Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day to everyone. It is a special day to thank the men and women who have served our country selflessly to keep us free. Wave the red, white and blue with pride to show respect that they all so richly deserve. 

Woven into this short holiday blog is something that I saw on the comic page in today's local paper. It was Garfield, written of course by Jim Davis, and it was as simple as could be, yet powerful. Garfield is walking along and comes to a sign that says, "Beware of pretty much everything." He then thinks to himself, "Like there needs to be a sign?"

Garfield seems to always have the answers. In the newspaper today there were so many articles about things that we need to 'Be Aware Of.' For me, life is so much happier if we just use good common sense. Steve, reminds me often that common sense is not so common. This quote is attributed to Voltaire and to Mark Twain, although Mark Twain's is not quite as grammatically correct: "I've found that common sense ain't so common." All I can say is it seems to be the truth. Just in today's paper alone the BEWARES consisted of:

  • texting and driving
  • obesity
  • drinking and driving
  • diet sodas
  • computer viruses
  • ISIS
  • retirement
  • red meats
  • fake news
  • severe storms brewing

All of the above were on the first two pages. YIKES!
I stand by what I have said before that the things that we can control, then do so. Use moderation. Then, there are things that we can't control. Do you wish to spend your time in a state of fear and worrying about what is out of your control? The best thing to do is simply be aware. Join in forces of others when you feel it is necessary, such as Neighborhood Watches, etc.

And by all means, CELEBRATE this Memorial Day weekend with those you love. I am ending this blog with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. "In the End we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Enjoy your Memorial Day! Let Summer begin!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Read All About It

At some point during the last election there was a new buzzword born: fake news! There is really nothing new about this word or the concept behind it, really! It has been around for centuries. I just read an article by Jeff Csatari that stated it went on in ancient Greece. Humans are known for stirring up the pot, so to speak.

First of all, we all are by nature wanting to believe in others. It is easier to believe than to be a skeptic and try to source all of the news that comes to us at the speed of light these days. It takes a lot more of our time to try to get down to the facts. Sometimes it is not just the fact that we fall for the fake story and then feel foolishly gullible, but that it is so many more ways to get the news and read all about it with social media.

We have high ranking government officials tweeting outrageous tweets. There are scientists who seemingly have the highest credentials scaring the general public with claims of foods that we should avoid in order to not risk developing dementia or other health related problems. Yet, the next thing I will read shares how that just the opposite is true. Who do I believe? Who is telling the truth? Or do both stories have partial truth and partial exaggeration based within their reports?

I have researched enough to know that the first thing to do is to know about who is reporting the news and why. Some are making big bucks by reporting fake news. How, you may ask? If readers click their buttons on line to read what they wrote, banner ads will come up on the sidelines. Therefore, for every click, the so called reporter is paid handsomely for each time the button is clicked. Be wary. 

Several examples of fake news come to my mind, as I am sure they do yours also. One day I read that eggs are so very unhealthy for us and we should only be eating the whites of eggs. Turn to another source and just the opposite is true. Since I am not a medical professional, I have found a doctor who I know that I can trust. Plus his advice has been proven over the years which is, "All in moderation!" Simple, at least for our dietary needs. Speaking of doctors, I have seen ads on the social media, as you have, with the famous Dr. Oz endorsing certain products. These ads just pop up. I have heard him say personally that he does not believe in these products and that we should not be purchasing these products unless we saw and heard him reporting on them as healthy. Companies just put his picture on their page to make us believe it is true. 

One day I happened to be watching Oprah. She came right out and said it on national TV that she was not bragging but she has been ranked as one of the wealthiest women in the business. If there were a pill that you could buy that would make you lose weight, did we as the general public not think that she would be buying it and taking it? There is no such pill. Losing weight is all about what you put into your body and then how much you move your body. For some, especially as we grow a bit older, the harder it is to lose it; not impossible, we just have to be more determined and have the mindset in what we are doing.

I have found that there are some ways to help guide us to what is fake and what is not, or at the very least stop some of it from continuing to spread. First of all, I check to see who is doing the reporting and take it with a grain of salt until I have time to see if truly legitimate sources are quoted, as well as if they are established and grounded. Is it new information or years old news? Secondly, will someone make money on this? That is a red flag for me to check into the story deeper. Many times, with Face Book, the news could be spread by someone we know. Before I click "share" I must be sure before spreading any fake news.

In these times we must all be so careful to not be a part of the fake news. Truly, the hardest for me to decipher through is the political news. There is a reason for this. If I come across a piece of news that clearly refutes an article that I read and I believed, then I may find it challenging to turn my thoughts around because what I read first is more deeply embedded in my thought processes. The best way to check out news is to get right to the primary source. Secondary sources are not always reliable. I remember being taught this in school. It should be an ongoing subject matter for discussions in today's world.

Please join me in stopping the vicious cycle of spreading fake news simply because "everyone's saying it, so it must be true, right?" Some of my best friends have put things up on the social media that I know for a fact is not the 'whole  story' and I simply refuse to join in the hoax. My husband often reminds me that I use the expression, "I have told you a million times..."  Exaggeration and fake news can go hand in hand. Be aware.
Resources: The Good Life Report; "Don't Let Fake News Hijack Your Brain" by Jeff Csatari.
                Quote: Josh Billings, a 19th century American humorist writer and lecturer; pen       name for Henry Wheeler Shaw.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Making Decisions

To get through life there are always decisions to make. Sometimes I really just want to throw up my hands so that I do not have any decisions to make, especially the tough ones that require analytical skills. Everyone can make bad decisions, yet there seems to me that there are some people who are more capable of making better decisions than others. As I began to pay more attention, I was better able to learn the reasons for this.

First of all, they do not let their own emotions and immediate gut instincts take over before they make their decisions. Discounting the urgency or complexity of their decision, they put the call out for their analytical skills to step in and take charge.

There is a way to teach about analytical skills and it can be learned. It can't be learned in a "sit and get" sort of way. It must be learned by doing and practicing over and over and over again. It involves being able to visualize the problem and what the different outcomes of your decision may encompass. To me it is like predicting the possibilities of the outcomes of your decision. Sometimes for me this requires a detailed list or a chart drawing. I am well aware that I am a visual learner and I think that most analytical thinkers are visual learners.

Thinking outside the box is always good, in my opinion, however, thinking critically requires measuring the consistency in creating reasonable decisions. This may include a bit of outside the box thinking, as long as it is solving the problem reasonably. Throw out the emotions and get down to brass tacks. 

I like to think that through my research on making specific decisions is what helps to guide me through the most cost effective solutions, that are reasonable, yet solve the problem. Solving the problem in a timely fashion means managing my time wisely and sticking to what is at hand.

There may be a time line for my decision so it is of utmost importance for me to gather as many resources as possible to get the information that I need in order to make an intelligent analytical decision. This is not for the weak of heart. This is not a time to throw up a coin and say heads or tails. Wouldn't that be so much easier? 

Just so you know, in our home currently, there are several issues that my husband and I are dealing with that must have some brilliant analytical thinking skills being used in order to come out ahead. We all have been there/done that. Let's just say that two of the decisions are based on what we are having done to our home. Take out the emotions and we are going with research and what will be wise decisions in the long run for resale when that time arrives. What seems to happen is that we make the decision based on all of the knowledge that we can gather, only then to learn that another decision must be made based on the former decision.

Let me give you an example. We made the decision to winterize our pool this year. This is so when the blanket that we had put on in previous years is removed, we do not have "the black lagoon." However, that is exactly what we had. Plus we had high levels of nitrate, which meant draining the pool. In draining the pool, they could tell if the liner was in good shape. Then comes the part that gets tricky. When we all saw the shape of the liner, we knew it definitely needed to be replaced. It apparently lasted longer than most. Except now, they discovered that our pool is out of code from when it was built. We had to have two drains and not just one. 

Still, we have not had to make a decision, as these are just facts and no choices given; except one. Do we just cover up the hole and not have a pool anymore? Or do we suck it up, have another drain put in, then a new liner, which means a big cost? My husband handled this one better than I did. Deep breathing helped. Working without my emotions getting in the way also helped. The bottom line cost is what was slowing me down and this is where research, computing, visualizing, and critical thinking all worked together to help me solve my issues on the pool so that I could talk rationally with my husband about what decision we wanted to go with.

This would not have been so tough for us except that we also had to make a decision about exterior work on the house, as well as new insulation being blown into the attics, which led to attic storage items being covered in dust. Then having air conditioner units being checked for damage to the filters due to the dust. We were told that we could do this ourselves. Yes, yes for sure, Steve and I are air conditioner specialists. So the decision here is do we take the chance on damage and then more costs on down the road for new air conditioner units or just suck it up? And the beat goes on... 

Another major decision is healthcare as Steve retires and must jump through hoops of fire in order to try to find the best solutions to have all of us covered effectively. (I warned you that there may be some computing involved!) One would think that when a long time veteran employee retires from a major company of the world, that someone would be in human resources that could help guide you through healthcare and pensions , etc. At the very least, give you information of who you call or informative pamphlets that may help guide you in the right direction? We were left swimming on our own. Research, research, research! 

Luckily, we had time.  Remember, I did say in the beginning of this blog that we must use our analytical skills to overcome challenges regardless of urgency or complexity. It may mean that you have to readjust your timeline and work harder on time management.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Teach Your Children Well

Being a former educator, I just have to get this blog out of my system after watching one more example of "Parents Behaving Badly." So many times the general public asks what is going on in the schools to make these children behave so badly? That is when I want to stop them right there in their tracks and show them specifically what the problem is. It would be the parents, nine times out of ten (if I were a betting person).

The example that I am going to write about is just one of so many that happen everywhere across the world. It could have happened anywhere. News stations love to get hold of the clips from across the globe on incidents such as the one that I am writing about today. This one made the national news. Nothing to be proud of here in Memphis, Tennessee or for the suburban school district who held the graduation. 

Due to the fact that I was not an eye witness to this event, I am writing based on what was reported by several news stations, as well as the local newspaper, and what I saw on the media video clip. Just wanted to get my sources clear with my readers. By the way, there were no discrepancies with any of these sources. 

There was a beautiful graduation ceremony planned for one of large suburban high schools of Memphis on Tuesday night. Due to the large numbers of relatives that wish to attend such an important event in the lives of the children, these graduations take place at venues that can accommodate the large number of people attending and the parking. This venue just happened to be at one of the largest churches in the area. 

Pomp and Circumstance began playing as the graduates were about to march in. However, two women began arguing over a saved seat. There were several men seated between these women, yet the two got through them and started fist fighting, hair pulling, and tossing water at each other, as well as causing a huge commotion. Security immediately got them out of the sanctuary and into the lobby, and even had to handcuff one of them as they continued to yell obscenities at each other. 

It was reported that one of the family members recorded this on their cell phone. It was put up on the social media for all to see. One could observe the actual fight,as well as the aftermath with one of the agitated women on the floor of the lobby totally out of control. The security officers continued to tell the women to get control of themselves and he even told them to just shut up. 

The graduation went on without them. This graduation class earned over thirty million dollars in scholarships. What a way to show appreciation for such accomplishments! I feel sure that at the time, most graduates did not know what was going on, thank goodness. However, with word of mouth, the social media and the news sources, they found out quickly enough. 

What a sad incident! And to think it was not the children, but adults who made poor choices at an event that was to celebrate their children's graduation. I ask if this is how you would want to be remembered in your child's memory bank? Being that their children are already 18, it is possible that it may be too late if this is the kind of behavior that they have become accustomed to seeing.

As a former teacher and administrator, I can tell you that being in elementary schools, it was so much easier to accept and help children who made poor choices than to meet with the parents of some who still believed that it was their right to behave in such irrational and violent ways. I can't tell you how many times that I conferenced with parents over their child fighting and the question asked of me was, "Well, who started the fight? I have always told my child if someone punches you then you have the right to punch them back." My reply would always be the same. Now, based on district policy, I have to issue two suspensions, not one. 

If you are alone, such as in a dark alley, then you need to take care of yourself. In an elementary school such as the one where we are, there are adults everywhere who can help. You must learn to walk away and be the bigger person. I must tell you that it was like talking to a brick wall. They thought that was like teaching their child to be teased and called a chicken. Even though I continued to try to reason with the adult, many I just did not get through to, while others would listen or pretended to listen to reason. Sometimes, you just can't fix the broken down mentality that has gone through generations back to the wild wild west. 

It is so important to walk the walk and talk the talk of being a good human being for our children. Many times children can be saved from such disastrous parenting if they are exposed to enough adults who do the walk and the talk in a positive manner. According to W.E.B. DuBois, "Children learn more from what you are than from what you teach." Show them the way and Teach Your Children Well!  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sang it very well. There really is a code to live by and we can learn from each other.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Momma Said

When I was much younger and a lot less wiser, I can remember thinking that my Mom continues to say the same things over and over to me. When visiting friends, I would hear their Moms say some of the very same things. It was almost as if they all went to the very same Momma Class 101 to learn these phrases. Just as I am sure that they thought we all got together to learn how to let their cliche phrases go in one ear and out the other. Turns out they were right, all along.

As time passed, it just so happened that my friends and I found ourselves using some of these words/phrases with our own children. Then the BIG surprise comes when your own children have children and these words are coming out of their mouths to your very own grandchildren. It must be something in the DNA or a hormonal thing. 

All joking aside, it seems that these are wise words of advice to get along in life. These are the 'soft skills' that you don't always get from a formal education. It is what we learn at home and it is up to the parents to teach it. Let's go over a few of them. I am sure that some of you can add many that I left out. Please don't hesitate to add them in the comment section at the end of this blog.

  • Respect your elders - My brother and I lived with our Mom and her Mother and Father. All three of them taught us at a very early age to always respect our elders - ALL elders! Being from the South meant answering with a "mam" or a "sir" with that yes or no. To this day, I still find myself answering all elders using these words.
  • Early to bed, early to rise - There was a time that I thought just because they were tired does not mean that I am. When I was a tired Mom of younger children, all I could think about was getting both kiddos to bed so that I could go to bed. Yet, when I was a teenager and going out with friends it seemed to be repeated even more. I learned that once I had my own children I could not go to sleep until they came home safely. There was no rest for the weary. I do know that my own children are in the early stages of this cliche with my grandchildren. All of our grandchildren are under the age of 5. Surely you remember those young ages? Just the age that can really totally wear adults out and hope for an early bedtime so they can get some rest. It is after all, a proven fact that we function best with a good night's sleep, both for work and school. The time will come when it all goes smoothly until the teenage years come into view.
  • Afternoon Nap Time - I know that I am not alone in remembering this ritual. It was not until I had my own children that I came to recognize the importance of this. In fact, I had an older neighbor who looked remarkably well for her age. She asked me whether or not I took a nap when my children did because this is what she said kept her looking younger. I admitted that most of the time, I used nap time to clean things up around the house. Her wise advice to me was that every one needs a nap. There has been research proving that a 20 minute 'power nap' can do a world of good for all adults. I have heard that a lot of famous leaders follow this advice simply because it lowers stress, can help lower blood pressure, and can motivate the brain to think clearly again.
  • Be thankful for what you have - It is part of my positive mantra that I say to myself now as an adult. I believe we all need to be thankful for what we have and not ever take it for granted. Thinking about all the things that you are grateful for, or even making a list helps you see just how good you have it. Sometimes, we have to pull ourselves up from the world throwing messages towards us such as do this, do that, work more, work harder...this just tends to cause more stress and higher blood pressure. One particular story that comes to my mind is when my Mom sat me down to tell me to be careful what I asked my Papaw for, because he would fly to the moon to get it for me. For some reason, even though I was a young age, this stuck in my mind. (I think that I was trying to imagine how he would get to the moon). Be happy with what you have and let surprises play out spontaneously. Have a grateful attitude!
  • Keep your hands washed - Goodness gracious, even to the point of getting a little step stool for me and my brother; no one was going to get by with dirty, grimy hands or even ones that looked clean at our house. With all of the germs out there, it is a good thing that I did follow this, even though as a child, I constantly had to be reminded. My kids did too. I am sure all kids do but it is a healthy habit that you want them to continue with for life.
  • Eat your veggies and fruits - I have become aware of how important this is. For those who go to the extreme and become vegetarians, then I say good for them. I can't go that route, however, I am well aware of trying to get in the recommended about of 5 a day. Most children have some veggie or fruit that they just will not eat. Having a child sit until they eat it all is not very healthy, in my opinion. Find the veggies and fruits that they do like, simply to make everyone a happy camper. Many times the crunchiness of raw veggies (which are even healthier than cooked) will stir up an interest in a child.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff - If you have even a touch of OCD, then you will drive yourself over the edge if you continue on that path. My Mamaw was the one in our household who would be the one to calm everyone down with her gentle southern drawl by telling us to sit down and think if what we were babbling on and on about was really that important?  She could have written the best selling book by Richard Carlson called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. It came out in the late 1990's. Mamaw was so ahead of her time, even though she used her own words to give us this same message. As an adult, I have found my own way to step back and stop worrying about all the little things that can turn my day into a disaster if I allow it. Teaching children at early ages that it is okay not to be perfect and always have the ideal situation is an essential life lesson. Make the best of what you can. No need to throw a tantrum over some trivial event. I am here to say that there are plenty of adults who do this very thing. I 
  • If you keep making that face, it'll freeze that way - This one is actually true and it is as healthy for you to follow as the ones I listed above. How, you ask? Of course, when this was said to me, it was because I was being a sassy little brat making ugly faces or frowning pitifully because I did not get my way. As it turns out, if one does continue to furrow their eyebrows and frown more than smile, scientific research has proven that deep creased wrinkles will appear faster than if you had choosen to smile. TRUE!
A few quick phrases that we all heard and need no explanations at all:
  • because I said so, that's why
  • quiet down, I can't think
  • one day you will thank me
  • if all your friends jumped off the bridge, would you 
  • don't use that tone with me Missy
  • your room looks like a tornado came through
  • beds are not made for jumping
  • close the door, you don't live in a barn
  • do you think I am made of money
  • put a coat on, you are making me cold
  • say that again and I'll wash your mouth out with soap

Let's just admit it right now, that most Moms will always be full of Momisms. You can't run from it. Luckily for me those words of wisdom stuck with me and there will be ones that pop out of my children's mouth that they remember hearing me say. One of my children's pediatricians said to me that they teach the medical science side in med school, however, he has learned even more over the years from thousands of mothers who can't all be wrong. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Making the Choice

It is a fact that yesterday, I had decided that my blog today would be on happiness. I firmly believe that we have the ability within each one of us to make the choice to be happy or not. The other belief that I hold is that there is not just one thing or one way to make that choice. Sort of like, "Different strokes for different folks."  It is just that the bottom line is happiness.

The other day I saw something that made perfect sense to me when I read it. It was an article by J.S von Dacre stating that the more you focus on pursuing happiness, the less you will find it. That is because it is not based on conditions. It is not about money, the perfect partner, having the perfect job, drivings the car of your dreams, etc.

Happiness is rather hard to define specifically. I am talking the happiness from within us. The dictionary says that happiness is a noun and is defined as the state of being happy. That is rather ambiguous! My thoughts are that if we allow ourselves to obsess with finding happiness, then it is not going to be true happiness.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are all in harmony. Dalai Lama said it well:  "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." 

Things can happen in our lives that may not at that moment make us happy. You have the ability to choose if it is something that is going to make you so unhappy that it will take over your day, your week, your month, your life? 

It is being mindful of all the good and thinking about the little things that do make you happy. This morning as I was ready to come in to get my coffee and start my morning writing, I noticed that my husband had his computer up and running with the page from the company that was to come back to our house if a rodent was discovered in a trap. Well, all I can say is that for a moment (okay, for a little over a moment) I was not happy about that one little bit.  

That one little bit felt like a volcano ready to explode within me. You have to understand my feelings about rodents. I do not find anything that vaguely resembles a rodent cute. This includes mice, rats, squirrels, hamsters, gerbils and even raccoons. I am sure there are others that are not mentioned, just know they are not on my list of likes. Therefore, this is why I was feeling this way. I could tell by hearing Steve's end of the conversation that the company was not being cooperative in getting someone out today. 

This company had agents who had my phone number and his phone number and someone was to call. No one did. I did a little research and found a place to send an e mail straight to someone who could help. I did not use any four letter words, just worded it strongly that they really need to get their act together and get someone over to our house immediately or else we would be terminating our business with them. 

Somehow, the writing of the e mail helped calm down the volcano ready to erupt.  I became aware through my positive mantra of the day. I can get through this. Breathing slowly and repeating this as I started my writing. I posted the milestone mantra from Plato, "The beginning is the most important part of the work." This fit my day as if it were handmade just for me. The music that I love was turned on, I wore one of my favorite colors, I cuddled with our puppy some, and I worked on trying to see the best of what the day would bring. Thinking of what I was grateful for was uppermost in my mind. And so the beginning of my work for the day.

By ten a car pulled up with an Inspector from the company who had treated Steve so poorly on the phone. He took care of everything and more. He went above and beyond what he had to do, which took a long time of inspecting inside and outside of our home. Just as he was leaving, after having solved the problems, a delivery truck pulled up with a delivery of flowers from one of my children for Mother's Day. Again, the little things like smiling, music, colors, scents of roses all made the volcano that earlier wanted to erupt just dissipate.

I would say that all in all my happiness continues to win out over the alternative without me in hot pursuit of it. Will there be times that events pop up that will not always be so happy?  Of course! That is called life. Once I pulled myself together, what I was thinking, saying and doing were in harmony and happiness has no way except to sink within me.

There is a book called "Solve for Happy" by Mo Gawdat. He approached happiness like a math problem.  He said that happiness is the peace you feel when life's events are equal to (or match) your expectations. In his book he tells how his philosophy helped him cope with the death of his 21 year old son. His basic premise was that if his son is gone and there is nothing he can do to change that, then how can he make it a little better? He arrived at it would be by sharing his son's happiness formula with the world. The formula is nothing more than what I have been writing about and that is if you can't change what is happening to you or around you that is not good, then you need to work on seeing how you can use that to make it better for others. In doing so, you then help yourself. 

My goal is to continue to be aware of my own self. Being mindful of how I am feeling and why or what is causing it. Can I change it and if the answer is no, then the question is how can I make it better for not only myself, but for those around me. The best advice that I can tell you that I start with is:


Monday, May 8, 2017

What I Know and Continue to Learn About Our Puppy

The one thing that I knew well in advance of getting a puppy is that both my husband and I had to be committed to taking on a BIG responsibility. It is not for the weak of heart, nor for a lazy person. In our minds, there really are no 'bad dogs,' just owners who are not 'good' at raising a dog or taking the extra time to do it the right way. 

Once we were ready, we did our research and decided on a Goldendoodle. In searching, I was only finding breeders who were a day's drive away or even further. Both my husband and I are hands on type of people. No way could we pick our puppy from pictures and have him delivered to us. We want to see where they are bred and how they are cared for, etc. So of all things, I put a little note out on my Facebook page, that if anyone knew of someone local who raised Goldendoodles to please contact me. 

A high school friend did just that. We followed up on it and sure enough...this was the breeder who had the perfect puppy for us. She was friendly, invited us in to her home and showed us the puppies a couple at a time. Our puppy continued to be the one that kept coming back to us. No rough housing from him. He was such a loving little wavy, curly furball with a tail that looked like a question mark. He was most definitely the one for us.

To be honest, I had envisioned a golden
Goldendoodle. I had never seen a black one before, yet all of this litter was black. Their momma was a black standard Poodle and their daddy was an English Golden Retriever. His expressive eyes tugged at my heart immediately.

Besides researching for a breeder, we also researched for a well respected veterinarian. The one that we found had a few doctors, a groomer, boarding and doggie day care. It was perfect. The day that we went, the whole office took turns with Davis. Our puppy and had so much fun with them. Of course, he ate up the attention and did his famous prancing when put down on the floor. He was a hit and the vet said that he was in perfect health.

Basically, we have only had two issues with raising this puppy. House training was fairly easy. He is so very smart. Never did he mess in his 'crate' at night, or anytime for that matter. He also never cried at night. Both of us have had dogs before, albeit quite a number of years ago when our children were little. We have experienced the sleepless nights of a puppy dog crying. This is a very special puppy that seemed to trust us from the very beginning. 

The first issue that popped up to greet us was that when it was storming and raining, he would not go out to take care of business. It was as if he did not want to get wet. It shocked us a bit that he did not seem to like water being that he was part golden retrieiver. Steve went out with him, gently calling him out to be in the rain. Nothing much was going to get this puppy dog out in the rain. Finally, through constant and steady talking and splashing around, he followed Steve out and took care of his business. It took a few times before he was totally comfortable. Now, he is happy to go out and get in the water, plus he has learned of a small leak in a drain pipe where water squirts out when it has rained hard and steady. All he has to do is open his mouth and the water squirts in, like a water fountain. This seems to make him so very happy.

The next issue we had and still have is his chewing. The furniture that he attempted to chew was fairly easy to train him to stay away from by giving him one of his own toys and just keeping a close eye on him. What has been a challenge is keeping him from chewing up his very own blankets and bedding. He does not bother old towels that are put in his crate under the nice furry, fluffy blankets or a doggie padded mattress. No, no, no. He destroys the good stuff. 

Being the researcher that I am, I gathered everything that I could find on the subjects that were giving us trouble, such as the rain and the chewing.
It all boils down to treating your puppy as if he were a child. Using good child-rearing techniques works just the same on a puppy. 

Our puppy's breeder validated all of this for us after we talked with her. As far as the rain, we know that he was not feeling anxiety from us about the rain. No one here is afraid of the rain, nor of getting wet (after all, Steve is a Brit). What we needed to do more of was to get in touch with our own inner child and show him how much fun it is to be in the rain. It worked! Our puppy will go out in the rain now without hesitation. Even doing a rendition of Singing in the Rain helped out. Any rain song that came to my mind is what I would sing when I had to get him out. I am sure that our neighbors thought that I was ready for the funny farm.

The chewing is going to take a little longer in training. Puppies are like us. They like something to do while sitting. Chewing is a natural instinct for dogs. Our puppy does not do this as a part of separation anxiety. In fact, nothing is ever chewed on when he is left alone, which is not that often, nor for very long. He seems to do it right in front of us. We think he is on top of his fluffy bed or blanket chewing his rawhide stick which he takes with him to the blanket/bedding. After about 15 minutes, we notice that the stick is just there, and he is actually tearing apart the bedding. 

It is at this stage that we have learned to calmly go to him and in a voice that shows disappointment and dismay, remove the bedding and give him what he is allowed to chew. Talk with him. He may not understand the words, just do not try to tell me that he does not understand that he has done something that does not please you, his master. He wants to please. It will take more times and repeated efforts to get this across. Reintroduce the bedding at a later time and try again. It is not play time when you give him what he is allowed to chew. It is talk time. Praising him for chewing what he is allowed to chew. All the yelling, degrading and punishing in the world will NOT work. It is confusing to your puppy, just as it is children. Some puppies, as are children, more sensitive than others. You must let them know that you love them, just not what they did. (Like chew up an $89.00 bed).

Truly, I can guarantee that this method will work. It takes time and patience. Using a softer scolding voice is fine when you are removing what he has chewed. Letting him know that this is not allowed and you are taking it for now. Then going to a soft and soothing voice when you give him what he is allowed to chew and talk about his bone or chew toy for a moment. He will get the idea a lot faster this way then the bully way, as I call it. We all have witnessed this kind of behavior from parents toward their children out in stores. It is hard for me to keep my mouth closed. Hard to imagine, I know! Somehow I manage, as raising other people's children is not my business.

Helping to spread information about training puppies is a whole different ballgame. I can tell you that having what we believed to be doing was right validated by a very knowledgeable breeder certainly made us feel better. If you are looking for a reputable breeder, I can highly recommend Goldendoodles by Kim's Design at 901-412-1174. Please let her know that you read about her on my blog. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Patient Empowerment

Thank goodness, in my lifetime, I have had the very good fortune of having outstanding doctors when one was needed for myself or my immediate family. In fact, up to this point in my life there was really only two times that I can remember having to be bold and very firm with ones who were not listening to what I was explaining the problem to be. The first time it was with my 2 year old daughter. It was after hours, so I am sure that he was not very happy in having to take his turn with the group of pediatricians to meet us at the office on a Sunday morning. When he looked at my daughter (who was listless) in my arms and made the comment that she did not look very sick to him? The 'momma' in me wanted to go for the jugular. I believe that I made my point with my glaring look at him as I placed her on the bed in his office. Needless to say she had a very high fever and was diagnosed with roseola. Being a first time parent, the horrible rash and very high fever that would not go down was extremely frightening. He must have skipped his classes on Bedside Manner 101.

Interesting enough, three years later, I developed strange symptoms until at one point early one evening, I knew something was terribly wrong. Most of us are aware of our bodies and when they are telling us to get to a doctor. When I called the group of family doctors that I was going to at the time she simply said that I should take a couple of aspirin and get to bed. If not better in the morning then call for an appointment. Later that evening I began hallucinating with a very high fever and my husband at that time had a neighbor come over to stay in the house with our young sleeping children as he rushed me to the hospital.

Immediately, I was placed in the coronary unit and put in the ICU. Apparently the first thoughts they had was that I was having a heart attack, however, it turned out that the diagnosis was hyperthyroidism and my body was in high overdrive. They called in a specialist in endocrinology, who listened to me and what I had to say. He walked me through the diagnosis and what my choices were to take care of the problem. When my family doctor came in to see me later, all I could muster up to say to her was, "I told you that I was very sick and not some hypochondriac." I found out that she was, believe it or not, the wife of the pediatrician I mentioned above. I only envisioned that she and her husband must have gone to the same medical school and skipped some important classes together.

Otherwise, I have been so very fortunate in having doctors who listen to me and work with me instead of making me feel like some imbecile, much lower in all aspects of human life than they are themselves. This is not a doctor bashing blog. I thank each and every one who work extremely hard to take care of us, even those who don't listen and heed what the doctor has told them. 

Those instances were over twenty years ago. Yes, I have been to many different doctors for myself, as well as with my children and have had very good doctor/patient relationships, which is the way it should be.

Last year I went in for my yearly ob/gyn check-up. (Ladies, I can't say it loudly and clearly enough to you that you MUST do this for yourself each year.) Something did not look right on the mammogram so my doctor sent me to a specialist at West Clinic. First of all, that did not sound good, in that it is a cancer clinic. I just kept as positive as I could and said to myself, better safe than sorry. My very loving and thoughtful husband said to me that he would drive me, as we did not know what the outcome of this appointment would be. 

I went back alone for the initial check up. The doctor came in after all tests were run and asked if anyone was with me. I told him that my husband was in the waiting room. He sent the nurse to go for him so that we could hear the outcome of all the tests I had been put through. This doctor was calm and easy going and so very caring. He explained that yes, I do have breast cancer, going on to explain that it was the least invasive kind that there is. He went through what would be next, step by step. He actually did the biopsy that very day and scheduled the lumpectomy as soon as possible. He did not want it weighing on my mind. 

Next step was four weeks of radiation. A specialist in radiology was who I saw for this. Again, I can not say enough kind words about this doctor either. This place had guardian angels everywhere. Everyone seemed to know that their patients were going through hell and needed not only the support that was given on their home front (and I had total support there) but also total support from the moment you walked through the doors of the clinic each day.

Step three is when the problems arose. I was sent to a highly recommended oncologist. He did not seem as warm and friendly as the other two, yet not wanting to be judgmental, not everyone is into giving warm fuzzies. Just as long as he was able to take care of the next step that I was to go through. This was going to involve lab work and prescribing the right drug for me to take to help ensure that cancer does not return. The medicine is sort of like an anti-hormone.

The doctor had his intern take over at this point. Let me tell you that after taking the medicine for one week, I had terrible side effects from it while we were out of town. I had to to call him, which meant his intern, most definitely not him, and she said to stop taking it. When I returned to Memphis I was to make an appointment to come in to see what was happening. 

To make a long story short, each medication that she tried, caused more problems. When I tried to explain that these problems were not problems until I started on the medications, she interrupted me and would not hear what I was saying. I googled some of the side effects and showed her (as if she did not know) and I was told that only a small percentage of patients developed those symptoms. Well, do you think that it may be possible that I am in that small number of patients? 

All I know is that by her not listening to me and putting thoughts in my head that maybe she was right and better to be safe than sorry, I went through countless tests and procedures that were not necessary. One by one, each problem that the meds had caused were going away. The specialists that I had to go to due to these 'problems, ' as well as my three trusted doctors all validated what I knew was right all along. Stay off these kind of medicines. In fact, when I went in for my first six month check up mammogram, (which was all clear) my surgeon said that I am obviously a patient who can't take these and that all will be fine without them.

Always trust your own instincts, ask questions (loads of them) and when you are asked closed ended questions, finish them off with a narrative and keep talking until they must listen to you. Show your doctor that you take a major role in your own health and that you do not plan on stepping away from the plate. This is called patient empowerment. It is still remaining courteous and respectful, yet taking control with your doctor. You need to be the co-pilot and if he/she is not comfortable with that, then it is time to find a doctor who will be.

For some reason, I needed to hear my other doctors validate what I was feeling all along. After all, I did not go to medical school for 8 - 10 years, I am, however, the owner of this body and I can help a doctor make his or her diagnosis with some personal history, as well as medical tests and procedures. Listen to your patients. 

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.”
Roy T. Bennett


Monday, May 1, 2017

Change of Plans

We had our Saturday and Sunday all mapped out for some fun things that we wanted to do. Saturday, for the most part, went as planned. The evening was spent listening to one of our city's beautiful symphony orchestras and watching the Memphis Ballet company perform in a first time collaboration. We were given Box Seats to this grand performance. We felt so very spoiled and loved every minute of the performance. During a quiet time, we could hear torrential rain hitting the rooftop of the Performing Arts Center. We had checked the weather and the rain was not to come until the wee hours of the morning. Guess the meteorologist got that one wrong, at least by 6 hours or so.  

Good news was that when the performance was over, the rain had stopped. Only to start again later, this time in hail, winds, thunder, lightning and more torrential rain. This went on through the rest of the night and into Sunday. 

Our plans for Sunday were simple, really. We were going to our favorite movie theater, which is small and quaint with very large recliner comfortable seats and lots of space between the only four seats in a row. There is a table, actually between each of the 4 seats. This is for your drink and if you order anything from their grill. (I might add, that it is not your typical movie 'food,' although they do have candy and popcorn.

The time that we would have to leave our home to see the matinee that we were going to was at a time that the weather was in one of its worse downpours, with lightning strikes all around. We looked at each other and at the same time said, "Let's nix the movie for today." 

Were we going to let that weather spoil our day? No way! Let's go to a Plan B  -  we became Riders on the Storm. We made our own lyrics to make the day fit us. When you think about all of the songs about rain and storms, it is most definitely a 'go to' subject for songwriters. 

We were not that creative in writing a song to be published by a famous artist, however, we did make our own fun. Both of us are avid readers. We spent some time catching up reading, as well as writing in our journals with our coffee and tea. It is an unwritten code that if the TV is not on, then one of the surround sound systems will be on playing whatever music that we are in the mood for at that moment. We did move on to Netflix, with an outstanding Bloody Mary, and maybe for me a little siesta thrown in during a show. At that point, we got up to work on making our first Apple Strudel, as well as chopping the vegetables for roasting later for our dinner. One of us is usually the head chef, while the other one plays sous chef. We are in it together. It is so much more fun when we use teamwork. Basically, this is how everything gets done at our house. No one has to tell the other one what needs to be done. It just happens. This is how our Sunday turned out with us just riding out the storm and becoming Riders on the Storm.

I have decided to make this an interactive blog today. Listed below are just some of the over 100 song titles that have rain or storms in the titles. To the right of the songs are the artists that are most famous for that song, except, I mixed them up. See if you can match the title to the right artist. I, for one, was shocked that there were so many. Only thirteen are here. I am sure that you could name many more.

Riders On the Storm                Prince
Stormy Weather                      Lena Horne
Raindrops Keep Falling on My 
Head                                      Bill Withers
Umbrella                                Weather Girls
Rainy Days & Monday              Eurythmics
Come Rain or Come Shine       Gene Kelley
Its Raining Men                       Rihanna
Singing in the Rain                  Ray Charles
Here Comes the Rain Again      Creedence Clearwater
Purple Rain                              Ann Peebles
I Love a Rainy Night                 The Carpenters
I Can't Stand the Rain              The Doors
Ain't No Sunshine                     Eddie Rabbit  

Did you get them all? I know that I am the blogger, so I picked the songs that I used mainly because some of them are my favorites. So score me 100% and an A+.