A quick update on my 1,000-year-old…. actually 1,001-year old dog.

Add your tThere is a truism among parents that one of the benefits of pet-ownership is that it helps to teach kids about death. I think this is true, but it is not the most important lesson that our dogs (and other furry family members) teach us. They teach us about compassion, too. They teach us to be patient. They teach us that life isn’t just short, it’s also fragile. They teach us that it’s important to be a noticer.houghts here… (optional)

Kelly Barnhill

The internet is a funny place. I wrote this piece about my ancient, beloved, sometimes foul-tempered, and often stinky, but always utterly herself, cattle-dog-mix – gosh, almost a year ago – and suddenly it has gotten approximately one skillion views over the last two days. Randomly. And people are commenting like mad and sending me beautiful, passionate, and soulful emails, telling me the story of their own beloved pets – those still hanging on, and those tenderly carried into their next grand adventure in that dog park in the sky.

And people are asking: how is Harper? Is she still alive?

And it’s a good question. On my block there are a lot of kids and a LOT of dogs. And this year, two very beloved animals left us, and we are all incredibly sad about it. (One of them, Gebo, just passed a couple weeks ago. My little…

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Regarding my 1,000-year-old dog.


Kelly Barnhill

This is my dog.

IMG_6877Her name is Harper, and she is very old. Decades. Centuries. A cool millenium. You might not believe me that she is actually 1,000 years old, and you might try to convince me otherwise, but I would like to point out that you have no proof. And she’s my dog. So.

She has been in our family since 1998, back when my husband and I were two shacked-up quasi-Communist, vaguely Anarchist ne’re-do-wells, stomping around Stumptown in our government-issued firefighter boots and quoting Saul Alinsky at whoever stood still long enough to listen. We lived in a house with a bunch of other twentysomethings and their various friends, partners and hangers-on – artists, puppeteers, Wobblies, graduate students, people who used to work for ACORN, and so on. I would make huge vats of beans and rice and someone would bring beer and we would play…

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We’re Starting to Think Homeless Men Are the Most Honest Anywhere

We’re Starting to Think Homeless Men Are the Most Honest Anywhere.

Clean dishes are a myth, Or, surviving chronic fatigue & pain one more day

I want to start out by saying a huge thank you to all the dishwashers that have ever been in my life. I miss you and appreciate all the dishes you’ve cleaned for me.

No, seriously. I miss having a dishwasher and I’m oh so thankful for them.

I wandered in to the kitchen today (this doesn’t take much, our tiny abode is, well, tiny) knowing that I had to do SOME of the dishes in the sink, today and no more ‘eventually’ about it.

When we moved from WA state we not only left behind our cute, cozy, but newer home, a lot of rain and some greenery; we left behind our own washer & dryer, and the dishwasher. Some days this bothers me far less than others.

Ok, most days it bothers me far less than others, but mostly because I just don’t do it that day and we end up waiting one more day.

And though I know to some people this would seem like one of those complaints about “1st world problems”, and perhaps it is in a way; however when just getting out of bed can be tiring, when sitting, walking, running, standing, and often all forms of laying down even are painful (and feel exhausting) – the idea of spending half an hour or more scrubbing dishes is less than ideal.


But this would be day 5 of not cleaning the dishes, and I’ve run out of any clean dishes so I can’t eek by any longer. This is a point at which the mental and physical fatigue I feel just have to be ignored. It isn’t to say that it no longer exists, but that at this moment, it is less important than clean dishes – if not for me, for the rest of the house.


I think that part of this block to clean the dishes stems from such a small space to do much of anything in the kitchen, cleaning, cooking, breathing (although the draft from the edges around the AC unit there help!) and I find myself standing there missing what was so much more than I .. well, than I want to.

I’m very thankful to have a fairly functioning kitchen, however I deeply miss have a kitchen more than 10 sq. ft. (including counter space and cupboards), and I long for a bit more space to stretch out in to, to cook, to bake, hey! Even.. to clean the dishes.

I’ve considered adding a second dish rack on the right side of the sink so that I can get all of the dishes at once, but there’s no where really to store it when I’m not using it so… that idea goes right out the proverbial window.

I suppose that really it will come down to doing every other day what I normally only dig up every few days, the desire for a clean sink overpowering the pain and fatigue.

And thankfully I have a spouse that has finally come to a point where they are ok with such housecleaning disasters – even suggesting that I get some outside help in to clean up this week. And I’m thankful that for one of the first times in my life I felt ok with this idea (there was a part of me that wasn’t but it was finally a small part), I felt OK asking for help and admitting I couldn’t really do it all without destroying my precariously balanced state of health.

I could finally, fully, admit that scrubbing the kitchen & bathroom floors, the toilet, the counters, the stove and then perhaps vacuuming would indeed be too much to take on (as it has been for many years) without too much guilt.

Guilt is such close companion to fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and all manner of illness – that voice that says what I “should” be able to do, what I wish I was able to do, and how much better I might be if I did it and ignored the end results.
Which are usually pain, fatigue, bitchiness, sorrow, depression, and lots of sleeping. Somehow those things don’t pop up quite as strongly as guilt does though.

However, thankfully, gratefully, the past couple of years I’ve been slowly releasing the guilt and letting in the sunshine. Someone else out there is willing to do these things for me, and I’m ok letting them, mostly.

Of course… in our next place? Dishwasher, Washer & Dryer, my friends how I’ve missed thee.

Energy Shared, Not Always Gained

Today I was reminded of the many ways in which energy is shared, and how I have stayed so – asleep to it all.


Though one of my favorite stories/movies is Like Water for Chocolate, and though I have always cooked with the intention to share loving energy (if I’m in a foul mood I will stop any and all food preparation, I do believe the energy can be imparted this way) I was awakened today to how much I still ignore the possibility that I too receive this energy – not just send it out.


If you haven’t ever watched the movie or read the book, Like Water for Chocolate is about a woman who is in love, but unable to marry her lover (it’s a bit more complicated than this of course) and through her passions felt while cooking shares these energies with all who eat her food – “Tita’s strong emotions become infused into her cooking, and she unintentionally begins to affect the people around her through the food she prepares.” (As the wiki so succinctly puts it)

My husband has stated for some time, and will often act on it, that he won’t eat food made from an unhappy chef/cook because the food just doesn’t taste right to him because of the energy shared while cooking.

But I have wandered in a bit of a fog about this as it applies to myself. Until this morning.

I had two dreams that I recall that were not mine – this might sound a bit strange but, it’s become rather clear to me at times that the dreams coming through are not always .. meant for me (the simplest way to put it). These two dreams in particular were seen through the chef that prepared the food I ate last night, and were strongly involved in his family details. They were very interesting and beautiful, but I knew they were not mine.

When I woke up I acknowledged these dreams but moved on to my other dreams, one in particular had me all wrapped up in layers of meaning and thought contemplation that I didn’t even catch on to just what having those dreams meant.

I hadn’t really shielded myself after my time with my counselor/waking guide/therapist in any way. And had left myself completely open to taking in this energy. Thankfully this energy was a very warm, loving energy to have consumed and processed over night!


However sleepwalking through my day, not paying attention to this little, blip of a warning I found myself in a completely different frame of mind after lunch. Once again the thoughts coming to me, were not mine to lay claim to. This was very clear.

And while I know that eating certain foods does affect my moods, when the “moods” come through with images and clear emotion that doesn’t match my own I know something else has come in to play.

I’m not entirely certain the energy this afternoon came from the chef that cooked my food, it could have been the server, it could have been the barista, it could have been someone I was sitting close to.

It brought home how very little I work with, in any way, energy shields – I feel very .. lacking in this ability for some reason, and it usually takes a strong reminder such as today, to get me to work on that subject.

I have, for decades now, tried so hard to simply block it ALL out that now that I’m intentionally opening up once again I’m finding myself .. well, uneducated in some very key areas. And the many shield visualizations/meditations I’ve tried out just haven’t felt like they clicked completely, so I tend to ignore them completely.


Which is perhaps not the healthiest way to go about this. I don’t know if I need to work on the visualization, or find a new one that sinks in fully.

I do know that our energy is shared in some truly powerful ways, and though we often deny it, we always share with others. It’s just catching the how we do it, not that we do it – that we do it is undeniable (though we may try), how we do it is a fantastic lesson in life.

Even in short emails, two word text messages, brief phone conversations, glances on the street, or simply a thought – a beam of energy sent in to the universe, can be imbued with layers of beautiful, powerful, and sometimes unhealthy, energy.

Though we may think we did nothing of the sort, we’ve actually sent of and shared an immense amount of energy.

I’m thankful for the two lovely dreams last night, but I’m also thankful for the reminder to awake, and learn to take in carefully, and shield properly  energy of all kinds. Also, to adjust my own energy further, so that what I send out feels a whole lot better than some of what I take in!

And that we are, truly, so much more than “just” what we eat. (even science has proved this one)

No Passion for Paris


I’ve had a bad habit of leaving many projects halfway done throughout my life. Often it was arts & crafts projects that I would love the IDEA of finishing, or the idea of the finished product, but about halfway through I would wander off to some other creative endeavor.

Some projects I manage much more.. completely, than others. Once I get started I finish it – as much as it can ever be. Word related tasks, such as letters, poetry, posts (ta dah!), even contract, legal documents, work related stuff; if it’s not done in one sitting, it will be done in two. (usually)


However I can recall dozens of crochet, embroidery, cross-stitching, painting, drawing, gardening ideas even – leagues of projects that I’d find months, or years, later halfway done and I have NO interest in completing them.

Thankfully I keep coming back to writing, so I don’t have a total sense of unfinished business with my creative energies.


But after my trip to europe a couple of months ago I started a separate writing space to share my journey there, flush with lots of pictures! I made it through Verona, Rome & even St. Remy, writing it up with enthusiasm and joy – just a few hitches here and there, mostly with the pictures.

Then I made it to Paris. And I got about halfway through when I didn’t so much hit a wall, I just.. got lost.

I know what I can say, the words, the journey, the people, places and food. But every time I contemplate wrapping it up, I feel as though my internal motivation just dies.


Paris was great, it was interesting and fascinating, a big city with bright lights and lots of food. So why can’t I finish this writing??

I’ve spent weeks trying to figure that out. Did I have lots to write about? Most definitely. Lots of pictures to share? Oh boy, do I ever! Did I enjoy it? Yeah… mostly.  Would I go back again? Hmm. Ok, I can slowly see where, and why, my interest in finishing the subject at hand is dying.

I don’t think I like Paris. Though I spent the majority of my trip there, and though I fell in love with Montmarte and the artists and some of the beauty of Paris… I have no passion for Paris.

Somehow this feels wrong, I feel as though I must be missing something, inside of myself even! Because who doesn’t like Paris?! Well, I guess that would be me. I’m sure there are others too. (Right?)


But still it seems that someone in love with traveling and architecture, food, new cultures, creative pursuits, art, poetry, cats – should love Paris too.


I don’t. And my fear of saying what I want and what I need is sent in to overdrive when I realize what I have to say isn’t all sunshine and daisies on the topic of Paris. And that if I had to pick my top 5 places to travel to in the next year, or two, Paris isn’t on there.


I would like to finish the posts, then I can move on to my Tokyo posts – a place I saw less of but liked more! (And for what it’s worth, I love Rome, Italy, all of that wonderful place)

It just comes back to writing with a voice about what one has any passion for – and just like the cross-stitching, or knitting, or the idea of eating cardboard, I have no passion for Paris.

The Ghosts we Leave Behind


Today as I was walking home from the grocery store, I saw down the sidewalk a woman standing next to a car with a dog on a leash. The dog was holding himself as far away from the car as possible, pulling at the leash – for what reasons I do not know.

I crossed the street and passed the car, looking over briefly, wondering if they were still standing there, and who had won the apparent battle.

They had disappeared, whether they made it in to the car (I couldn’t see) or headed in to the house, perhaps they went around the corner, walking faster than I fathomed they would, I don’t know where they went to.

But their departure from my own world; swift and sudden, I heard no noise of doors opening or shoes walking over leaves, left me feeling as though they’d been nothing but ghosts left behind, my vision of them just a false memory. There was a sense of a mirage.

I realized that so often that’s all we are, that’s all we offer.

That for some brief moment we make an impression, somehow, someway, and then we move on – and we leave behind the ghost of who we were at that moment. For no matter how hard we try, or how long we yearn for it at times, we can and will never go back to that moment EXACTLY as we were at that moment.

We are changed just by taking a single step, by breathing in and out another breath, by the thought we have one moment to the next.

And I wonder at all the Ghosts I’ve left behind. The smiles I gave, the tears I shared, the snarky comments I made, the documents I wrote up, the dogs I walked, the stories I told.

Of all the moments I’ve wished I could go back to. Places I called home, that I dreamed of returning to one day. People I knew, memories we created, shared. Times I’ve wished I could relive, if ever so briefly, touch on that ghost of a moment again.

I think of how my family and friends talk of my hometown, of other towns, in such wistful voices – “oh, but that was back then, it used to be so wonderful”. How they remember a Ghost Town. A place that is ever-changing and will never be exactly as it was then, on that day when they were 17 and the sun was out and the world seemed so perfect (although I wonder at our memories sometimes, selective to put it mildly).

Though I miss so many things in the past, places I’ve lived, people & animals I’ve loved, paths I’ve walked, snow that falls, and rain that sings me to sleep. They are all just ghosts, memories I have of moments that touched me, that changed me. And though I may long to go back, somehow, magically to just that point in time, what I would go back to would be as it is now – not as I remember it.

Ghosts are not just spirits left behind once the body dies, Ghosts are bits of our souls, bits of the energy of the Divine universe, that hang forever in a sort of limbo. Like a spider web hanging in the corner of our lives, catching moments forever, trapping them as they are then, not as they will be.

I believe it’s so important to appreciate the moment as it is, because while we may look back at the Ghosts in our past, they will forever be just that, in our past. And we, as we are now, are moving from this moment on. Living with those Ghosts can seem appealing, we can forget that we are capable of creating an even better moment, now.

I’ve had people tell me they miss the person I was, and there are others, that they love who I’ve become even more than who I was.

Yet, whatever, whomever, they recall is really just a Ghost, I’ve left behind.

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