Sunday, March 31, 2019

Setting My Own Goals

Sometimes, I must remind myself that setting a goal without a plan in place is just a wish. I am going to run with that thought for a moment. One of my wishes has been to have a second Goldendoodle, whether it be a rescue, or rehome or another precious puppy from Kim, who is where Davis, our current doodle, came from. Preference being that this second doodle would be a miniature because I thought that was all we could handle size wise. Davis is about 62 pounds and a gentle dog, just very large.

Knowing that even through my overwhelming optimism, I do have a streak of realism thrown in there somewhere. That should count for something. I knew that both with me still recovering from what the aftermath of breast cancer caused and also what Steve's afib issues were that he was dealing with would not allow us to have this second doodle of any size at the time the thought of another doodle came into my mind.

We were patient. We loved on Davis and he was such a wonderful spiritual healer for us. Just cuddling in to us and petting on him, which he is most definitely a touchy, feely kind of dog, reaches deep down to your soul. It is my belief that he has helped to heal us physically and emotionally.

There was a time that our energy levels were so low that there was no way that we could walk him daily as Steve used to. My joints were still weak and I was still recovering from an injury on my left knee from the bad joints.

Before we brought Davis into our lives, we researched and discovered that Goldendoodles are gentle and affectionate dogs with easy going temperaments. They do not like to be outside running around without their owners. In fact, after talking with other doodle owners, they are definitely not dogs to open the door and just let out to romp and run all alone. 

They are very social dogs, therefore we have found a wonderful Doggie Day Care where our vet is located called Walnut Grove Animal Clinic. Chris, Jessica and Chaney are the animal care takers and they all exude their love for every dog. Davis loves to go there for a day of play and socialization. We take him weekly, sometimes twice. He loves to go and we usually don't hear a peep out of him after all of his play with his buddies. 

Because Goldendoodles are highly intelligent, they are very easy to train in all aspects. We have chosen crate training and he uses this as his safe home to go to freely throughout the day when he chooses. At night, from the very first time he was home with us, he was crate trained and never had an accident in that crate. So this does not scare us with our newest addition.  She will have her crate, too. Our vet, Dr. Taylor, told us that you know that you are using the crate training method properly if the door is left open during the day and the dog goes in on his/her own for a nap or to chew a toy.

You may have guessed it by now, our health has continued to get better and stronger. We have much higher energy levels and were able to start with a plan in place to eventually get our second doodle. It was not in the cards for a miniature Goldendoodle, as there were none in our area. Kim posted pictures of her new litters of F2b Goldendoodles and they stole our hearts. 

We made an appointment to go with Davis to check them out. We were able to see the parents of these doodles. One little pup seemed to really bond with Davis and Davis did with her. Their tails were wagging and they were Eskimo kissing and cuddling. Yelp! This would be the one. We talked about the fact that there is no stated in stone guarantee that this doodle will remain around the 40 pound range like her momma. It is still the only thing we have to go by. Out of all the puppies, she seemed to look the most like her momma and she was one of the smaller pups. We named her Maggie Mae. 

These pups were still too young to take home, so we had some time to prepare ourselves and our home for our new family member. A quote from Stan Smith, "Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it."  Being the age that we are, we do count on our experience in life to make our decisions wisely. This does give us the confidence to make it happen when it is the right time; whether it is to get a second dog for a playmate to our current one, purchase a beach home, continuing to review and update our retirement portfolio with our financial planners, and the list goes on. It is called life. 

We even set goals for our lifestyle in eating and cooking. There are some good reasons to share goals with some close family and friends and I believe in them:

  • it helps in accountability and clarity
  • it helps in measuring progress
  • it gives us motivation
  • it is a connection with like minded people
There is also a reason to be careful in sharing your goals/dreams. If we reach our goal and follow our dreams by setting these goals we can be cheered OR there can be a backlash. There will always be those who don't quite understand. That in and of itself is okay, as long as we can move on past others' thoughts of what is right for us. 

I have found that if we break our goals into specific milestones that have purpose and meaning for us,  this is what will continue to inspire us.

It is one step at a time, and usually the writing is on the wall when your goal has been reached. For us, it has been months of feeling well and energized. New goals will continue to be set as we see fit. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Two Doodles?

Am I crazy? Are we both crazy? That would be both myself and my husband. We are actually toying with the idea of having two golden doodles. Kim, the wonderful breeder that we worked with to get Davis, who is now two years old, has two new litters that will be ready to go to their forever homes in April. 

I saw them in a video on her page. She has a litter of black ones and cream colored ones of various shades.

Now I ask you...who can resist this face? We have a lot of talking to do to be sure that we are making the right decision. Everyone that I talk to (well, almost everyone with two golden doodles) say that two are better than one. They keep each other company, they even wear each other out. 

The plan that we have made so far is to at least go out to see the puppies with Davis to see how he reacts. After talking with Kim, she suggests getting a female this time, not only due to the alpha male syndrome, but the females for the most part do not go over 45 pounds. Davis is 60 pounds and to be honest we could not deal easily with another one that size. 

For one thing, Davis still believes that he is still a 22 pound puppy.

I rest my case. There is no room for another 60 pounder. Then there is also space in the car, another crate eventually, because at first they could cuddle in the same crate. It probably would be reassuring for the puppy and maybe Davis would feel like a big brother. That is what I am being told by those who have two doodles. We definitely are total believers in crate training and during the day Davis even goes in his crate on his own for a nap now and then. It is sort of his safe place and he seems to love his home. Our vet told us if dogs do this, then you know that you have crate trained them properly. All I can say is that even though Davis is two, he still can not be trusted to not eat tea towels, pillows or throws off the sofas, even will grab a book, a newspaper, a remote. It is a good thing that we are home with him so he does not destroy our home or harm himself. We have gates that give him freedom to our open space home yet keep him from trouble at the same time.

There also is the cost issue. We use Walnut Grove Animal Clinic Day Care for a once or twice a week outing. Now we would have two, once the puppy got all of her shots. And of course, there is the cost of the vet, which means add on another pet for insurance. Food and treats.........yes, it is a bit of an extra costs but all of those people out there that have two say that it is so worth it.

We even have named this yet to be "our" puppy. I had written some names down and Steve came up with a name when he saw the video. Believe it or not, I had Maggie Mae on my list of female names. Our minds think alike. What can I say? I am confident that we will make the right decision for us.

What will be the outcome? We are most definitely leaning one way over the other; still talking though.

What do you think? Keep just one or go with two. Time will tell.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Tax Time

My apologies in advance for the brief blog this week. There is a very good reason for this. Yesterday, I literally spent most of the day taking care of our taxes. Mind you, I don't actually do the taxes. We have a super competent CPA who takes care of this for us. However, I can't just dump everything in a box that may be tax related and turn it over to him. 

Now that we have used him over the years, I know what to expect and try my best to keep files organized so that when TAX TIME arrives, it will not be a nightmare for me to gather what he needs to help us. He does his part by providing an organizer that he sends in the mail right after January 1 of each year. It has information that he used from the previous year and a place where I can write in what changes there were for the past year. So, I do know some of the basics. Do I understand them all or the government vocabulary always? NO! All I can do is try my best. My best made my brain turn to mush by 4 p.m. yesterday.

Basically the reasons were that we had several major changes. One in that Steve's retirement was a half year into the previous year so this year he had his 401k pension, as did I. Then, because I had not reached the age for Medicare until December, Cobra insurance was 11 months for me and 1 month on Medicare, plus all the other things that go with it. It meant copies of this and copies of that. I just want to try to make it easy for this person who has the talented ability to crunch numbers to help us pay what we need to and yet nothing over.

When I think about people who make so much money that I can't wrap my head around their wealth, I know that they have so many loopholes and it is of my belief that they are not paying their fair share. I am sure that we are. It sure seems like there must be a much more equitable way to spread out what people owe based on their income. 

A person who becomes a CPA must have a passion about accounting and I already know that I am not a detailed oriented person. I am much more into the big picture which does not put in the category of an accountant. I would do better to become one of people that tax companies hire to dress up as The Statue of Liberty or Uncle Sam to walk up and down the sidewalk on a busy street advertising the Tax Company they work for.

There are so many items that one may qualify for itemized deductions that it is just mind boggling to me. There are new things added or deleted each year so that it is very important that you keep up to date with this information. There are costs that if they exceed a certain percentage of a person's adjusted gross income, then they are no longer eligible or maybe they then may increase eligibility. 

Because there are two writers in our household, not yet published but working on novels, blogs, attending workshops and needing to subscribe to Writers' magazines, this is something that must be added in as a business deduction. 

This is the last sign I want to see on our tax returns. But if it does come down to that, I want to have our trusted friend working with us to fix whatever needs to be fixed and finding whatever paperwork the IRS needs to be satisfied. Our taxes, I am sure are not the most complicated to a professional. To me it may as well be Greek. That is why I try my best to get what our CPA needs in some kind of order. To say the least for this particular year, my brain was taxed. The good news is that it won't be once I turn it over to his office tomorrow morning. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Lessons That I Have Learned in Life

One thing that I know for sure is that I will never stop learning. Continuing to be open to learn more is what I strive for. It is what makes me grow to become the human being that I am working towards. First, I must have the belief in myself that it will all work out...whatever "it" may be at the time. I know that I must believe in myself and to continue to reach for the stars to follow my dream.

If one wants to get better at something then they must practice. I have learned that I must practice whatever it is that I want to achieve. There are some things that are out of my control and I am aware that no matter what the circumstances may be, I must practice for the life that I want and the person that I want to become. 

An example is to be in a good financial place. This is an ongoing process. I practice this with my very significant other by learning where to invest our money so that we can continue to enjoy retirement. Neither one of us are experts in this field, however, working with those who are the experts in the field of finance is most definitely what we do. It is a process that must be practiced and kept up to date on. There are guidelines that we must incorporate in our portfolio so that we may enjoy our future. Meanwhile, we both get to work on our passion for writing and practice by writing and working with some very savvy financial advisers. Have faith!

One more example is that of becoming a published author. This does not just happen overnight. It is something that I practice daily. I must live the life that I want to become my life. In other words, I must write daily. Of course, I want a best seller. That is me reaching for the stars. Where does one start? By not letting go of my dreams. Inspiration must come from within as I continue to take my journey of becoming a published author. 

As I write and continue to learn of the publishing world, it is of the utmost importance for me to  prepare for the next level by not letting the complexities of becoming published yet get me down and dictate how I should feel about myself.  Finding positive mantras is one way that I accomplish this. It reminds me that I am in charge of my life and I will be the one to tell myself where my day will be headed.  

Are there days that seem to get railroaded off the tracks that I had set? Most definitely. That is called life. The trick, as I have learned is to respond accordingly instead of reacting. This is also accomplished by showing and feeling gratitude. Gratitude is most definitely one of the greatest ways that I have found to make my world a happier place. I have discovered that the more I practice it, the more things I am grateful for.

Gratitude must be shared with others. One of my favorite quotes is from William Arthur Ward. "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." Simple thank yous to someone who has helped me along the way is the easiest, along with a smile and sometimes a kind gesture. 

Soon after I retired and was so excited to begin my writing career, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This may have stopped a lot of others from moving forward. The surgery and treatments, not to mention the emotional part of it could have turned me into a bitter or 'woe is me' kind of person. I would not have any part of that. Yes, I know that I am the forever optimist but that is where I had to be. Looking back over that time (it has been almost two years now) I know that I did not give in.

My husband told me just recently that he was so proud of me for not giving in to all of the side-effects of the treatments after surgery. It was difficult, yet not impossible as long as I continued to believe in me. Having him and other family and friends supporting me is something that I will always be grateful for and continue to show my gratitude towards them in varying ways.

I am enjoying slowly getting back to the real me physically and emotionally. I never want to get old. Yes, I will get older. We all do. That does not mean that I have to get old. Staying active, staying involved and surrounding myself with people who love to laugh is one way to never get old. This is what I am grateful for. I will never take for granted that the more I focus on being being thankful and expressing that gratitude, the less time that I have moments to worry about things that I have no control over. 
Whether I am at a high point or less than high, I know that by showing and sharing my appreciation to myself and others is a life lesson to never forget.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Is There Such a Thing as Writer's Block?

 Sometimes the words flow so fast that it seems impossible to get them to paper before they float away. Other times, not as many thank goodness, it can be described as having a 'writer's block.' Although many psychologists have done studies on this and claim there is no such thing. Just how do they know this? It is definitely SOMETHING that has overtaken a writer's brain to become mush. Nothing seems coherent or fitting as I try to put it on paper. This is the place that I am right now, fighting to get out of it for over a week.

My need to learn about something takes over and I go to google for information that I want to learn about.I simply typed in Articles on Writer's Block. A wealth of information appeared in the blink of an eye. I read one article about why some psychologists believe that there is no such thing. They believe that it is a fear within the writer so they feel uninspired and simply procrastinate writing. DUH! I may not have my degree in psychology, however, I am here to say it is all of the above. Whatever you want to call it. It is real.

The way that I write is first from an outline then turning that into a story board. It works for me, or at least it has been up to this point. Where I stand now in my novel basically boils down to the voices, which are usually my friends, seem to have stopped talking. This in turn is making it difficult to get pen to paper (or fingers to keys) to continue with my story. 

 This quote truly does inspire me. I know that I can't just sit here until I feel inspired. Inspiration will find me if I just write. Every article that I tapped in to touched on this idea one way or another. Jack London believed that writing daily was the best way to stir up inspiration; it will find you. He said to go after it with a club if necessary and if you don't find your inspiration you will have found something very similar.

Sometimes for myself, Scott Berkun's quote holds very true and I need to have a good talkin' with myself. I am a novice in writing books. It is a bit intimidating to think that if I put my heart and soul into my book that someone will say that it is not good writing. And they will! This is something that I try to deal with using my meditation with a positive mantra. When I read about very famous authors receiving rejection letters one after the other, I know that I just must get used to it. The trick is to not overthink it. Just let it flow.

Writing about this is better than not writing at all. I totally agree. I did find a few other interesting suggestions that I can share:
  • Put what you have written aside for a few days or a bit longer if necessary and then return to it. Re-reading it and making notes if need be. You may be surprised how the light gets switched on by revisiting what you have completed.
  • Instead of writing to a generalized audience of readers, write and tell your story to one person, one that you may know or imaginary. Think of this person as you write your story for him/her.
  • Hoard your good ideas. When you are on a roll with your story and know what is coming up. Stop there. The next writing session will be a breeze.
  • Have you ever noticed pitchers on baseball teams who have a small, little ritual before they throw their pitch? Well, each day have your own ritual to get yourself motivated. It could be sitting with your coffee in silence, finding your positive mantra. This would be mine. But, I also always get out a pad of post it notes and a sharpened pencil, just for jotting things down and sticking it to my story board. Having some  soft instrumental music playing in the background sets the mood. AND let's not forget the coffee.
  • The last strategy that I use is to just do something different. Take a bike ride, bake something special, clean out a drawer or closet or read a little more. 
Whatever you want to call it, all writers get it. As a writer, I must find the strategy that will work for me and it is not always the same one. Be flexible and don't force it. I compare it to something as a bully. Someone in my brain telling me that I am empty on words, just like a school yard bully taking my lunch money. It is a matter of taking charge and not letting the dry spell of writing have power over me. I am in control here.

Tomorrow will be a new fabulous week and I plan on having a marvelous productive MONDAY!