 2004 and is no doubt whistling this morning thinking about last night's score (did I mention--14-1?) and those poor Yankees....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mayfield Morning

Look at this face. Look at those eyes. Say no more...

This morning was so humid that you could hear it. There's a subtle buzz or hiss in the air when it gets this hot and humid, but it can only be heard in the early morning and then the day gets too cluttered to hear it later. I started my morning with Tucker. We went to town again to walk to Mayfield, where the horses are and where Main Street meets the fields of Gibbet Hill. Our town center has traffic, cafes, and shops, but the local farms are all situated right along Main Street so that we also have fields, stone walls, foot paths, cows, goats, and chickens providing the immediate backdrop.

There is something so precious about this particular walk, and in the early morning its beauty is especially penetrating. Tucker loves to go there too and we go without talking about it much. Our Mayfield walk is a little like going to church together. It doesn't happen anywhere else like that but there's something about this one....

At the end of the path this morning, we stopped. Tucker was in no rush and he paused to look. We had seen wild turkeys run through a yard moments before. For birds who aren't known for their flying skills, they aren't really good runners, either. They not only look awkward, but they also seem embarrassed by it.

Mayfield ends at the base of the hills. We usually go to the lane's edge and today we stayed awhile. I watched Tucker. I tried to look up and out to take in the landscape, but I couldn't hold my gaze for long. The hills with their loosestrife and lace and greens were so exquisite that I simply can't describe its beauty. But you might know what I'm talking about if you have ever been so struck by the magnificence of a scene or a moment that you could lay down and cry. That's what I saw and felt. And, I did--I cried. Silly...

But as I watched how Tucker took this in, I saw that he looked right at it and, well, you can see by his eyes that he isn't afraid to really see what's there. And so there we stood for several minutes, in this scene and squarely in its moment, and I felt all its vulnerability. In order to be in that very moment, I had to let go of anything outside of it--all that's gone, and all that's ahead. Doing that gives birth to the vulnerability of being alive. Unlike Tucker, I found myself shying away from fully taking this in--perhaps I am only capable of short glimpses of such reality. But I so admire Tucker and his courage to simply be still.

Eventually, we wandered back home. We had had such a wonderfully quiet experience together and I was so grateful for his company. When it was time to say goodbye, he did this little trick of his: he turned again to give me his full attention. Those are the eyes you see above. To me they are full of love and courage. I have no doubt that we shared the same experience on Mayfield. His subtle but rapt attentiveness to our walking--the gentle cues from the lead line, my pace, my voice--is full of mutual regard. What a treasure to know. But where he soars and I fumble is in goodbye. As we climbed the stairs to his front door, he looked back at me with only fleeting anticipation of our next walk together. And then he went right in, no need to linger, no need to worry about next time. If I come, he'll be happy for sure. But for right now, he's not going to worry about it. And in fact, not only for right now, but forever, he's not going to worry about it. He's just going to be. And content, besides. I'm not sure whether that's faith or freedom or both.

I'm going to stick by dear Tucker for awhile until I learn to do his trick.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dressed for Success (or Holy Crap)

You may wonder what it takes to be a dog walker. Let me tell you. It takes 2 graduate degrees, a persistent case of vertigo, two concurrent therapy jobs, and a car that triples as a closet, the company headquarters, and corporate jet. Oprah's closet may be vast and climate-controlled, and her offices may be bi-coastal, bi-continental, and bi-ergonomic, and she may be able to hop onto her Lear jet on a moment's notice, but I've gone Uni-Versal, and have managed to get the wardrobe, the database, and the company fleet into one single Toyota Corolla. Pure genius.

During the academic year, I often start my morning with a dog walk. Only 10 months out of the year it's cold, wet, slippery, or dark. The rest of the year, the weather is simply delicious. [Except for this particular year. Delicious never arrived and it's almost time to stack wood. It was either way too cold or way too hot] I put on my high school therapist clothes and sensible shoes, brush my teeth, call Jane, eat breakfast, go back upstairs to change into something different, forget before I get there why I went upstairs, decide to strip the bed, discover Meredith is foregoing the alarm clock, lecture her into consciousness, go back out to start the car, drive to the dog, suddenly remember why I went upstairs in the first place--but too late--I'm almost with the dog, and then I actually walk the dog. "Good morning, Young Whippersnapper! Let's get up and at 'em!"

I finish the YW, scoop the poop, toss a biscuit to 'Snapper as I wave him goodbye, put the poop bag on the floor of the car, drive to the high school, lock the car and skip past my office, heading directly to the main office to check the tardy list to make sure Meredith is not among the damned, and then attempt to convince teenagers that adults are not freaks of nature. After several hours, it's time to leave the school and go walk the Noon Time Crew. Across the school cafeteria and into the parking lot I go, only to discover that a) it's raining sideways and b) I left the poop bag in the car and c) the car now reeks.

OK, Oprah, watch closely because Here I Come! I pop the trunk, and Presto Chango--rain gear! Fishing hat? Check. Windbreaker? Check. Duck boots? Check. Polar fleece? Check. Umbrella? Check. Towels? Check. In no time, lickety-split, I am transformed from counselor to The Dog Walker-er, ready to withstand any downpour or deluge.
Off I go to walk Boo and then my BFF Tucker, and sometimes old Buddy. Everyone gets soaked, everyone gets all wet-dog smelly, and everyone basks in the towel-down after. I look a little like a chia-pet, but once again--and Oprah take note--I pop the trunk and voila--Grown Up administrative meeting clothes! All slithered down in my closet/office/jet, I slip off the morning counselor clothes, the rain gear, the dog hairs, and jettison to the hospital conference room for a meeting with district administrators, carrying my satchel and wearing my pearls, a sassy swing jacket, and flowy pants that drape just so. I Am Woman and I Am Roaring! And I am seated among suits galore--leather-bound planners, Cross pens, tie shoes that shine, professionals with manners and who speak in multi-syllabic words. Right at this moment, I have this bird's eye view of my day so far and my ever-so-clever ingenuity with the clothes, the jobs, the dogs, the weather, with motherhood, and I think "Mmmmm-mmmm. You're one hot ticket. The real-life Samantha Stevens. Magical. Hoo-ahhhh (as Al Pacino would say). So M-o-u-n-t-a-i-n TOP. "

5 minutes into the meeting....10 minutes into the meeting. Hmmm. Do I smell something? I smell something. Yes, I definitely smell...something.


Definitely, phew.
Someone in this room has a problem. A serious problem. One of these All-Importants has quite the hygiene problem (such a pity--people just don't take care of themselves the way they used too). Ewww-eee. Is it just me? Doesn't anyone else smell what I smell? Either their sniffers don't work, or they are incredibly polite and very good actors. They MUST smell it too. It's enormous at this point. I can almost see a cloud.

Yes, I see a cloud. Indeed, there's a cloud. It's rising up from under the table. It seems to be a fine vapor and it's gravitating towards me. No, not towards. From! From me! This vapor is coming FROM me!

And there it is. The whole stinkin' truth. There, encrusted around the heel of my shoe like sludge on a stick, is a smeary, mushy, gooshy, hunk of yes. Poop. Fresh dog poop. Stuck to my shoe. My dog-walking shoe. My oops-I-forgot-to-change-my-shoes shoe. And it isn't the Whipper's poop because no, I scooped that and it's still in the car. This is someone else's dog poop, making this all the more insulting. But I forgot to change my shoes! How did this happen? This what I call a serious malfunction. I am utterly deaf for the rest of the meeting. I have no idea what I have agreed to prepare for the next meeting. I have no idea who these people are or how I got here. I have no idea what my name is. All I know is that these pearls and this sassy swing jacket do nothing to squelch the smell of the vile glop on my poor shoe. Desperate, I attempt to summon the jet through prayer . Oh God please if You would only pop the trunk, I would throw myself in.

Someone remind me to fire my staff.

Tucker: Dog BFF

You may think that dog BFF stands for Best Friends Forever. Wrong. It stands for Dog Boyfriend Forever. Since the day I lay eyes on him--no--since the day he first got in my car and exploded a small can of Static Guard that he found not-so-safely hidden under the seat, I have had a mad crush on this fella. After the initial jolt of our first 10 minutes and a call to the canine poison control hot line, I could see that hanging out with Tucker was going to be something like bungee jumping.

In the time that we have been sharing walks, Tucker has mellowed and now gets my attention by being very handsome, suave, and very chill. He seemed to get on Obama's Change bandwagon and has focused on style, delivery, and being very cool. If Tucker had an ipod, his playlist would be all reggae. He would have dreads. He would just close his eyes and jam.

When we walk his favorite walk down Main Street to Mayfield to see the horses, he takes the first half so seriously. He's Mr. Business. Puts on a good show for the commuters. "I'm such a good dog, as you can all plainly see...". At Mayfield, we check out the self-service honey, candle, and egg stand and sit on the bench to watch the breeze flirt with fields on Gibbet Hill. The town center is so beautiful that it commands this pause. But he sits ON the bench. Right beside me. Shoulder to shoulder. None of this dog on the ground stuff for him. When I point us towards home, he grins, his eyes twinkle, he wags his tail, and then does something like the tarantella, spinning, twirling, laughing, and teasing me into dancing with him. I always succumb. How could I do otherwise? The horses are used to our antics. They let us be.

But Tucker keeps me laughing. He also comforts me. He's Yoda on a skateboard. He looks right at me and reads me as much as I read him. I adore him. He's the ultimate in kindness. And today he was in top form. Today he got in the car for an early morning walk and even though I put him in the back seat, he met me in the front, shotgun. I normally don't allow that. He's a dog, after all. But this is Tucker, and this dog-boyfriend of mine knew that for today, we were throwing out all the rules and our old ideas.

"Carry on", he whispered.

May the force be with you and may it be jammin'.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Meet Biscuit and Artemis

Meet my good friends. On the left is Biscuit. On the right is his sister, Artemis. They aren't mine, but we understand each other as if we were family. They are visiting me for a couple days as they do fairly often. Biscuit is 14 years old and knows absolutely everything, including where we're going on our walks. He decides. He smirks at me when I put him on the lead, as if to remind me that I am really not as in charge as I like to think. He can eat anything--his stomach is indestructible. He has massive lumps everywhere but is undaunted by his age, shape, or circumstances. He always pulls himself up for the next outing. I call him Old Man.

His much younger sidekick is Arty. She makes very ferocious sounds and clears the roadways when they see us coming. The truth is that she is a big weeny and can be coerced into anything. Artemis utterly adores Biscuit and tends to him wherever we are. She waits and waits and waits while he takes way too long to sniff something invisible. She sleeps near him and goes where he goes. He piddles, she piddles. Then he piddles again just to maintain his standing. She pretends she's self-sufficient but I know the truth. We both know that Biscuit will be moving on someday soon. Her world will never be the same without him but maybe that's proof of its preciousness.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Verge: definition

verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria
Brit. a grassy border, as along a road
an enclosing line or border; boundary, esp. of something more or less circular
the area so enclosed
the edge of the tiling that projects over a gable
the spindle of a balance wheel in a clock with an old-style vertical escapement
a rod or staff symbolic of an office, as that carried before a church official in processions
Eng. Feudal Law a rod held in the hand by a feudal tenant as he swore fealty to his lord

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Welcome to the verge. I like its meaning. Certainly I am on the brink or edge of something--many things. And hopefully hysteria is not one of them. I am on the verge of 50. The verge of launching my youngest daughter. Selling my house. Moving. Going broke (or preferably going rich?).

I was on quite a verge a few years ago. I didn't like it then as I do now. Reeling from a divorce, I didn't know how I would support myself, pay the mortgage or replace the light bulbs. My family and friends didn't seem as daunted as I was. I thought they were crazy. You can do it, they'd say. I hadn't a clue where to begin.

While I was trying to figure all that out, I began walking dogs for a friend. I didn't pay much attention to it--I just did it. I used the walks to plan my future and sort out the details as to how I would get my feet on the ground. Walk after walk I pondered my dilemma, coming up with just a mess of ideas but no closer to The Thing that would snap my life into place. Months went by. More walks, more dogs. Now some cats. Bunnies! 80 Giant Rabbits. A bird. A goldfish. I was beginning to find myself too busy to plan my life--I was already somehow living it and enjoying it.

The dogs--those dogs. They walked me through it, along with my parents and children, a steady companion, and friends. The dogs never had to say a word. Always, always, always, they are happy when I arrive and they show me how to walk and how not to worry. We spend many of our walks on the verge. But instead of rushing from it and getting to where they think we should be, they are curious about it. They sniff, the double sniff, and they read what's right there.

I must make decisions, and soon. But I am going to turn the process over to my four-legged friends and allow them to take me along. Along the way, I will introduce you to each of them and share what they do. Who knows where I will be in a year? No one. So let's go out for a walk and not worry about it.