Saturday, June 12, 2021

COMMUNICATION


 

A very good rule of thumb that I have learned is that bad communication ends a lot of good things. Until I read an article about a phrase that I know I use, and I truly am using it innocently, is "actually." The example given was telling a friend that is was "actually a better idea to stop at the local taco spot" than to walk five extra blocks for pizza. Phrases like these just pop out of my mouth. Never had I thought to question this until reading the article in Purewow.



Actually can indeed put a negative spin on any positive statement and comes off as sounding judgmental. Most definitely it is a passive-aggressive tone instead of straightforward. While writing in my novel, I am trying to look it over and stay away from using actually too much.

Thinking back to when I was working full time, I am trying to remember if I overused this word. The phrase, "That's actually a good idea, or you are actually right." It tends to come off as a backhanded compliment. It is kind of a sneaky and sly word; sort of a secret criticism. I really am being honest in saying I don't believe that I was trying to throw a barb at anyone, however, I will think twice before using this word. To use this word in that context is wasted space. Doesn't it sound better to say, "That's a really good idea."

While we are on the subject of communication, another word that I learned from my husband is to avoid the word, "but." His saying is that anything that is said before you throw in the word "but" is bullshit. Here is an example in a quote from a very ultra thin model (which is just the way the industry is) made the statement, "I've always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, BUT I'd kill myself if I was that fat." This quote was considered by the media to be a really dumb thing to say. I hope that point is well taken as a great example of a backhanded compliment.

Of course, Marilyn Monroe could not come back at that remark. I can give you an example of someone who did. In the early 1990's, a famous columnist on fashion made the statement that Aretha Franklin must know she is too bosomy to wear such clothing, BUT she just doesn't care what we think, and that attitude is what separates mere stars from true divas." This was not taken lightly and not accepted well by Ms. Franklin.

The Queen of Soul replied, "How dare you be so presumptuous to know my attitudes with respect to anything other than music. Obviously I have enough of what it takes to wear a bustier and I haven't had any complaints. I'm sure if you could you would. When you get to be a noted and respected fashion editor please let us all know." Then, as a postscript she added, " You are hardly in any position to determine what separates stars from divas since you are neither one or an authority on either.

Portia de Rossi took a great stance on handling backhanded compliments. Smile and pretend that you are receiving a genuine compliment all the while ignoring their attempt to be insulting. After all, it is the way an insult is received that makes it an insult. You can't really give offense unless someone takes it. This is great advice for someone young or old who may be having trouble with bullies. It works!

Think simply as a husband telling his wife that she looks lovely today. If my sweet husband tells me that, I take it as a huge compliment. Not thinking to myself that on other days, I must look like crap. 😀 Am I being naive? I don't think so. There are days that I did not sleep well and I don't always put my all into looking my best. He never says a word to that, in fact, it is almost everyday that I am complimented on how I look to him. 

Then again, if I in turn say to Steve, "I love it when you shave or thanks for cleaning the kitchen." He knows that I am not saying it in an ugly way that he looks like a slob when he does not shave nor that he never helps in the kitchen. Neither one of us have ever had partners who work with us as a team. If something needs done, then we take care of it. To give a thank you is a nice way of saying that, "You are very much appreciated." 


 There are no, " I love you but..."
Simply, I love you!

Sunday, June 6, 2021

GO WHERE YOU WANNA GO - DO WHAT YOU WANNA DO

 GO WHERE YOU WANNA GO

DO WHAT YOU WANNA DO


The great song of The Mamas and the Papas inspired me to think about what is it that I want to plan out for my Summer. Being retired makes it a whole lot easier to go where I wanna go and do what I wanna do. Spontaneity is always fun, however, it is fun in designing my summer plans. Whatever happens in between the plans will be fine.

The first thing that I really want to accomplish is to hand my novel off to an editor before getting it to a publisher. When? By the end of this summer! In between times, I would like to work with my acrylics on the larger canvases that I purchased for painting out in my studio. Also, I have two guitars that I want to design and paint to hang on a wall or possibly sell. 







Staycation is still in my plans for a bit longer. I am not quite ready to venture out just yet on a trip. However, planning one can be just as exciting. Thinking where I would want to go with the love of my life is something fun for both of us. My idea is to plan a shorter trip first and then go for the longer one. Both can be amusing and keep us looking forward to travel again.


Since we will be at home we are planning on playing with our grandchildren, grilling out more and walking our dogs. Exercising, whether it be with the walks, or on a machine in our workout room or in the pool, it can and should be something to look forward to. 











It is always more fun for me to exercise in the pool, however, slather on sunscreen and just go out and read by the pool - so relaxing! Then of course, I must take a little break and float around lazily just resting my eyes.


Definitely, I do not want to leave out working on learning a second language.



Now, I think that you understand what I mean when I say I need to design my summer so that I can go where I wanna go and do what I wanna do. My goal is to enjoy this summer doing the things that I wanna do. Not wasting a moment of any glorious day, yet not wearing myself out trying to get it all in. I am not such an optimist that I would believe that to be possible. That is where some of the spontaneity comes in. 

For example if I want to set a goal for myself to exercise 5 days a week, then I get to choose how I want to do that. If it is a sunny day, then the pool will be calling my name and while I am out there, I could not only exercise some, but read and float around just 'chillin.' If it is a rainy day, then what a grand time to work on painting or writing. Playing with our grandchildren will involve days that they are not in a camp or perhaps a day of pre-arranged baby-sitting. It could involve going for a walk with them and our dogs if the weather cooperates.

As the day wears down, it is always a romantic time for Steve and I to just enjoy having a drink out on our patio, talking with soft jazz going on in the background and if still light, reading a little...all while our steak is filling the air with the aroma of grilling nice and slowly. 


How very true!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO WALK WHAT YOU TALK!

YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO WALK WHAT YOU TALK


It is important to be about talking the talk and then walking the walk. Other ways to say it is simply that actions speak louder than words or practice what you preach. I noticed for myself that I must be careful to work on my negative thoughts, if not then my confidence, mood and whole outlook can become negative. It is a vicious circle because this can in turn become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I could actually talk myself into believing that I am not good enough. This kind of thinking can drag down our personal lives. It is a part of self-care to talk the talk and then walk the walk and be consistent.

"If you can talk the talk but can't walk the walk then you will look like a fool. That's the risk but with great risks come great rewards." 
Chael Sonnen

For myself, I start my day with a cup of coffee and what is on my calendar for the day. By thinking that through, I am able to find an affirmation that will help my mental outlook on how I will deal with difficult issues. It is almost like reprogramming my thinking processes. I have discovered that over time I noticed that I was thinking much more in a positive way and knew what to do to stop negativity much more quickly.

Doing the very opposite by using positive thoughts is much more helpful and can be just as powerful.
Sharing my affirmations with others helped to increase my confidence and improved my stress level. There is research that has proven that the higher our self-esteem, the more effective affirmations can be. The study did note that we need to be careful and work on not having too low of a self-esteem or else an inner conflict can occur. If self-esteem is at rock bottom then affirmations are going to take a person even lower. It is suggested to boost your own self-esteem before setting your affirmations. It is very easy to talk the talk but much more difficult to walk the walk and in the end...the walk is what matters most.

At work, I started sharing my affirmations on a colorful piece of paper by placing the note in work mailboxes. I nicknamed these 'djmilestones.' I even put one each morning on my social media page. Sometimes it was a quote from someone famous and other times it was anonymous or a Proverb. It was something that resonated within me. Others shared with me that they felt more positive when they read the quote and even placed them in strategic places in their offices. Others, that I had no idea were even looking at my social media page would personally tell me that something that I wrote gave them the courage to set their goals higher. 

For myself, I know that instead of just picturing the change that I would like to see, I needed to write it down and say it out loud. Using affirmations where I want to see a positive change take place might include raising my confidence before giving a presentation, helping to control frustration or impatience, finish up projects or overcoming a bad habit. 

The actual writing of the statement must include my thought process about whether it is credible and achievable and be in the present tense. Always say the affirmation out-loud and with feeling. 

Affirmations are positive statements that help me overcome negative thoughts. I first analyze what I want to change or improve and come up with something positive, credible and achievable. Affirmations are really so much more effective when used with other strategies such as goal setting and visualization. I tend to make post it notes around myself as reminders.

"Most people will talk the talk, few will walk the walk; be amongst those few."
Dr. Steve Maraboli

HAVE COURAGE!

 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

TO MASK UP OR NOT

 TO MASK UP OR NOT

THAT IS THE QUESTION


For over a year now, most of us have been wearing a mask. Mona Lisa did not have to wear one so when the CDC guidelines changed and said if we have been vaccinated then we are perfectly safe not wearing our masks out. It is all OK. Mona Lisa did not have to make this decision. The new guidelines still leave it up to individuals and business owners as to how they want to go about wearing a mask or not. 





Local restaurants, stores, and customers are trying to figure this all out. The health directive now states the businesses can choose whether to require customers and employees to wear masks or not. This puts them in a difficult position. Every store has new signs put up to let customers know whether they must wear a mask while in their store or not. Some have decided to insist that all of their employees and customers wear a mask at all times. This is creating difficult issues for the managers of these businesses. Everyone wants to be safe and there is no way to tell if a person has been vaccinated or not. 

Since wearing a mask is not required by law, it makes it hard to enforce. Many are trying to simply go by the word of Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts. Many customers and employees are still wearing their masks. The guidelines are just too ambiguous and puts the responsibilities all on the business owners. Most are asking the general public to be respectful and considerate of all business owners who must decide which way to go with wearing masks. 

People that say they have had COVID already so they have antibodies and do not need the vaccine do not know how long they will have the antibodies. In all fairness, no one knows so far, how long vaccinated people will have the antibodies. However, there is on-going research to know when it is time and necessary to get a booster vaccine. This is not the case for those who claim they have the antibodies due to having the virus. And how do their numbers add up? Do they go and get tested weekly or monthly? At least if they had the vaccines, it would be a more scientific and safe way to know when a booster may be required.





It is also very hard to reduce one's anxiety about now going maskless in public. People that have been vaccinated already feel anxious about going without their masks now. It was stated that as long as you have had your vaccinations, then you are safe to go inside without the mask now. Apparently, the big concern is that people who are not vaccinated are also going maskless. If the crowd gets too large, Dr. Fauci said the masks should still be worn by all. There was hope that when it was stated that no masks are necessary in most cases that this  would encourage more people to go out and get vaccinated. Instead, it seems to have made some people feel that they can get away with whatever they want.

If you are fully vaccinated and are nervous about going out in public then according to Alicia Clark, author of Hack Your Anxiety, you should go easy on yourself.  Everyone who has been following guidelines and wearing masks have become used to it. It is second nature to put the mask on to go out. Dr. Thomas Russo, professor and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Buffalo in New York put it in these terms: "The mask has been their security blanket for 14+ months." 

There still are a high number of people who have not been vaccinated. According to the CDC these people should most definitely be wearing a mask. Keep up to date on what is safe according to the experts. If we are being told it is safe to remove your mask in public then it is safe. However, if you don't feel comfortable yet, that is OK too. Take small steps. Eat on patios outside if you are not comfortable inside the restaurant. It will take time for many of us to feel comfortable going maskless in public again. 



                 Please be patient!


We all must navigate through the guidelines in our own way and time. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

ZOOMIES

During the Covid-19 pandemic and actually still taking place, you may have considered the title of "ZOOMIES" was referring to all of the Zoom meetings that we as human beings are taking from home for work and even other virtual events.

The Zoomies that I am referring to are related to our furry pets. Most always, from the time I was a child and all through most of my adulthood, I have had dogs around. Never, until we brought home our first Goldendoodle have I ever witnessed Zoomies. 

My assumption was that it is something that doodles participate in. The Fox Terrier, German Shepherd, Cockapoo, Collie and Rottweiler never exhibited this kind of behavior nicknamed Zoomies. The authentic name is Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPS) which refer to unmistakable explosions of energy that dogs have on occasion. It features frantic, repetitive behavior such as running in circles and/or spinning around.

Why do dogs get the Zoomies? A frequent cause is an excess of builtup energy that dogs hold on to, which is then released in one big burst. Sometimes only during certain times of the day such as if they have been crated for a while, or after a bath, a stressful visit to the vet or sometimes, like ours, it is 'just because.' 









Zoomies can happen in any breed and any age, although it is more common in younger dogs. Our younger doodle, Maggie Mae is shown below zooming around and around without a care.



While our older doodle by 2 years, Davis, still gets them but not as often. And when the two of them are together and Maggie Mae starts up in a Zoomie, he just backs off and stares at her as if to say to her, "What the heck are you doing, lil' Sis?"

Zoomies can start off with your dog going down on his front haunches, staring at you and then the frantic behavior begins. It is a natural dog behavior that is most often no cause for any alarm and providing they are in a safe environment. They truly seem out of control and you would not want them to get injured if they do not have enough room or are near a street.


 

If you feel that your dog is going in to the Zoomie mode too often, it may be the sign of a behavior problem and you should discuss it with your vet. Take note of when and where your dog exhibits this behavior so that the vet will have an idea of how to help.


Not all dogs participate in Zoomies but those that do seem so happy, and definitely are having a marvelous time. Allow your dog to get it out of his system. It never lasts for long periods of time, usually 3 - 10
minutes of blissful craziness.

Sometimes, there is a glint in your dog's eyes that will give you the hint that the Zoombies are about to begin. The first time I witnessed it, it rather scared me. Davis had this wild look in his eyes, and he came running at break-neck speed toward me just to stop short and run back the other way.

There are veterinarian behavior specialist if you feel that your dog has a Zoomie problem. Dealing with a dog who seems to have a permanent case of the Zoomies could be an case of ADHD and that is when you may need a specialist to help teach you about high-energy, hyperactive dogs.

It is never a good idea to chase your dog when he is in full Zoomie mode. Just be sure he is safe and if not call his name and walk in the opposite direction. Hopefully, he will get back into training mode of hearing you say the word, "Come." 

Watching dogs with the Zoomies is fun because they seem so happy and carefree--exactly the opposite of how most people feel while on a Zoom meeting. These meetings can be long and boring and you are there with a camera focused on you so you are being seen by all who are in attendance. Makes you want to go outside and participate with your dog in a Zoomie.



Sunday, May 9, 2021

IS BREAKFAST THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY?

 


There is rarely a day that goes by without hearing something to the effect that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Even going as far as saying that you should not leave home without it as you begin your day. Most definitely, do not let your children leave home without fuel for their busy day at school.

To be honest it was not until after doing some research that I realized breakfast was two words meaning to break the fast. While sleeping we are fasting. If you sleep 8 hours, your body has been in a fasting mode for 8 hours. Add on getting up and showering and dressing, you can probably add another hour on to that. 

Then there is the big theory going around that we should do intermittent fasting in order to allow our bodies to burn more fat. Of course, children at school are on a time schedule and can't just pull out something to eat at anytime they feel hungry so fasting can't apply to them. They really do need to eat something to get them through their morning.

Let's start at the beginning. A lot of people get the wrong concept in believing that they need to eat breakfast right when they wake up. In a culture with an abundance of food, people started to break the fast as soon as they woke up, when actually it has no correlation when to eat. In reality, you can't skip breakfast, you can only delay it. Also, one should not eat breakfast because people tell you so. Get to know your body. Your breakfast could be at 7 a.m. or 2 p.m. Just know when you are hungry as well as when you are suffering from blood sugar spikes and brain fogs. 

Many can eat 2 - 4 meals per day including snacks depending on calories that you allow yourself. Basically it is a matter of having a balanced diet with reduced processed sugars. Some people like to start their day with a cup of coffee or a cup of tea before they think about eating. If you truly find yourself not hungry in the morning one trick to try is to eat earlier and lighter the night before. Maybe you will find yourself hungrier in the morning. This does not mean that you need to dive into a huge breakfast. Keep it simple. Even if you simply grab a yogurt with some fruit or granola on top. Or perhaps an apple, cheese or berries.

The real deal is that breakfast is not always to be considered the most important meal of the day. For those people who tend to have blood sugar issues, it may be more important for them to have something in order to keep their bodies functioning normally. It has been proven that those people who try to eat one meal a day gain weight vs. those who try to go for 3 - 4 smaller meals. Plus, they don't feel hunger pains.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to the time to eat. It has been proven that your metabolism will speed up if you drink a glass of water when you wake up and then eat an apple or another piece of fruit. Later in the morning, you may start feeling hungry and that is when you can have those pancakes at the top of this blog. 


Or perhaps you can keep it a little healthier for you and enjoy a hard boiled egg, wheat toast with a guacamole spread. Filling, yet great nutrients for your body. Eating a little something is better than nothing at all. Another good suggestion is to have a protein bar or a healthy smoothie. The most important thing is to get something in your body to keep it functioning properly. Being light-headed or having brain fog is not a good feeling so a small glass of juice or some fruit may be helpful until you are hungry. 


Then going for something healthy may be the answer for you. I like to switch it up. Variety is the spice of life for me. Some people enjoy exercise as soon as they get up. If that works, then go for it. I know that I could not work out before I had breakfast and then after having, even a light breakfast, I don't quite feel like working out. Later in the day works best for me. As I have said before, we all need to listen to our bodies and do what is right for us. 

Just to be clear: there is no definitive answer for if we all must eat breakfast when we get up in the morning. Find your body's schedule. Some ideas that popped up in my research was to carry healthy snacks with you feel hungry to munch on throughout the morning and/or early afternoon. Things like a banana, a granola bar, some trail mix or nuts/seeds or an apple. Then later, possibly around lunch or a late lunch have a bagel with eggs and bacon. The main thing is to not go out on a 2 miles walk on an empty stomach. Be smart. 


Skipping meals especially breakfast, no matter the time that you have it has proven to lead to blood sugar issues and/or A1C issues. Pre-diabetic disorders are not something to mess around with. So go ahead and at some point in the morning, jump start your metabolism and get your brain going. Find what is right for you.



Looking at the traditional full English breakfast and the traditional American breakfast, it is of my opinion that this is better left to a later brunch and not weigh myself down with this much food first thing in the morning. You all know of the KISS theory? "Keep It Simple Stupid." My body would say that I now need a nap after eating all of this food too early.


Find your way to the breakfast that is healthy for you. There is no one way. For me, it is simply a matter of having a variety of choices at the times that my body is hungry. But first? There is coffee!


Sunday, May 2, 2021

CANINE COMMUNICATION

 There are so many things that our dogs know about us and then again there are so many things that we do not know about them. Really, there are times that I believe that they are so much more intelligent than most humans. Let's take for example a few questions such as why do dogs chase their tails? 



One must admit that it is quite amusing to watch. Occasional tail-chasing that is not causing injury is definitely not something to worry about. It could be an indication that they may need more activity or brain games. For the most part, I am sure that it is just their silly antics to entertain us. 

If on the other hand, they are causing injury to themselves, then by all means get them to the vet. If it is related to stress, such as being left alone for a while or a family member missing from the picture then it could be a form of self-soothing.

In the case of our two goldendoodles, it is simply their goofiness. Our youngest one will be lying on her bed nearby while we are having a meal and all of a sudden notice her tail. She will go round and round to try to catch it for a moment or two. Then go back down just to look at us, as if to say, "Did that entertain you?" The other doodle backs his rear end up to us for a back scratch when we are sitting down. If I play with his long tail, he becomes quite interested in it and will start chasing it. Always coming back for more back scratching. 

I am not thinking that they need to go to the Doggie Shrink for being goof-balls.



The next frequently asked question is why do dogs seem to love squeaky toys? You may find this one hard to believe of your loveable little pooch but it goes back long ago when their ancestors were predators. There is instant gratification from gnawing on that squeaker. They feel rewarded when that little squeak comes out, as if they caught their prey. An instinct to hunt and capture is strong.

The main thing is to supervise squeaky toy play. If your dog can tear up a plush squeaky toy and remove the plastic squeaker, then he is not alone. Once the noise stops, the hunt is over. As a responsible dog owner, I definitely do not ever want to have our dogs rushed to the Doggie ER to remove part of a squeaker that one of them swallowed. Again, it is a fun part of play for our dogs to catch the squeaking toy and then one tries to take it away from the other one. Taunting each other with the squeak that the toy makes. 

If you find that your dog does not enjoy the squeaky noise then just be thankful that you will have a more peaceful home. Find your fur-baby the kind of toy that does interest him.


Have you ever watched your dog turning in circles before settling down to sleep? We all, even as humans, have our little routines to get comfortable. It can be turning around in circles or sometimes scratching at his pillow like he is digging for treasure or even nuzzling his head into the side of the cushion. It is an instinctive trait inherited from their ancestors - wolves. As the story goes (all researched based) this circling is geared towards survival. He can turn around in the circle over and over to check out how safe he will be in that position from his predators or other threats like snakes or critters, rocks and branches just so that he may get a good night's rest. Even though our dogs have memory foam beds, they still have this instinct within them. He is just making himself comfortable.



Have you ever seen your dog rolling around in the grass? The simple answer is because it just might feel good and satisfy an itch. Dogs interact with their environment when they are outside or inside through smell and touch. If they find something that feels good they may choose to roll over and over. It does mean that your dog is relaxed, playful and happy. Dogs like to get another dog's attention by rolling over on his back for play time. 

If they choose to roll around in something stinky just know that this is normal too. It could be the instinct to hide their own scents to make them better hunters. Or it could be their way to communicate with other dogs, as if to say, "Smell me!" We may think it stinky but to them it is their best perfume. It is a way to tell other dogs that he rules the roost and is in charge. 

Luckily for us, our dogs don't tend to go rolling around in stinky stuff. Our older doodle does love to find mud puddles and just get covered in the mud. Maybe it is his way of having a 'Mud Spa Day?' I just know that it is not much fun in trying to get all of the mud off of those curls.


The last question that pet owners ask is how do you stop a dog from barking? There are some reasons why your dog may bark excessively and there are some training tips to help curb the yapping.


Barking is one of the ways that dogs communicate with their immediate environment. Most of the time dogs bark out of fear, boredom, loneliness, or to seek your attention. They may also bark to defend their territory or as a form of greeting or play.

We had a dog that rarely barked. Then we added another dog and does she like to bark? And at times it is upsetting to our older one and then he starts to howl. Compulsive barking is such an annoyance and as owners of one, we have tried many things. The one thing that does not work is yelling over the barking for her to stop. This just reinforces the barking because now she thinks it is a competition or game. Dogs do not process that their owner is not okay with barking by yelling at them. 

First thing is to find out why she is barking. Is it fear, pain, excitement/play, boredom, a need for attention, a warning or guarding, or communication with other dogs. For our little yapper we know she feels the need to let us know that the mailman or delivery person is at our home and when it is someone she knows it is a greeting of hello. It also is a time for play when one of the neighbor's cats come strutting by or the local squirrels sway their bushy tail at the dogs or mercy me - the mallards or geese take aim at waddling through the front yard.








The most important thing is to be patient and consistent with your effort to stop the yapping. This means talking to your dog in a firm and calm voice. I starting holding my finger to my lips and making the "SHHHH" sound and calming saying, "No bark!" If I catch her before she gets herself all riled up, she will make eye contact with me and come to sit by me for a treat for being a good girl. This really does work. However, I believe that she knows if she barks, I will make the motions and sounds of no bark and she will get a treat. The trick is to never reward or pay attention to her when she does bark. Wait until she is quiet to reward her with any treat, praise, food or attention. She works well with hand motions so maybe in a few more months, either she will outgrow it and know that it is not good to be barking. 


Davis and Maggie Mae on their best behavior!