Letting Go of What Was, and Accepting What Is

This picture of Detail and I was taken 3 years ago. I keep posting it to remember the good old days before lameness took over.


Detail’s been off for over a year now. We’ve tried changing vets, changing farriers, ultrasounds, Platelet Rich Plasma injections, arthritis medications, corrective shoeing, chiropractic adjustments, Reiki, the list goes on…

Last night I went out to the pasture and scratched Detail in her favorite spots. She stood there and rocked back and forth encouraging me to scratch different places. I wept and told her I’m sorry. Sorry she’s hurting. Sorry I can’t fix it. And that I’m 100% committed to doing whatever it takes to help her feel better. I sat down on the ground and she walked up to me and put her heart to my head as she always does. That hasn’t changed.

Maybe my relationship with Detail is supposed to be more literally grounded at this point. Less flying across the fields; more easy walks on the trail. I know there’s truth to that, but it hurts like hell to think of letting go of our gallops through the pastures. Detail loved to run, and feeling her unbridled power was my definition of freedom.

At 35, I’m figuring out what freedom means now. Who am I, if I’m not the wild, free-spirited woman galloping bareback in a dress with my four-legged best friend? My ego loves attaching my identity to that visual image.

I’m learning freedom means letting go of my ego’s attachment to what was, surrendering to what is, and making space for what will be. 

I will do everything in my power to help Detail get better and then it’s up to God. That’s when the tears come because I can’t control the outcome.

When I stop fighting and resisting the way things are, I feel calmer. My tears have been released, and I surrender. In the surrender, there’s acceptance. Accepting that it’s a new chapter for us.

Detail is continuing to teach me to become unbridled, to let go, to stop trying to control what’s out of my control. My new definition of freedom isn’t galloping bareback, but letting go what was, accepting what is, and making space for what will be.

By accepting, I feel free,

Devon

Have you ever struggled to accept a “new norm” with a beloved friend? I’d love to hear from you, please share in the comments below.

How Horses Validate our Feelings

This is Lobo, a ranch horse, who was at liberty (loose) in a large riding arena at the Unbridled Retreat.

He walked right over to a woman in our group who was sharing her pain of being in an abusive marriage. Lobo promptly nudged his way to her heart and acknowledged, honored, and validated how she was feeling.

Horses are drawn to our truth and authentic emotions. As prey animals, they sense your energy from a mile away and give instant feedback, as Lobo is here.

You never forget being seen, heard, and acknowledged by a 1,200 pound horse. It’s the ultimate validation.

We are often taught if we share our pain and struggles, we will be perceived as weak, out of control, and not having our life together.

Horses teach us the opposite is true.

 It’s only when we allow ourselves to FEEL, can we HEAL, and MOVE FORWARD in our lives.

That’s why I created the Unbridled Retreat – a safe, supportive environment to be seen, heard, and acknowledged by nature’s healers….horses. Their honest feedback helps you reclaim your authentic self, and change the way you see yourself forever. 



Have you ever experienced feedback from a horse? 

I’d love to hear from you, share in the comments below.

In awe of horses,



Devon

To find out about the Colorado Unbridled Retreat on August 25 – 28, 2019, CLICK HERE. 

How to Meditate in 7 Simple Steps

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu

Horses live in the present moment. They aren’t worried about the fight they had with their spouse yesterday, or what the weather will be tomorrow. Because they live in the moment, their natural state is peace and serenity.

Horses are great meditation teachers.

Science shows that meditation lowers stress, increases mental clarity, and improves sleep. My favorite benefit of meditation is it quiets the monkey chatter in our mind so we can listen to our intuition.

When we are NOT present, we miss out on the richness of life; the smell of our dog’s fur as we hug him, the way the sun feels on our skin, a smile from a loved one, the flavor of dark chocolate as we savor every bite.

By training our mind to live more in the present moment, we stop seeking peace and serenity, and realize it’s right here, right now. Below is a guide for getting started…

How to Meditate in 7 Simple Steps…

1. Sit upright comfortably. If you’re like me and you try to meditate while lying down, you’ll fall asleep. Instead, sit in a comfortable chair with an upright back, get a meditation cushion, or fold a pillow and sit cross-legged on it, which will help support your back.

2. Breathe Deeply. Ah, the breath, the wonderful breath. It’s our ANCHOR to the present moment and a tool available at all times. Start by taking 10 deeps breaths and counting to 5 during each exhale and inhale. Allow your lungs to fill up as you inhale (it feels good to take a deep inhale) and then slowly exhale through your nose, allowing your shoulders to drop. Repeat.

3. Gently close your eyes. If you’re not doing so already, I suggest closing your eyes to help you focus. It’s easy to give our mind an excuse to wander when we are staring at our laundry that needs to be done.

4. Slowly scan your body, and notice any sensations. I love this step because it’s checking in with our body. How many times a day do we ask others, “How are you?” A lot. How many times a day do we ask our body, “How are you?” Hardly ever. It’s an opportunity to check in with your body which is an effective way to bring you into the present moment. Start by focusing on your feet and moving up to the top of your head. Notice if there is tension anywhere, and if there is, consciously send breath in the direction of that body part.

5. Be aware of any thoughts you are having. Do you ever get stuck in overthinking? Here’s a chance to notice your thoughts WITHOUT getting roped in by them. Imagine each thought is like a cloud in the sky and you’re the observer. Notice what thoughts are present, “I need to call my mom, I have to go to the grocery store”. Allow each thought to come up, and pass by, without any judgment or attachment.

6. When your mind wanders, focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, which it will, come home to your breath. Your breath is the the number one tool to help you stay grounded, connected, and focused in the moment. When you focus on your breathing, your heart rate slows down, your mind begins to quiet, and your body can relax.

7. Gently open your eyes when you are ready. I suggest practicing meditation for 5-10 minutes in the beginning. The best time of day to do it is in the morning, BEFORE having coffee, if you’re a caffine consumer. Connecting to your breath will set the tone for your day. It’s a positive and empowering tool to practice beyond the pillow, and throughout the day. Even if you don’t have an opportunity to close your eyes, you can practice conscious breathing during a meeting, in a traffic jam, or in a conversation.

For a printable checklist of How to Meditate, CLICK HERE.

You can post it in your bedroom, or by your desk as a reminder.

For guided meditations, check out HeadSpace which is an easy-to-use app that walks you through a series of 10 minute meditations. The guy who records it has a soothing accent too.

I’d love to hear from you….have you ever tried meditation? What’s been your experience? Share in the comments below.

Happy meditating!

Inhale…1, 2, 3, 4, 5…Exhale…1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

Devon

Increase Your Self-Confidence with Avocado Toast

Recently, a friend mentioned she eats avocado toast for breakfast. I was intrigued for a number of reasons…

1. It sounded healthy and delicious.
2. I’m tired of Kashi cereal and almond milk every morning.
3. My theme word for 2019 is E X P A N S I O N and my focus is on changing my limiting beliefs, including: I don’t cook, I can’t cook, I suck at cooking.

“You begin to fly when you let go of self-liming beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights.” – Brian Tracy 

My whole life, I’ve held onto the limiting belief that I don’t cook, backed by my well-rehearsed line, “It’s just not my thing.” (Family, friends, and ex-boyfriends will verify.)

However, since moving into my own home, I’ve been nesting and (surprising to me) that includes the kitchen.

To enhance my budding relationship with the kitchen, I purchased new MATCHING plates and bowls, to replace the hodgepodge of uninspiring dishware I’d inherited from former roommates over the years.

Feeling Pioneer Woman-esque with my pretty new green plates, I was eager to try my hand at a meal that required more than pouring milk into a bowl, or pushing “start” on a microwave.

In prep for my avocado toast experiment, I got all the ingredients together and tuned on the oven broiler for the first time ever. (No toaster present.)

After Googling where a broiler is located in an oven (by the top or bottom rack?), I put the bread in, and began cracking eggs. With Sara Evan’s “Born to Fly” blasting through the Sonos speakers, I had a cooking rhythm going and realized this was kind of fun!

Singing along to the lyrics, I mashed the avocado in a bowl, and forgot about the bread.

I frantically opened the oven door to the smell of burning toast….sh&*! A valuable lesson learned — the broiler heats up FAST, holy cow.

Next step, I went to flip the eggs. Diligently following the recipe’s instructions, “Flip eggs, trying not to crack the yolk…”, I picked up the pan, carefully flicked my wrist, and the yolks cracked wide open when they landed.

Oh well, another cooking technique to practice: the pan flip. Noted.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” – Julia Childs 

With the avocado mashed, I spread it on the quasi burnt toast, and placed the cooked cracked egg yolks on top. It wasn’t perfect but it was done. The meal looked edible, especially on my beautiful new plate.

“Done is better than perfect.” – Anonymous 

All in all, I did it. I felt proud of myself for doing something new, experimenting, failing forward (burnt the toast, cracked the yoke) and I had prevailed by not giving up.

Most importantly, I changed my belief from “I can’t cook” to “I’m learning to cook, getting better, and having way more fun than my inner critic ever let on about making food.”

If you’ve bought into a belief that you’re not good at something, challenge that limiting belief by doing the opposite of what it tells you. A belief is just a thought you keep thinking, and we have the ability to change our beliefs by changing our thoughts. To change your thoughts, do something new!

“If you hear voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh 

Start in small ways: try a new recipe, take a horseback riding lesson, write a blog post, email someone you look up to, go on a power walk, dance in your living room to shamanic drumming music, or _______ (fill in the blank).

By trying news things, you change your belief, and by changing your belief, you change your perception of yourself, and by changing your perception of yourself, you increase your self-confidence and BELIEF IN YOURSELF. That’s what it’s all about.

It can start with avocado toast.

Microwavable meals begone,

Devon

My three minute public speech in SILENCE

Imagine standing in front of a room of people for three minutes and saying absolutely nothing. Just standing there. Making eye contact. Breathing. Connecting. No words.

This is what I signed up to do, yes, paid for, in a class I attended called Soul Speaks.

Throughout the class, each person has three individual turns to stand up in front of the group and speak about any subject or, drum roll please…to be silent.

It is not about content, it is about connecting and letting the essence of who we are shine through and be seen, heard, and blessed. After each turn, we continue to stand in front of the room as group members call out “showers of appreciation” based on our essence and what they witness from being in our presence.

Then the facilitator quickly captures these “showers” as the class calls them out and she writes them down in a pretty notebook. “This is the truth of who you are” she says, when she hands the notebooks to us at the end of each class.

As our names are called in random order, we are encouraged not to prepare, and not to think about what we are going to say (or not say) before our turn. My ego does not like these directions of not preparing. It screams in my head, “Quick, come up with something brilliant, you have to be prepared, make them laugh, keep them interested …” That’s been my typical mode of operation in front of a group; do whatever it takes to keep them interested, or they’ll get bored and I’ll feel rejected.

This is not about giving a brilliant speech or being an excellent speaker. It’s about authentic connection in front of a room of people. Talk about feeling vulnerable.

I’ve had the gift of authentic connection (non-verbal) with horses throughout most of my life. I’ve always felt more comfortable in my own skin with animals because they don’t judge, and I don’t have to be anything other than myself to be accepted. I’ve got nothing to hide and even if I try to, horses can see past my bullsh&*.

You can’t hide anything from a horse.

On the other hand, it’s vulnerable connection with people which scares me. My ego flares up and says “what if you’re not good enough, funny enough, entertaining enough…” Over the years, I’ve become very good at breaking the ice, asking questions, and keeping conversations rolling so I don’t have to be fully seen. I can easily hide behind my words.

Being verbal protects me from being vulnerable.

Hence, I signed up for Soul Speaks. To confront my ego by deliberately standing in front of a group of people while keeping my mouth shut. As my business expands and I’m doing more speaking presentations, I find myself speaking quickly, out of fear that my audience will get bored. Soul Speaks appealed to me because I was curious to hear what my soul (not my mouth) would say, given the chance to speak.

During my last class, I stood in front of the group for three minutes. I challenged myself not to speak. I made an experiment out of it, to see if I could do it. I made eye contact with each person in the rows of chairs in front of me. I felt the blood rush to my face and felt my heart beating fast. Yet I kept breathing and making eye contact. For once, I didn’t feel the desperate need to impress or entertain people so they wouldn’t get bored.

I stood there and that was enough.

I WAS ENOUGH.

That was my takeaway. I got to experience it firsthand and the audience clapped for me when my turn was over.

By breathing, I was at home in my body while I was making eye contact. It was exhilarating and validating.

Here are some of the showers of appreciation that people called out after my three minute turn: “Bursting, powerful, wise, captivating, soft and comforting.” This was the feedback I got while I stood in SILENCE in front of a group of people that barely know me. Sure enough, my soul does speak loud and clear.

I’m a firm believer that our soul speak volumes, when we close our mouths and trust we are enough. Our essence and “soulfulness” is the truth of who we are; the scary part is allowing ourself to be seen and heard.

But it’s a gift to ourself and others when we allow our soul to speak.

Let your soul do the talking,

Devon

From Handcuffs to Horses….my People-Pleasing Journey

Chronic people-pleasing is a crime. It’s a crime against your soul, who you are, your unique gifts, purpose and message to share with the world.

By the time I was 21 years old, I was addicted to people-pleasing and external validation. I didn’t believe that I was good enough. Or smart enough. Or cool enough. Or attractive enough. Or lovable enough. So I manipulated my body, my behaviors and my personality so that I would be accepted, approved of and liked by everyone. I was always nice and said “yes” no matter what.

I did this at the cost of betraying my soul.

The people-pleasing road led to bulimia, blackout drunken nights, and self-loathing.

I was a shell of a person: I lost myself: in the midst of depression, I attempted to end my own life. I hit my rock bottom.

Friends and family were at a loss about how to help me, so my parents called the police.

I was handcuffed and escorted into a police car with neighbors gawking and tears in my parents’ eyes.

This was the wake-up call I needed to get real, start healing and take back my personal power, and quit committing crimes against myself.

From a hospital, to a psych ward, to a treatment center, to experiencing equine therapy and life coaching, my people-pleasing recovery journey went from handcuffs to healing through horses.

Horses ignored me during equine therapy if I attempted to be anything other than my authentic self. Horses only wanted to connect with me when I was being real, imperfections and all.

It was mind-opening and heart-opening.

Through working with horses and peeling back protective and inauthentic layers, I found the woman I was meant to be.

I began to accept, approve, like, and, yes, even love myself.

People-pleasing will cost you everything.

You are doing yourself and the world a disservice by saying “yes” to things when deep down your soul says “no.”

Especially as women, we need serious reframing around saying “no.”

Saying “no” to others doesn’t mean being a bitch, being selfish or being ungrateful.

It means we care about how we feel, and we value our precious time and energy.

It means we make choices based on what enhances our spirit versus what drains our spirit.

It means we proclaim that we can truly be there for others, only when we are there for ourselves first.

In a world of 7 billion people, not everyone is going to like you. Or accept you. Or approve of you. Or love you. And it’s okay.

In fact, it’s liberating to know and accept this because you will stop betraying your soul in an attempt to gain other’s fleeting acceptance and so-called stamp of approval.

Are you betraying yourself?

Awareness is key. Pay attention to the choices you make, and notice if they drain you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

If your choices drain you, it’s a red flag. If you are fueled by your choices, you are feeding your soul and curing the “disease to please.”

Practice saying “no” in the mirror. When you say “no” to someone, use K.I.S.S., aka Keep It Short and Simple.

When you start saying “yes” to your soul, you take back your personal power. This is a practice and you begin to build an emotional muscle over time.

It could mean saying “no” to others. It could mean speaking up even when your voice shakes. It could mean sharing an opinion that goes against what your family/friends/co-workers/spouse thinks.

By pleasing yourself first, you start living the life you are born to live. Only then can you be of the highest value and service to the world and those around you.

When you break free of the chains of always being nice and relying on external validation to feel worthy and good enough, you take the reins of your life. And there is nothing more likable, attractive, and lovable than a woman who says “yes” to herself and “no” to what doesn’t resonate with her soul.

So don’t get handcuffed, get real!

Devon

P.S. If you want to learn how to say “YES” to yourself, join us at the RETURN TO THE REAL YOU RETREAT in Montana on August 12th – 16th, 2018. Save $400 when you reserve a spot by May 31st! Click here for all the details.

P.S.S. Please share this post if you know someone who can benefit.

A Tribute to Playboy

With a heavy heart I need to share that Playboy, my incredible equine partner, is no longer with us, in physical form. Due to health complications, he made his transition while I stroked his forelock and sobbed goodbye.

He was an integral part of my life and a beloved member of Beyond the Arena.

Playboy was one in a million. 

He was a healer, steadfast friend, and coaching partner. More than a horse, he was an angel in equine form who blessed countless people’s lives with his unwavering strength, trusting nature, and gentle spirit.

He was family.

When he wasn’t helping people heal in the arena, he was in high demand for clients’ celebratory moments beyond the arena. Forever patient in front of a camera, his sweet face graced Facebook profile pictures, Christmas cards, senior high school pictures, and horse-themed baby announcements.

He was a safe presence.

One client, who battled an eating disorder, would lie on him bareback to feel more connected to her body. She felt safe with Playboy.

He was a life saver.

“Playboy was truly special and saved my life. I am so blessed I was able to have the bond with him that I did. I will never forget him and all that he taught me. He taught me how to trust again.”

He was a pillar of strength. 

When a woman came out for a two-day retreat with her sister, mom and three best friends, she was in the throes of grieving. Her 21-year-old son had committed suicide.

Standing next to Playboy, I invited her to hug his neck, share her pain, and lean on him for support. As she wrapped her hands around him, she began to wail while Playboy stood still as a statue and didn’t flinch. When she needed it the most, he gave her unwavering strength.

A year ago, a sweet, sensitive young boy came to see Playboy. He was being bullied by his older brother and needed comfort and strength. As he reached up to stroke Playboy’s soft muzzle, he lowered his face down to the ground for the boy. In that moment, that boy leaned his forehead against Playboy’s face and said in a soft voice, “My parents don’t understand but Playboy knows…he understands.”

At that moment, I couldn’t help but cry. Playboy had an invaluable gift for helping people feel safe, heard, and understood.

I’m grateful for the sacred time I had with Playboy and to witness the difference he made in people’s lives. He left hoofprints on many hearts.

“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings and walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.” – Suzanne Clothier

If you knew Playboy, it would mean a lot to me if you’d leave a comment below and share a few words or a fond memory to honor him and celebrate his life.

He is and will forever be deeply missed.

Remembering a beloved friend who helped so many,

Devon

I am enough, I know enough, and I am worthy

Recently I stayed at Canyon Ranch…a world renowned healing and wellness resort in Tucson, Arizona. I got my boots shined at the airport, then flew down to meet about a position to create and run their equine retreats for 2018.

It was a dream come true.

During my meeting, I sat at the head of a conference table surrounded by a doctor, executive director, and leading therapist for the wellness program. In the formal setting, I felt myself go into “realtor” mode, like I was at a listing presentation and trying to impress people. With my hands crossed, I spoke in a serious tone and tried to sound brilliant and official.

I was caught in an old habit of trying to be someone I’m not. This stems from not feeling good enough, worthy enough, or smart enough.

I was well-prepared presenting my material but my body was stiff and tight. My face hurt from trying NOT to smile, thinking that would make me appear unprofessional. As I left the meeting, I felt physically exhausted like I had been carrying 50 pound dumbbells of inauthenticity.

It’s hard work trying to be someone you’re not and that’s exactly how I used to live my life 27/7 in college and working in real estate. The old habit had crept back in and I was painfully aware of it.

Prior to my meeting, I had seen in the Canyon Ranch brochure that there was a walking meditation labyrinth, amongst the hundreds of other incredible healing modalities.

I headed outside the building and asked a staff member driving around in a golf cart where the labyrinth was. He pointed down the pavement that turned into a dirt road and said, “About half a mile.”

Setting off at a brisk pace, I quickly came across the labyrinth sign. I exhaled a deep sign of gratitude. There’s nothing I love more than a good labyrinth walk, especially after a self-imposed stressful meeting.

I entered the labyrinth, repeating the mantra I should have practiced pre-meeting but none-the-less, it was coming to me now: You are enough, you know enough. You are enough, you know enough. I also added a new line: You are worthy.

With each mindful step on the rock-lined path, I repeated out loud “You are enough, you know enough, and you are worthy.” My body began to relax and I reconnected to the truth of why I was here.

I was offered this opportunity to share the healing gifts and coaching skills I have honed the past 7 years. The Universe was telling me it was time to take my equine coaching work to the next level, and in spite of my comfort zone-oriented ego, I was ready for it.

The next morning, I took advantage of a few Canyon Ranch offerings and attended a powerful meditation class followed by a lecture on the “Importance of Deep Sleep”. I loved the authentic styles of the presenters; open, smiling, friendly, relatable, and extremely well-versed in their topics.

My self-doubt dissipated and I was bubbling with excitement of why I came here in the first place…to share my expertise and create a top notch equine program for Canyon Ranch guests to experience the healing power of horses. I felt renewed faith in myself and a deep sense of gratitude replaced my fear. 

The meeting the next day went much better…100% contributed to the fact I gave myself permission to be ME and I stopped trying to be someone I’m not. I was smiling and relaxed. I was asking people about themselves and cracking horse jokes. I even had the head therapist saying “yeeehaaw” by the end of our meeting.

Being myself sealed the deal because I’m now going to be Canyon Ranch’s equine retreat facilitator for 2018, WOOT, WOOT! My home base will continue to be Colorado and I’ll be traveling to Arizona to lead their retreats.

The biggest lesson is that we are enough just as we are. When we try to be someone else, we lose. It was a reminder that stuffy, uptight Devon isn’t my gift. It’s not what people are looking for. And if they are, we are never going to be a good fit!

Being yourself is the key and it’s a relief to know AND trust that.

I’d love to hear from you…where in your life to can you relax more and be the REAL you? It’s a huge gift to yourself and to the world.

I am enough, I know enough, and I am worthy,

Devon

How to be Present (in 10 mins or less)

Being present allows us to enjoy and experience our lives more fully. It relives stress, brings peace of mind, and deep contentment.

As I type this blog, I’m listening to the click-clack of computer keys and smiling because it reminds me of a horse’s hooves on pavement; click-clack, click-clack. It’s my first time noticing this sound on my computer because I’m practicing being present!

Take it from Oprah, “Being fully present in every moment is the greatest meditation I have found. It’s a prayer of praise to appreciate the now — and the best way I know to create a sense of well-being.

Below are 5 tips to Be Present (in 10 mins or less)….

1. Meditate. Take 5 to 10 minutes to sit, close your eyes, and observe your breath. It helps relieve anxiety, and connects you to your inner guidance. By meditating regularly, you become more present and develop the ability of observing your thoughts instead of your thoughts controlling you.

2. Go on walk and spend time noticing your surroundings. Breathe in the air as you walk, and notice the trees, the smells, and temperature of the air on your skin. Nature bring us into the present moment when we take time to notice what’s around us.

3. Listen to calming music. Close your eyes and get comfortable while listening the sound of whatever song is playing. Let the music in and allow it to lift your heart. One of my favorites is the “Lakmé, Flower Duet”….you can CLICK HERE to listen to it on YouTube.

4. Disconnect from technology and go outside and look up at the sky. It connects us to something bigger than ourselves (and beyond our screens) as we become aware of the vast presence of the screen of the Universe. My favorite time to do this is at night, gazing at the stars.

5. Speak to your pet. Let them know how much you appreciate them while speaking in a loving tone. Show them you care while stroking their fur in a gentle way, and verbally expressing your gratitude for having them in your life.

I’d love to hear from you….which of the 5 tips resonated with you the most? What is your favorite way to be present? Share in the comments below…

Signing off and headed outside,
Devon

Grieving the loss of my best friend

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” –Vicki Harrison

I woke up this morning feeling sad. I had a tear streaming down my face before I got out of bed. The busy-ness of my birthday week is over and so are the distractions from my sadness. My heart feels heavy. It’s hard to breathe. I miss him so much it aches — especially in the morning, when I have to remind myself not to look over to where his dog bed used to be, to see if he’s awake.

Since Namo’s passing a month ago, I’ve received enormous support, messages, and heartfelt letters but there’s still a Grand Canyon size hole in my heart. Nothing seems to fill it.

Grief take us to the depths of our being and wakes us up to our capacity to feel.

Sometimes the enormity of grief hits me like a tidal wave, and I buckle over in the shower because I’m sobbing so hard. Other times, it’s a sharp bittersweet memory of our final months together, when I see a slow-walking, aging dog in the park.

Namo (short for Namaste) was the poster dog for unconditional love. He was my go-to comforting confidant for every breakup, business failure, and fear I have faced the past 12 years. He never judged me, just purely loved me with his big brown eyes.

When he passed away, I lost my best friend and my constant support system. The world feels scarier without him. It’s harder to reach out to people for support. With Namo, I just had to reach out a hand, or wrap my arms around his neck — much easier than picking up the phone to call someone.

Namo was always there for me, literally by my side.

I haven’t found someone or something to replace him, and intuitively I know that finding a replacement is not the answer.

There is no answer, nothing to fix. I’m allowing myself to grieve and take its natural course. In doing so, I’m reminded of why we’re here: to deeply love and be loved.

I know isolation is not good for me and that Namo taught me to share more of myself. He still tells me, now from the other side, that he loves me, and that I’m going to be okay.

Namo, I love you and miss you with all my heart, buddy.

Devon

Have you ever lost a beloved friend? There’s no way around the raw pain of grief — only through it. If this resonates for you, please share in the comments below. It’d mean a lot to me to hear from you.