Category Archives: Religion

“They call me Mimi but my name is Lucia….”

I have been having a busy week.  I had my six month checkup for my lung cancer surgery last September, with a CAT-Scan with contrast media, and follow up with the surgeon.  I am very aware that breathing is a different experience for me, and not for the better, but I am adjusting.  I even gained five pounds, which is a significant for me.

My chronic anorexia, and the experience of being inexplicably abandoned by someone who swore his love and commitment to me, only to be followed up by  ghosting me, made the recovery almost impossible.  Without love, it took away my strength to recover, and my will to live.  But I am made of tougher stuff and survived in spite of it.

Today is very early spring, and I have reason for optimism and looking ahead.   I am attaching a photo of my son and my grand-daughter, Piper Starling Connolly, who visited me a week ago, making me very happy.  Kensie is standing by my side, where she can always be found.

I am reminded of Mimi’s aria in Act. 1 of the opera, La Boheme, set in Paris, my favorite city in the world.   I would like to share it as an ode to spring for all of us, and to my own victory over death and despair. Mimi is forced to face her own mortality by the end of Act 3, as shall we all.  But in Act I, there is flirting, laughter, and the hope that only comes in spring.  Find it on YouTube to listen to the beautiful melody.  The words follow:

“They call me Mimi, but my name is Lucy.

I embroider flowers, roses and lilies on silk.

I am peaceful and happy; it is my pass time.

I like these things.  They have so sweet a smell,

They speak of love, of spring, of chimera, these things

That have poetic names….. do you understand me?

Yes, they call me Mimi, why, I do not know….

Alone, I make my lunch for myself,

I do not always go to mass.

But I pray a lot to the Lord.

I live alone and cook for myself.  Alone….

But when the thaw comes, the first sun is mine!

The first kiss of April is mine!

Rose buds in a vase, leaf and buds

I watch them.  The flowers I make,

They do not have an odor

Rose buds in a vase,

Leaf by leaf, I watch it

The gentle perfume of a flower!

But the flowers I make

Ah me, they do not have any odor!

About me, I would not know how to tell.

I am only your neighbor come to bother you!”

From Act I of the Italian opera La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini

Libretto: Giuseppe Giacosa

Blyss Perceptions of Changes of the Seasons and of Life

Lorene with Paris, Delaware Bay, Goshen NJ
Lorene with Paris, Delaware Bay, Goshen NJ

Summer seemed to last long here at Blyss Kennels in Mountainside, NJ during this otherwise uneventful fall of 2016.  The heat lingered well into October and the need to use the furnace then was only intermittent.  No sooner did I turn it on than the temperature climbed up to 75 degrees in the morning again.  In other times, I would have taken my borzois in the van and gone to Cape May to one of a few inns that allowed us to bring them.

The memories of those happy days and the companions who assisted me there are long past.  Perhaps I could go there with Jelly, but I could never go and leave Tresor behind, and I could never bring them both.  I am friendless these days, so I would have no help with Tresor, alas, I am  stuck home for the gorgeous month of October.  Not only that, the temperature in Cape May is ten full degrees warmer than it is in Northern New Jersey.    The thought of the happy times I have lost is like a twisted dagger in my heart.  The most recent friend, whom once I thought was so true and loving, turned out to be like so many others before, untrue and hateful, so much so, that I asked him to leave.   After he left, I felt as if I jumped off a cliff into an abyss of fear – without a bungee chord.

Portrait of Jelly Maxine Bochnia
Portrait of Jelly
Maxine Bochnia

My poor borzois, who love to be taken to the sea, remain here with me in Mountainside.  I am grateful to the two new dog walkers I have found for Tresor.  Even Jelly has a friend who takes her hiking on the trails in Watchung Reservation!  I do not believe they grieve the loss of their former friend, but surely they must wonder as do I:   why?…….  where?…….when?……

I have sought solace in the peace of prayer.  There is nothing else to do.  I am in God’s hands.  I have done all I could to find happiness in relationships and husbands.  Nonetheless, I always find myself in the role somewhere between a freak and a failure.  But if God made me, I am in His image and therefore must be good. It is not for me to judge only to beg for mercy from the horrible pain of loneliness these separations impart.  But, I tell myself, I have Jelly and Tresor…….  So, I try to tell myself that I am really not so alone after all.

When I walked to church this evening to attend a special program of the Rosary Altar Society, to a church that is so close that I can see it from my living room window,  I was bathed in the light of the full moon.  I felt illuminated by its effervescence.  Perhaps it was the Eye of God. Catholics are taught when they are little children that God’s eye is always watching and protecting them.   For myself, I have survived the chaos of my life.  I have endured and gone on to do the special work God has laid out for me as an adult.  In my case, among other difficult acts of love, it was to take care of his dogs; many dogs; only now, the dogs are and have been His borzois.

Later, walking home from the Church in the moonlight, I saw myself standing on the beach of Delaware Bay with my borzois.  I am taken back in time by several years.  My husband, Bob, took some wonderful photographs there a long time ago!  How I cherish them.  They are framed and proudly displayed in my home as well as on Facebook.  Mikhailya – Casanova – Paris – Ebony!  How empty my life would have been without them!  They were among  – if not – my best friends! Today I have Jelly and Tresor, and I have their own stunning portraits, too.  Gifts from God, I cherish them all.  I know I am blessed.  I can only pay God back through my adoration and prayers, and trying to be worthy of all that is and has been good in my life.

Mikhailya with me at Delalware Bay
Mikhailya with me at Delalware Bay

So together let us welcome this balmy October weather.  As the temperatures rise, let the skies be blue and full of puffy white clouds, the kind where Mary can place her footsteps wandering in heaven.  And as she does, may she impart her blessings and joys on those who look up to her in prayer!

Blyss Ruminations; Life is Fragile; Blyss Opal and Blyss Tresor

As the days and weeks have passed caring for Tresor with his neck pain condition, I am brought back in time to when we had Blyss Opal (Raynbo Opalesque at Blyss) in 2006 and learned she had a terminal illness.  Although the two diagnoses are total different, Tresor’s condition reminds me of how fragile life, health and happiness are.  My Tresor does not understand why he has so much pain when he tries to move around, or simply change a position he is lying in.  He does not understand why he cannot go on his walks that he loves so well.  He only knows a great deal of rest and confinement, and that is unnatural for a young, healthy borzoi.

Yet his illness is guilty of bringing me back to a dark place.  It makes me recall what it is like to lose a most beloved pet as Tresor surely is.  I must be strong but I foresee it will be hard to practically impossible to face the end of his life.  Tresor is a very special and dear dog to me, what they call a “Heart Dog”, meaning he holds a special place in my heart.  It is a place only held by Opal, ten years ago.  So, just seeing ahead, this parting will not be easy, however it happens.

I will try to think of happier things to fill my mind, such as his overall good health, as well as that of my own.    Even that has not been easy for me of late.  Suddenly everything appears challenging and difficult for me.  I suppose the reason is because I love something that is so separate from myself, meaning my borzoi, that I cannot control what they do or what will happen to them.  They are at the mercy of destiny,  tossed around like my “Hounds of the steppes…..”  so how can it be otherwise?   They are here one day and gone the next, in a heart beat.  I know this yet still, I am heavily weighed down with much on my mind that I cannot articulate well.  Yet, in the present, I am doing my best to enjoy them every minute they are here.

I will try harder to dwell in the present positive, such as being evoked in the blessing:

In our comings and in our goings, may the light of love shine upon you

Come forth from within you, be gracious unto you, and bring you peace. 

For this is the day you’ve been given. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

And ignore the toxic memories of the past that intrude into my present thoughts, as articulated in the beautiful song, “Name”, by the Goo Goo Dolls:

“Even though the moment passed me by, I still can’t look away

Saw the dreams you never thought you lose tossed along the way;

Scars are souvenirs you never lose, the past is never far.

And I won’t tell no one your name.”


Dealing with the many distractions at Blyss

Tresor at Blyss


Although there are many advantages to belonging to supportive communities, such as church, neighbors, friends, family, dog clubs, and so on, I have to take great care to structure my time carefully or too much time is taken away from home at Blyss with my borzoi.   When I think about it, I still cannot believe I have two borzoi, Jelly and Tresor.  Eight months ago, I had none.  So, the quality of my life has exponentially improved a great deal due to them, and I must not give them short shrift.  In the total scheme of things, they are of primary importance.  Perhaps others would not agree, or would not feel the same way about their pets.  However, for me, that is how it is.  It is important to know oneself, to know what one values most and give those things that one values most highly the consideration they deserve.

There is a concentration of more social gatherings than I would like on my calendar this week, including a cluster of two important ones on Sunday, but they all have merit.   Although they leave me torn, I know that if I neglect my social connections, I do so at the risk of losing the few friends I have.   Coming up first on Thursday, October 1, 2015, is the Morris & Essex Kennel Club show, and Tresor is entered.  Jelly’s breeder, N24, will be here the evening prior.  I have a delicious dinner planned.  We are not in the ring until 2:00 PM in the afternoon, so we have a lot of time to socialize, eat, bathe the borzoi in the morning, and just unwind and have some fun.  My boyfriend will be showing her puppy bitch and Tresor .  He was fortunate to be able to have some handling classes by an incredible instructor, who happens to be a member of the Morris & Essex Kennel Club.  He is a natural athlete with nerves of steel, and I believe he will do just fine.  As the date is rapidly approaching, I feel the stress building.  I do not have his nerves of steel, acquired over years of competing in athletic sports throughout his school years.

I will work harder at staying more focused next week and not let myself be torn in so many diverging directions.

Portrait of Jelly Maxine Bochnia
Portrait of Jelly
Maxine Bochnia

Blyss Challenges: Passing Time, Theology, Becoming Healthier

During the past three days, I found myself among the members and friends of my primary clubs, two being borzoi breed clubs, and one a hound club .  It was all rather wonderful, even if I did have to drive a long way to attend them.

There was one breeder at these venues, N23, who bred the bitch I am hoping to bring home to Blyss soon whose name is Jelly.  I am so pleased and excited about this development.  My contractor is getting closer to completion of the dog-door – mud room project and that will make things move along nicely for my ability to get her.  This being a very long drive, he  has even said he will take  me there free of charge.  I have returned the favor in kind by being how shall I say,  charming.  I have made several home-made dinners  and I know him well enough to know it makes him happy.  Meanwhile, at the eating disorder program, my team has decided to let me come in only three half days, down from five full days.  I am grateful and thrilled, even thought it has meant eating more than I would like and putting on some pounds.

Comments were made by several of the ladies at the parties that I appeared to have gained weight.  However, they also commented that I looked better than I had on previous times they saw me and wished me well.  I thanked them for their gracious  comments of kindness.  I thought about this driving home and felt less happy about it.  Fortunately, my clothes still fit me, although they are tighter than I would like.  For now, I will accept the weight and try to be happy at meal time.  I am especially trying to eat the food on my plate instead of throwing it away in the garbage.   I try to remind myself that food is medicine.

At church this morning, the Minister reminded our Unitarian-Universalist congregation that all humans are inherently good and their inherent goodness influences the perfectibility of others and the world.  It is a theology of “win-win” that I wish more people would embrace.  It is a theology that embraces all humans, believing none are intrinsically bad, welcomes all of human kind, is loving and supportive to all in need of sustenance of any kind.   It is a fascinating concept to incorporate into both a personal road map as well as a theology given the approach of most Judeo-Christian theologies that are based on being forgiven for sins.  I believe it is a theology that is appropriate for me.  For today, for the first time, I am trying to live on the light side of what has been a very dark and bleak life-long depression for me that just now allows me to emerge into the light.  It is a good thing for me to know that my Unitarian-Universalism faith supports my wellness.

Against this backdrop, I talked to many people at the club parties.  It seemed that many people knew about my struggles with food and a recent termination with a significant other.   Both topics had to be discussed to some point with them and it was difficult to do so.  Things between my boyfriend and me became very complicated when my mother wanted to reconcile with my sister, N25, and me in August.  He made demands of me that I could not accept and so it ended.     Then, for some reason, I stopped eating in a normal way.  It was not purposeful or intentional, I just handled the stress in that way.  However, I cannot think badly of my boyfriend who did so much for me during the year we were together, especially when I was so sick.  And so I choose to see his goodness of which there is much in abundance.  He is difficult to be with and to understand.  I know I gave the best of me that I could and my conscience is clear.  I intend to remain his good friend to him and be true to my theology.