divorce · dogs · Pets · Travel · Uncategorized

Sunny Days and Summer Nights

So much has changed in my world in the last two months. yesterday it changed even more. I bought a boat. I purchased a much loved 32 ft. Allied Seafarer sailboat. She is beautiful! The Deja Vu is my new baby. I’m a little concerned that Ava will be a little big for enjoying her at sea but for now she’s enjoying watching me refinish this girl!

The boat really wasn’t in bad shape. She had been cared for by the same owner for over 25 years and age is the only reason he was sailing this beauty. Her lines are absolutely gorgeous. She needs a bath, all of the wood will need to be sanded down and stained, and the inside will need to have some minor remodel work, but in my opinion she is PERFECT. Ava enjoys laying on the deck and watching me as I wash and clean. I think she mostly just enjoys being outside. I’m interested to see how she will do if were were to get underway. I will definitely be looking into getting Ava a life jacket. I’ve heard ok things about the life line netting but she’s so large she could jump overboard if she cared too. Thankfully, she’s happy to lay here thumping her tail in joyful exuberance.

My disposition has become a little sunnier since purchasing the Deja Vu. I guess she gives me something to dream about and to keep me busy. Things between Ken and I have not changed. I only communicate with him via text messages and when I do it’s just him letting me know something else he feels I should be responsible for. I need to get back on the career track soon or no amount of work I put into my new baby will matter because I won’t be able to afford her! For now though, she makes me smile and dream, something I’ve not done in awhile. I never realized until just recently how I have operated under so much stress. I don’t even really know how to relax. Even when I’m laying out by the pool, soaking in the Vitamin C, my mind is racing and I have to tell myself to take deep breaths, listen to the ocean, SLOW DOWN! Not something I am accustomed to. I think it’s what pushes me though to keep moving. If I slow down, if there is no momentum I feels as if I’m wasting my life away. I need to learn that rest is not waste and I need it sometimes.

I hope to have some before and after pictures of the remodel of the Deja Vu. I found her name rather fitting. Here I am finding myself in the same place I always am. This time I’m going to do things differently. This time instead of trying to fill me life with people who love me I’m going to learn to love me, because quite honestly I don’t like the girl in the mirror most days. I’m too hard on her often for choices she was forced to make, not ones she really wanted to. I want to be able to make choices because they are right for me not out of the necessity of being something or someone everyone else needs. That’s rather frightening territory after 20 years of living for others.

Time to get back to work, sailor! Happy Hump Day!IMG_1308

divorce · dogs · Travel · Uncategorized

Wheels: Motion, Movement, Memories

I’ve not had many travel-ish things to blog about the last few days. Ava and I have mostly focused on settling in. We’re still pretty transient between my parents and my grandparents home. Ava enjoys the beach at my parents, so we’ve spent most of our time here. I like her choice. Our morning walks have been filled with gorgeous orange and blue sunrises, the rhythmic sound of the waves against the shore, and the songs of seagulls. All things which give me a great sense of peace.

Today’s blog prompt was the word “wheel”. This immediately brought to mind motion, movement and even memories. Wheels are always moving, turning, creating something whether it be the large wheels of a truck, the wheels moving water through mills and locks or the wheels that turn in my mind at night carrying me through thousands of memories. Sometimes I wish the wheel would stop spinning. I re-hash conversations and scenarios, live in the what-if’s. It’s not necessarily a pleasant situation. However, not all memories bring me pain. This morning, as Ava and I were on our first walk of the day, I took a deep breath and really opened my eyes to the beauty that surrounds me here. I’ve had a hard time with the slowing down bit for a long time now, but this morning there was a breeze that gently coaxed the Spanish Moss in the Oak trees to dance and sway. I stood for a moment watching the leaves shake and the sun filter through them. For a moment, I could have been transported to New Bern, North Carolina. Kenny and I spent many dates nights in New Bern. It was one of our favorite spots. It reminded me of home with it’s oak lined streets. Ava seemed to sense that I needed a minute. She tipped my hand with her nose, but didn’t make a sound. I love how she knows just when I need her.

There has been some positive motion today and I need to remind myself of the positives. I’m guilty of allowing the negatives to weigh me down. I made a connection here with an agricultural nonprofit similar to what I was doing in New Hampshire (look up Veterans Chapel Farm on WordPress). I hope to maybe spend a little time volunteering with them. I took a certification for a position with the City of Mobile and I applied for more jobs than I can count. I did 8 miles on the bike at the gym and lifted weights. You know what, I actually accomplished some things I can be proud of. Not to mention I didn’t eat like crap although I’m convinced the south has the best food in the country!

I’ve often wondered how even after thunderstorms the moss still manages to hang in the trees. I mean it should be blown out of those grand oaks and tumbled to the ground. Somehow it clings on and that’s where I am right now. I’m clinging to things that are solid and strong like those oaks; my family, my friends, and most importantly my faith. So while the wheels in my life are currently taking me down a very unfamiliar, rough road, I am going to keep my determination to allow God to make something beautiful of this journey.IMG_1305

dogs · Pets · Uncategorized

Local Mobile

I am really digging my new hometown of Mobile, AL. I grew up on the Gulf Coast and Mobile was a primary destination for back to school shopping. We never spent much time in the city other than that. Now that I’ve relocated back, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at who much as changed.

Living near Boston gave me a really amazing local art market as well as farms and other business. It wasn’t hard for me to jump on board with the #ShopLocal movement! I was a little concerned that moving back to Mobile might make that harder. Last weekend I discovered the Market in the Park at Cathedral Square and now I’m on the hunt for local flavor. Wow Mobile! You surprise me a little more everyday. A quick online search and I’ve been able to locate the LoDa Art Walk, several quirky galleries and antique stores, as well as a thriving local farm movement. I can’t wait to head out to these events. Not to mention the Food Truck festival that will be coming up this weekend!

Shopping local gives me a sense of connection with my community. I like knowing not just where my food comes from, but that my dollar is going to help some artisan have the capital to explore their talents further. I mean isn’t that what life is supposed to be about? Community? Humans are made for community. We crave a network of friends, family. We are built for relationships and what better relationship than with your neighbors!

The local movement also allows me to network with other dog owners and discover great places to visit with Ava, the best dog sitters, and even restaurants where she’s welcomed. Right now Ava, is primarily the reason I still get up every morning. I know that might sound silly to some, but if you know the changes I’ve recently experienced, you’d understand. So being able to talk to people about her, share my love of this silly, big girl helps me get through the day. It’s also nice to have a distraction during this transition time.

I ❤ Local!

dogs · Pets · Travel

Market in the Park at Cathedral Square


Finally the sun has decided to grace us with it’s presence so I woke up on a mission to check out the Market in the Park at Cathedral Square. I had “liked” their Facebook page previously but wanted to see if what offerings they had and even more importantly is it dog friendly. I was pleasantly surprised! The Market is located in the Midtown area of Mobile, a neighborhood that is really reinventing itself. It has quaint little southern cottages and shotgun homes on oak lined streets. There were several restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating mixed in with art galleries and even museums.

The Market itself offers pretty much everything you want from a local farmers market. Vendors showcased their produce as well as several vintage/reclaimed artisans. I was especially impressed with the urban gardening movement. DK Farms project, Panagia Farms an urban microfarm DEFINITELY caught my attention. Their micro greens being grown right in the Mid-town area were AMAZING and super fresh. Shoppers are serenaded by live music as the peruse through art vendors and farmers alike. The Market also offers an engaging kid’s area with tables set up for crafts, bubbles, and other fun activities. Even nicer is the fact that it is VERY dog friendly! Your pet will need to be leashed, but it’s a great place that I will be taking Ava to on a regular basis. They offered water bowls, clean up bags, and some vendors even had a few treats!

Mobile, Alabama is really a hidden treasure as far as I’m concerned. It is picturesque with it’s spanish moss filled trees, boulevard with charming homes, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. The Mid-town area has changed from the run down neighborhood that I remember from my childhood to a thriving modern artistic community. There’s entertainment, restaurants and cultural activities within walking distance. Industry and Educational Institutions are drawing some of the brightest minds from around the country and world. Plus who can beat having the Gulf of Mexico as your playground! Mobile has so much to offer and I can’t wait to see this gem really shine.

Ava and I will be enjoying the Market in the Park at Cathedral Square on Saturdays! Hope to see you there! Support Local Farms & Local Business!!

divorce · dogs · Pets · Uncategorized

Daily Prompt: Commit

I wish commit, commitment, committed were positive words for me. It seems like over the last few years they’ve been worn down and lost their luster, much like glass that is tumbled over and over again in the ocean. I’ve tried to remember things I’ve been committed to in my life but I feel as if nothing has ever really stuck. Just like that glass I’ve been worn down and tossed about on the ocean of life.

Commitment did mean something to me at one time however. It meant loyalty and stability. It meant safety. Four years ago, I was committed to being the best wife and mother I could possibly be. Something happened over those years though and I find that although I still want to be committed to those things, my role has changed. I suppose I could say I am committed to Ava now. She’s all I have left of the broken pieces of my previous life. Yesterday when I cried myself to sleep she nudged me until I wiped my tears and paid attention to her. Isn’t it funny that an dog would be committed to me more so than nearly any human I’ve ever encountered?

I tried to write out a list of things I want to commit to like healthier eating, working out, spending more time with Ava doing fun things, even finding a job, although I don’t know how I could be anymore committed to the latter. There’s always the popular “I want to be more committed to myself” but that just sounds shallow and self centered. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I need to learn to be just a little more self-centered. I don’t believe it’s in my nature though.  I need to remind myself that while I feel like that dull piece of sea-glass, pummeled over and over again by the waves, once taken out of the ocean and polished it becomes a beautiful work of art. I loved visiting Marblehead and looking for sea-glass with my mother in law. The colorful hues and shapes glittered after being cleaned. I hope my life story will end that way. Right now I’m being tossed about and I don’t feel anything beautiful is ever going to happen, ever. Sometimes it takes years for the ocean to smoothly polish the glass until it’s perfect. I need to just be committed to take a deep breath and ride out the waves I’m being rolled in. That incredible work of art, sea-glass, was once just a dirty bottle tossed aside.

Today I am committed to just being ok with being the dirty bottle riding the surf, believing that one day I will be a beautiful piece of art that someone will treasure.

dogs · Pets · Travel · Uncategorized

Phase Two of our Move

Ava and I survived Phase One of our cross country move. The 24 hours of driving really went much better than I anticipated. Ava does great riding in the truck. I had to remind myself to stop and let her out because she for the most part slept and never asked! The Kurgo harness was EXACTLY what I needed for her and I am really pleased with how easy it was to use. I felt very confident that she was secure and the fact that she could move around even being buckled in helped her as well.

We stayed with my parents for a few nights when we first arrived. The apartment complex they live in is very pet friendly. There are walking trails and beach access. Ava LOVES the beach. She loves all the new smells. We’ve enjoyed walking the beach as well as just hanging out on the pier. It’s been really amazing to have some downtime after the move and just the mess of the last few months. Ava has definitely been a source of comfort to me. At first my parents were a little apprehensive of having such a large dog and I get it! Ava can be a little intimidating, mostly because of her size. Don’t tell them, but I think my mom and dad might have actually fallen for her a little bit. Who couldn’t with those eyes?!? My Dad keeps saying she thinks she’s a person and he’s exactly right! She does!

Early Monday morning we started out on Phase Two of our summer adventures. It was time to see Brandon, my 18 yr old son, off to college and a missions trip to Jamaica. Brandon is attending Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Needless to say, I’m ridiculously excited for him and this new chapter in his life. We loaded the truck up again and headed out. I had already booked a hotel room in Baytown, about an hour west of Beaumont as we had plans to visit friends and family in the area. I used http://www.BringFido.com again for my booking. We were booked for a Motel 6 for Monday night with no issues. However, after we arrived in Beaumont we decided not to continue on to Baytown. I called the Motel 6 in Baytown to cancel my reservation and was met with an extremely rude receptionist. She stated she couldn’t cancel my reservation since I had used a 3rd party for booking. I called BringFido.com and spoke to Dan Tice, one of their customer service agents. WOW! I cannot tell you how amazing Dan was! He cancelled my reservation, booked a new reservation in Beaumont, called ahead to see if we could check in early, then emailed and CALLED me to ensure that I had no issues with the reservation. That same afternoon I received an email from the President of BringFido.com welcoming me to the company and thanking me for my business. I will definitely be using http://www.BringFido.com again! They made my trip go from slightly stressful to easy peasy! You should check them out for all of your pet’s needs and as far as I’m concerned, they are an absolutely must for travel!

Ava and I arrived back in Mobile mid afternoon Tuesday just as Tropical Storm Cindy decided to make her appearance as well. It’s been a soggy two days and Ava is enjoying sleeping. I think all the travel has taken a good bit out of us as I slept in late today too. I’m going to spend the rest of this week trying to decide where to go from here. I’ve not had what I would consider a “normal” full time job in 6 years. Being Ken’s caregiver afforded me the ability to have a stay at home paying job. I’m a little concerned with how Ava will adjust to me being out of the house for most of the day. I hope to be able to find something that will allow me to rent my own apartment and then I’ll consider a dog walker for her at least once during the day. My dad’s right I do think of Ava like a child! Most days I feel like she is all I have left of my family. The kids are no longer living at home, I haven’t heard from Kenny in weeks, and for the first time in my life I am living on my own. That thought is sad, frightening and exciting all in one breath. Ava is acutely aware that my emotions are all over the place. This morning I was having a silent cryfest and she laid her head in my lap as if to say it’s ok Mama I’m here for you. I love her for that.

Life is moving on, whether I like it or not. I just have to adjust my sails and go with the wind instead of against it. Every time I’m down or I become hard on myself I take a moment to think of what I’ve lived through. It’s going to be ok, maybe not right now in this moment, but it will one day. In the meanwhile, I’ll be planning my next adventure with Ava! Sailboat life or RV life? Which shall it be? IMG_1225


We Made It!

Well we made the long trek from the East Coast to the Deep South. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had dreamed it would be and Ava did fantastic. She honestly slept most of the drive. If she became antsy, I just rolled the windows down and she settled in again.

The only issue we had with the drive was our hotel stay. We spent the night in a Candlewood Suites and while they are definitely pet friendly, if your pet weighs over 80 lbs. you’ll need to look elsewhere to stay. Ava weighs in roughly at 115lbs. so we were in for a little surprise at their policy. Thankfully they were kind enough to wave that since she is an emotional support animal, but next time if a hotel says pet friendly I’ll make sure to clarify the weight limit.

I ran across a great site for information on hotels and other amenities when traveling with your pet. It’s call http://www.BringFido.com and I highly recommend them! I was able to check hotel rates, pet policies, and even restaurants in the area that are pet friendly. Now that we are settled, I’m using http://www.BringFido.com to find places to take Ava and discover our new community.

Ava seems to have somewhat settled in to my parents condo for now. We’ll be looking for a place to live in the next few weeks and that might prove to be a bit of a challenge. German Shepherds have such a bad rap as being aggressive. So much so that many apartment complexes and landlords won’t accept them. Since Ava is a service dog, we have a bit of an advantage but I have to show her paperwork and explain every single time.

For now, we’ll just be taking it easy, enjoying the beaches along the Gulf Coast. Ava loves the ocean! We played on the beach for awhile early this morning and she is now currently napping at my feet. It’s a dog’s life!