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Sunday, December 09, 2018

The Greatness Of Our Fur Babies

A lot of people don’t know this but I got Toby in 2007 from who I thought to be a reputable breeder. Turns out they weren’t so reputable and although I don’t think it was a puppy mill per say, mom wasn’t on site and that’s always a red flag.

In any case, the day after I picked up Toby and refused to let him go again, he got sick. Really sick. I brought him to the vet right away and he was hospitalized for Parvo. Because of the dicey nature of the disease and it’s impressive kill rate on puppies I had to pay $400 up front ($50 more than I paid for him the day before) before they would even admit him.

About another $300 dollars later, some touch and go home visits, and Toby’s health settled down. With some extra lovings, careful feedings and sometimes giving him water to drink from a dropper, he pulled through. The vet told me not to expect him to live long or be very healthy. I said, yep, well he’ll fit right in with me then.

Eleven years later and Toby is as healthy as any dog we’ve had. He’s starting to get a little arthritis, his hearing is going and his face has faded from caramel to white, but he’s still the same goofy puppy I fell in love with over a decade ago.

He’s my buddy, and my most loyal friend. He’s seen me through four moves, two countries, and the birth of two babies. There isn’t a place in the world he likes more than cuddling up to me on the bed or the couch, wherever I am. Just thinking about his little paws running to meet me at the door when I come into the house makes me smile.

On Saturday I went in to the volunteer orientation session they had at the local animal shelter. I stayed after and walked a sedate, rotund Siberian-Husky-Corgi mix named Cade. He had beautiful blue eyes. Basically it was like a noble wolf gazing at me from the body of a fur-sausage. He led me out to the dog run; refused to play ball (lazy, much?) and then when he finished his business he went right to the gate to go back inside. I had to laugh – and I thought of all the older people out there who would be so happy to have a dog like this.

Anyway, apparently we’re not allowed to take them all home at once so don’t even try. But if you want a quiet older dog who’d rather share your bacon than your exercise routine, he’s at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter and he’s waiting for you to pick him up and carry him to your car. Because baby doesn’t walk more than he absolutely needs to.

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. - Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, December 02, 2018

How High Is Your Dung Hill? Or, Being Grateful for Being 10% Happier

The sun is softer in winter. It doesn’t have the heavy heat of mid-summer when the sun obliterates anything but the strongest green survivors. Or cacti. It’s all cool breezes and warm sun-kisses on the bare branches of my willow tree.

The leaves are really dropping around here right now – the wind will kick up and hundreds of them will leap up into the sky and whirl around playfully. It looks like it’s snowing leaves. Then the sun will break through and set them ablaze with golden light and I swear in those moments I believe in magic. I feel like God is right there, smiling at me through nature, like a God-Nature-Hug. A GNH moment.

Ever have those moments? When you connect to the beauty around you and the rest of your life fades away to gray and time slows and you know, you just know, this is what really matters. These small, beautiful moments like beads on the thread of my daily life.

Another one just today, I was jumping on the Trampoline (gently) with Ellie and Ben and Ellie was laughing the way kids do, with their whole being you know? 

Down her toes and to the tips of her ears and I see another GNH moment happening and I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and love for her, for Ben, for myself, for the whole world really. She jumps up and her hair flies up around her head and her laugh bubbles up from deep down and I can feel myself laughing too and the way her eyes sparkle in the sun and I’m all teary, jumping around on the trampoline, just being stupid-happy.

Anyway, I started a gratitude journal and those were some of my entries, yesterday and today. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel this way all the time?

Where you don’t get upset when you feed the dog in the morning and the top comes off the container and you spill the whole months worth of food on the floor (Wed AM).

Where your two year old doesn’t wake up crying because his molars are coming and they hurt. (Monday, Wednesday, Friday).

You know, a day where you’re making play-doh from scratch like a good stay-at-home-mom and your two year old dumps an entire bottle of Tumeric on the floor? And then jumps down into it and runs around the house tracking yellow powder everywhere? (Friday).

Or maybe when you’re trying that curbside grocery thing at HEB and you get there too early and you unbuckle your kids because they’re getting antsy and screaming ‘INSIDE! INSIDE!’ and then your two-year old bites you, hard, when you take off his sweater because he’s hot because…molars. Then he climbs onto the backseat of the van and jumps. And hits his head on the ceiling because you can’t jump off the backseat on the van and not hit your head, even if you’re two. (Friday)

Anyway. Where was I? Gratitude! I’m not overstating the amazingness being grateful has done for my soul. It just replenishes the mommy-tireds and reminds me how really, truly, awesome my life is and how many blessings I have just overflowing everywhere, all the time.

Seriously, try it. Try it and try NOT to become at least 10% happier, no matter what is going on in your life. Someone once said, ‘no matter how high is the dung hill you sleep on, the blue sky is endless, the yellow sun shines, and the leaf turns golden when it falls.’

To close, I am really very thankful I am not sleeping on a dung hill. A hill of dung is not for me. The end.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Being Strong Like Tiger or, Role Modeling Healthy Habits for my Cubs

Well color me amazed slash inspired. I made it to one yoga class this week, despite Bill being off all week. It was actually a Barre class because I came way too early for the class I was supposed to go to but it’s good I did BECAUSE…hang with me I’m getting there…I met an older woman, probably late sixties who told me this was her THIRD workout class of the day.

Jaw. Dropped.

Would you like me to tell you what I’D done so far that day? I slept until 7am. Then I puttered around with the kids, than Bill and I took them to Costco for a Black Friday sale on vacuums. We bought a vacuum. Then we took the kids to the park. Benji pooped so we had to leave early.

I did a load of laundry and then, THEN showed up to class gabbing all the time we waited for class to start about how nervous I was about being able to make it through the whole class because I was so out of shape. Yoga is one thing, but what is this Barre class I’m stumbling into?

It was fine. Muscles burned. Legs shook. I slept just fine that night.

THEN today I did my morning Karma shift and met a woman doing her free birthday yoga class today. After class she casually mentioned she had already gone for a run. And I thought, well heck guys!

When it’s my birthday I demand to sleep in, then demand cupcakes and hot tea to be delivered to my bedside. Then I demand cake and ice cream and presents and balloons and I swear not to eat anything healthy the entire day.

I think all of this has inspired me to realize I may not be living my most healthy life?

I think, sometimes God has to smack me upside the head with a metaphorical two by four. BOOM. (Grammie can out-yoga, out-barre, AND out-run your pasty butt).
BOOM. (This beautiful, bubbly woman is taking care of herself and her health and making it the first thing she does, as a gift to herself.)

No more BOOMS. I get it. Trouble is you’ve got to be a little selfish in order to take care of yourself. So that’s where my trouble lies. It’s real easy- in fact- it’s almost something I’m not even aware of. If someone in my family needs me, I will be there. Twenty-four seven. Every minute. Every second. And then…

And then I get so depleted I can’t give anything good to anybody. And then I get sick and now I REALLY can’t help anyone.

I guess my real worry is that I will start to be a little selfish, and I’ll get like addicted to taking care of myself and then…and then…I don’t know, everyone will fall apart without me? The world will screech to a stop? People won’t like me as much? I’ll feel guilty? Something bad might happen if I’m not there all the time?

So. As a present to myself, I am officially announcing to the whole world (hi mom) that I am committing to working on myself twice a week. Whether it’s Yoga, swimming, a fun new dance class, whatever makes me feel good.

I predict that I will start to feel healthier; my kids will get a good role model for healthy habits and grow into healthy adults and my dog will not notice anything at all.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Teaching Myself To Make Mistakes

It’s all coming together folks. I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up.

Wait for it…wait for it….

A high school English teacher! Ba baaaaaa! I’m so excited. Drum roll please.

Fanfare and shrieks of excitement?
A pat on the head?

My interview is next Monday and if all goes well, I’ll be training to stand in front of a white board (do they still use blackboards?) and have paper airplanes thrown at my head. Yessssss.

It is true my first impulse was to become a school counselor. That may still be my path but it turns out you should teach a bit before you do that? And I agree. I had no idea I was going to be this excited to be a teacher. If all continues to go well I will be interning next fall at a school near YOU. Or, me, hopefully.

Also, Ellie wants everyone to know she wants to be a teacher-scientist-dog when she grows up. We do like our science. And our dogs, apparently.
I digress again.

I am nervous about, well, everything. Am I making a big mistake? Should I stay home with them a few more years? Should I apply for a part time position somewhere nearby doing administration or clerical work? Should I try to go back to work for ‘Big Oil?’

But each obstacle (child-care {guilt}, late nights, exams, extra stress on me and the kids {guilt}, paper airplanes…) will come and I will manage it. I’ll manage my mischief as well my little Harry Potter fans.

One of my favorite lines from one of my other favorite books (A Wrinkle in Time) is:
Meg: “Charles Wallace whatever she is, whatever that is, whatever all this is…I don’t like it!”
Charles Wallace: “You’ll manage.”

No matter what happens, I will manage. You will too, you know. Whatever you are facing, whether it’s going back to work like me or retiring from it. Twin babies or no babies, you’re going to manage too. I think if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not really living. Because who never makes mistakes? People that never try anything new. I don’t want to be that person. Frozen in perfection, immobile with the weight of what-ifs?

I’m thankful for all the twists and turns my life has taken, all of the surprises, some good, some not so good, and the way I’m being taught that no matter what happens, it’s all going to be okay.

That isn’t just my inner Pollyanna speaking, that’s my inner Wonder Woman too. Life is tough. Sometimes you need to lasso people with a golden rope to make them tell the truth. Sometimes you need to fend off paper airplane attacks with your bangles, or your determined sunny attitude.

“Don’t sell yourself short by being so afraid of failure that you don’t dare to make any mistakes. Make your mistakes and learn from them.” Maria Shriver.

Life, eh? It’s a mystery. All we can do is give it everything we’ve got.

“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” Vincent van Gogh.