How Divine Intervention Delivered a Dog Named Spirit.

I’m not quite sure where to start. I mean how exactly do you tell the story of how a deer leads you to a dog, then a cardinal blesses the dog, then your beloved dog who passed away names the new dog, then you see the dog in your dream with that name. What is going on? SPIRIT, that’s what.

Ok, back to the beginning. And I’ll tell you right now you’re going to need to believe in Divine order to believe this story.

It’s taken more than a year for me to even consider getting another dog. My heart just wasn’t ready. The hole left there from missing Emmy’s physical presence was too great.


My Emmy Girl passed in Feb 2017.

IF we were to get another dog, it absolutely could not be a Golden Retriever. I just can’t do it. Except Emmy, and what I can only believe is God, had other plans.

Never Say Never.

We’ve been looking at dogs for a few months. We’ve brought several home for meet and greets with Miss Lola. And it just wasn’t clicking. Nothing felt right.

So, I declared I was done looking. If we were supposed to have another dog, it would find us. There. It’s decided.

Here comes Divine intervention. 

Two weeks later, on June 27, my wife Cindy and I headed out on our morning walk. Just as we got to the end of our driveway, was this sweet girl. It occurred to me at the time .. “that looks like a Red deer.” This is important for later in the story, so remember the red deer.

You should also know that I believe in Spirit animals and that the deer is mine. I usually feel them before I see them. Here’s what it means when a deer crosses your path.

deer totemThat will also be important later in story.

When we finished our 2 mile walk, this deer was right next to our front porch! Different deer, this one smaller and more blonde in color.

About two hours later, I get this text on my phone from my dear friend Nancy Seymour.


That dog is the color of the Red Deer and the 2nd Deer is the color of my Emmy. Do you see it?

By now, you’re either thinking I’m a moonchild crazy person or you’re still reading.

So we meet the dog. We learn she’s just 9 days into foster care rescued from a hoarding situation in Harnett County where her owner thought aliens were coming to take her dogs so she hid them under floor boards of the house! She’s super skittish. Doesn’t want to be touched or approached, won’t make eye contact. Within two hours, she has walked with us, explored the backyard with Lola and entered the house.

Where does she go first? Right to Emmy. And she won’t leave her. She circles the coffee table and goes right back to that spot. Stands under the kitchen table then right back to this spot. Over and over.

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I move over and sit on the hearth. She gets up and walks past me, pausing to let me rub my hand down her back, the first time she’s let us touch her, and clear as day I hear the word “SPIRIT.”

It. Took. My. Breath. Clearly, no one else heard it because they aren’t saying anything about what just happened! I don’t say a word. We make arrangements for the dog to come back on Saturday and they leave.

That night I wake up four times. Each time I see….


The dog’s face. The word Spirit. Flashing. Four times in the night. Seriously. This is getting very bizarre!

We pick her up on Saturday. Get her to the house and she bolts into the living room, right back to the spot under Emmy’s painting. We spend the day building trust. You can tell she wants to be close to us but she’s fearful. Two days ago she wouldn’t make eye contact. As the hours pass she is staring deep into us. Midday, we’re all in the living room on the floor and she lets me lay next to her on the floor. We all fall asleep. When I wake up there’s a cardinal on the back of the swing staring in the window at us from the front porch.

You guessed it. There’s a cardinal connection in this story. When Emmy passed, I was holding her on the front porch with all her family around her. We said goodbye and a cardinal flew and landed on the swing. In the days and weeks and months since, I see them everywhere. They fly across my path when I’m riding. They land on my car in traffic. They sit on the window sill when I’m at the sink. I have believed the cardinal is a wink from Emmy. And so .. there she was .. another signal in this story!



After spending the day and all these “messages,” we decide this is supposed to be our dog. It’s about 10:15pm and we call the foster to tell her we’ve decided to adopt the dog. My friend Nancy — who connected us to her in the first place — is there with me on the front porch. We’re talking about all these not-so-random things that have happened.

Cindy comes out and says “the dogs are going crazy, what’s going on in the side yard?”

Me: “Nothing. We’re just talking maybe they hear us.”

Nancy walks to her car that’s parked out on the street. I go back in the house and she sends me this text:


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MEET SPIRIT: 18month old Golden Retriever/Border Collie Mix

I’m 100% sure the spirit of my Emmygirl was orchestrating all this, and that Divine Spirit orders things just as they should go, and our new family member will be a constant reminder that Emmy’s spirit is always close by and Divine spirit is always at work.

And what about Lola? She’s got her happy face back.

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Official Adoption Photo: July 7, 2018

We did a 3-day juice fast and here’s what happened.

IMG_1633So first, everyone should do this so you know what it feels like to have hunger. And then imagine living that way all the time. Trust me, you will look at hunger differently.


I wanted to see if a 3-day fast could reduce inflammation in my body and jumpstart healing on a hand injury from 5 months ago. Cindy felt swollen and wanted to reset her digestive system. We both had about five (newlywed :-)) pounds hanging around.


We used Raleigh Raw’s 3-day Juicing Cleanse.  Six juices a day. No solid food. Sit down. It’s pricey, way more than we would spend for both of us for 3 days worth of food.

From the Raleigh Raw site: Introduce Juice. An excellent introduction to juicing and just enough time to begin to feel the benefits of detoxification.
+ Includes 3 Green juices, 2 Root juices, and 1 Nut Milk juice per day

I will tell you right now that nut milk juice is the nectar of the Gods. It’s DESSERT, I tell ya, especially after drinking greens, carrots and beets all day. By day two, I was living for The Cash Bah.

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This is the last juice each day.



A day’s worth of juice. Packed with nutrients, vegetables and anti-inflammatory wonderfulness. A few of them are an acquired taste!

Weigh before you start – naked and in the morning. You will be drinking every two hours so set your timer. Back time yourself so you can have your last drink before 8pm. Plan to stay busy and to potty — a lot. After day one, I’m thinking this has to be working. There isn’t much going in and there’s a lot moving out. (Don’t think of this like a colonoscopy cleanse! It’s not.)



Day 1: This is going to be a mental challenge as well as physical. But we’re in this thing and crushing it! A little hungry but the two hours went by quickly at work and the Cash Bah at the end of the evening was DIVINE. Pretty sure I heard angels singing after the first few swallows! We both slept well, which is a change.

Learnings: Stay busy. Drink water or hot water with lemon between juices.

Day 2: We both weigh in and are very surprised by our day one results! We have our morning juices, and go to a flow yoga class. Cindy’s feeling sluggish and headachy (and a little hangry if I’m honest.) I had more mental challenges than physical. I was very present to being HUNGRY. It was Saturday and we weren’t nearly busy enough to distract us from wanting to eat. A great way to realize how much mindless eating happens. So we went and got a pedicure. Let’s go all in on this self-care weekend.

Learnings: We realized early on that we made a strategic error by scheduling our first fast over the weekend. What were we thinking? Day one was much easier because we were busy at work! Saturday and Sunday were V E R Y long. I considered re-roofing the house so I wouldn’t think about breakfast, lunch and dinner. Someone told us to chew while we drank to trigger that eating sensation in our body/mind. Not sure if it worked but we are now employing all the tricks we can.

Day 3:

OMG. I honestly can’t believe we made it to day 3 without eating. I felt pretty good most of the day. We were busier today so the mental challenge was less. Cindy’s less headachy but still feels a little lethargic. We surmise her caffeine habit is the culprit! This is doable and we’re almost there.

Learnings: Drink each 17oz. juice slowly to make it last. Savor and think about the freshness you’re putting in your body. Notice how your joints feel and whether you notice a difference in being bloated or gassy.


You’ll remember my main intention in doing a juicing fast was to reduce inflammation. The before and during photos here tell the story I was looking for!

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Couldn’t fully close hand after weekly occupational therapy for 5 months.

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Day 2 of the Juice: Middle finger touching palm for the first time!

I really do believe my assertion that inflammation was a key barrier to healing was proven. While my hand isn’t “fixed,” I can’t wait to show my doctor and physical therapist this week.


Did we lose weight? YES. Cindy lost 4.6 pounds and I lost 3.2…in 3 days. The question is, will we put it right back on when we go back to our regular eating?

That’s for the next blogpost.



The thrill of making it to juice #18!

We would do it again, and we might just make it part of our health routine every three months or so.



The last sunset

I was washing my bike when it happened. Completely immersed in the detail and stunning badassery of the machine I call Spartacus. I almost didn’t even notice the darkening.  Right over the horizon it went. It was, frankly, rather unremarkable. It just happened like it does every single night. Except tonight, the sun set on my 40s. Whoa.

There was a time I couldn’t imagine being 50 years old. It seemed so…OLD. Of course, on the eve of the half-century mark I know what horse crap that is. Perspective is everything, right?

I thought I would dread the day. I thought I would spend the whole year of 49 thinking, “OMG, I’m about to be 50! How is this possible?” Instead, I’ve kinda been too busy to get too worked up about it!

Life is like that, right? It’s what happens while you’re busy making other plans. It’s what happens between the dashes that are left when it’s over. As they say, whoever “they” are, time flies. Catch it while you can, I say. Use every 86,400 seconds of each day you’re given.

So tomorrow, I’ve taken the day off of work. I’m going to climb on my bike with one of my very favorite people and I’m going to ride. It’s a birthday tradition we have — riding as many miles as years. This will be my first ‘milestone ride.’ I’m going to feel the wind on my face, and be grateful that my body still moves well enough to do it. I’m going to ground myself in gratitude for a remarkable life full of amazing souls.

And when the sun sets on August 10, 2017, I’ll toast it as the start of the next half century. Look out. Here I come.


Tribute to the Best Dog Ever


Emmy girl 

There have only been two times in my nearly 50 year old life that I can remember uncontrollable crying. The can’t contain it, can’t stop it once it starts, can’t breathe kind of crying. The guttural, overwhelming sadness kind.

This — was the third. I’m not a crier. So when the tears come from the deep, dark, depths, it’s very unsettling.

I had been cramming this cry down for 312 days. Holding my breath. Knowing it was coming. Thinking I could outsmart it, outmaneuver it, outwill it.

April 12, 2015 was her diagnosis day. I heard the words – kidney cancer. The options? None of them good. No chemo or radiation option. Major surgery to remove the kidney would maybe, if there was a miracle, buy her a year but most of that would be spent recovering from such a brutal surgery. For an 11 year old Golden Retriever, it was hardly a viable choice. So Emmy and I had a talk. And we agreed .. go for as many good days as possible. When she didn’t want to ride in the car anymore, that would be my sign. I trusted her to tell me. She trusted me to help her go when it was time. It was our pact.


For 312 days, she (we) fought that demon like hell.  Just when I’d think she was declining, she’d rally. We changed from kibble to a homemade diet and an incredible supplement invented by our good friend, Nancy Seymour. Emmy had all but given up and she came back to life!

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We learned what foods fought inflammation and we cooked for her. As she lost weight, we’d try some other food combination. Constantly making adjustments to keep her quality of life. There were days we cooked three meals for breakfast to find one she wanted.

Second Mommy Cindy Sink deserves a ton of admiration and appreciation for her excellent care! TeamEmmy was relentless. Taylor, Curry, MaryAnne, James, Grandma, Aunt Laurie. All of our family who loved her so dearly.

If you’re reading this, you’re also part of TeamEmmy — cheering her on Facebook, shouting your encouragement from near and far, heeping her with compliments. She loved you. She loved everybody (well humans, not necessarily dogs.)

When she climbed out of that sleeping pile of puppies and into Taylor’s lap 13 years ago, we all won the lottery. She chose us.


And we adored her every day of her life. She was the happiest dog. The Walmart Greeter of dogs. Took us forever to train people coming to the house how to not be bowled over by her enthusiastic greetings that included flopping onto her back, whipping you with her tail and knocking down the less sturdy.

Emmy finally got everybody trained though and her greetings became the absolute best. She was patient. Smart as a whip. A pleaser who worked until she mastered the trick.

She went everywhere with her boy, Taylor. She especially loved golf cart riding around her Timberlake neighborhood. Snuggling with him. Being at the pool. Playing ball. And riding in his truck. Such a playful companion.

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She had a stunning life. A gorgeous dog who melted hearts everywhere she went. A nearly human soul who was a demand for your attention. An expressionist. A fashionista. A gentle spirit full of delight for life. And that SMILE!

She loved unwrapping Christmas presents, but only when she was told it was okay!

As our family went through hard changes, Emmy was the constant. She was always there with a hug, a nudge, a cuddle and a kiss.

She was a generous girl who, after 11 years as an only dog, welcomed in a homeless pit bull who desperately needed a pack.


She helped teach Lola her tricks.

To our delight, she was the maid of honor in our wedding this past August. Walking down the aisle with Lola and our good friend Mary Lou.



Shelly and Cindy’s Wedding 08.27.16

And the car rides. Oh the wonderful times we had driving around town and road trips.


Emmy outlived every single prediction. She beat cancer 3 times. The vet called her the WonderDog. After 13 years, 2 months and 9 days, she looked at me and she told me she was ready. She had done all she could. We had done all we could. We had a deal. I promised we would let her go when it was time.


Farewell, Emmygirl. Until we meet again. You were the greatest dog ever. Know we’re okay and we’ll be waiting for your spirit visit. We trust you’ll know when the time is right.

You always did.


You made a movie on your honeymoon?

As a Creative Director, I spend most of my time collaborating with a team, guiding the brand messaging and graphics for a local television station. After spending 17+ years as a writer/producer/videographer, it’s stunning how little I actually create with my hands anymore. I sure do miss it.

During my recent 3 week sabbatical, I had some time, and I happened to be in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen on my honeymoon in the Abaco Islands, Bahamas.

The Abacos are 120-mile-chain of islands and cays (pronounced keys) due east of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, known as “The Boating Capitol of the World.”

I must tell you, it was stunning. The clarity of the water, the blue green hues are barely describable. It was also a little bit like being on an episode of “The Amazing Race.” Though we weren’t in any kind of hurry, we did have to forage a little bit for our food! And I’m pretty sure we used every single transportation source on the islands. We traveled by taxi, bike, fishing boat, ferry and golf cart.

There were those moments of kismet, fate, and divinely inspired direction that last a lifetime. The stingray that came from the deep to swim along the shoreline with us, the fish we needed for dinner that found their way into our boat, the rain always perfectly timed, wrapped up in the magnificent rainbow that graced our beach on our last night. It was truly magical.

Creative inspiration  + my person + that water(!) = that spark in my bonfire heart. Special thanks and music credits to Paper Kites (“Bloom”) and to James Blount (“Bonfire Heart”).

I had an iPhone, macbook pro and iMovie, which doesn’t have nearly the finesse I wanted in an editor, but then again, I may not be much of a professional editor any more.

WATCH HERE: Honeymoon in the Abacos


Tears at the top of the stairs

The day I walked into Maybrook for the showing I knew it was the one. Not the house I’d always wanted, but the one I needed at that moment. The one that would get me to my son the fastest. The one that would occupy my mind and my time. The one that I could afford on my own.  I sat at the top of the stairs to feel the house to be sure. It was a confusing time, my mind was jumbled, and I was making a choice that would change my family forever. That spot at the top of the stairs seemed to be the energetic anchor of the house. I could feel it.  

I vividly remember moving day, after all the commotion of movers and people, I sat. Alone. At the top of the stairs. Broken. Physically exhausted. Emotionally spent. This was day one. The hardest day of my life. 

This is what I wanted and yet, I was crushed. Each day I would go to work and when I got home, I would sit at the top of the stairs and cry. Uncontrollable, ugly crying. I’ve never been a crier so this level of crying was not okay! 

At some point when I was a kid, I decided no one could make me cry. I learned I could control it. So I’d never experienced that depth of sadness or allowed that level of emotion to take over. It was terrifying. I think I cried for seven straight days. 

I decided this was a transition house. I would only be here for 2 years, while my son finished high school and moved between my house and our family home which was just a few miles away. I need not get attached to it. Oddly, I described it as my transition house when I talked about it.

When the housing market crashed in 2008, the neighborhood was hit hard by foreclosures and my notion of a two year stay disappeared quickly. Okay, okay, I’ll stay 2 more years but that’s it. 

In the meantime, I was putting myself back together, keeping my focus on my family healing and learning how to newly be together apart. And I was returning to the person I was born to be. At almost 40, it was the first house I’d bought on my own and the first time I’d lived alone for more than 6 months. 

I could move the furniture when I wanted. I could paint a wall orange or a room red. I could rearrange the dishes in the cabinets. I could fold the towels inconsistently. I could stack the dishwasher inefficiently. I didn’t have to make the bed. No one to please but me. God, I was lonely. And…I was, for the first time in my life, learning how to live with myself, how to find comfort in my own company, how to just…BE.

Years passed, and the relationship I thought would have to be a secret forever became too big to hold down. She moved in one drawer at a time. And together, we built a life together, with our families and children, that neither of us imagined could ever be possible. Seriously, our being together, out in the world, was  

Today almost to the day, nine years after that first move-in day, I walked out of Maybrook for the last time with my soon-to-be wife. As I thanked the house for holding my amazing journey, I realized how many transitions had happened here. Not just mine. 

Despite my efforts to stay disconnected from it, the transition house became, “The House That Built Me.” 

As fate would have it, the buyer of the house is recently separated and trying to rebuild a new life for his little girl, who’s just a bit younger than my son when I moved there. Perfect.

So today the tears flowed again as I sat in that go-to spot at the top of the stairs. I left it better than I found it and it left me better than I was when I arrived.