Sunday, January 26, 2020

Stuck in a Rut?

Feeling as if I am stuck in a rut is not a good feeling at all. After reflecting on my situation, I decided that I was making excuses for myself and I needed to break out of that mode of constraints. As a writer, I like to have the freedom of writing in large blocks of time. As a result of this mindset, my book that I have been working on kept getting pushed to the back burner. This just was not acceptable, yet I did not know what to do about it except make the excuses. They were valid. Dogs, one being a puppy,  who requires frequent trips out to do their business, play time, loving and separate feeding times were realities in my life. Therefore, I could write for 30 minutes and stop. Start again, but by the time I figured where I was going with my story, oops, they needed me again. And so it went, on and on and on. It was literally the excuse that I gave myself every day for way too long.

Finally, it dawned on me that there were only two options to working on my book. Make progress or continue to make excuses. The progress may be at a slower pace but it is still progress. These loving responsibilities were not going away. As time goes on, they are becoming less of a disruption and they play with each other more. I just had to learn to break free from the limitations that I was putting on myself. No matter what my ability, energy or motivation is, I need to make progress on my own terms.

Life is way too short to stay stuck and wonder, "What if?" I never want to regret that I wasted time and energy and opportunities to make my dream come true. Just as important as it is for me to have my book published, it is also just as important to share my love with my dogs. They are so non-judgmental. They are so loving. They do not know that they are disturbing work in progress. They only know that they want to please me by bringing me their toys to play with them or to let me know that it is time for them to go out for some fresh air. Truly they are such good dogs and I am lucky to have them in my life.

This was all in my own mind. My attitude is all that mattered to determine how and when I could get my writing done. I was simply making excuses. This was taking the easy way out. The breakthrough came when I realized my current circumstances were inherited from my very own thinking patterns. Therefore, if I changed my original thinking patterns, I could be the change in my circumstances. DUH!

If I continued on my mindset that some day I will become "unstuck" from this situation then maybe it will or maybe it won't happen. I needed to take charge and move forward. I read somewhere, probably from one of Oprah's articles, that it is important to live intentionally. I must be in the driver's seat and get out of autopilot mode. 

Getting back in control meant that I had to choose goals that I truly desired to accomplish. As obvious as that sounds, it is a hard driven mind set that a lot of self-talk and self-care must be used to make it happen. It is a matter of stepping out of your comfort zone and try a new way of doing something. 

It is important to be around and hear the jargon of those who have accomplished what I wish to accomplish. Going to author talks at book stores, going to workshops with others who have the same or similar goals as my own, reading more journals on writing and also just plain reading more is one of many creative ways in becoming unstuck! A way to practice living intentionally is to ask two questions of myself: 1. Why am I going to do what I'm going to do today? 2. What would the future self want me to do today? 

For myself, I know that when I spend time reflecting on what it is that I truly want and whether I am doing the things that will lead me to what I want, I know that I feel less stuck in a rut. Rethinking the possibilities is my way out of my rut.  First, one has to realize that they are in a rut. Luckily, I did. Then, I had to find the change that I could make in order to climb out and move forward. Step by step this will happen. 

The forever optimistic side of me lets me know that it will happen. I will add more excitement to my day. I have one very inspirational husband who helps more than I could ever expect anyone to, just by guiding and suggesting changes. I have children and grandchildren who bring such happiness to my life. Then, there are the two furbabies.

I happen to know that I am NOT a morning person. Who could be upset with a precious little furbaby who wants only to please me so she barks at 4:30 - 5:30 to be let outside so there is no accident in the house? Then on top of that she wants to kiss and cuddle with you for a moment and this morning, I could not get my warm robe tied correctly and so she pulled the belt right off of the robe to play gently with me a game of catch me if you can. Lucky for me, I did and she went right back to bed and allowed me to sleep in for a couple of more hours. That was my gratitude tag for the day.

Making myself a gratitude jar and writing one thing (small things are sometimes the best things) that I was grateful for on each day using colorful post-it notes folded and dated is one of the best things that I have started for the New Year. At some point, I will take them out and read them. The funny thing is that I used a beautiful long neck decanter. Hmmm. Not sure how I will get them out exactly. I will worry about that when it is full, I guess.

I am grateful that I can let some things just go and know that somehow it will all work out. At least I know that I am out of that rut.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

If Only You Knew

For sure, a dog is the best therapist in the world. If you have ever been down in spirits, and petted or touched your furbaby...the spirits within you have no where to go but up. It is simply amazing. For myself, I can be the one to hear our youngest puppy at 4:30 AM which is not every day but here and there. I know how I feel mentally and physically, but all it takes is to see her and interact with her and touch her when she climbs up on my lap to know the love that she is sharing. It is a great big thank you. Thank you for coming out for me and taking care of me. Steve says the same thing when it is him going out at the wee hours. 

Dogs have such an amazing power. If we all only knew that it is 'them' training 'us' to be their humans. All along, we thought it was us training them. Well, maybe it is a little of both, although I believe it is more of them training us. They have "super powers."

If you want to understand your dog better, then you need to pay more attention to their communications which can be verbal or non-verbal. Verbal is NOT done in human language, of course.

First, let me introduce the two of us working with our humans to help all other humans. I am Maggie Mae and beside me is my brother, Davis. I am almost one year old and my big brother is 3 years old. We had different moms and dads but we had the same expert, loving breeder named Kim Mills Davis. She is so amazing; full of love and understands each and every one of her puppies and their parents. 

I am the smallest and youngest of the two in this household BUT I am the most vocal in every way that you can imagine. My brother rarely uses his vocal skills. He relies more on his body language, which is all of 61 pounds of him so I suppose that will work. I am only 38 pounds and I am female so I will use every communication skill that I can to get my point across. Whether it is showing my angel side or keeping watch over the neighborhood. I am there for our humans.

All you need is patience and you too can have an obedient human. They really want to please you and make you happy. First and foremost of all, humans want to be sure we go to the bathroom outside. Our silly humans bought "tinkle bells" that hang on the door to ring with our paws or noses to let them know that we need to go out. Davis seems to know this procedure very well. He has it down pat. If they don't listen the first time, he knows how to bang them or pull them off the doorknob, if necessary. They tried to introduce me to this concept. I tried it for a day and it wasn't working for me. I would much rather tell them myself, in my own voice, that I need to go out. So, I go to the back door and bark. I bark only once. It took them a few days to catch on, silly humans! It is much easier and now I really do not need to bark loudly any more. A simple little bark and they come running to let me out. If they don't, I use my paws to paw at the glass of the back door, to let them know for sure, it is an emergency and they need to open the door for me. I can assure you that if I just relieved myself right in front of the door - that would get their attention. I tried that twice. Believe me - they whisked me out the door in a New York minute! The important thing is that you continue having eye contact with said humans. Now they are trained. 

If either Davis or my water bowl become empty, Davis mopes around and sometimes will ring the bells. Silly humans become confused. Does he want out? No, he wants water or food. Davis should really learn more about verbal sounds and how to use them effectively. Even non-verbal - like me! My nickname is now Ringo. Why? Because if my water or food dish is empty I use my two front paws and beat the stainless steel dish as if it were a drum. They get the picture immediately. This Ringo guy must be famous, because they laugh and say, "Ok, Ringo, we get the picture."

For a while, Davis and I were on two different foods. Mine was puppy food which had a little more nutrients in it for a growing body. However, Davis' food tasted so much better and he seemed to like mine better. Go figure. This caused Lola to have to hold the bowls and make sure that I was eating mine and he was eating his. Every once in a while we would confuse her and switch the sides that we came in to her. It kept her on her toes, for sure. Poor Smiley had no clue of how to do this kind of feeding. Lola would mix a little of Davis' food to fool me and him. It usually worked, especially if she gave it to us right out of her hand. She says she must do this because I have the sensitive tummy (whatever that means). Davis eats any and everything. She did buy some pumpkin to help in my digestive issues. Bless her heart.

One more trick to use concerning food is to stay close by them while they are preparing their meals. They are bound to drop something. If not, Davis has this method down pat. He is so good at giving them the sad, woe is me, pitiful eye stare. They always give in and find something that we can have.

 We absolutely adore it when our grand-human daughters come over. There are so many crumbs on the floor for us to lick up. Not to mention in their chairs and on the arms of the chairs. Plus, if it is something they really don't like, they just throw it down on the floor to us. Great girls! We love all 4 of them.

If your humans like to read books or the newspapers, it is always a good idea to let them know when you are in need of attention. Again, my method is to just let out a bark. Davis uses his giant paw and swipes at the book or paper or even the smart phone. Pick your method - whatever works for you. Remember, this is good for them. They do not need to be reading bad news and are desperately in need of the love that we bring to them.

Humans seem to love taking pictures of us, we just must be sure that we are in charge of what they take of us. Sometimes I want to appear like a little doodle angel with my side kick, Davis beside me. He gets it. We are in this together. For example, Lola really wanted a great picture of the two of us sitting obediently in front of the Christmas tree wearing our bandanas for Christmas. Possibly a Christmas card picture. Ha! We both just layed down in front of the tree looking at each other. No sitting like an obedient dog. One picture of Davis alone showed that he was giving in. I had a brief talk with him and he was able to pull back and join me. He tried to tell me about if we were nice, that Santa would bring us goodies in our stockings. Goodies? Hmmmm, well, maybe, sort of, be nice and not so naughty.

At night, our humans settle down after dinner and watch a big screen tv. Sometimes it is a game with a ball involved. Both Davis and I would love to get in that game and catch that ball. It captivates us for a while. However, one day, Smiley had a show on that was all dogs. I was totally engrossed. WOW! I could be on that show and win the Best of the Show. Oh, but I heard Lola say that Goldendoodles had not been recognized yet as a true breed. Doy! What do they know? When it is not a show that we want to watch, we just come up on their laps and let them know that we are a bit bored. Usually, it means that we will get a pig's ear or bully stick or even a frozen meat marrow bone. All is good with us.

They also get the picture that if the weather is right, we may need some time to romp and play at WGAC Day Care. We have 4 legged friends there and also 2 legged friends. They treat us so well and they know what we like to do. Davis is a water freak! So if it is not pool weather, they let him chase the water in the hose when they are hosing down the playground. 

We have learned that when Alexa, some talking box, wakes them up at 6:45, we will be going off to Day Care. Both humans get up and dress and in no time at all, we see Lola get on her shoes, grab her handbag and the leashes get taken down just for us. We can hardly contain ourselves. Davis tries to play Mr. Cool. But once I start barking, he joins in with his happy howl. We try to harmonize just to entertain our humans.

We are always happy to go to WGAC. It does not matter if we are going to the DayCare (although, this is our favorite! Duh! it is like a recess for a kid at school) And all of the 5 two legged workers know our quirks and what we enjoy. The other good thing is that inside WGAC, they all know us when we walk in. Whether it is to see Dr. Taylor, who is the best! Or the front office staff who don't even ask our names anymore. They just know! Plus there is Amber, our groomer. She is pretty fantastic. Great haircuts that make us look beautiful and handsome. She just instinctively knows what to do.

With a little work, you too can have well trained humans. Remember that we have a real duty to our humans. Encourage them and love them and you will receive all of that love back ten times more. Trust me!
Maggie Mae

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Look For the Good

Have you ever known people who only can seem to find the down side to everything? For me, it is just terribly depressing to be around these types of people. So, I manage to find ways to avoid this. Switching the topic to something more positive and leaving on a high note usually works for me. The truth be known, I have just given in to the fact that one person can't change this trait in others. A person has to make the choice to be happy.

My blog topic this week was going to start out based on hearing so many negative comments about the great city that we live in and all of the suburbs. How there are people who think this is the only place that murders, killings, stabbings, and other bad news happens. They actually believe that moving away further from it will help. Pick up any newspaper, turn on any news program and open your eyes. It is everywhere. The media focuses on the bad news because that is what sells the news, unfortunately. 

This is something that I disagree with. More and more friends talk about turning the news off because it has just gotten out of control with reports of bad things happening in our city. I decided to look through the paper to see if there actually was good news reported. And the answer is a resounding yes.

The first article on the front page and carried over to a full page inside the A section was all about a math teacher at a local public high school who won the "Oscar Award of Teaching" for the state of Tennessee. It was $25,000 awarded to him for the difference that he made in his students' lives based on what he does daily with them.

On another page was a rather long article giving information on how teens can get Shelby County Government jobs this summer. A definite way to get a foot in the door for a possible future internship, scholarship, career? But also a way to make some money on the side to help out their families. These were full time 37 1/2 hours a week jobs. Did they pay much? No, however, we are talking about 16 year olds. There really is not a place for them to be hired and guaranteed full time work once school is out.

Below that was the news of Chris Hemsworth and Elton John, each donating a million dollars toward the wildfires in Australia. I have heard and read about others doing the same. These are such positive, feel good stories. 

One does not need to be famous or super wealthy in order to make good things happen. Who says that one person can't tackle a major problem single-handedly? It seems that a weekly newspaper was going to stop the presses at the end of this month. The editor was going to retire. The paper had been established since 1853. It's claim to fame was that Mark Twain had once written for the paper under his real name, Sam Clemson. One man who had saved up for most of his life to be able to take a trip around the world decided that saving this newspaper was much more important and gave up his trip to tackle keeping this newspaper alive and well. 

Every day there will be news. Some will be good and some will be bad. We are all the pilot of how it will affect us and what we will allow ourselves to focus on. Just to prove my point about there is good and bad everywhere...I read about a terrible shooting that left one dead and three injured. Guess what? It was not in Memphis or the surrounding areas. It was not in Tennessee. It was not even in the United States. It was in Ottawa, Canada. News happens everywhere!

Good news can include pets. Take for example a black lab that rides a bus daily to take herself to a Dog Park to play. This truly is a feel good story. Her name is Eclipse. Her owner took her on the bus to go for exercise at a Dog Park. He started taking too long to get to the bus stop so she took it upon herself to get on the bus alone and take herself. The bus driver loved it and the passengers did too. When the bus stopped where she was to get off she did and played for a while before catching the bus back home again.

This story is on YouTube from many different news sources. As you can see, Eclipse loves the attention, the passengers love her and all is good. Her owner even put her bus card on her dog collar

There are so many places to get our news information from now-a-days. One thing that I know I try to do is to always source it. Find out if it is real news or made up or even partially made up. There is a lot of that going around and due to social media, news travels faster than the speed of light. I believe this has always been the case, it is just that with technology today, it seems to be all over the place. 

Allow yourself to be picked up in good vibrations. Deal with the bad in a healthy way. Allow yourself to reflect on ways that you may be able to help turn the situation around to a more positive outlook. You may just discover that once you have crossed over to  seek out the good in things, your whole life will begin changing for the better.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Want a Sure Fire Way to Feel Good?

The Way Towards Feeling Good

For myself, I know that I do enjoy life more when I am happy. Who doesn't, except maybe Cruella in 101 Dalmations.      

Apparently, she gets her happiness from stealing it from others, sort of like The Grinch!. The truth of the matter is that it is not happiness that brings us gratitude, it is gratitude that brings us happiness.

This concept sounds simple enough, but I have learned gratitude must be practiced. It is a skill to learn. It is not a one time deal and over with. It must be intentional and consistent. It makes us all feel good to make others feel good. 

I read about a good idea that helped me even more than writing about one thing in my journal daily that I was grateful for or a way that I practiced gratitude. It has to feel natural to me if I am going to get the positive benefits. The idea that for me that hit home was to write down one gratitude in my day that stood out and put it in a jar. I like to use a see through pretty jar and write it on small colorful paper. It is such a perfect visual as the jar fills up. So far, I only have 5 pieces of paper in my jar. This practice of mine started on the first day of 2020. 

Really it is mind over matter. Let's say that I am having one of those kind of days while driving in traffic. The kind where aggressive drivers seem to be everywhere cutting me off, not taking turns at 4 way stops, running red lights or speeding past me even though I am already going 5 - 10 miles over the speed limit and they give me a hand signal as they zoom by me. It is a time that I use to practice gratitude. Taking in deep breaths and thinking of something that I am grateful for in that moment of frustration. It helps me to not spiral negativity within my thoughts. Sometimes, I simply say out loud to myself in the car, that I am very grateful that my life is not filled with such anger and aggressive expressions as that driver who just behaved so badly.

Another way to help myself feel good is to start the day with what I am grateful for. Is it always easy to do this? Not always. At 4:30 or 5:00 when our youngest puppy gets one of us up, while dressing enough to go out in the cold to take her to do her business, I am thinking over and over to myself, that I truly am grateful to have this little furball wagging her tail, so happy to see me. Licking/kissing me, as if to say, "Good mornin,' Lola. Thank you for hearing me and taking me out. You taught me so well to not ever want to make a mess in my crate." 

That is when I really feel grateful. Not only for the happiness in her body language as she lovingly prances to the backdoor but also that I do not have any mess to clean up thanks to her calling out to me. 

Every time that I give myself a bit of self-criticism, I like to pair it with an expression of gratitude to myself. It helps me to be kinder and more gentle to myself, more like the way that I talk to others. Why should I exclude myself from this positive gratitude? For an example, I can be really hard on myself if I go over my net carb count by eating or drinking something that I knew I shouldn't have. What good does it do to beat myself up about it? Thinking more of what makes me grateful such as hopping right back on this lifestyle program because look at where it has taken me from a year ago? I look and feel so much better.

We all need to use the words, "Thank you" more than we do. I know that I do. Saying it with intention and to those that I know and some that I don't know personally. Just saying the words thank you to my husband for the things that he does for me without even thinking about how happy it made me, such as bringing back a coffee to my dressing table in the morning. Going out to bring the paper inside. Bringing me flowers weekly! Watching American football with me, especially with all of the college bowl games and the NFL playoffs, even though he is much more of a fan of British football. All of these and many more all deserve a genuine thank you! To the supermarket worker who loads up my trunk with groceries, or the barista who makes my special keto- friendly coffee...THANK YOU! Just because it is someone's job, does not mean they do not deserve a thank you. Watch your child glow with pride when you thank them for doing their chores. It starts to become a habit for them because they can feel the happiness in their hearts. They see how good it makes their momma feel and it carries over to them.

Gratitude is contagious.

I have come to realize that when I practice gratitude it turns the most ordinary moments into extraordinary ones that really fill me with a deep appreciation of being alive. As Einstein wrote, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Easily, one can see that the word gratitude can be exchanged for miracle. Which way do I want to live my life? With gratitude that brings me happiness.