I’m too tired to think up a title.

Bella walks me almost every single day. She’s fairly diligent about it, though sometimes she forgets and I have to whine at her–jostle the leash in her face or coax her out of bed with something sweet, like my all-encompassing love. Yeah, and when that doesn’t work, I move on to more effective methods, specifically this fail-proof tactic, which is to position myself as close as possible without actually touching her, at which point I proceed to breathe, and stare, blinking as little as possible, and pushing the train of my thought into her brain until I have succeeding in wrecking all semblance of peace and focus. Works like a charm.

Once we’re out, once we’re moving, we’re happy about it; the sun on our faces, the breeze in our hairs, the raucous yet harmonic symphonies as we stroll beneath the trees. It’s good for us. We are such homebodies, she and I, with dispositions that tend toward reclusive behavior. No, no. I wouldn’t call us hermits. Hermit-ish? Perhaps. A bit. But don’t worry, we go out all the time: when there’s no more milk, when the house needs fumigating, during earthquakes. See, we’ve totally got this handled.

So Bella was walking me the other day, and while she stopped to perfume my neighbor’s lawn, I was noticing a bush, on which a single rose was in its final stages life. For those of you who don’t reside in the states, over here we’re knee-deep in winter. Everywhere things are dead or dying. It’s hard to watch. I’m walking around with a palm pressed to my face, peering through fingers two and three, wincing at every turn. They’ve come up with a fancy name for this–seasonal depression, I think it is. But I’m pretty certain I don’t have that. For one, they say it starts and ends at the same time every year, whereas my depression is spotty, inconsistently regular, really more of an annual thing. I mean . . . I’m a writer.

So I’m standing there, gazing at this moribund little bloom, trying not to well up. By now Bella’s looking at me like, “Mom, pull yourself together. It’s o-kay. It’s isn’t in pain or anything.” And I’m all, “I know, I know, it’s just so . . . sad.” And so she looks at it, cocks her absurdly adorable head, replies, “No, Mom. Not really. This is just what happens. Things have to die so they can be born again fresh and new.” And that’s when I was like *poof*.

Because–with Bella’s guidance and sage observation–I realized I am that dehydrated rose at the end of its cycle. Once a piercing, vivid scarlet, but today, remorsefully, leached of its color, making its slow descent back into the earth from whence it came. I have reached the point of no return. The problem is I keep TRYING TO RETURN. If I were a Jedi, maybe it would work. Sadly, tragically, I am not.

To make a long story short, my second book was done. Like done done. I finished it over a year ago. It had been edited and beta-read and all that jazz; I was simply waiting for a few final pages of edits, typos and grammatical what-have-you, and then we would publish. Easy peasy, right?

Normally my husband is the one to make changes in my WIPs, and there are good reasons for this. Are you listening, Cara? GOOD REASONS. Because I am a smart girl but also a ninny, I decided to work on it myself. After all, it was only a few edits. Rather than explain how it all went down, I’ve decided to show you.

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An open, editable document is a highly dangerous thing. It is the writer’s siren, singing an irresistible song. It was only supposed to take a couple weeks. It was only supposed to be a few key scenes. It was just going to be minor edits.

Only, only, only, only, only, just, just, just, just, just.

Just and only–they are snipers; be vigilant.

In conclusion, I got stuck; and for three months now I’ve been editing and rewriting, every day, anywhere from 7 to 9 hours a day. This might not have been the horrible decision it absolutely-definitely was–because I truly enjoy the polishing aspect of writing books–if not for the fact that I had already begun outlining New Book, hatching plans and ideas I was extremely excited about. Yet, I knew Old Book could be better, and therefore I had to try. Except I couldn’t and it killed me. It was like trying to break a coconut with a clothespin; I couldn’t get in. My mind, for what it was worth, was there with the Old Book, while my heart remained dreaming about the story–back there–taking its first beautiful breaths. And I was missing it, because I was stuck with Old Book. So I became resentful, which was all sorts of lovely and perfect, because everyone just adores a novel written by a fatigued, resentful writer, said not a single person in all of existence.

It got so bad, even texts wearied me. I began doing something that, as a lover of language and proprietor of vocabulary, I swore I would never do. BRB. IDK. C u soon. L8r. It was scary times.

I don’t know you, not personally, and while we may look quite a bit different on the outside, on the inside it’s all pretty much the same stuff. Which means if I’m struggling, then you must be, too. I’m so sorry about that. I know how heavy it is, and I so wish I could take it from you, just for a few moments, give you a chance to catch your breath. Normally this is where I would engulf you in my arms. I’m a hugger; like, slather-my-body-against-yours and commence-side-to-side-rocking kind of hugger. I hate that I can’t do this; however, I refuse to let something so trivial as the spacetime continuum deprive us a hug. So, here. Just for now.

hug

Maybe, like me, you are feeling wilted and dry. Maybe, like me, you have convinced yourself that stepping away is the same as failing. It isn’t. What you need is a time-out. It is not punishment, it is grace. It is a pause button. If there is no one in your life to do this for you, then consider that person me: I am pausing you.

Beep.

You have been paused. You can come back anytime you like, an hour from now or in three months, but however long you decide to pause, you need to be real and honest with yourself about when you’re really ready to come back. No one else can tell you; no one else has a say. Only you. In the meantime, you are to do other things–think of it as a loose pause. You’re not frozen, you’re simply spliced, allowing you to put with one thing on hold while pursuing other things. It’s our make-believe, we can do what we want with it. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as they are activities that nourish your heart, soothe your soul. It’s works. It’s working for me. While I am paused, I am taking naps and extended walks with Bella, having coffee with friends. I’m also drawing. Who knew!

I thought about writing captions for each one, but to tell you the truth, I’ve grown weary. Even this blog was probably a little too much for me at this point. I’m already four days into this post, which means by now it’s lost all novelty and I’m convinced the whole thing is one giant crapsicle. I’m highly temped to trash it and just post pictures, but I’m not going to; because if even one of you is helped by some of the things I had to say, then the strife will have been totally worth it.

However, since I basically hijacked this drawing from another artist, I feel it merits a wee caption. This girl, “Avery,” a piece by Kelli Murray, an artist I absolutely adore, was the first thing I ever drew.

Perhaps it’s not what we see, but what we make of what we see that determines what is created.

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Bella and I walk the same route everyday, and every time we passed that decrepit rose, I had to look away, because one of two things was going to happen: I would start to blubber, because I can’t help but see the deeper meaning in everything. The other thing, well, it was a bit, shall we say . . . illegal. I thought about leaving my house sometime in the night, taking with me a pair of shears. *snip* Luckily I was spared from having to trespass and commit lawful rose-slaughter; the other day while Bella and I were on our walk, we saw that finally it had died. Thank GOD.

Speaking of Bella, the whole dying so we can become born again fresh and new–yep, that was a true story. All that genius came out of my Chihuahua’s teeny tiny cumquat brain. Shocking? Meh, not really. Bigger isn’t always better. Certainly not where pimples and hemorrhoids are involved. Amen? People often tell me Bella bears a striking resemblance to Yoda. And you know what, I don’t disagree. No. In fact, every day I’m becoming more confident one of his descendants is living in my house. 

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may The Force of my love be with you,

~ Cara

***

Hey! If you’re on Instagram, I would love, love, love to connect with you. We can commiserate about art and life, how one is always imitating the other, and exchange more of those virtual hugs. I’m not yet sure what these will look and feel like, but we’ll figure it out! @theycallhercara

Cats, King Arthur and Caramel Squares

One of my favorite quotes, by Aesop.

kindness

Only nine words long, yet it reminds us that big things happen in micro moments, that when you put the words extra and ordinary together, you get extraordinary.

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Beauty and Magic and Moments

Saturday Mornings mark a momentous occasion around here: relaxing.

I may work from home, but it’s a lot of work and little play. My Michael is up at 5 a.m. and most days doesn’t return till after 4 p.m. Then, after a hug, kiss, and quick 30 min catch-up, we both make our way respectively to the gym/living room for an hour or so of exercise. The evening draws to a close with shoveling sustenance into our droopy food-holes and catching a 60 minute show before lights out. Well, lights out for M, anyway. I, of course, cannot sleep without Words to quiet the chavish in my head.

This last Saturday, Michael and I partook in one of our favorite activities: finding new music to download. Good music — much like books and movies — is often hard to find, and . . . you have to sit idly through a lot of not-so-good music before you’re rewarded. Noisetrade is an awesome site you can download and sample music for free. FYI.

As we did this, Michael was at my desk, in front of the laptop, and I had perched on the end of our bed. Each time a new song began to play, Michael and I would involuntarily shift toward one another, eyes searching and seeking the other’s face, silently ascertaining how the other felt about the song. This went on for some time.

My angel-pup, Bella, had been fast asleep beneath the folded back layer of our bedspread, curled up with something mommy-scented to sweeten her puppy-dreams. At some point, though, she roused, realizing mommy was nearby and offering the creme de le creme of real-esate; with the subtly of a lightening strike, she bounded across the bed, crawled onto my lap, and wedged herself perfectly between my arms. And, as women often do, while holding small, vulnerable things in their arms, I began to rock from side to side. She was asleep within seconds, and I . . . drifted. The song playing at that point was something slow, but with a firm beat. It settled in the pulse of my heart, changing the rhythm ever so slightly. I let it carry me. Lull me. Take me out of our bedroom, and to a place petal-soft and buoyant and cerulean.

Unbeknownst to me, Michael — Psychologist by day, Photographer by weekend — had slipped a sly hand. Hearing something, or perhaps sensing a shift in energy, I opened a curious eye to find him capturing Bella and I. Our eyes met and he spoke inaudibly:

Don’t move,” his eyes said, plain as our soft gray sheets. I promptly closed my eyes and resumed rocking.

This is Michael’s capturing.

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A Bella Feast

Don’t panic! Bella is safe and in one piece. Chihuahua makes terrible meat — too gamey.

🙂

As you are likely aware, it’s Tuesday (or Wednesday), and normally I would have a Tutorial to show you. While I could probably drum up something quick or borrow one from the multitude of crafty people on WP or Pinterest, I thought maybe a little deviation might not be such a bad idea. I love to make things; there is no possibility of me not finding my way back to this labor of love. But, for now, my focused has shifted. It’s had to, lest I become a very fragmented individual. Do you struggle with that, too? Splitting yourself into so many slivers, that you wind up with a dozen things half-done? I am a multi-tasker by nature, so it feels pretty good to me knocking out many chores at once. For example, vacuuming while a load of laundry washes, running to these grocery that also happens to have an ATM inside, catching up with a friend on the phone while I put on my make-up. There are some things, however, that incur grave consequences should they not be given an appropriate amount of focused attention; say, watching T.V. while conducting brain surgery, or, if you’re a man, reaching for something while you heed nature’s call. In my early days, as a prominent brain-surgeon, I figured this out the hard way; messy business, botched brains. I have yet, however, to experience firsthand the trials of poor aim; only firsthand experience cleaning it up.

Instead of a Tutorial, I am offering you something that is never-ending her capacity for bringing me joy–Bella.

By now, it’s fairly clear that I am indisputably obsessed with my dog-ter. Yes, pardon the eponym but “pet” or “animal” just isn’t sufficient anymore. This is my baby — possibly the only baby I’ll ever have. She is the perfect blend of adorable and challenge. She lets me sleep, but occasionally I’ll wake in the dead of night to one of her reverse sneezes. Like any good mom, I rouse to her alarm, rushing into the bathroom to shove my fingers into her nostrils; yes, this is how you impede a reverse sneeze. Again, messy business, tis love.

You know how parents are always telling you “When it’s your own kid, the nuisances don’t bother you so much” ? I think a similar philosophy exists for animals. Have you even woken to your neighbors dog howling, sat there and watched someone else’s cat lick itself incessantly, or had a bird do its warm, gooey business right on your hand. Awful and terrible — enough to send you fleeing in the other direction.

There’s something about that animal belonging to you, though, that makes all the difference. Truly, I don’t mind. Bella loves me. I know she does. We communicate. Call it bizarre or lunacy, that’s fine by me, I embrace it all the way!

One of my favorite things to do is to give Bella accents and speak on her behalf. She is a Chihuahua, so sometimes this results in her sounding like the Chiquita banana lady, but usually it’s something soft and sweet or — just like her.

Here’s my baby, everyone, and enjoy the Bella feast. Happy Tuesday!

Peek-a-boo!

Posh Chihuahua.

Splat!

Bottoms up!

Sleeeeepy.

Nap time.

“I see you, mom.”

Here’s a short clip of my playful cutie: Bella plays

A Love So Divine

Mostly, this is just for me . . . If you are an animal lover, however, then it can be for you, too. Because you will understand.

In an era where pictures are rarely taken with film anymore, I thought it might be prudent to start an online scrapbook for my sweet angel, Bella, in the event the photos on my phone were ever accidentally deleted or lost. As I sit here — staring at her rump sticking a quarter of the way out of the blanket she is smothered under — I am quite honestly a bit choked up. How can a mere animal possess you so wholeheartedly? Even more, how do you explain to someone that you are in love with your animal? Even I, hearing those words silently in my mind, find them strange and mildly unsettling.

But I am.

She has stolen my heart; so much so, that when I allow myself to think of the day — a long, long, long, long, eons long time from now — when I will have to send her on ahead of me, I am unable suppress tears. Her snorts of delight, her reverse sneezes, how rambunctious she gets — just wait until you see this. I plan to post a video eventually — upon receiving a treat and flies across the bed in a tornado of 360’s, the noises she makes specially for me when I snuggle her under my chin, how she never fails to race to the door when I get home, soaring into the air in leaps and bounds and pining for the moment when I scoop her up and devour her in a flurry of kisses, her tail (Thank you, God, for giving dogs tails . . .) and lastly, that she loves me back. All these things I am eternally grateful for.

Without further ado, I give you Bella. Continue reading