Freya leaned the right side of her body against the deck railing while I combed the undercoat on her left side. During the holidays, I’d neglected to brush her thick coat regularly, and she was sprouting tufts of fur.

“Good girl, Freya, good girl,” I said as she lifted her chin to give me access to the tangled ruff under her collar.

I cleared a mass of fur from the comb then said, “Turn.” She leaned the other side of her body against the railing as I removed another comb-full of undercoat.

Then the good part—the Zoom Groom rubber brush. Freya stood free of the railing so I could stroke both sides from head to tail. She lifted her head and smiled. Such a little thing gave so much pleasure.


Part of being steadfast, my New Year’s resolution, is being intentional. For me, that means tending to myself, my relationships, and my mission. It means asking myself what I want in my life, for my life, in my body, for my brain. Making choices and letting go of the rest. Decluttering.

In his book On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old, Parker Palmer wrote, “I no longer ask, ‘What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to hang on to?’ Instead I ask, ‘What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to give myself to?’

“The desire to ‘hang on’ comes from a sense of scarcity and fear. The desire to ‘give myself’ comes from a sense of abundance and generosity. That’s the kind of truth I want to wither into.”


What do I want to let go of? Anger, self-pity, worry—almost completely useless distractions I tend to indulge. Don’t get me started…

What do I want to give myself to? Obedience to every little thing and in every little way, including that which I’d rather avoid. Dusting, loving enemies, forgiving…

What truth do I want to wither into? The Light, though all too often I prefer to walk in darkness. What I want to be true, not what is, especially when I’m afraid.


freyajan2019“Belly,” I said to Freya. She immediately obeyed and bellied up. Instead of rubbing her with my hand or a towel, which she likes, I picked up toenail clippers, which neither of us like and both of us fear. If I cut too close to the quick—and I have—I’ll hurt her.

“Good girl, Freya,” I said. I held her paws still and carefully clipped each nail. Instead of getting angry or worried when she tried to pull away, I soothed her.

She licked my hand when I told her we were finished. Then I put away the grooming tools and went on to the next little thing I’d been avoiding.

Decluttering. Giving myself to obedience in every little way. Withering into the Light, God’s abundance and generosity.


  1. Author Ryan Callahan

    I needed that word of encouragement. God bless you Carole! P.S. Such a good doggy too!

    • Carole Duff

      Glad to know that my words lifted your spirits even in a little way. -C.D.

  2. Open Spaces

    Beautiful post “What do want to give myself to?” I love that!

  3. barefootlilylady

    Your goals are so similar to mine, Carole. I’m decluttering too, but also trying to be intentional with where my stuff goes. Can I bless someone else with this?

    Intentional in the way I spend my time too. Prepping those healthy veggies right away, rather than stashing them in the crisper drawer and forgetting about them. Actually making that cauliflower crust, instead of just “pinning” the recipe on Pinterest.

    In my quest to be a better steward of stuff and time, I also appreciate your question: “What do I want to give myself to?”

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you so much for your comment. I love reading your blog with its wisdom about care taking. Perhaps all of us in the second half of life think in different terms now that we have a better view of the arc of life. Blessings on you and your dear family. -C.D.


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