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710 NW Juniper Street Suite 108 Issaquah WA 98027

February 1, 2016

Make or Break It

Healthy & Family Friendly Resolutions 2016Well here we are, February 1st!!  I survived January and jumped into the New Year with a bang!! It was all about making new and breaking the old .

Some say it takes 28 days, others say 21 to make or break a habit. January always brings on so-called “resolutions.” I get it, a New Year means a great time to reset.   I often find myself falling into the resolution abyss if you will. This year, admittedly, was no different BUT (yep there is a BUT) for the first time since I can remember I have followed through. The difference this go-round was my not looking at it as a resolution but (there is that word again) looking at it as a simple change to my lifestyle. Here we are over 28 days later and I have stayed loyal and see no going back because the changes I have made have allowed this wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister and successful business owner to reconnect to all the things that give me the purest feeling of joy!!!! I find myself being so much more mindful and feeling more emotionally connected to the people and things I love, including myself.

The things I set out and accomplished last month include ~

  • Abandon all social media (i.e., Facebook) unless work related INVIGORATING! If you can believe this, I removed the app from my phone and never looked back. Alrighty, I must admit I LOVE … ADORE seeing the pictures of my friends and their families as I so hope they do mine, BUT (oops, there it is again) despiteHealthy life changes with my Fitbit only having 167 FB friends, the wasted time I had sitting trying to stay on top of it all, plus the brain capacity it took thinking about all the posts during my day was such wasted mindfulness. Instead, I charged up my FitBit, and accumulated 275,255 steps to equal 106.1 miles and burned a total of 61,243 calories.New Year's resolution to reduce social media time.

 

  • Stay in touch with my friends and family living miles apart the “old fashioned way” by communicating directly not via social media, e-mails or texts so that I could set an example to my children what TRUE communication is. The joy I felt sending 4 care packages to friends and family this month was immeasurable. It was fun  tracking the packages to make sure they made it without ruining the surprise. I also enjoyed chatting with friends and family on the (gulp) phone!
  • Connect with friends a stone-throw away who I always tell myself we will get together sooner rather than later ~ These impromptu get- togethers this month remind me that I am tightly swaddled in such a safe, fun, loving place but I need to stop and make the time to enjoy.
  • NO tablet, phone, or computer screen time 7 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. The only screen time was 8:00-8:45 p.m. AS A FAMILY coming together to watch a show on the T.V. with everyone present ~ truly present snuggling and cuddling. Lights out for the kids no later than 8:45. I was getting in the habit of getting sucked into  work after dinner and was losing out on essential time with my family. The work will never go away and will be there in the a.m., my kids however, are growing up so fast so I want to savor every moment I am given with them.  More time with family 2016 resolution.
  • Reach out to at least one person in need even if just emotionally ~ my husband took this one on inviting a new college hire where he works to dinner at our home after his brother passed away tragically in early January. Rather quickly, I got over the fact that this super respectful and caring young man of the ripe old age of TWENTY-FOUR could technically be my son (a stretch, but still TECHNICALLY). Dear Heavens I am getting OLD!! He opened up, shared feelings, and I am certain could feel our care and concern for him as he grieves. We sent him home with leftovers and lots of good vibes.
  • Oh, I gave up ALL coffee and substituted it with Green Tea. The headaches were horrible, but after 3 days I was free and clear. Now, if only I could do this with wine. No chance. It is my one vice in life. I do not eat sweets except on rare occasions. I do not eat fast food or saturated fats pretty much ever, I never ever drink sugar sodas and now no coffee. Yep, wine must stay. Did I just say that on a ‘parent’ focused blog post ~ indeed I did. I move along …
  • Finish at least one novel that is not work related … and feel the real pages, not looking at a screen to read it. I finished the eloquently written book, “The Light Between Oceans”. Now I am ½ way through another great read I got from a friend for my big ‘ole 40th birthday, titled “Big Magic.” Read more in 2016
  • As of 1/4/16 I started the Barre3 Challenge (Have you heard of barre3? ~ if not check it out). The challenge included each week participating in at least 4 studio workouts (love the group effort and energy), 1 on-line work out and trying at least 1 barre3 recipe. I have been doing barre3 since Feb 2015 as part of my training for my completed ½ marathon, but the Challenge got me off my BUTT (2 ‘t’s’ this time) and into the studio more. The over achiever in me not only did 4 studio workouts per week, but 5 or more every week. I have found my inner ballerina and have made nice friends along the way.healthy lifestyle with exercise New Year's resolution

Indeed exercise is listed, but my list goes well beyond that. In order for me to feel physically healthy and benefit from all the working out, my emotional and mindful health has to be first and foremost on the list. It makes me better all around from the INSIDE out and this is why I list it last but (and I use it again) it is definitely not least. The best part of all of this is that I can always add to my list not waiting for another New Year, but can change and tweak. I, as well as the list, are flexible.

For the first time in over 5 ½ years since purchasing the practice, I feel reconnected and rejuvenated in all facets of my life. I am super mindful observing the world around me. Of course never judging, but simply watching the fast pace life spinning for so  many noticing there is little room for grown-ups and kids alike to simply play, have fun, and find joy. Instead they are hunched over their phones or just rushing off between one thing to the next, one kid activity to the next. I am wondering if, but more hoping they are finding joy in it all. The seconds turn into minutes then into hours then into days and then into years but at the speed of sound. Life is brief and fragile and only loaned to us for a short period of time.

Now, I think I am going to go sign up for some piano lessons so I can play alongside my daughter who is learning guitar.

Hope ~ Growth ~ Joy,

~ Amy

 

 

December 27, 2015

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say …

working out feelings in a journal before speakingI am having a moment. I am having a moment of defeat.

Since I was a young girl I have always kept a journal. I am now 40 and I STILL keep a journal. It is a safe place for me to write my most inner feelings and thoughts. There is no judgment. There are NO limits. If someone or something rubs me in a wrong way, I vent in my own writing on my own terms. I choose not to vent publicly on a lot of things that could definitely use some venting out loud, but are not worth my energy as I often feel better venting to my journal albeit I do not get a response. I do not internalize my thoughts. I am not passive. Instead I transfer them to the written word. I make a conscious, mindful choice where to expend my energy. Tonight, after days of extreme perseveration, I sit here and write. I vent outside of my journal. I vent publicly because I feel it worth my energy to expend. Those close to me know that I am a very sensitive soul.

As we near year-end, I was recently looking over all aspects of the practice so to round out the year including reviewing the website, Google+, YELP, etc., and in so doing I came across a very… VERY negative review and 1 star rating about the practice on YELP dated 11/21/15; a review that is completely due to miscommunication. Immediately I felt a stomach punch. For the first time in 5 years of ownership, my practice has dropped down to 4.5 stars and all because of a misunderstanding/miscommunication. I did try and call the reviewer ~ the 1st time from my home office (“private”) line which may not have been worthy of the reviewer to answer at the time or check in on the call or voicemail I left one day following the initial call with 2 more attempts from my mobile line. I tried. I have my mobile phone “Recents” log to show such. Yet instead of trying other avenues this reviewer opted NOT to e-mail, call my mobile, or visit our Business Facebook messenger if he really, REALLY was trying to get in touch with me. Instead his negativity prevailed. He posted on YELP his 1 star review. Sigh. After talking with so many, I am realizing the hard way that sometimes certain people feel better when they bash and bully. Since I have no tolerance for bullies I move on… although reluctantly knowing I did all the right things. Why is it the negative crud lingers so deep, so much more than the positive?

As a Mom, I continue to teach my 2 children now 11 and 7 that if they like something, “compliment” and if they don’t, “talk it through” OR use the written word and vent in their journals; THINK before you say or do anything outloud! Oh, and if they do not have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. This is my mantra as a therapist too. Written expression can be such an outlet and therapeutic.think before speaking parenting advice for children

A picture hangs in my clinic office. I got it as a present from my parents after earning my Masters degree that says, “Communication is the Key to Success. Pass it On.” I also have a picture in my home office that says if you don't have something nice to say then say nothing at all“Practice Aloha.” If only all could take a deep breath and practice ALOHA!! That would be a Utopia!!!

Here is to a Happy New Year; one that is filled with mindful communication, peace, love, joy, and POSITIVITY!!!

Now I feel better ~a

 

October 12, 2015

Apples Don’t Fall Far ~ So I Hope!!

cc2

Crossed the Finish with a Smile ~ Cross Country 2015

I have entered a new phase of my life. Somehow, overnight it seems, I am now the Mom to a middle schooler!!! I remember when I was in middle school and my parents were my age. I am thinking the inspiration of this post stems from the fact that I am about to turn 40 in a few weeks and that I am entering a new stage and phase of my life raising a tween daughter. It has been an amazing journey watching her morph from an itty bitty 5lb newbie to a toddler who loved “Dora The Explorer” on to a preschooler who loved princesses to a school age girl who gained an even deeper love of reading and writing to now a middle schooler who is about to wrap up the Cross Country season (she is THRILLED), just went to her first middle school dance, and has found a love for choir and singing. As I watch her grow up before my eyes, I reflect on the path that has lead me to where I am today.

I was ALWAYS the underdog!!

I was the one who was ALWAYS picked last for the kick ball team in PE and at recess. That didn’t stop me from trying. Despite only measuring at 4’11 and ¾”(and still do, I will take every centimeter I can get) in the 6th grade I joined the middle school girls basketball team. I can still hear my Coach and my teammates screaming, “Amy, go the other way!!!” at the tops of their lungs as I was dribbling proudly (unknowingly) towards the other team’s basket because I did not realize that after the ½ we switched sides of the court. That was the first and last time I handled the ball in a game. Ironically enough, today I ‘dribble’ at least 10 balls at a time.

wedding

My Mom & Dad ~ 2002

It never failed that when I liked a boy, the boy ALWAYS liked one of my friends instead, never me. I was often the 3rd wheel. Those who knew me back in the day would remember me as quiet, shy, & introverted.  Those who have come to know me post 2000 know me to be more extroverted, confident in my own skin despite the flaws, and definitely not shy, but still reserved; at peace with it all.

 

UW-logo_radialI was denied admission to the University of WI ~ Madison despite carrying over a 3.5 GPA, was on Student Council, & had 3 years of French under my belt. I appealed 3 times only to get the infamous denial letter all 3 times. I was fed up so I called the Admissions office and made myself an appointment. My parents and I drove an hour west to have the Dean of Admissions say “no” to my face. I went into the meeting by myself while my parents patiently waited and silently rooted for me in the waiting room. You see, the UW won the Rose Bowl the year prior so applications for admission from out of state students (who are more revenue generating) increased exponentially that year. You bet I argued this as well as the fact that I was not an athlete generating revenue for the school (goodness knows an athletic track was not in my future). I agreed that my admission would not assist with whatever silly quota or numbers game the university had to play. The Dean had me go get my parents. He looked at them and said, “You sure have one persistent daughter.” My biggest fans simply smiled. The meeting ended with “Welcome to the University of Wisconsin Amy.”

I was the one who ALWAYS gave myself headaches studying so hard because things just did not come easy to me; in fact I would stay in at least one weekend night in college so to study and get a good night’s sleep to be prepared for the inundation of school work bestowed upon me the coming week.

Living on campus partying and hanging with friends all summer ~ no way! The deal in our family was my parents would pay for my brother’s and my tuition and books through undergrad; rent, spending money, and any education beyond was on us. No free rides and for this I am grateful. It held me accountable and made me choose my career and how to spend my free time wisely. So for 3 summers I sublet the portion of my lease so that I could move back home to run my own cleaning business which allowed me to save enough rent for the next school year so I would not HAVE to work and would have the freedom to focus on my studies.girl-superhero-bookworm

It seemed that my path would ALWAYS be to prove my capabilities or at least I felt that way. Nothing came easy. ZILCHO. I was so envious of my friends who could whip up a 25 page paper in 2 days (puling all nighters) and get an A when I would have to spend the entire semester on it to get the same grade. Sigh.

I was ALWAYS the back row student and super annoyed by those front row ones who had their hands up to show those like me in the back row up. It wasn’t that I was late to class and HAD to take a seat in the back row (albeit these days I am known to run on the late side); it was quite the contrary. I chose the back. That is what I ingrained in my own head and heart to do. I knew the answers just like the front-row students did. I simply needed time to digest the question and more so come up with the answer. I was never one to like being put “on the spot.” Ask my Dad, a retired middle school math teacher, who at the family dinner table instead of asking me how my day was, would ask me to come up with answers to times tables and algebraic equations. Nope. Ask my husband (who has known me since I was 15) who when he asks me “Amy, where is the ____________?” (prior Green Turtle Stencil with Sign Reading Just Slow Down Thomas Hawk Photo URL    : http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/7884404756/to looking on his own, btw) and I have to pause to simply think gets annoyed that I can’t blurt the location out before he has even finished asking me the question. Give me a few minutes in peace and quiet and nine times out of 10 I will come up with the missing item’s location. I have never ever been fast. Never. Ever. I feel so much for the kids these days where everything is instantaneous. Delayed gratification = JOKE! Having to ALWAYS be thinking 2 steps ahead must SUCK! I feel for those kids who want to be part of a conversation, but who are always a topic or 2 behind to chime in.

I digress, but this is worth sharing:

I was taking my first course on “Fluency Disorders” (a.k.a. stuttering). I stayed awake throughout instruction about the different theories why stuttering occurs including the “Diagnosogenic Theory” despite the fact that the course was taught at 1:00 after I stuffed myself with some lunch at Memorial Union then rode my bike 3 miles to class. I never fell asleep being in the back row. I was awake and alert though not sure what my front row counterparts were doing nor did I care (much like I live my life today). The class was boring … BORING!! My professor did nothing to spice up the topic by making it more engaging or interesting. I was simply taking the course as a pre-requisite. First exam, I got a D. UGH!! I studied ~ a lot! I knew the info like the backside of my hand (do any of us REALLY know the intricacies of the backs of our hands?? ~ seriously though, I studied and KNEW the material). I made an appointment with my professor to discuss the grade. Instead of encouraging me, he discouraged me. When asked to review the grade, he said, “Perhaps you should find another career other than becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP).” It was my freshman year!!!! Defensively, but respectfully, I told him he had me all wrong. I told him that WHEN I became an SLP, I was pretty certain I would not be asked what grade I got on my 1st fluency exam. I knew I was smart in application of what I was learning. Timed exams did not allow me to shine in the least. In my opinion, for those of us SLPs who directly diagnose and treat vs. research what it all comes down to is respect, relating, compassion, quality bedside manner by thinking on our toes and going beyond text books. Do I see patients with fluency disorders? Nope. It is not my forte nor do I pretend it to be.

I WAS always the underdog, but I never gave up. Ever. I still don’t.How being the underdog made a great Speech Therapist

Had someone told me in my early years that being the underdog would pay off in the future I would have laughed SO OUT LOUD (and feeling SOL)!!! Now being the Mom of an impressionable 11-year old daughter who, when I look into her eyes I see my own, this truly resonates. I see passion, compassion, dedication, ambition, a hard work ethic and, yes, persistence. As the idiom goes, “Apples don’t fall far from the tree.” It is my hope that I exemplify to her (and my son) every day that throughout life it is more about the journey than coming in first at the destination. Not only do we learn from stopping to smell the roses, but sometimes getting stuck in a thorn bush makes us an even bigger winner. I fell into a thorn bush learning to ride a bike, but after pulling the thorns out and drying my tears, I was off and there was no stopping me with the wind typically in my face, not at my back, but smiling anyway.

kids and I

Apples Don’t Fall Far so I hope! ~ 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 30, 2015

5 Years Later ~ Letter to Susan

ella

My Sweetness ~ 2015

Working mom & business ownerI am rewinding to May 2008 mind you it is a bit foggy because my husband and I just welcomed our second child born on March 5, 2008.   I was so sleep deprived. Not having worked since June 2006, I was longing to dive back into my career; Both my mind and soul needed it. No Baby Blues this go-round like I had with our first-born, but I knew I needed to tap back into the part of my brain that was not all Wife and Mom. I know there are many women out there who can’t get the fact that I WANTED to work despite us affording me not to. My career completed me. It made me a more mindful and better Wife and Mom. It made me appreciate the time apart from my family more. Absence truly did make my heart grow fonder.

Lucas

My Little Viking ~ 2009

Who knew that when I e-mailed Susan Cohn December, 2007 in response to an ad she placed on the WA Speech-Hearing website that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would land in my lap 3 years later. If only I had a crystal ball while I vividly remember sitting in a really uncomfortable brown couch 6 months pregnant surrounded by uncertainty having just made a cross-country move following a full-year living abroad… My husband, our 4-year old daughter at the time & Louie Love ~ our then young 7-year old pooch who passed away this month~ slept soundly. I was seeking and searching. I e-mailed Susan. She replied very fast telling me to enjoy my time being home right now and to be in touch after our son was born. She said she would be happy to interview me. Thankfully I kept her contact info and I reached back out to her 5 months later.

I will never ever forget my interview with Susan in May, 2008. The closest any of our family lives to us is 3,500 miles west so I was grateful for friends of ours who took the kiddos so I could interview. My dress was purple. I bought it while we were living abroad. It was the first time I actually dressed up since giving birth 2 months prior. I fed the baby his last bottle before heading out for the interview. Right when I was walking out the door with him cuddled in my arms he spit up all over me. I did my best to clean it up, but I couldn’t be late (anyone who knows me well knows lateness is an epidemic for me).

A question Susan asked me in the interview, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” What an intense and loaded question. I could barely keep my eyes open or figure out dinner much-less think THAT far ahead and THAT deeply, but I answered quite quickly having actually asked myself this question during one of my regular self-reflection moments. My response, “I’d like to get my PhD with a focus on language acquisition in bi-lingual children or own my own practice.” She took a few notes then was on to the next question.

Susan hired me. I worked as an independent contractor one day/week. After ~ a year, I let Susan know that I interviewed at a facility closer to our home and was offered the position but I ultimately turned the position down. I simply let her know this because the speech pathology community is a small one in our area and I did not want her to find out from someone else. I did not want her to think I was at all unhappy in her clinic because I was perfectly happy. It was just I was approached, it was closer to home, and quite frankly I was curious. Honesty is always the best policy. I then went on to tell her that if I was ever going to leave her practice, it would be to own something of my own. We both had to head into our next sessions and went separate ways into our respective treatment rooms. Before leaving that night, Susan stopped me and asked me if I was REALLY serious about owning my own practice? She was thinking about retirement because her first grandchild was on the way. She told me to go home and talk with my husband. I did.

dan and I

My Husband, My High School Sweetheart ~ Prom

A few weeks later Susan and her husband met with my husband and I over dinner. Lots of chit -hat back and forth, another interview if you will. They were feeling Dan and I out. A question I remember most from that night came from my husband, “What is it you see in Amy to consider her for purchasing your practice? There are other SLPs who work more hours and have been working for you longer.” Her answer, “She reminds me of who I was when I started practicing all those years ago. I know she can take the practice to the next level that I do not have the desire to do as I near retirement. She is ambitious.” That was the first of many dinners between the 4 of us. The rest is history. After 9 months of proper Due Diligence, on August 31, 2010 my husband and I became the proud new owners of Susan Cohn and Associates. Honored. The 4 of us left the attorney’s office and celebrated over lunch.The 5 year journey of owning a speech-language pathology business for children.

Here we are, August 31st 2015 ~ 5 years later. Mindful. I write this …

Dear Susan,

As I reflect on the past five years and how truly fast they have gone, I feel pure gratitude. I feel grateful for you seeing strengths in me that I did not know I possessed, but I have only come to believe in with each passing day I own the practice. I feel grateful for you trusting your ‘Baby’ in my hands. Not a moment goes by that I am not mindful of the hard work you gave and the dedication you had for the clinic, the community and the wonderful field of speech-language pathology for all those years. You built Susan Cohn & Associates from the ground up and created a legacy that is now in my hands. I hold it delicately and with such pride. I am grateful for your mentorship. I knew NOTHING about running a business and I still learn every single day. You are always my first go-to. You are never far away and are always alongside me on this winding road. When I asked your permission a few years ago if you would be OK if I kept your name for the practice, I remember how your face lit up. So many ask why I haven’t changed the name to my own or something else. Why would I? My goal is to always make you proud.

mayaThis all said, Susan, the true gem that I now posses is your friendship. Our story could never be replicated. It is one in a billion. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for trusting and believing in me, even when I have trouble believing in myself.

Since you say I remind you of yourself, I want to share this quote, because I feel we are both “HER.”

“She doesn’t do so well at standing still. She plans big, she rolls up her sleeves, she has faith in her own momentum. She knows that change doesn’t happen all at once, but she welcomes it, she prepares for it, she gives it fertile ground.” ~ M.H. Clark

Much Love, Amy

Becoming a Pediatric Speech Therapist

Friends Always!

 

 

 

 

August 21, 2015

Amazing Grace

Our beloved family dog served as a pet therapist for children who suffered from Sensory Processing Disorder.

Photo Shoot July 2014 ~ Louie’s favorite spot ~ Snoqualmie Point

Have you ever loved something so much that the thought of losing it brings you to your knees … truly to your knees, especially when actually lost? If you have not felt that incredible, unconditional, forgiving LOVE from a 4-legged confidante, I am sorry; it is a love like no other. Truly.

So many emotions flood my mindful heart & soul as I write this.

It was two weeks ago that my family and I were FORCED to say good-bye to our 15-year old lab/retriever mix. We are simply grateful for Dr. Sara of Compassion for Paws who lovingly came to our home when that inevitable time came. It was today he rode “co-pilot” one more time with me. He came HOME.

We would have saved him again if we could have. His name was Louie. My husband and I adopted him at 13 weeks rescuing him from the most horrific of conditions – tied to a fence in North Carolina summer heat with a pure-bread Golden Retriever and left for dead at 6 weeks old. His 5-year old friend passed away soon after being rescued due to malnourishment. We saved Louie!! My husband and I joke that he was the best $50 we ever spent!

Younger Louie 2

Louie (13 weeks), Dan and I … Ahhemmm (25 years young)

On November 8, 2000 I turned 25 years old (in NC) AND got engaged; Louie was there. On June 1, 2002 we got married (in WI); Louie was there. On June 21, 2002 my husband and I closed on our very first home (in NC) and had sub sandwiches on the floor in our furniture-less dining room; Louie was there (hoping to score a few bites of ham which became his lunchmeat of choice). On April 5, 2004 we welcomed our first-born; Louie was there. He was the only constant in my post-partum, baby blues filled, forever changed world. He comforted me. In 2007, my husband, 2 year old daughter at the time and I moved to Sweden for one year; Louie was not there, but instead he spent those 52 weeks getting so much love and attention from family that when we reunited it was like NO time had passed (except he could lick a dirty plate in the dishwasher SPOTLESS, a talent he did not have prior to his extended stay at the grandparent’s house). In October, 2007 we moved to WA, survived two long months of temp housing and finally landed us a home; Louie was there for it all. On March 5, 2008 we welcomed our 2nd born; Louie was there. On August 31, 2010 I purchased Susan Cohn and Associates; Louie was there to help us celebrate. In fact, Louie came to work with me and provided so much love and many teachable moments about gentility & compassion (he was also a very well mannered guest at tea parties during play therapy sessions). He came with experience though since I had him enrolled as a puppy in a program through a veterinary clinic in NC where we went to nursing homes to provide love and comfort to residents with Alzheimer’s Disease, a disease my late grandfather lived with.

Pet Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder

Lounging at the clinic ~ January 2014

When at the clinic, he provided sensory feedback with his soft, silky, long, & fluffy hair to so many children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) needing that input. When at home, Louie gave my kids comfort after long days at school which immediately calmed them down, yet he never knew the calming affect he had on them.  He would also be there to listen to them read (he knew the “A-Z Mystery” series very well). He just loyally and lovingly took all the nestling, ear rubs, squeezes and story times. He was unconditional. He was a true companion to so many.

I swear Louie could tell time.  Unprompted, at 8:19 every morning during the school year he started to bark so the kids would get a move on & not be late. He knew if they were late they would make him late for bus duty. Instinct. He became a permanent fixture at the school bus stop making sure that the kids who passed him pet him then he waited until all the kids were on the bus before he would walk home. Even with his old arthritic legs, he stood there on the last day of school June 16, 2015 savoring it all perhaps knowing it would be his VERY last school send off.

Louie and bus

Bus Duty!!

He was therapeutic on so many levels. Still, even after death, his amazing grace continues to shine. My family and I grieve and are doing so very differently. Saying good-bye to Louie on August 4th was the closest thing to loss my kids have ever experienced. Louie passing on has provided so many teachable moments about emotions, coping, friendship (we have had an outpouring of love and comfort from near and far), and moving on yet not forgetting. It would have been my thought that our daughter would have taken it the hardest as she had so much anxiety about even thinking about Louie passing away each year he got older. Instead, she has been the calmest and most positive. She has been the best at reminding us to celebrate Louie and not be sad about him being gone, but instead be happy about the life we gave him for 15 wonderful years. How is she coping and making sure Louie’s memory is honored? She is using her own money to sponsor senior-aged dogs from the organization Louie was rescued from, Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue in NC. She just paid all $45 of six months worth of her saved “share” money to help a dog named Greta. She told me this makes her happy. Louie continues to teach grace and kindness through her.

Louie in fall

So handsome ~ October, 2013

I know wholeheartedly that some think those of us huge animal lovers are losing our marbles and are crazy with how far some of us go with these creatures (yes, Louie’s teeth were brushed on a regular basis AND he had his own cardiologist the last year of his life … oh, and he LOVED his weekly Starbucks pumpkin bread treat ). In our family, all of our pets are welcomed as true family members (our 1-year old pooch was not fond of the coconut oil rubs on her dry pads last night) and they deserve to be because they simply live for our love and grace in return.

Never underestimate the love, tenderness, and compassion animals provide. They are the best therapists and teachers with no required degrees to practice or teach. They are grandfathered in to these very important jobs and I am rather certain they would not choose anything else to do because the snuggles, ear rubs, walks, treats, care & our love in return are all they want and are compensation enough.

Louie came home last night. We cried. Again, our daughter was the strongest reminding us that he is home, but just in a different form. Our family is back together again.

Louie's last hike

Louie’s last official hike ~ Summer 2012 ~ Rattlesnake Ledge

In a few days I ring in the 5th anniversary of ownership of Susan Cohn & Associates; Once again, Louie will be there. Let’s celebrate!Louie b-day