on journeys of faith

I just returned home from an epic 4-day journey into the mountains following my intrepid and hardcore partner (the love of my life, who also just happens to be one of my greatest heroes) as he rode a bicycle through some incredibly beautiful backcountry terrain into the mountains to a small town where pilgrims pay homage to one of the Virgin Mary’s many apparitions, often walking from far-away destinations to arrive ragged and worn from the journey, full of love and gratitude for their virgin goddess.

I wasn’t raised Catholic, even though — or perhaps because — my mom was, and my maternal grandparents attended mass all of their lives. My upbringing was more in the agnostic turned hippie Anglican & eventually Presbyterian (once my Dad experienced the Call to become a minister), and then as a searching teenager/young adult inspired by the words of Gandhi about how all religions are just different paths leading to the same destination, I came to the realization that I could really do without the baggage/trappings of modern day organized Christianity (which seemed like a lot of baseless judgement and small-mindedness), and abandoned church-going in favour of finding my spiritual centre in the wilderness, the place where I felt the most whole and closest to the creator. Later I found the path of yoga, which I’m still studying and practicing now.

So although I’m no Catholic myself, I have a great respect for those who are dedicated to their faith, and I love and appreciate the deep symbolism and spiritual resonance of the Catholic church. The bloody and vicious role of Catholicism and other Christian churches in colonization the world over, and the unforgivable abuses of power both within the church and in its name are other matters entirely, and a couple of the main reasons I have rejected that path for myself. But the faith practiced by my partner and many others in colonized places where the Catholic church sought to replace Indigenous spirituality and only partially succeeded — that worship of and devotion to a Virgin Mary who is at least in part just another manifestation of Pachamama …. it is a beautiful thing.

Every year for the past 4 years, I have followed my faithful & dedicated man on this journey of the soul. I love the journey for my own reasons, some of them pictured in the photo update below, and some of them impossible to capture either in photos or words. But before I get into my photo update, there is something else I want to write about. Because once we got out of the mountains and into cell reception area, I got an exciting (and slightly terrifying) email. It started like this:

Omg omg omg!! I have one of six spots available in this amazing horse
gentling retreat
taking place in Colorado in August, thanks to some audacious
encouragement from an audacious friend (I’m looking at you, Katie <3) to
launch an audacious fund raising campaign to reach for this crazy dream. It
feels like a hugely audacious thing to do in both senses of that word — it’s both
bold and impudent. After all, really who am I to ask friends and strangers
for money to attend a retreat that would otherwise be way outside of my
financial reach? What makes me think that anyone should give me any of their
hard-earned dollars to do such a thing? How embarrassing (even shameful) to
have the gall to ask!

I feel all those things, and despite that, I decided to do it. Because when
my friends (and even some strangers) rallied to support me through the awful
months following the death of my eldest son last year, it changed the way I
related to that aspect of the Protestant work ethic culture I was raised within, where to need help is shameful and something to be hidden. I didn’t feel shameful or bad about having so many people contribute to help my family through that difficult time — rather, I felt so loved and supported, so much a part of a wider network of community, even if many of its members are people I rarely, if ever, see or talk to. There is nothing shameful in needing help, or in receiving it, and so much to be gained in the giving and receiving of any kind of support, be it a word of encouragement or a $5 donation. So, if you’re uncomfortable about my asking for help, please know that I get it. It’s okay. I’m still writing for you, and I’ll be rooting for you when the time comes too <3.

But listen, this dream I have is starting to take shape and I could not be more excited and terrifying to realize that there is such a thing as destiny, and that I’m already on its path — and, in my particular case, that path is full of horses. What the what? I honestly
still have no idea how that happened… I mean, I know exactly how it happened (and I will tell the story in another post, promise), but in the grand scheme of things, up until very recently I had never even imagined that my greatest passion and calling would focus on the healing power of horses. Yet, here we are. And this amazing young woman who calls herself Mustang Maddy, and who’s gained an impressive following through her passion and love for working with horses — especially the traumatized or misunderstood or mis-treated — and her willingness and skill in sharing her learning with others… Her approach speaks to me in a way that no other has in my searching to learn how to be with my horse in the best way possible, because let’s be honest, I am perhaps the most novice of novices to ever own a horse — I am just now, after 3+ years
with my first horse, starting to understand the depth of what I don’t know… And when I watch Maddy work, and when I use her methods, it is like magic. She relates to horses in a way that speaks to my soul, that just feels right. Here’s a snippet of what we’ll be doing in the retreat:

Amazing, right? I am so excited. I’m already halfway to my fundraising goal to cover the cost of the tuition ($5,500 USD, which is about $7,400 Canadian dollars). On top of that I will still have the cost of travelling to Colorado from approximately 2,700 kilometers north, but if I’m being audacious, why not go all the way? I love a good road trip any time. I’m hoping that if I write lots, I’ll be able to inspire my readers & friends to keep donating and sharing, and, one way or another, I WIIL make it on this journey of faith, to a destination I still can’t fully comprehend. All I know is that there will be horses, hope, and healing, and it’s a journey I must take. So if you feel compelled to donate, please do! I have to pay the remaining tuition by June 2, which is only 10 days away (omg!!!!).

And with that, I want to share some pictures of my most recent journey, on this sacred and serene pilgrimage to visit the Virgin goddess of my lover and best friend. And since this is my 3rd attempt at writing this post (multiple interruptions, spotty internet, and a glitching program have tested my resilience and determination over the 4 days I’ve been working on this post), the commentary will be short (ish).

My view for much of the trip, following behind (or leapfrogging ahead, from shady spot to shady spot) the pilgrims on bikes.

The support rig I was driving, with an awesome sun shade for the guard dogs. Can you see them both?

One of very few markers along the way. It’s a journey of faith in more ways than just the obvious — in some places the road is little more than a trail snaking through the mountains, and there are several unmarked junctions where I had to make a best guess, even after having travelled this road three times before. In one tiny town, I remembered having made a wrong turn last year, which required me to make an approximately 13-point turn with the truck & trailer all while being watched by a group of people sitting in the shade of an adobe veranda at the junction. This year I had to stop and think a bit before I took the right turn, and all the same folks were there, smiling and waving and laughing back at me. I think they probably remembered me too.

The kids playing in one of the many creeks the road crosses. We stopped for lunch and a rest on the first day, and although the water is way too warm for someone accustomed to the glacial creeks of the north, it was refreshing to wash off the dust all the same, and the kids had a lot of fun splashing around.

If there is a quintessential photo of this particular journey, this is it for me. It’s just before sunset on the first day, and we stopped to rest under a giant mango tree at the centre of this tiny ranchito with about 7 houses spread around a wide open space where horses, mules, cows, and pigs roam free, along with the usual dogs, cats, and chickens. Although I didn’t see any goats, I imagine there were some somewhere. This precocious little girl wanted to go talk to the kids hanging out in the shade beside the 1-room school pictured in the background, and so without hesitation or an ounce of shyness she sashayed over in this amazing hand-me-down dress that she refuses to take off, complete with hand-me-down leather boots several sizes too big, and the costume jewellery necklace her tia gifted her when we stayed over with them the night before starting the journey. I’m so in love with the weight and the swing of this dress when she moves, and the magical late afternoon light, and our friend Mono on his bike in the background, with our second support vehicle just behind him. In a moment I will pass this incredible little girl a mango that her father picked from the tree, and she will expertly peel it and suck out the sweet goodness of the perfectly ripe fruit before we wash up and continue on our way. But this moment captures for me the essence of who this child is — her unbounded confidence and complete lack of fear, her irresistible desire to talk to anyone and everyone as if they were the oldest of friends, her resolute belief that in this favourite beautiful dress — already old and patched, now filthy in its second day of wearing — she is a beautiful princess. Her willingness to fight to the end to do (and wear) what she wants, and my realization that I can only do so much (read: not that much) to shape or quash that determination, but knowing that in the end she loves me as fiercely as I love her. This girl. The daughter I never thought I would have. The most challenging and intense of my four children, by a very long mile. She’s pushing me to grow as a person and a parent in ways I never imagined I could, and I’m so grateful for that.

And then there is this little one, rocking his off-centre mohawk, baby huaraches, and filthy onsie. My last baby and youngest son. The one whose deep, dark newborn eyes kept me tethered to life after Moon’s death, when all I wanted was to just float away down that river to the other side. He was ten days old when it happened, and I don’t know how I would have survived without him.

And then there is this one, the love of my life, my polar opposite soulmate, the yang to my yin… and all he got after hauling ass up the last summit after two full hot days of pedalling was this crappy g-rated kiss.

Note to self: work on make-out selfie skills (more make-out, less selfie).

Arriving ragged, dirty and worn with prayers and sunbeams for the Virgin.

This sacred place, place of my heart’s yearning, of seeds & cuttings & new life born out of the old — how good it was to spend some time here again. Until next year <3.

In which I process some panic about not having enough time and ask you kindly to share <3

One week until we leave our winter home in Mexico to head north to our summer home (a trailer in the woods). Two weeks until I’m supposed to pay the remaining $2,500 USD ($3,365.94 CDN) for the Running Wild retreat, of which I have raised exactly $0.00 in either currency since about 20 days ago. Slightly (silently). Freaking. Out.

I started this blog with the intention of blogging if not daily, at least diligently, creating around 3 or so posts a week of heartfelt prose documenting my daily life, hopes & dreams, recollections, and reflections on navigating life as a grieving mama seeking to stay grounded & present for my living loves — and hopefully moving my readers to share my posts widely and rave to their friends and contacts about getting me to this amazing, life-changing horse gentling retreat. I was able to make a deposit on one of the 6 spots thanks to my amazing friends who donated when I hesitantly started this campaign a month ago, and one person in particular who blew my mind with an incredibly generous donation. But now I’m two weeks out from the deadline for paying the remaining fees, and although I’ve been blogging consistently and daily in my head, by the time the kids are in bed and the chores are done each day, I am also done like the dinner I’ve planned, shopped for, cooked, served, and picked up off the floor after the baby threw it there… (or alternatively, have begged my sweet & accommodating partner to go pick up from the taco stand down the street if it’s one of those days where even the thought of all of the above makes me want to cry).

It’s not all tears. This one really makes me smile a lot, even it he is rather demanding ❤

Because, wow. Running a household that contains two small children (one still breastfeeding and using cloth diapers) and several animals, and placing a high value on a house that is relatively clean and organized (albeit thankfully tiny in size), and keeping the people and the animals fed and clean and also trying to have some quality time with all of them…. It is way more than a full time job, and it is never, ever done for more than 5 minutes (but what a glorious 5 minutes, when all the laundry is folded & put away and the dishes washed and there’s food to eat and the kids are happy and/or asleep….). With my muchacha helping out daily, it’s done for 5 minutes more often than when I’m on my own, but I’m headed north soon, to no childcare/help in the house aside from my hardworking guy, who will be slinging a saw in the bush for 12 hours a day and STILL help me fold the laundry (even though he does it completely all wrong) or do the dishes before reading the girl to sleep (he’s a pro at both of these things). I know it will be okay, but I’m having to breathe myself through it once in a while.

I would be so prolific if I could invent writing software that could type out the blog posts I compose while raking up manure or washing the dishes or walking to and fro cleaning up after the tornado children have been playing for a while. But if I want to actually sit in front of a screen and type words into a box, it takes some considerable discipline and a certain ruthless theft of time from the long list of other things I feel like I should be doing, or even worse, really WANT to be doing, or even WORSE, HAVE to do (like the several things that interrupted the typing of this actual sentence, including 3 short shushing/patting/humming sessions with the baby who is still not quite asleep, checking to see what the dog was barking at a couple of times, and intercepting big sister and cousin in the backyard because that baby needs to sleep so I can blog godammit).

One of the things I’ve been blogging in my head is something I left out of my last post when I complained a bit about the flight booking nightmare disaster I suffered through last week. Since I had to spend a lot of time on hold, it seemed like a good opportunity to start reading my old blog and think about what to redact. It’s not going to be all that much — just enough to cover my ass some about some sell-out corporate research — and the details redacted are totally not necessary to the overall plot of the story. But making the decisions and finding the necessary redactions requires reading through all the posts, and holy shit. Holy. fucking. shit.

I’ve been having to breathe through that a lot too. It was maybe not the super best decision to reread my blog from a time in my life when everything was so up in the air and challenging and heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time WHILE ON HOLD FOR PRACTICALLY ALL OF 3 DAYS. But I did it (well, about half of it — it’s not done yet, thus no links, yet). I sat there on hold with the fucking airlines while they jerked me around and transferred my call and cut me off, etc., re-reading my thoughts and reflections from a decade ago about both the struggle and the joy of my daily life in that moment. I read and wept. Details about little things I would have completely forgotten about otherwise: Moon’s first ride on his longboard to the movie store down a quiet pretty city street, and his spectacular crash when he could not figure out how to slow down. Remembering how dark and moody he was when he tried something and couldn’t get it and wanted to so badly, but how he persisted and ended up being pretty amazing in what he mastered (longboarding, climbing, mountain biking, rubix cube, yo-yo, pen spinning… I’ve probably forgotten a few). Reading my lists of gratitude, of which those boys were the top, always. Reading about my heartbreak when a close friend of mine suddenly died. Reading about my panic over my oppressive and growing debt. My despair and determination in the struggle to find funding to stay in the phd program. My anguish about the state of the world, and my role in trying to make it a better (or at least not worse) place for my kids to live in.

While on hold with two different airlines over about three excruciating days. Ha, ha. Such a great idea.

On the plus side, by now I have learned to just surrender the deep cleansing/healing power of tears because holding it in just feels worse. Sometimes I don’t do certain things because I know that I will probably want to cry and I just can’t right then. Other times I do those things knowing I will cry and it’s okay. This is one of the reasons that all I really actually want to do is the things I am already doing. Really small, simple things like making food, cleaning up, playing with the kids, sorting the laundry, raking the leaves, washing the horse. One foot in front of the other. Gathering myself, breathing deep, getting ready to face the impossible when I can: in this case, reliving all those moments when Moon was alive and I was a different person living in such a different reality.

Writing has always been how I process. For that period of time between about 2007 to 2010, I was in my early 30s co-parenting these two amazing boys 50/50 with my ex. I’d finished a master’s degree in English and had taught writing and composition courses for a couple of years, but hit a career wall and decided to pursue a PhD. I got into a program, and over the next few years hella struggled to keep all those balls up in the air: I was a 50% time mama and a non-funded phd student in another city (a several hour commute away), trying to service massive and growing debts working 3 jobs as a university instructor, seasonal legislative editor, and contract government researcher. And kinda also losing my shit because, hello. Wtf, young me?

So reading the old blog has been a pretty intense trip down memory lane, and it strikes me that everything is so different now, and also so the same. Whenever I reflected on blogging (which I did kind of often because blogging is already that meta and self-reflective), it was about the stolen moments in which I wrote. Moments in which I should probably be doing other things, but chose not to.

I know I need to aspire to that more — honouring the things that help me process and heal and generally be happier and healthier, and recognizing the value of taking the time to do them. Yoga — which includes napping on my yoga mat, doing postures in the wild with the kids, and also going to classes to dedicate serious time to my practice with teachers I love. Living in a tidy/orderly home with clean clothes to wear and good food to eat. Spending time with my animals.

Mika, waiting impatiently for food as always.

I know this, and I’m working on it. Today I got Mika (the 6 year old mare) out and bathed her & worked on her feet. Tomorrow I have someone coming to help me do a trim, her last before going out to pasture for our off season. I want to plan a couple of rides before she goes, and I want to work with Nemo (the 2 yr old colt) at least one more time.

Nemo, being handsome.

When we get up north, I have a bunch of training sessions scheduled with Angus (the 9 month old German Shepherd) — we’re doing a 7 week long tracking group, and I’m doing 4 private obedience sessions since our timing doesn’t work for the group obedience class.

Angus, guarding the shoes.

I neglect writing too much, but it is one of the things I need AND want to do, not just to raise money to go to this amazing retreat — even if my hopes & dreams are dashed and nobody shares and nobody donates and I have to figure out how to give all the money back or just lose the deposit and feel like a dumb loser, just typing out the words helps me process where I am. Reading my old blog makes me realize how important that process has been to me at some of the most difficult and challenging junctures of my life. I’m grateful to my younger self for carving out those moments to document what was going on and record my reflections and hash out my thoughts about both the small and the big things happening in my world. I love how self-aware I was about my amazing lucky life with those two celestial boys still under my wing — how vivid and strong and everlasting that wonder & awe & love they brought into every day I had with them. I miss them both so hard, in such different ways.

these boys ❤

Writing about that, I can slow it down and be in this moment, and connect it to all the other moments like beads on a string. I can look back and see how long the string is, and how those beads that seemed so random and chaotic at the time they fell into my lap, strung together and stretched out like that, form a kind of pattern. The incalculable curve. I never could have predicted that I would end up here, wanting more than anything just to run with horses — that would have seemed like the most random of random things to do. But here I am. I promise, if I get there, I will take you with me <3.

Life in the sandwich lane

A little window of time just opened up … my most excellent and handsome partner just took the baby next door to visit his folks, and I finished my lunch (my staple salad) and I have an hour until the girl needs to be picked up from school. Where. to. start?

The last week has been insanely busy and difficult on so many levels. When I started this blog exactly a week ago, I had as my goal to post three times a week, which I think is a reasonable amount given my life. Hahahaha. On retrospect, I see how I was tempting the universe with my hopeful scheming and dreaming. Well played, universe. You win again.

It started when I booked flights for our migration north. My hunky and hardworking other half got word that work is starting at the end of May and he is needed for a busy season. It’s great news — we need a good season for him in order to continue paying down the debt we still owe on the truck and trailer, and when we get back up north I will officially be 100% without childcare, so we can’t count on any substantial income on my part. Even if we could find child care for both kids (finding care for a little one under 18 months is all but impossible), the cost of it renders any income I could earn basically nil. It’s just not worth it. Also, this time around I want to raise my own babies, not pay somebody else to to it. I know exactly how lucky I am that this is even an option for me.

So, we are heading up north: four humans and two canines. The problems started in transporting the two canines — I didn’t realize that the first airline I booked with has a pet embargo after May 15 (I should have known), and instead of calling to book the dogs within 24 hours of making the booking, I got distracted blogging and then got busy with life, and didn’t call until Saturday — only to find out the dogs couldn’t come, and I’d passed the 24-hour refund period. Ugh. A $300 hit cancelling those flights.

So Saturday was basically spent on the phone, cancelling one set of flights and booking another with a different company who will fly the dogs, but only part of the way (which I only realized after the flights had been booked). The last leg is with company #1, and because the flights were booked with company #2, they will not take the dogs. So I had to call back to try to cancel the second set of flights, only to have them tell me that I they would not refund those flights (even though it was within the 24 hours) because I booked on the English language website. I didn’t find out that reason until I finally got a response to the complaint email I eventually send at the end of a very long, frustrating day of calling, waiting on hold, being transferred & cut off, calling back & waiting on hold again, explaining the situation again, etc. Your typical modern day airline call centre nightmare. It was awful, and so, so draining. In the end, we will take the flights that gets the dogs only 2/3 of the way to our destination, and the man of the family will have to escort the dogs on the remaining part of the journey (an approx. 10 hr drive, which some dear friends of the family have offered to make for us). All is more or less well that ends well, if you consider 3 flights (the middle one a 5 hours redeye) with two 3-hour layovers with two small children in tow to be anything resembling “well” …. I’m preparing for an 18-hour long nightmare, during which I will be fantasizing about how much better next year will be, when we make the journey over land (pleasepleaseplease let it be so).

Just because the whole flight booking situation wasn’t quite enough to remind me how I am 100% not in control of anything, and to remind me to stay humble and and accepting of the bumps in the road, the universe decided to throw in some rather intense parental care/health stuff into the mix. It had been brewing for a while, and I was simply unaware of the emerging situation until it all hit the fan on Tuesday. I’m kicking myself for not realizing until it was almost too late, but we are lucky and nothing bad happened and the situation is (getting) under control. There are still things to figure out, but we are on the right track.

So, I haven’t been doing much horse stuff, except for an awesome (and much needed) afternoon ride with the family on Monday to my favourite spot, the lookout point at the far end of the bay we live on. It’s an amazing view in all directions, and a nice ride to get there.

It’s hard to see the incline, but this is the access road up to the lookout point. My guy is hauling a large child in the trailer, with the smaller one on his back. The dog is enjoying his first ever family ride (he’s only 9 months old, so we haven’t been doing long or intense exercise with him until fairly recently, and even then just sparingly for his young growing body) — he was a rock star about the whole thing. And there’s my sweet ride, Mika, also being a rock star on this rocky road with her unshod feet. I think this ride was the first time on this road that she didn’t feel “ouchy” without shoes. Her feet are looking really good barefoot, and I’m gearing up to get in one full trim on her (my first solo trim) before she goes to pasture for our away season, which is coming up in only three weeks (!!!).

Aaand, my writing window just ended (actually, it ended about 2/3 of the way through this post, and I’ve just been blatantly ignoring both kids for the last 15 minutes or so in order to finish it). Ah, life in the sandwich generation…. Maybe I will post again soon, but just in case let’s not hold our collective breath, mmk?

In the meantime, here I am posing with the littlest stallion (Mika’s 2 year old colt Nemo), whose days as a stallion are quickly coming to an end so that he can be turned out to pasture with his mom in a couple month’s time. I thought it might happen this morning, but general consensus was that he needs a few more weeks for the huevos to fully drop, so he gets to keep them for the time being. Still, I got some good snuggles in with him, which is a huge treat considering that Mika is not a snuggler (more on her sad back story another time, and how I came to realize that she will never love me like I love her).

rays of love and pony eye goop

running wild

Hi. It’s been a while since I’ve started a blog, but here we are. This blog has a fairly specific practical purpose which I’ve never tried before: to raise money. I had a crazy dream to attend this very amazing horse gentling retreat in Colorado in August — something which I would never be able to afford barring some kind of serious lucky break. So on impulse I decided to try for a lucky break and started a GoFundMe campaign, and raised enough to put down a deposit on one of the two spaces left in the retreat, much to my surprise and enormous gratitude. Now I have until June 1 to come up with the rest of the cost of the retreat (another $2,500usd), so it’s time to get hustling to capture some hearts & minds & shares. Whether you’re a new reader or an old friend, I’m so glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll feel inspired to share my blog & GoFundMe campaign, and if you’re able to contribute to help get me there, you’d be one of my heroes for life. (will find a way to insert a link or a widget soon … but first, words! and maybe some pictures!)

I blogged my life for a couple of years around a time of critical change between 2007 and 2010, when I was a single, coparenting mama of two boys 8-12 year old boys (link coming once review/redaction has been completed). Over that period of time, I transitioned the ending of my first ‘real’ job as a university writing instructor, sold my first condo after only 2 years of home ownership, moved into a shared-living situation with roommates, started a PhD and a research program, and fell into and out of love. The blog ends around the time I got rid of everything and set off on an epic road trip with the boys to start my research in Mexico in 2011. I wrote another blog documenting that journey, and one of my deepest regrets is hitting the “delete” on that blog for reasons I don’t want to discuss. But I’ve burned a lot of things I regret burning, and I know that regret never brought anything back. The lessons of non-attachment have edges sometimes, and impermanence is a scary thing to confront. I’m starting to wear those edges smooth, though, and I’ve learned how to breathe through the knowledge that everything always changes. I could never have anticipated then where I would be now, almost a full decade later.

Here I am: in a palapa on the roof of a small house in a small town on the Pacific coast of Mexico. I have two more children, a daughter who is 4.5 and a son who just turned 1. My oldest, Kid 1, my sweet luminescent Moon, accidentally took himself away last year using fentanyl to numb some pain I didn’t even know he had. He was 21 years old and so full of potential and life and hope for the future. His younger brother, Kid 2, my sweet Monk, is 20 years old now and a brilliant engineering student who’s thriving in the most amazing, breathtaking way. I’m so grateful to have him out there healthy and well, doing his thing, and for the littles who need me here present every moment of every day. Starting this blog is a scary thing for me: I know it requires reaching into the undercurrent of grief and loss that every parent who’s lost a child carries around under the surface of the rest of their lives. But it’s a necessary part of the healing, for me. I have always processed through writing — so here we are: a blog about surviving the worst kind of loss a mother can imagine, about parenting and loving and living after one of your children is gone.

Since I’m not about being super depressing, and looking closely & compassionately at the sadness & grief & loss is only one element of healing, I reserve the right to cover all kinds of topics that interest me in this blog: parenting young & grown kids, navigating the challenges of cultivating a fiercely loving & conscious relationship with my polar opposite soul mate, coming back to my dream calling of being a writer (there will be poetry), listening to what animals have to teach me and learning how to live with them in the best way possible, finding a way to throw a few buckets of water on the dumpster fire of contemporary politics and cultures of consumption/disposal, and building skills to make a new world out of the scraps of the old one. Expect composting tips and heartbreak and discussions about poop. Welcome to my world.