What does my dog do all day?

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I live alone.  Wait, I should correct that and say I live as a single woman with a furry, four-legged family member.  She is the connective tissue in my heart and makes my days joyous and full of love.

Working in the hospitality business goes hand in hand with working strange and long hours.  I can adapt to the hours, but my dog is the one who takes the brunt of my lifestyle.  I will never leave her outside on a chain to battle the elements – she is firmly ensconced in our home, lazily spending her hours watching the wildlife from the comfort of my bed.  I have several people who are more than willing to come over and let her out during the day because she is such a happy dog and just fun to be with.  She is never a prisoner in her home – she is akin to a wealthy home owner with servants to look after her every whim.

During these long days, I often wonder how she bides her time.  Is she going through kitchen cabinets?  Has she mastered the satellite remote?  Does she inventory my refrigerator?  But each day when I get home from my struggle to survive my sometimes 10-12 hour days, she is there to greet me and nothing in the house seems out of place.  Until recently…..

Today I returned home from my usual work day.  I was greeted by the comforting excitability that I have come to expect.  The house, as usual, was completely intact, the garbage untouched and the serene ambiance wrapped its arm around my shoulder and pulled me into its embrace to welcome me home.  The ritual commenced and after she had her time outside, it was time to slip into something more comfortable.  (I have never used that line, ever, in my writing, and that will probably be the last time).

My attention was immediately diverted to the duvet cover and what seemed to be a single article of clothing bunched up in the middle of the bed.  It wasn’t shredded, it remained intact.  However, the entire shirt was extremely damp.  She had been licking my shirt for the better part of who knows how long.  The baffling thing was, had I not known where the shirt was originally, I would never have known how she got to it.  My closet is masked by a cloth shower curtain that offers itself as a makeshift door.  Somehow, she was able to remove the shroud of the curtain, gingerly lift the shirt from the pile of laundry and replace the curtain so nobody would be any the wiser.

As much as I miss her during my day, it struck me at that moment as to how much she truly missed me during her day.  The writing was on the wall, or in this case on the bed.  My scent comforted her during her lonely day and it made my heart ache to realize that fact.  We have a very close bond.  I have even had to resort to violence for her and shoot a squirrel that had attached itself to her foot and wouldn’t let go.  (That is a story for another post)

I can only take solace in the fact that my work days will soon become shorter and more structured.  My time with her will increase and perhaps her need to be close to my scent will abate somewhat because I will be here in physical form and not just odoriferous form.  And who knows, perhaps in the meantime I can save myself a fortune on dry cleaning!  Stay tuned.

If your dog has any strange habits, I’d love to compare stories.   Send me some of your funny “tails”.

Life’s tough – get a helmet

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It always seems like the easy answer – when life gets hard we crawl into a small, safe spot and wait for the trouble to abate.  We play “turtle” and pull our heads into our protective shell and only poke our nose out to see if the potential threat has dissipated.

But we don’t realize that, while we are playing the role of that turtle, we are missing a significant portion of our lives and potentially a great lesson or two that could be learned if we face that trouble head on.  Nobody who was ever honest with us would have told us that life was easy.  It is those significantly difficult times that teach us the most about how to deal with tough situations, but more than that, it teaches us a lot about our own character.

We build our strength from the tough lessons we endure and we create that hard tortoise shell by deflecting negativity and warding off malicious situations.  Sure that shell is there to protect us, but not to completely shield us from the life that manifests itself before us.

Life is tough.  We need to strap on that helmet and go into the fight fully prepared for what is waiting to rear its ugly head.  No real dilemma was ever solved by just wishing it away.  Strap on the head gear and tackle life head on – your offensive line may be much tougher than you give it credit for!

Lazy days

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Everyone is entitled to have a lazy day every once in a while.  It recharges our batteries and gives us a much-needed to chance to store up the energy needed to face the days that follow it. Sometimes we just feel unproductive and unmotivated – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, within reason. If your lazy days start turning into lazy weeks, you may want to rethink your strategy.

I used to have a real problem letting myself sit and do nothing. My brain always kicked into the guilt gear and I was forced to get off the couch and do all the things that were nagging at me from the back of my cranium.  I’m over that.  I am now able to embrace the feeling of not accomplishing a single thing.  There certainly are moments of boredom encompassed in that lazy day, but if I take that moment to remember the fast pace of any other day, that boredom is replaced by bliss.

The lazy day becomes about taking time for me and not stressing myself out if the laundry doesn’t get sorted or the dust accumulates for one more day.  Although today was not a completely lazy day.  After giving myself permission to actually sleep in, I did clean the house and I vacuumed the inordinate amount of dog hair from my carpet that seems to increase exponentially!!  But the rest of it was spent in a suspended state of oblivion…..and it was just what the doctor ordered.  I focused on what I needed instead of what needed to be done.

Those rest of those chores will still be beckoning for me tomorrow, but for today, the deck furniture and the couch won the argument.  Today is about my three favorite “R” activities – reading, red wine and regurgitating the countless words that whirl around in my brain. (there may be a movie thrown in for good measure)

I hope you all take the time to let yourself breathe – spend a lazy day doing the little things that make you feel human again.  And if you have any suggestions for things to do on that day of nothingness…..feel free to send along some suggestions…..I’m always looking for new ways to achieve lethargy!!

Introspection

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For us to be ultimately happy, we need to take the time to understand the person that we truly are, blemishes and all. It is not very often that we are faced with just that task, facing ourselves.

It takes a great deal of honesty, and some humility, to admit to ourselves the things that are important in our lives and what will make us truly content – to embrace the person that we are and to love everything about ourselves. We are each born with unique qualities and characteristics, and understanding what really makes us tick is half the battle. Being able to accept those things and allow ourselves to be satisfied with those traits is the other half of that battle.

Contemplating our own thoughts and feelings is a daunting task. But to really reach into the depths of our souls and seek what is most important to us, means we are required to admit to ourselves the truths that we avoid on a daily basis. Sometimes that revelation is uplifting. But sometimes realizing who we are and what we want makes us really understand the distance between our reality and our true bliss.

Before you can be honest with anyone else, you need to be honest with yourself. Mirroring someone else’s happiness will only delay your gratification. If you take the time to really delve into your psyche, to look deeply into what makes you who you are, you will come to terms with what gives you the greatest pleasure in your life. So many people spend so much of their time trying to be something they are not. They only try to present the image they feel others want to see. But they do themselves a grave injustice by not being their genuine self. Maybe our warts are what make us truly special and by ignoring those so-called inferiorities, we lose our individuality.

We are all truly unique, but embracing those true parts of ourselves means we have to go face to face with nothing more than our honest perception of who we are to the core. In no realm of our reality should we give the power of that perception to anyone but ourselves. There is no single person on the planet that has the right to tell you who you are or who you can become.

Hold that mirror to your face. Look deep within yourself and be honest enough to admit who you are and what it is that is right for you. Everyone has warts – some are visible, some are masked. Being introspective will allow you to embrace those warts and realize that the things others see as flaws make you stand apart from every other human on the planet.

Strive for excellence, not perfection

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We all seek perfection – it is the pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow.  But perfection is an elusive goal.  Realistically, if we take a step back and truly ascertain what we are trying to achieve, the end result would be excellence.  Perfection may present itself on test scores, but the culmination of our efforts in life will never be the absolute perfection that we seek.

There will always be one missing piece in the puzzle of life that impedes us from reaching that desired goal of true perfection.  If we analyse the bigger picture, we can still see what that portrait was meant to convey, and it may be the closest we get to the precision we sought in the first place.

Perfection is subjective.  What may seem perfect to you may have glaring inadequacies to another set of eyes.  On the other end of that spectrum, what others see as true beauty, you may find to be marred with flaws.  I used to bake wedding cakes.  I would spend tedious hours icing and decorating, only to chastise my own work because it could have been better.  But the bride and groom were always ecstatic when they walked into the room and rested their eyes on the fruits of my labour.  Completely subjective.

We need to be focused on being the best we can be and not get lost in the absurdity of being perfect.  It’s not going to happen.  There are too many outside influences ready to impede our progress and make us feel like we missed the mark.  But the benchmark of  success can only come from our personal definition.

I know I will never be perfect – at anything.  But I will continue to strive for excellence in everything I do.  I would be doing myself a grave disservice if I aspired to be anything less.

Spend your time wisely

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Today has been one of the best days of my summer.  I work in a fast paced environment.  I see many faces and deal with many personalities on a daily basis.  But today, I changed the face of my reality.  I am happily ensconced in the confines of my home.   I have yet to turn on the television or any music, but instead am enjoying the sounds of nature.  Crickets are happily chirping and the sound is being transported into my living room by the breeze that is blowing across my lawn.  The sun is out, but I am choosing this day to spend inside with no outside contact, no troublesome news and just doing what I love to do – write.

Being able to blog every day is a blessing.   But today, I was truly bitten by the writing bug again.  The fact that words can still flow so freely from my brain makes me deliriously happy and I am writing my first short story in what has been far too long a hiatus.  I awoke this morning to strings of words fighting to release themselves from their imprisonment in my head.  It was a battle of epic proportions to get the coffee poured and sit down in time to let the words tumble onto the page.  Images that have been burned into the recesses of my brain have now been expelled and the flow of creativity is moving at an alarming pace.

Characters are slowly coming to life of their own accord and leading me through a fable unknown to me before today.  Their strong personalities are guiding me through their story until we all meet at the conclusion of the tale.

I have many passions in my life, but writing is the one that truly wrings emotion from my soul and pours my heart onto a page.  It leaves me vulnerable to its whims and takes hold of me on its terms, not mine.  I am a prisoner of its grip and can only be the messenger of the collection of words that cascade onto the page.

Today, I spent my time wisely.   Today, I tuned out the outside voices and, instead, I heeded the wisdom of the voices in my head and let them take me on a journey.   What a ride it was!

Follow your Heart

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“What the head makes cloudy, the heart makes very clear” ~ Don Henley

So often we try to ignore what our heart is telling us.  We let our judgement be completely clouded by the things we perceive to be right and what we truly believe others expect of us.  But we are doing ourselves a grave injustice.  Our heart, while being simultaneously the most important and the most complex organ in our body, is the true divining rod of our emotional well-being.

Our brain will deceive us.  Sure, it will be the driving force to ensure that we do no harm to ourselves, to see that we are properly nourished and safe, but it will not nourish our souls the way in which our heart strives to do.   The heart wants what the heart wants, and no influence from the head can make it change its mind.

There is a child-like feeling that consumes us when we heed the message that our heart is so eagerly willing to share with us.  When you open your heart, you open your mind to its limitless possibilities.   The mind on its own can become a destructive tool and stymie us with an overwhelming dose of reason.   But the heart will never take a back seat – and the sooner we learn that lesson, the better.

Although the heart may not be the strongest muscle in the human body, it is inescapably the most perceptive.  It knows our wants perhaps more than we want to admit, and it is more than willing to voice its opinion on a more than frequent basis.

When we give ourselves permission to follow our heart, we open the doors to a path to happiness that we may never have seen in our minds. Reason and feeling take alternate journeys and inevitably it is the feeling of the heart that far outweighs the reason of the mind.   If your heart is asking you to follow, listen to what it is telling you.  There may be more reason involved in the message than you anticipated.

Pick Your Battles

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I was first introduced to this phrase years ago when I lived with my ex and his three children.  At the time when I became a major part of their lives, they were a mere 6, 8 and 11 years old, and were dealing with the divorce of their parents.   I had the fortune of knowing them for years before their father and I were involved, so I did not take on the role of “step-monster”, but instead had a solid foundation for a relationship.  But that did not mean the transition was easy for any of us.

 There were certainly days that I found more frustrating than others, as I’m sure they did as well, and inevitably arguments ensued.  It wasn’t until their father and I were having a chat one night, with a much needed glass of wine, that he bestowed this little gem on me.  He pointed out the glaringly obvious problem – I was trying too hard to win the battles and not every war in that house was going to be won – by anyone.  That stunning revelation was a game changer.  Pick your battles – such a simple phrase with epic results.

It’s hard to take a step backwards and give yourself a “time out” to realize what that orated scrimmage is about.  You have to decide if this fight is really worth the effort you are putting forth to win.   It quite possibly is an argument that, at the end of the day, really has no great effect on the bigger picture. But the negative energy from the conflict itself, just may.  You must go in with a strategy but be willing to change tactics and maneuver away from the barrage of verbal banter.

 If it’s not a life changer…..give a little.  You’ll spend countless minutes and hours trying to be right when it isn’t going to change the axis of the earth.  Sometimes all of the smaller problems can become compounded and the war you face can seem extremely overwhelming.  You must learn to choose your targets wisely.  Learn to cloak your emotions until you can see ahead of the problem that seems to lie in your path.

 The age-old saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is the same gift in different wrapping.  I have carried this ideal with me throughout the years and it has served me well.  Pick your battles – be proud of the scars of war, but make sure the ones you earned were worth the fight.

Soul Mates & The Red String of Fate

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 “The Red String of Fate is an East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend.  It is based on the premise that the Gods tie a red string around the ankles of those who are destined to be soul mates and will one day marry each other.”  Wikipedia

 Some believe in the notion of having a soul mate and some do not.  I am hanging precariously balanced in the middle, only because I hold a strong conviction that the term should encompass much more than meeting your future spouse.  I have speculated this topic in my convoluted brain on many occasions.  Perhaps my definition of soul mate is too broad for the original intent for which it was created.  A soul knows instinctively when it has met a match.  True soul mates are not defined by a relationship, but merely joined by a common feeling, an intuition that you are meant to be a treasured part of each other’s lives.  You’ve assuredly had several friends in your life that inherently know you.  They understand your thoughts without you having to say a word.  They are a true kindred spirit.

I believe in reincarnation.  I trust that souls, lifetime after lifetime, strive to find each other again because they are meant to be connected.  Whether they are destined to be bound by the sanctity of marriage or merely cast as soldiers on the same proverbial battlefield, they are instinctively drawn to one another.  There is a compelling sense of familiarity, much like the feeling of deja vu – that firm belief that this experience genuinely happened in the past – and intuitively you are connected to each other’s energy.

Although my perspective on soul mates goes beyond husband and wife, I am fortunate to know many married couples that can, in fact, claim that they did marry their soul mate.  A chance encounter or a moment of serendipity, however it happened, their meeting had purpose.  Their love and respect for each other continues to grow through prosperity and adversity because their souls have known each other since long before their first physical connection.

Those ancient Gods may have had altruistic intentions, but just maybe, they temporarily lost their peripheral vision. Conceivably their red string had a bigger purpose for tying two souls together that extends beyond marriage and perhaps that notion was lost in translation.

Although the red string may be nothing more than a fable or a well presented myth, it nevertheless gives us hope that people are brought into our lives for a reason.  The responsibility lies within us to discover what that reason is.

Dance in the rain

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“Life isn’t about avoiding the storm, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” ~ Unknown

We all live pretty comfortable lives and it’s easy to skip through in the sunny times, but it’s what we do in the face of adversity that defines the type of person we are.  We can choose to hide from the bad weather in our lives, or we can choose to embrace the storm and learn to appreciate the gifts that it brings.

You have to want not simply to be alive, but to LIVE the life you have been given.  It is certainly easier to want to shelter yourself until the bad weather passes, but you may be passing up a great opportunity to throw caution to the wind and free yourself in the rain that storm provides.

If you take the risk, that cleansing shower of rain may wash away any negativity or fear and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to face those tumultuous thunder clouds.  You have to seize every opportunity presented in the wake of that storm and  make the most of those mottled grey skies.

As George Washington Carver said – “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, that is when you command the attention of the world.”

Let the world see you throw your inhibitions back in the face of that storm and dance in that rain like it’s your last dance.  Show the world what you’re made of!!