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There's a cool little used-furniture store in town (called Resale Therapy… what a great name!) that I sometimes visit, just to see what interesting things may have appeared since I was last there.

One day, I saw this little girl and her sister in the front window. They're designed to be bookends, but as they're made of cast-iron, I bought them to use as doorstops in my old house, where nothing is quite square or plumb anymore, so open doors don't stay open without a little help.

As I was mulling over a suitable logo for my publishing venture, my eyes fell on the doorstop near the front door.

"What could be better than that?!" I thought, for a publishing venture run by a vet, whose tag line is "follow your interest..."

Don't you just want to follow this little Scottie over the wall and see what she gets up to next?

As for the tag line, follow your interest...

I have a painted wooden sign I've been carting around for years, which reads:


I’d never read any Tolkien and I’m not a fan of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy [1], so this pithy little saying struck me as novel. And apropos.

I’m sure I embarrassed Kim, my rather stoic friend, when I teared up in the middle of the funky little shop in Floyd, Virginia, where I first laid eyes on that sign in 2017. Because lost is exactly how I felt at the time. I’d been wandering professionally and personally since 1994, when all my grand plans came to a crashing halt and nothing else that subsequently presented itself had proven to be a worthy alternative. I didn’t yet feel anything but lost.

I've just finished writing the story of how a stray dog helped me through those ‘lost’ years in a way that only an animal can for someone like me, who prefers the company of animals to people [2].  Eventually, I came to appreciate the profound wisdom of that sign, which continues to remind me that it’s OK to "take the scenic route" on our way to where we want to be.

In fact, it's not just OK to wander; it's essential for some of us, because we pick up crucial pieces — skills, insights, experience, wisdom — along the way that we'll put to good use later, in perhaps unforeseen ways.

The sign used to hang on the wall above my desk, where I would see it every time I sat down at my computer. In my new home, it now hangs above the back door, which opens onto the garden from the dining area that has a kooky, mosaic spiral on the floor made of tile fragments and glass pebbles.

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Mosaic tile spiral

What a great reminder that life is made up of millions of little pieces, for many of us it advances in a spiral rather than a straight line, and that all is just as it should be! It only appears that I keep getting nowhere or keep finding myself back at the beginning, when in fact my life has been doing what Rainer Maria Rilke described [3]:

❝ I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.

I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it. ❞

Ahhh, Rilke.

For many years, I've been following my interest wherever it takes me. It may not be for everyone, but it sure makes for an interesting journey!


[1] The complete stanza of the poem reads “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” JRR Tolkien, ‘The Riddle of Strider’ in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954.

[2] Better Together.

[3] Barrows A and Macy J, ‘Widening Circles’ in Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, 1997.