Picking up the pieces

I had the good fortune recently to speak with a woman who is both profoundly kind and deeply wise. She told me a story of working with troubled youth in a previous chapter of her career, and an exercise she would do with them. She would buy a few mismatched plates from the thrift store and hold one up for the group to admire before dashing it to the floor and shattering it.

What can you do with the pieces of this plate now, she would ask the kids. You cannot make it whole again, so what other choices do you have? Some options to consider:

Sweep up the pieces, throw them away as garbage, and never own another plate.

Sit and cry about no longer having a plate

Get angry and demand that the world give you another plate that is not broken. Fight anyone who tells you that you can’t have it.

Use the shards as weapons against yourself and others.

Try to put the pieces back together as they were and try to return the plate as closely as possible to its original condition.

Reassemble the pieces into a new plate that you like even better—perhaps in a different order than they were originally.

Or you could go out and buy, beg, borrow, steal, or make another plate.

All of us have our broken plates. Maybe we threw them to the ground ourselves by making bad choices. Or maybe somebody else, by abusing or neglecting or shaming us when we could not defend ourselves, shattered our plates for us. Or maybe it was just life that did it, through loss and change and the stuff that happens when you’re busy making other plans. We try to repair the damage done with wire and glue and string, tears and prayers, imprecations and negotiations. We eat, or drink, or party, or fight, or withdraw, or cry, in our attempts to cover up and cope with the pain. Internally or externally, and sometimes both, we scar ourselves as we brush against the broken pieces.

My plate—several of my plates—were broken by other people when I was very young, and I’ve been walking barefoot across the shards ever since. I have learned how to go forward in spite of it, but the pain and rage that have resulted have leached away so much of my energy and potential in this life. The way I have responded to the losses has been, mostly, to pout and cry that the world owes me an unbroken plate. I want my original plate back, made whole again. I want to be, in a word, made innocent again.

This is not a productive position and it has surely done me no good. What’s true is that I was born innocent and I still am, despite all my flaws and all the mistakes I have made. I refuse to see myself as damned any longer because of other people’s choices.

With the help of the woman who told me the story, I am reconsidering my options with regard to broken pieces in my life, wondering what I can make with them using what I have now, where I am now, knowing what I know now that I did not know when the shattering was done.

Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack, in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
~ Leonard Cohen, “Anthem

What I hope to do is take the materials I have at hand—including the love of all the good people (and dogs) I know—and forge myself an unbreakable heart into which the light of the universe shines and from which my own light shines back out to the world.


The corner of the heart

Back in 1998, country singer Collin Raye released a song called “Corner of the Heart,” which you can watch here. It has a good solid core idea, although the lyrics overall are weak, I think. Nevertheless, the chorus points to the fact that in most relationships there comes a time when one must choose to turn the corner—to recommit at an ever-deeper level to the other person, or to walk away.

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to test this theory with another person in my own life. I have seen for myself, though, how it works.

From the day I got my girl dog, Reggie, she was, to put it mildly, a problem. She peed and pooped in the house, she ate her own and Rudy’s poo, she was an incorrigible mule on the leash, she tore up my stuff, and she chewed up and ate things that blocked her bowels. For the first two years of her life, I was in a nearly constant state of rage, frustration, and anxiety. I actually talked to my doctor at one point about getting some pharmaceutical help to deal with it (although ultimately decided not to go that route).

I admit, I did not love Reggie much for most of those first two years. Everyone who knows me got to hear all about my problem dog, and how miserable she made me, and how she was ruining my sleep and my carpets and my peace of mind, and how much I wished I could rehome her but how I just couldn’t because I’d feel too guilty letting her go to anyone else. There is no end to the variety of bad homes and bad owners for dogs, and neither I nor my home is perfect but we’re better than most. Besides, she could be so cute, and so charming, from time to time. I fell in love with her the first day I met her and was so excited to bring her home. But when she peed in the middle of my bed within minutes of arriving, I couldn’t help but think I’d made a terrible mistake.

After I stripped the blankets off the bed Reggie peed on, she promptly made herself comfortable in the laundry room.

After I stripped the blankets off the bed Reggie peed on, she promptly made herself comfortable in the laundry room.

When Reggie was about 18 months old, she developed a series of what appeared to be urinary tract infections. This led to the complete loss of her house training and pee everywhere—on the couch, on the bed, in the car, and on the carpets in every room of my house. It was a pee-a-palooza. It took several months and hundreds of dollars’ worth of tests to determine what was actually wrong with her, which turned out to be a congenital defect called a hepatic portosystemic shunt. She has an extra blood vessel on her liver that was shunting blood around her liver rather than through her liver to be filtered. Although she was very fortunate not to have suffered any long-term damage from her inadequately filtered blood those first two years, her life would have been significantly shortened if the shunt were not fixed.

Feeling guilty and hard-pressed but also hopeful that this could resolve her urinary problems, I opted to have the shunt repaired in 2011. It was a major operation, and Reggie struggled in her recovery.

In her crate immediately after surgery, her leg still wrapped where she had an IV and her eyes still shiny from the goop they put on them to keep her eyeballs from drying out during the surgery.

Reggie in her crate immediately after the shunt-repair surgery, her leg still wrapped where she had an IV and her eyes still shiny from the goop they put on them to keep her eyeballs from drying out during the surgery.

The largest struggle was with bacterial overgrowth in her gut, which gave her diarrhea. I had to keep her in a crate during the day when I was at work to keep her quiet, and it was bare empty because she would eat any fabric I put in there with her. She would poop all over her crate, then eat it, then poop it again. Every day. This pushed me to my lowest point of anger and disgust with her horrible habits.

Fortunately—by grace, evidently, because I can’t say it was by my conscious choice—this is when I turned the corner in my heart with Reggie. I finally realized that she was not “misbehaving” just to spite me and that her behavior was nothing she could choose to control. I stopped seeing her as a vexing burden I shouldered out of guilt, but rather as a small creature in my care who needed my help. In short, I stopped allowing her to make me suffer because I stopped seeing her behavior as any reflection whatsoever on me.

From that point forward, I willingly made arrangements to get Reggie out of the crate when she needed to go, even when I was at work, to break her coprophagia cycle and to help her heal. I administered her medications punctiliously, I kept her clean and dry, and I cuddled her close when she seemed to be feeling bad. I stopped seeing her accidents as affronts to me and damage to my home and started seeing them simply as a symptom that she was struggling. I did all I could to help her get better, but at the same time I accepted her for exactly the dog that she was instead of always pushing her to be the dog I wanted her to be and punishing her for not being that dog.

I’m happy to say that the surgery was 100% successful and that Reggie was once again fully house trained after all her medical issues cleared. She is in the very pink of health now and I expect her to live out her full normal life span.

She has not, however, become the dog I wanted her to be when I got her.

She’s become so much more than that.


My best girl dog.

There was a time when I would have gladly handed Reggie over to the first person who came along and asked for her, but now I would not trade her for anything in the world. She is in my heart for life.


When I was a young newspaper reporter who needed to fill some time in between covering car crashes and jury trials, my editor would send me around to local businesses to do profiles on their products. One of those businesses was Kokatat, a manufacturer of paddle sports apparel and gear in Arcata, California. I toured the factory and spoke with the owner, who told me that Kokatat is a Yurok Indian word that means “into the water.” I don’t remember anything else I learned that day, but I’ve never forgotten that.

The word is on my mind tonight as I remember a day in 2007 when my mother and I took her Golden Retriever puppy Sunny to the river for the first time. We were staying at a small resort on the McKenzie River soon after Labor Day, and had the whole place pretty much to ourselves. My big dog, Ruby, had passed a few weeks prior and I was in mourning. Spending time with a boisterous 6-month-old puppy was bittersweet—so much life ahead of her, but she was not my dog.

Sunny was my parents’ second lifetime dog. They waited nearly four years after their first lifetime dog passed to get another puppy, and she was their darling baby from the day they laid eyes on her.

The second morning of our stay, I let my mother sleep in while I slipped out of the cabin and down to the beach with Sunny. It was deserted at that early hour, except for a flock of four or five ducks that were poking around at the waterline. Sunny had been down to the river the day before and had shown no interest in going in the water, so I let her off the leash. She nosed around and false-charged the ducks a few times, while they just ignored her advances. But when she wouldn’t leave them alone, they decided as a group to set sail downriver. Seeing them all swimming away from her before she’d had time to really even get to know them was too much for Sunny. She didn’t hesitate before splashing into the water after them. They kept going. And she kept going after them. And before I knew it, she was out in the middle of the McKenzie and heading downstream fast. She was just a puppy who had never even been in the water before.

My mother was too far away to hear me when I yelled, and yelled, and yelled for Sunny to come back. Nobody was anywhere on the grounds of our resort. There was a fence that ran all the way down to the waterline at the edge of the property, which Sunny had just sailed past. I clambered over that fence and I ran as hard as I could to keep pace with her as she shot downstream. I shouted and whistled and begged her to come back until I was hoarse, unable to bear the thought of losing another dog so soon, let alone this dog.

I don’t know how far I ran before she finally swam to the shore and plunged into my arms, but she made her way out of the water that day. I walked her back to our cabin and came in to find my mother just waking up. She’d had no idea what had just happened. Our relief was gigantic.

That night, as we were talking of this and other things, I started to cry. Mom asked me why, and it took me a minute to sort it out. Finally I told her, “Ruby would never have done that.” I missed my dog that ran to the sound of my voice. Sunny was not my dog and she never did that; I marvel still that she came back to me at all. But she did come to me the one time when it counted the most, and for that I will always be grateful. My parents’ love for their dog is a mighty force, and they deserved to have her for the full measure of her life.



When we were at the cabin, Sunny would start each day by running into my bedroom and vaulting onto my bed. She would plant herself flat on top of me and enthusiastically lick my face to wake me up and I have to tell you: I have never experienced a better wake-up call before or since. I told my friends when I returned from the visit that the title of Best Dog In the World and the little tiara that goes with it had officially been passed from Ruby to Sunny.

Some time this summer, when nobody was looking, Sunny stepped to the edge of another river that she had no choice but to enter. A tumor in her spleen that had spread into her lungs was stealing her breath. She slipped silently into the water where the current took her, and she could not make it back to shore this time. My parents said goodbye to her this morning and sent her on her way to the Rainbow Bridge we all hope and dream awaits our pets and, someday, us.

My parents and their dog.

My parents and their dog.

She was a good girl, and much loved. She will live forever in our hearts.

Good dog. Stay.

Good dog. Stay.

A hand to hold on to

In the summer of 1980, shortly after Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington State and I turned 14, I spent six weeks at a camp for overweight girls in Olympia, Washington—kind of a single-gender “Biggest Loser” experience but far kinder. We worked out a lot and took classes in exercise physiology and proper nutrition, among other things, and my time there set the foundation of whatever healthy habits I still practice today.

The director of the camp, whose name is Diane, was an especially kind woman who was firm, fair and fun in equal measure. She and her handpicked staff of counselors were good to us campers, and insofar as insecure teens and adult mentors can be friends, I became friends with her and a few others. I kept in touch with them for a few years, but after college, all my correspondences fell away. I never forgot her, but I didn’t know how to find her and just figured that I was one of her many, many former campers and students whom she had long since forgotten.

So imagine my surprise when I received a message from her on Facebook this past June, asking if I had attended that camp so long ago. We refriended one another on FB and I learned she had moved to a small town within two hours’ drive of my parents’ house. Since I am visiting them this week, I decided to take the afternoon and go see her today.

It’s funny how with certain people, the years apart don’t just fall away when you see each other again, but rather they seem never to have passed at all. So it was for us, or at least for me, to sit and talk with her again just as if we’d seen each other last week. Our memories of 1980 and after are blurred now, of course, but some parts still stand clear, and we talked about those. I told her that I’ve spent more than 30 years thinking that I would never see her again, yet there she was. And there I was.

One story I did not remind her about was a long phone call we had a couple of years after camp, when I was in high school and having a hard time. I was not standing on a high bridge over a fast-moving river, by any means, but I was emotionally on the brink just the same and I needed someone to talk me down, so I called her. I don’t remember anything else she said to me that night during the hour-plus that we talked, but I will always remember that she told me this: “You are brighter than the average bear, and you can work this out.”

It is almost a banal observation, but the fact that she saw me as intelligent and capable of solving my problems made me believe it for the first time in my life. In that moment, her hand reached out to me through the long-distance line, steadied me on my own two feet, and pulled me gently back from that abyss over which I swayed. And I’ve been holding on to that hand, that single sentence, ever since. Brighter than the average bear. It has gotten me through more struggles than you might expect. The help we need sometimes comes from the most unlikely places.

I spent about five hours visiting with Diane and her husband before I had to get back this evening. I wonder when or if we will see each other again. Until we do, I want her to know how much she’s meant to me all these years, and how dearly I hold not only the words she said to me on a very dark night, but also the faith she had in me and the bright circle of light within which she held—and still holds—me as a worthy human being with great potential. It made such a difference to me then. It still does.

Don't let her stature fool you. She's a giant of a woman at heart.

Don’t let her stature fool you. She’s a giant of a woman at heart.

Thanks, Di, for everything.


This one’s for my niece

Fifteen years ago today, our family was blessed with the addition of The Lovely and Amazing Annabel. She is my sister’s first child, my parents’ first grandchild and my first (and so far, only) niece, and she and I have been buddies from the day we met, just a few weeks after she was born. Sadly, I can’t find the picture we took that day, in which she was bundled in a lovingly homemade tiny leopard outfit for her first Halloween and looking very wide-eyed.

I confess, I am not good with kids and never have been, even when I was still a kid myself and babysat for the neighbors. But this kid has always been different. She was never fussy with me, and was always game for any adventure with her Auntie. She was a happy, smart, funny, cooperative sidekick from the go, and really hasn’t changed much at all in that respect over the years.


Helping mommy in the kitchen, summer of 2000. Baby girl was bald as a sweet little peach for most of her first two years, then her hair came in perfectly strawberry blond.

One  of my most precious memories is when she and her mom came to visit me when she was less than a year old, not even talking yet. They came to the back door of my house, and I went down to unlock it. Her mom was standing there on the porch holding her and when Annabel and I saw each other through the glass, we both broke into such huge grins of happy recognition that my sister said she felt like a complete third wheel for a moment because all we could see was each other.


All decked out in yellow fleece, Christmas 2001.

I wish I could find more of her baby pictures to share with you; she was exceedingly cute as well as exceptionally charming.


We’ve been lucky to share several of her birthdays with her, including her third, in which she gets some help from her daddy to cut the cake.


I took a lot of pictures of her when she was little, and she sometimes took the camera and returned the favor. Her mom and I wanted to make sure she didn’t just get our knees in the frame in this one, so we got down to her level (she was only about 3 at the time).


Everyone loved “dat baby,” including her grandpa, who told her to point at the camera.


The button-busting proud big sister, here with her mom and grandma, smiles big while holding her hours-old baby brother, August 2003.


Playing dress-up with her grandma at the tea shop, circa 2005.


Modeling her new pajamas with her mom and brother, Christmas 2008.


My favorite picture of this beautiful girl, summer of 2009. She has my freckles.


By Christmas of 2011, she was starting to look like a young lady instead of a kid–tall and slim and graceful.


By the summer of 2012, this kid I used to pick up and swing around was eye to eye with me when she stood in front of me; I expect she’s going to be tucking my head under her chin when she hugs me pretty soon.


She likes to draw anime characters, which I know just enough about to know that she rather resembles one!


Among her many talents, Annabel plays the cello beautifully. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her with that instrument.

Almost from birth, Annabel has been a mimic, a ham, and a performer. She has her mother’s gift for memorizing movie quotes and memes and working them into everyday conversation, and can always make me laugh. She’s a kind, good-hearted kid who always thinks of others first and who can be counted on to do the right thing. I wish I had been even half so emotionally capable when I was her age! Sometimes when I talk to her on the phone, I hear my sister’s tones and inflections in her speech, and watching Annabel is like watching my sister grow up all over again. I can’t even tell you how that warms my heart because for all that I love my niece, I love my sister twice as much. I’m happy to have known them both all their lives.

Annabel has gone from fuzzy-headed baby to animated toddler to adventurous school kid to gangly preteen and now stands tall and graceful at the last outpost of childhood. She starts high school this week with a full slate of college-prep classes, and is already thinking about getting her driver’s permit. Pretty soon she’ll be graduating, going off to college, getting married, having babies of her own. It’s all going to go by in a flash, just the way her whole life has to date … at least for those of us looking on from far away who see her two or three times a year if we’re lucky and can hardly believe the changes we see from visit to visit.

But some things remain the same from year to year and I hope they always will, especially that unbridled delight Annabel and I take in seeing each other again after months apart. She’s my only sister’s only daughter, the only tiny bit of me going forth into the future beyond my lifespan. She carries with her all my hopes and dreams for love and happiness in her life, and gratitude for all the love and happiness she brings to mine.

Happy birthday to a Lovely and Amazing young lady. I love you forever and I am so very proud of you.

Remember, Theresa: Everything she is, you are. Everything we love in this child, we loved in you first. All your life.

Related: This one’s for my sister


Summer jam

Let me just start right off by saying: Mom, I owe you an apology. You were right, and I was wrong. I am very sorry I didn’t listen to you when I should have.

Freezer jam IS quicker, cleaner, less work, fresher-tasting and lower in sugar than regular cooked jam.

I was visiting my parents for the first half of June, and one of the many, many things we did in those two weeks was make jam with some of the finest, freshest, sweetest, juiciest strawberries you could hope to find anywhere. My mother, who has learned the fine art of energy conservation in rehab, said we should make freezer jam. Less sugar, she said. Less work, she said. Tastes better, she said. “But I don’t like freezer jam,” I whined.

Besides, I said, are we not just the sort of home-canning heroines who not only put up huge batches at a go but also choose the hottest day of the year to fire up all the burners on the stove for hours at a time so we can really enjoy the full flavor of the thing? I insisted that we do it the old-fashioned way, using the big canner that holds 10 pint jars, because we were going to make a double batch.

My sweet mother, god love her, only wants me to be happy, so she said fine, she’d help me make my cooked preserves while she quietly went about making her batch of freezer jam on the side that was finished long before the big canner even came to boil.

That was the main sticking point: the pot. That behemoth holds at least five gallons of water, and its circumference far exceeds that of the stove’s largest burner. We set it on high at 3 p.m. and it didn’t start rolling to a boil until after 5 p.m. By that time we’d hulled and mashed our fruit and combined it with sugar in a 7 cups to 11 cups ratio. Doesn’t that just make your diabetes sense tingle? My mother, it should be remembered, is diabetic, so she was not going to be able to enjoy this strawberry-tinted melted sugar anyway. But she was right there to help me make it, stirring the pot and adding the pectin and watching the time like the trouper that she is. Even though it wasn’t actually the hottest day of the year, thankfully, our kitchen was plenty steamy and she worked really hard so that I could make this jam just the way I wanted it. God love her.

We both scanned our memories as far back as we could as to whether we have ever processed strawberry jam (i.e., put the filled, sealed jars back in the water bath to boil for 10 minutes). We were sure we never had (and equally sure that neither we nor anyone we know has ever gotten sick from eating our jam), but we consulted three books on home canning as well as the package insert that came with the pectin and they all said to process. So, I turned the burner under the canner back to high (having turned it down to simmer while we pulled the jars out to fill) and waited. And waited. And waited.

More than 90 minutes later, the pot still had not returned to a rolling boil, we were both exhausted and irritated, dinner had to be postponed until we could free up some surface area on the stove, and the filled jars in the canner were never going to properly process. We both threw in the sticky, crimson-stained towel and said “never again.” Never, never, never again will we can with the big pot, and we will never again process strawberry jam. We boiled the jars, we cooked the fruit precisely according to directions, we sealed them properly—good enough.

Which brings me around to why I feel the need to make that sincere and heartfelt apology to my mother now.

While at the supermarket this afternoon, I passed a display of small plastic Ball freezer jam containers next to canisters of instant pectin. The recipe on the box said only 1 cup of sugar to 2.5 cups of fruit was needed for a 3-cup batch. So I tossed the containers and pectin into the cart, U-turned back to the produce section for a couple boxes of strawberries, and headed home to make jam.


It took me all of 15 minutes to wash, hull and mash the berries, and another 3 minutes to stir them up with the sugar and pectin before filling the jars. No cooking, no waiting, no sweating, no swearing, no anxious watching of the clock, no burned fingers. Just three little jars of richly red, deliciously fresh-tasting, perfectly sweetened jam that won’t crank my blood glucose levels off the charts.


That’s the way we should have put up all those delightful little Oregon strawberries instead of drowning them in sugar and cooking them to death.

Again, mama, I’m sorry I put you through all that for my own little nostalgia trip, just so that I could say I made jam the old-fashioned way one last time: the way you and I used to make it, back when we were both a lot younger and had a lot more stamina and enthusiasm for this kind of work. I just wasn’t ready to let go of the past and update my methods to something smarter and healthier and easier and appropriate to our current working capacities. I wasn’t ready to admit that I no longer have the energy to waste on projects that are entertaining but nonessential.

I’ve seen the light and I’m ready now, though. Freezer jam it is, from now on.



The change of life

Recent evidence suggests that my on-board egg factory either already has ceased or will soon cease production after dropping more than 400 payloads down the hatch. Which means that, among other things, all symptoms of unstable hormonal activity in my body will soon cease as well (I hope—Gott im Himmel, I hope!).


Knowhuttahmean, girls?

I am finally passing through the gates of the change of life, leaving my procreative potential behind forever. The maiden who never became a mother has now become a … crone.


Well, shoot, that’s neither a pretty word nor a pretty idea. But it beats the alternative:


Heh. Not yet.

I read all the time in the women’s magazines how single women of reproductive age who haven’t taken that option are pestered constantly by friends, family and strangers to explain why they haven’t. Funnily enough, almost nobody has ever put that inquiry to me. If they have, my answer is this: I would want any child of mine to be born in wedlock to his or her two biological parents who love each other and who can together provide a stable, loving home for that child. Because I have never been able to provide that, I have not had children. (Note: I don’t care what reproductive choices other women make, which are none of my business.)

The biggest deal breaker, of course, was not having the partner and fellow bioparent, otherwise known as the father, with whom to create and rear that child. There was a young man, once, back in high school, whom I envisioned in this role, but he was never interested in playing the part. I haven’t met anyone since who might have replaced him. I’ve had relationships, of course, but no permanent romantic partner. I have no excuses, apologies or complaints to offer for this state of affairs (or lack thereof). It is what it is. This is the life I’ve made and the path I’ve chosen. A partner and child(ren) were simply not part of the plan this time around.

The other deal breaker, entirely apart from circumstances, was always knowing that I don’t have the energy to play the short game of raising children to get through the days nor the patience and foresight to play the long game to get through the years, so I am not mourning the passing of my fertility and my potential to send forth my own little arrows into the future. My sister has two children, and I see them as my arrows almost as much as hers. They are the entire next generation of our immediate family, in fact. I know I could not have raised them one tiny fraction as well as my sister has, so I’m glad they are her kids in that respect. I think I’m a  good auntie, though, and they know I love them just slightly less than their mother does.

When my grandmother was my age, she had two adult children who had graduated college and married, two children in college, a second-grader at home, and her first grandchild (my brother). When my mother was my age, she had one adult child, one college student, and one teenager at home. I think our family represents a larger trend in more ways than one. My grandmother had a high-school education and five living children out of seven or eight pregnancies. My mother had a nursing degree and three children. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree and no children. They say the more education a woman has, the less likely she is to reproduce. I never made a conscious choice to pursue my education or my career over partnership and family; it just happened that way.

Then, too, I always suspected it would. When that first early love of mine came to nothing, I really couldn’t see a partner in my future ever again. It always seemed to me that no matter how much I wanted it or how hard I looked for it or how hard I tried to make it happen with this person or that person, I just knew that no, this was not going to happen for me. They say there’s a lid for every pot, but I have seen that this is not true and I have finally stopped expecting it for myself.

I struggled against that realization for a long time because human beings are not made to be alone and not meant to be lonely. But some time in the past decade, without my noticing when it left, the intensity of my desire to be coupled has faded away to nearly nothing. I am still sometimes lonely in my heart, I will admit, but I am rarely lonely in the daily rounds of my life. I’m good at living alone and I enjoy it. I like having my own space my own way and making my own rules. Being single is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. Being with the wrong person might be, though.

So instead of waiting for or dreaming about or feeling abandoned by love, I try to love myself and my life and everything and everyone in it with courage and commitment and integrity, just as I would a partner and child(ren), not holding back on living while I wait for The One to show up and flip my “on” switch so as to finally allow me to be the best potential version of myself.

When you’re younger, you have time to play that game, and perhaps a biological clock spurring you on as well. But once you pass through the gate, you start to realize that all you are is all you have and that all you are is enough.