Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 State of the Ark Address

Laid Up

A new year is dawning and all is well, my right knee excepted. I injured myself in Sun Valley—luckily, on the final day of an otherwise wonderful vacation. Sadly, I wasn't up to anything glamorous like snowboarding or heli-skiiing. I was on a sledding hill—spectating on a sledding hill no less. I turned to look at my daughter for a moment, and in that moment I was struck from the side by a little boy on a great big sled. I got an ambulance ride, a reset patella, and weeks to months on crutches, with the extent of my tendon and ligament injuries yet to be determined.

I'm noticing how many people care for me. Neighbors and friends have dropped in to visit and leave care packages. My boyfriend has stocked the fridge and pantry so my kids can help themselves to easy meals, and this morning he blew his "I don't cook" cover by making me a delicious breakfast. My daughter made me a delicious lunch. A dear friend from work made an unsolicited donation toward my medical expenses, and my coworkers have blessed my decision to work from home until I'm cleared to drive.


Rather than making resolutions, I tend to set my intentions by reflecting each December on what word best captures my hopes for the year ahead. It started in 2014, when my word was Transitions. In that year, I gained a nephew, gained a niece, adopted a dog, adopted three rats, staged a house, listed a house, sold a house, bought a house, moved to Old Pietila Ln., moved to Woodland Hall Ln., moved to Moonstone Pl., moved to Junco Rd., left the Humane Society, left the Timber Framers Guild, visited New Hampshire, visited Massachusetts, and enrolled the kids in a new school. I'd say my word worked.

My 2018 word of the year was Commitment. I am committed to this home, to these kids, and to these animals who depend on me. I am committed to my beloved partner. I am committed to anti-racist learning and action. I am committed to my work. I am committed to my writing project. I love what's going on in my life right now, and for me the word Commitment means I'm all in for more of what's going right.

My 2019 word is Health. I would like my knee to become a healthy, stable, strong joint. I would like to continue to grow the organizational health of the Whidbey Institute. I would like to nurture healthy relationships, bring greater health to my friendships and community, and have a healthy happy human and animal family. I would like to prioritize my financial health by being frugal and responsible, sticking to a budget and prioritizing debt reduction and savings despite the major financial setback of this knee injury. (The most frustrating thing is the timing: my 2018 ambulance ride and ER visit will be 80% covered after a $7,500 deductible, while my 2019 diagnostics and rehab will be 80% covered after a NEW $5,500 deductible. Remind me not to get injured at the end of December!)

When I'm ready, I would like to get back to a daily exercise habit and drive less for the health of my body and the planet. Let's vsualize my knee happily propelling me to and from work by bicycle!

photo by Gabriel Schiavone

Evolution at Work

So much is going right in my world. I am deeply in love, and my partner, children, and parents are happy and healthy. 

My oldest daughter, Mia, is loving life in San Francisco. She has exciting goals, including a solo trip to Thailand and community college enrollment in the spring. My younger two are rocking 6th and 8th grade, and their dad is engaged to a wonderful woman with a daughter of her own. 

I'm incredibly excited about work, and so proud of what the Whidbey Institute team is achieving together. I have some wonderful professional development opportunities coming up, including Evolution at Work's 9-month Language of Spaces Certification Program. I'll be part of an international cohort of individuals working in self-organizing businesses and organizations.

State of the Ark

I made great headway on the house in 2018, with essential projects for health and comfort completed. Rotten porch boards, drooping gutters, musty carpets, and dangerously overhanging branches are things of the past. I have a fleet of functional appliances including a new dishwasher, duel fuel stove, washer, dryer, and ductless heat pump. We're warm and cozy now, and can set a more leisurely pace on the remaining aesthetic upgrades. 

I've really appreciated getting to know more neighbors, including my friends Nico, Tabitha, and Durand and my coworker-neighbor-friends Sommer and Meg who joined the Whidbey Institute team this year AND live on Blakely Avenue. A bizarre and wonderful twist of fate.

Raining Cats and Rabbits

We were honored to welcome Mama, an older New Zealand Red rabbit doe, to the family this year. She is sweet, dignified, serene, and beautiful rabbit. I must admit that the rabbits don't feature as heavily in day-to-day life as they did when Harriet, my late rex rabbit, had the run of the house, but they are happy and healthy and have plenty of room to roam and play in our attached greenhouse. Olive and Hazel, the mini-rexes, despise Mama and I've had to create a double barrier since Mama bit Olive's nose through the fence. Olive has recovered fully, but her velvety nose is now permanently off-kilter.

Milo and Tiger, my kitty boys, have been with us just over a year and have fully settled in. They're now part of the pack, lining up with the three dogs for dinners and breakfasts and sleeping on the bed. Milo is the loveliest cat I've ever known, and as a die-hard dog person I love him more than I thought possible.

State of the Bark

Russell, Clover, and Brodie are shiny, happy, healthy (knock on wood), and even bordering on polite! Today, two separate guests dropped in to check on my injury and none of the three barked or rushed to the door. I think this is a first for Clover, who upholds the yappy chihuahua stereotype nicely in most cases. Even Russell has been gaining confidence and has been downright civil to most of our visitors these last few months. 

Brodie has been fully restored to health after his dangerous decline last winter, and is thriving on a combination of insulin and vetoryl to manage his diabetes and Cushing's disease, respectively.

All three dogs could use more long walks—something I had resolved to give them, prior to my knee blowout. Perhaps my kids will show an interest in walking dogs during the months ahead while I regain my strength.

How Now Brown Cow

Dahlia (pictured) is loving her new companion, Rosie Cotton, and the two of them are already fast friends. Rosie is a miniature belted galloway and shouldn't get much bigger than she is now—waist-high and only slightly bigger than a Saint Bernard. The two of them are moving from Oak Harbor to Clinton in two weeks, and I am so grateful to the folks at Ballydidean farm who are A) eager to host them, and B) excited to proceed on schedule despite my inability to help with mucking out or other farm chores for the foreseeable future.

Dahlia recovered from a severe eye infection (intraocular injections! Ick!) with her sight fully restored, which is a big relief to all of us. We are all hoping for a thriving, healthy 2019 free of veterinary crises!!

Arrietty is thriving in care lease as a companion to a lonesome mare. They're a happy pair and she's beloved already by her new foster family. While I miss her, I feel great about her having companionship again after the tragic death of Fenway in June.


The word "thrive" is overused. It shows up in too many ads. It sells spa visits, expeller-pressed juices, diet plans, and yoga pants. Nonetheless, I'm having a hard time finding a better word for what I'm doing now. I feel so fortunate to have purpose-driven work with colleagues I trust and admire; a joyous family life full of fur, love, and laughter; a generally healthy body that takes me on wonderful adventures and will rebound quickly from this unexpected injury; an inspiring community of neighbors, friends, and loved ones; a sound home full of warmth and nourishment; and simple goals that feel compelling, authentic, and attainable.

Life is good.

1 comment:

  1. Marnie, yes, have a successful knee outcome and carry on! <3


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