A few years ago I thought that I had gone through some tough times and that life would spare me at least for awhile.  But now I know there is no sparing — there are, in the course of every year, beautiful, joyous times AND really bad, difficult times.

This year was no exception.

The beautiful joyous times were simple days of spending time with my daughter, Zoe, with friends, traveling around the country and a trip to Dublin, all for work.  Riding my bike along the Hudson in the summer and taking long walks in Central Park in every season. 

There was a visit to Emily’s house in the country — bittersweet because of her absence, but still pleasurable.

My play performed at the Beckett Theater this year, with friends from all areas of my life, old friends, new friends, everyone showing up to see it and lend support.  And a cast and crew of the most wonderful people and the challenges that go along with every creative project.

There was the grief of losing my best friend, Lucy, my beloved beagle, who was with me for 13 years and who died at 17 years of age.  I miss her daily and am deeply grateful for having had her for all those years.  She was truly a faithful companion.

I’m grateful that my ex husband and I were able to forgive each other and start up a new… friendship.  I would not have imagined this a few years ago, but forgiveness is a powerful tool — and cancer seems to completely change the landscape.  He really showed up for a harrowing summer and survived and we are all so grateful. 

2013 ends quietly… I feel that life has forced so many of us to seek comfort in being quiet, by going within. 

One of my favorite pieces of advice I heard recently came from the playwright Tracy Letts: spend at least 30 minutes a day staring at the wall, or looking out the window.  I don’t have much of a view, but I think I will start at my wall and give thanks for this past year and gratitude for the coming one.  Just being alive is reason enough to be celebrate. 

Emily Squires’ pond in Lake Ariel, Pa.  August 2013.

IMG_24741I have been so busy with life and challenges and writing for the Huffington Post, that I haven’t had a chance to write on the blog.

So I’m just going to say that more will follow and I will try to keep updating.

I’m grateful for Huffington Post, but I miss writing here too.

My beloved Lucy died on May 5th and my ex-husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer this summer.  He is doing pretty well and I hope that he will continue to improve.  If Valerie Harper can go on Dancing with the Stars, I am hopeful that he can have some good years left.  Here’s an old photo of Lucy, when she was just 4 and my ex, Steve.  Those were happy days.


I woke up early this morning and couldn’t fall back to sleep.  Zoe, my daughter, is visiting until tomorrow night and it has been a pleasure to have her here.  I finally really understand how my own mother felt whenever I came to visit from Los Angeles for a few weeks and then left.  It’s difficult to be so far away.

My dear friend Joe went through ten hours of surgery last Thursday at Sloan Kettering to save his leg and the surgery, though extremely difficult, went well.  I think he’s going to be fine and hopefully he will be out of the pain he’s been in since he underwent radiation for his cancer. 

I looked back on this blog to early June 2009, when I was in the thick of the horrible year of divorce and death and it reminded me to be grateful for where I am today.  Life is truly challenging.  Last night on “Mad Men” one of the characters committed suicide and the show is so well written, it was very sad and very moving.  I am grateful that there are some fantastic shows on television that have wonderful writing.  I am grateful that I went dancing on Saturday night at the JCC and had some fun.  I am grateful that I had a magical week in Paris, with Bella and her sister, Meret.  I am grateful that the producers of my play are going to look at a theater today and that they’ve started building a website.  I am extremely grateful for my loftmate, Abigail, and for the time I’ve had with my wonderful daughter, Zoe, and our beloved dog, Lucy. 

I have written often about the loss of Lola last winter.  But I am lucky to still have my beloved Lucy, who is 16 1/2 years old.  She has been with me for the past 12 years and I love her. 

Lola was a character, Lucy is a great pal.  I think she’s suffered as much as we did when Lola died.  She seemed very lost for a long time.  She follows me around a lot in the loft, something she never did when Lola was alive.  I think she may feel lonely when she is left alone now.  But she runs down the hall from the elevator to our loft like she’s a Greyhound and it’s hard to believe she’s as old as she is.

Life would be much sadder without our beloved animals.  Here is Lucy, this past August, in Fort Greene Park.  People often comment that it looks like she’s smiling.  That was the first thing I noticed about her, when I saw her photo on the internet.

Yesterday was a difficult day.  I was walking up Broadway in the 70’s and I heard bagpipes.  It brought me back to that period after 9/11 where there were constant funerals and you frequently heard bagpipes.  The ceremony was at Engine House #25 on the upper west side.  I saw all the firemen (I didn’t see any women at this firehouse) wearing their dress uniforms.  It was very moving. 

The whole day seemed very sad and I still can’t believe ten years have passed.

At night, I got a text message from my neighbor, Barbara, that there were seats available at a screening of the Bill Cunningham NY film at the Crosby Street Hotel, so I ran over to see it (again) and afterward the filmmakers discussed the making of the film.  That was a good diversion from the day.  Bill Cunningham has never seen this wonderful film about him.

I woke up this morning around 4:45 am from a nightmare about my dog, Lucy, dying.  She’s 16 and she’s definitely starting to look her age.  My father was in the dream, he and I were in the vet’s office and I had to leave the room.  He came to tell me that Lucy had died.  

Since our dreams are supposed to be about ourselves…was it a part of me that died?  I’m not sure.  

My other neighbors, Louise and Charley, lost one of their beloved dogs two weeks ago.  His name was Truman and he was a very sweet dog and only 4 years old.  

I’m learning how to sit with the feelings and this week I feel some dread about life and work.  But I also know that I need to stay in this one day and not worry about the future.  

And right now, Lucy is sleeping nearby, and I am so grateful that she is still in my life.  On 9/11, when we went out to pick up our daughter, Zoe, from school in the midst of that nightmare, we didn’t know if we would ever see Lucy again.  Ten years later, almost everything in my life has changed, but Lucy is still here with me.  I love her so much, we’ve been through a lot together, including losing Lola.  I think I’ll go give her a big hug and a kiss.  And then I’ll take her out for her walk. The sun is shining, it’s going to be a good day. 


I do not like it.  At all.  I find it very frustrating and difficult sometimes, especially when the temperature reaches 90+ degrees.  I find it hard to be relaxed and easy-going when I am waiting for answers and I try to breathe and put my mind on something else, like going for a walk or riding my bike.  But tonight it’s too hot to do either and so I have to figure out something else to do.

I will follow up with this and let you know how the waiting turns out.  Is it possible to just simply say, “Ah, it will all work out – relax – don’t worry.  It’s totally out of my hands and the best possible results will come.”  There are some things that have short-term results and some that are much longer.  They’re all stressful.

I should get a pedicure or something.  I think I’ll just hug Lucy, my beloved dog.  

UPDATE: So far, two of the things I was waiting for – to hear back from someone about my play and to get a counter offer for an apartment I’m hoping to sell – both turned out fine.  So my annoyance at waiting was so uncalled for.  I am embarrassed.  

Lucy, my wonderful beagle: the vet we went to the other day said, don’t bother doing surgery on the hematoma in her ear. She’s too old and better to see if it goes away on its own. She did a series of blood and urine tests to see if Lucy has Cushing’s disease or diabetes and the results were both negative, although there is a kind of diabetes that they can’t really test for, so we’re going to watch her and see how she’s doing. Her symptoms are drinking water all day long and peeing often and occasionally in the house (which she has never done in her life.)

Oscars: I enjoyed the presentation of the best actor and supporting actor awards. It was fun to see the past winners, although Goldie’s breasts were hanging out of her gown, what was she thinking? It would be nice if they gave awards for more important things and if these actors stopped talking about “how lucky they are to do what they love” (and make so much money doing it.) It’s very very annoying.

President Obama’s speech: He’s an amazing speaker, he cheered me up although I have no idea how he’s going to accomplish all that he’s talking about. I just like him and I have to believe that some of it is possible.

I went to a workshop yesterday about helping people learn public speaking and it was interesting. I’m going to see where it leads.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have found my optimistic attitude fairly annoying lately. A little smug. For the first winter in I don’t know how long, so far I haven’t been hit with my usual Seasonal Affect Disorder symptoms, which usually include not wanting to get out of bed. Ever. I have been exercising every day, I meditate, do my spiritual reading, reach out to friends, keep looking for work and I’ve been writing. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours walking in Central Park, which was so beautiful. I am grateful for so much in my life. I also generally do well in a crisis and right now, we have a huge crisis, worldwide — on our hands — so big it’s impossible to really grasp. But if I limit the amount of time I spend watching the news, or even listening to NPR, and I mostly read my favorite op ed writers: Krugman, Collins, Dowd, Rich, Herbert, a few editorials, letters to the editors, the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast, so far it I can handle it. So far.

Yesterday I read Pema Chodron and this is one of the quotes from “Start From Where You Are.”

“Gloriousness and wretchedness

Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.

On the other hand, wretchedness — life’s painful aspect — softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you haven’t got anything to lose — you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”

My beloved dog, Lucy, who is about to turn 13, has another hematoma in her ear. She had two surgeries last year to remove hematomas in each of her ears. The surgeries cost around $750. We can’t afford to keep doing them. As I write this, sitting on our bed, Lucy is sleeping on Steve’s pillow. (I’m about to change the sheets.) I love this dog.

This is a difficult time. But I guess it’s just life. Maybe it’s like a hangover from a really wild party.

Didn’t have a great day. Lucy is sick (our older dog) and she has been peeing in our loft. I’m worried about her, and work, and money, and pretty much everything. Damn, I hate this feeling. I was doing pretty well there for a couple of weeks.

It will pass.

I was just meditating and some sad feelings came flooding over me. I don’t think that’s supposed to happen in meditation, but maybe it is.

I’ve been here before. I know it doesn’t last, but when you’re in it, it’s not fun and it definitely makes me miss the ability to eat a giant cupcake or to go shopping without being overwhelmed with guilt. Those two addictions are pretty much off the table, although I do slip up now and then. The other day I bought myself a watch for a hundred dollars, simply because it was reduced from $380 and I thought, “Wow, what a deal. Can’t pass that one up.”

So – back to the blues. My beloved dog, Lucy, is sick again. She’s 12 1/2. We got her from the ASPCA when she was 4 and although it wasn’t love at first sight (she was cowering in her cage), as soon as she came out she climbed in our laps and started licking us, then we knew she was our dog. She is simply a kind, sweet, adoring, loving, neurotic god (oh, I actually wrote that) DOG, who has been with us through more ups and downs than the Cyclone at Coney Island. I remember leaving her in our loft on 9/11 to run up to Zoe’s school to pick Zoe and her friend Willa up, wondering if we’d ever see Lucy again. (We weren’t sure what was happening at that point.) She’s been there for me while I’ve been the primary caregiver for my mother for the last 7 years. She’s been there when we all took turns being seriously depressed. She’s moved with us three times in the past five years. She’s tolerated sharing us with Lola, who has a bit more of an outgoing personality than Lucy.

The last time Lucy had surgery, this past summer, I was reading a brochure in the vet’s office about dealing with the death of a pet. I will try to bring home a copy today if we’re at the vet’s office again. At the time, Steve’s father was dying and I was reading this brochure and thinking that as much as we love humans, and we obviously do – our animals are with us every day of our lives, through all kinds of struggles, they’re often the one constant in our lives and they love us unconditionally (unlike any human I know.)

UPDATE: Just came home after two hours at the vet. Lucy’s got a pretty bad urinary tract infection and another hematoma in her ear. She has blood in her urine and was throwing up this morning, but hopefully with the antibiotics she will be feeling better in just a few days. I brought home the brochure about losing a pet, the one that really got to me that time I read it in the vet’s office. Here is the quote: “For some, losing a pet can be a truly devastating experience. The animal was an important family member who provided unconditional comfort and support over many phases and changes in a person’s life. As you begin to reflect on what has happened since your companion came into your life, a certain chapter in your life closes. As animals commonly live for 15 to 20 years, these life chapters often include major transitions such as becoming an adult, moving homes, changing jobs, marriage, children, relationship endings, etc. Obviously then, may memories are associated with a pet, all of which come to the surface when the pet dies.”

That really got to me.

So aside from feeling sad about my dogs’ eventual deaths (Lola’s only 6), my concerns for my daughter, and money issues, and worry about my family and my friends’ health (Steve has to have eye surgery soon) and I always worry about my own health, and let’s not even get into the election…and the environment and the war and the economy and and and…

…wondering how I got here in my life, to the place that I am at, which doesn’t feel so good right now. I just don’t quite understand it.

I think that one answer may be yoga. I think I have to continue with my meditation and find a good yoga class because at other times in my life yoga has helped me. I also know that this feeling will pass and that life is really about the ups and downs and all the challenges. And that all the answers are inside of me (according to that book I recommended a few weeks ago) – even if I don’t really have a clue about how to find them.

I think I’ll do a few yoga postures and start with Downward Facing Dog, in Lucy’s honor. And if any answers come, I’ll let you know.

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