Saturday, July 24, 2021



Right now on July 24, 2021, there are so many people who seem not concerned about the COVID 19 variant. The uptick in cases, hospitalizations and deaths does not seem to bother them. I am not here to judge. I am here to write my blog on what we are choosing to do.

 We have been vaccinated. I can't understand those who made the decision not to. Science does say that even those who think or tested that they had it need to get vaccinated. Everyone has a choice. Now, it seems with this new variant growing it is attacking those who have not been vaccinated in a very bad way. Those who have been vaccinated are getting it from those who chose not to. The only good news is that if you are vaccinated you usually have a very mild case of symptoms unless you have deep autoimmune issues.

All of that aside, to stay safe and sane, there is a little chart that I make up to help me look ahead when this is not an issue. I call it 'Play It Forward.' It has all of the things that I want to do with my husband once more people finally go for their vaccination so that this virus can slow down and make it safe again.

I so want to go to a live concert. Several are coming up in our area and from what I see, there are mobs of people going, whether they are inside or outside. There is no social distancing and no (or very few) masks being worn. It is sort of like the song you throw your hands up in the air and act like you just don't care. I can't do that. So meanwhile, I will wait until it is much safer to go and see some concerts that I really want to see. Such as:

Brad Paisley

Jackson Browne

James Taylor

Another interest of mine is to actually go inside a movie theater or a venue to see a play. With no social distancing, I make my choice to stay away. 

I really do not want someone climbing over me to get to their seat, much less sitting shoulder to shoulder with someone I do not know, whether they have been vaccinated and are wearing a mask.

Ahhhh, to travel again. To places we have been before and to new places. We have precious family in New Orleans but now is not the time to go there. I respect their choices and they respect ours. I can't imagine getting on a plane or taking a cruise at this time. Some of the 'hot spots' for Covid right now is Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Yet friends are taking their families down to the beach. They may get it? They may not get it? It seems like a game of Russian roulette to me. We all make our choices.

Even more so than this kind of holiday, I am missing going inside of restaurants to have a date night with my one and only. We both do get out together and with friends to eat outside under a covered patio with fans going full speed ahead in the heat of the summer. Plus, just like us, our friends are vaccinated. This is their choice also. There actually are some places that are asking customers to show their vaccination cards before being admitted in to eat or drink. It may actually come down to that.

Most of all, I miss having our whole extended family in one house (usually ours) for a family celebration. Whether it be birthdays, Thanksgiving or Christmas. I can hang on to that hope that maybe it will be this year? 

Planning it in my head and being grateful for what we can do, accepting what we can't, helps me play it forward.

If we all pay it forward and care for one another, we can all happily play it forward and get on with our lives in a healthy way. Just as we were getting used to some kind of normalcy in not having to wear our masks so often, for now, stores and soon other places will be going back to a wear masks and social distancing. Wouldn't it be nice if we had the times back where we all could feel safe and not have friends who have been vaccinated come down with the variant due to those who decided not to be vaccinated (or possibly even ourselves?)  

Sunday, July 18, 2021



It is July 18th, 2021. Our whole world is so full of uncertainty. This precious picture of a dog definitely shows how I feel. Speaking with friends and others, we all are in the same boat, basically. If things are uncertain, then our brains do not know what to do so the brain goes into drama overload. Our brains can make us think danger is just around the corner. This is the time to take control. Yes, we all have that capability. It starts with asking yourself if what your brain is telling you is helpful. The answer is ALWAYS a big fat NO! So it is time to shift.

It is hard to live with so much uncertainty yet we all need to learn what is the best way to cope when so much seems out of control.

First of all it is best not to resist. Practice acceptance. Meeting life where it is and moving forward from there. This does not in any way make it less frustrating but at least acknowledging how you feel puts you in a better place to know what to do next. Understand that acceptance is not resigning ourselves that this is the only way it can be. 

We are our own best resource yet humans don't always do well on self-care. We must get enough sleep, eat healthy, have fun and exercise the way that helps us. It is ok to nap. It is fine to take time for a mani/pedi or facial. This is called investing in yourself.

Take time to meditate, even with a cup of coffee or tea on the back porch...your quiet time to reflect on what you are grateful for and small moments to think about ways to show kindness to others.

A very difficult thing to do sometime is to not believe everything you think. It helps us gain a perspective on negative events, which if you watch or read the news too much - negativity is everywhere. Well, guess what? So are many positive events. Instead of buying into every stressful thought, we can actually imagine the best possible scenario. Look for the silver linings, so to speak. 

I read that the opposite of uncertainty is not certainty. Even when everything seems out of control we can still control what we pay attention to. Turn off those alerts that pop up on your phone. You have the power. We all do. Look at the current events on your own time when you are in a calm state and have more of an open mind.

No one can really save you from your own narrative. They may dote on you and help you feel better for a short while. That is a start. The first step to moving forward. It really is best to stop complaining and fixating on a problem. Of course, the best way is to focus on what outcome do you desire and how can you make the best of the mess. It is a way of finding meaning in the world of chaos. Live the life that you desire once you sort through the chaos. Zoom in on the present and think what can I do now...not in 3 months or 6 months. The things that you appreciate now in life will be the gratitudes that help you deal with uncertainty. This helps us know which direction we may wish to travel.

Saturday, July 10, 2021



The title does say 'Doodle,' but that is just because we have two doodles. As you may suspect, most dogs do have the intense staring routine down to a science. Plus, most dogs do a little dreaming with sound effects and body movements. I just thought that I would find out a little more about the stares and the dreaming simply because our two do both quite frequently. I wanted to know more about this and if I should be concerned or not.

When either of our dogs seem to be staring at one of us it is as if they are trying to bore a hole through us. Why are they eyeballing us so intensely and what are they looking for?

Many times it is just showing their love and wanting the love back from us. Those deep brown eyes aren't scary, but loving. I notice that it can happen when we have been away from them for a while but it can also happen when we have been with them all day. It is nice to think that it is just because they love us SO much, but I have learned that it could be a multitude of reasons.

It is a fairly good chance that they just love us and admire us because we take care of them. Dogs are very devoted creatures and will share their affection. They also are very in tune with their humans and seem to pick up on our moods and they may be staring at us to try to gain more information. Then again, it could be they are trying a trick to get a treat out of us. I know that we have fallen victim to this tactic. 

Dogs also are aware that we as their parents expect them to do certain little tricks and they will get a treat for doing it. They stare to try to figure out what they need to do - maybe sit, stay, fetch, shake and if they do it then we will give them a treat. Usually, there is food involved in the staring. They pick up on the social cues. We use positive reinforcement for training so I am positive they are waiting for a reward and what do they need to do to earn it. We trained our eldest to just lay down somewhere around the kitchen table and when we are finished eating, he will receive a treat. He in turn taught it to his little sister. As soon as they hear us starting to clear the silverware and the noise of the dishes, up they pop to receive their reward for being so quiet and still.

Rarely is your dog staring due to stress or aggressiveness. If you are stressed though and take it out on your dog in your voice commands, he could become stressed with you. Dogs are truly this empathetic. 

Sometimes it is as simple as trying to tell you that they are hungry or thirsty and need to be taken care of. Maybe needing a trip outside to take care of business? This is why in most cases it is not advised to stop your dog from staring at you. Just accept it as normal. It is best not to stress yourself or your dog out. There is some science behind this staring behavior that has shown it increases the hormones associated with social bonding. One of the common hormones is oxytocin. It is commonly referred to as the cuddle hormone therefore it is not recommended to stop your dog from staring at you with a loving gaze.

Our dogs expend a lot of energy and therefore need nap times. Ours have basically put themselves on a morning and an afternoon nap time. As I was writing this blog, our eldest dog started softly barking in his sleep. Our other dog looked over at him just making sure that he was ok. And yes, he was. It is rather amusing when either one of them goes into such a deep sleep that their tails wag, or their legs start moving as if they are running. It is so interesting to watch and I can't help buy wonder what it is they are dreaming of. Much like humans, dogs can dream fun and happy dreams or even dark nightmare dreams. The interesting thing about dog's and dreams is the simple fact that because we can't communicate with them, we don't technically know what they may be dreaming about. They could be chasing a squirrel up a tree? Dogs use all of their senses while dreaming and this is why you may see ears wiggling, nose sniffling, tail wagging. I would love to believe that they are having sweet dreams about the two of us, yet I know they probably are running free across a huge field of grass, just happy as a lark. 

Most vets will tell you not to wake your dog from his dreams. If they seem to be running faster and whimpering then maybe just some soft talk from you will help them. But generally, they are in a very deep sleep at this stage and it could disorient them if you disturb it - especially by touching them. 

Then there are all the ways that dogs tend to sleep. Some like it in bed with you, others like to be at the foot of your bed, while others are crate trained and feel very safe and comfortable in their "home." We leave our dogs' crates open and they come and go as they please. Our youngest one loves to curl up in a tight ball using her two blankets and a pillow. Even when it is not cold. Apparently, this is from their ancestors who curled up to protect their organs from predators. 

Another strange position is on their back with all 4 legs up in the air. This is really cute, however you should know that this is letting you know that they are extremely easy-going, well-socialized and have veered far away from their wild tendencies. It means that they trust you and feel safe around you.

Just like humans, all dogs dream. Some are more vocal and physical while dreaming. It also is a known fact that smaller dogs dream more frequently during their sleep cycles than larger dogs.

The best place to start if you still have questions about your furbaby is with your vet.

Sunday, July 4, 2021



Is there really a secret to a Happy Marriage? On purpose, I did not try to clear up what signs the man and woman are holding in the picture above. Why? Because in my mind there is no one particular answer or even two. It is a multitude of answers. Take it from me, it took me three times to get it right. Plus, it took the same for Steve. Yet we both have friends who are celebrating 40 plus years with the same person. Sometimes it is the only person that they ever went out on dates with in high school and then married right out of high school - still together! One of Steve's British jokes is that when he hears of this long marriage to the same person, he will say, "DJ and I have been married that long, just not to the same person." 

Both of us married way too young the first time. Let's say a year of marriage? Of course, we were both of the age that we knew so much more than our parents. Then a few years later, we both met someone for the second time. Feeling a bit wiser (not) we at least were married for longer than a year. Both of us had ups and downs, as most marriages have. The good news out of these two marriages was the fact that we each had a son and a daughter out of this marriage. Sadly, as the years moved forward we seemed to have grown further and further apart and divorce was inevitable. 

After this second attempt I had no intention of trying a third time. All I can say is to never say never. At about the same time that I decided to move from Texas back to Memphis, Steve decided to take a deal with Fed Ex in the UK and was sent to World Headquarters in Memphis. We did not know each other and each dated a little while definitely not getting serious about any one in particular. We did eventually meet up through a friend and really did seem to have a chemistry. We both played it slowly. I think looking for red flags. 

We had one date before the Christmas holidays where he was going off to England to pick up his son and go to Disney World in Paris and I was planning a vacation across country to Colorado for a ski trip. That one date was magical. I took things seriously, and met him at the restaurant, talked of our upcoming holidays with our children and simply said, "See you when we get back." Then out in the parking lot there was the goodnight kiss. And what a kiss it was. I could hear Faith Hill singing, This Kiss. I held my to go box in between us. Truly, it was just a simple kiss yet was one that had a huge impact on me. Steve shared with me much later that it did on him too.

My crew had a wonderful time skiing in the Rockies but we barely made it back in time for New Year's Eve due to a snow storm on our drive back across the country. Steve ended up getting a very bad case of pneumonia and having to stay in England until he recuperated. We stayed in touch through e mails. 

Once he did finally arrive back in Memphis we met up again to talk about our travels. I brought pictures to show and we both had lots to share with each other. We both knew that we loved each other's company and enjoyed a lot of the same things. One thing that I had written about in my daily journal was that it may sound like a cliche yet it really is a good thing to marry your best friend. And more importantly, is to treat it like that. You are honest in a kind way and you accept each other for who they are and don't try to change them. (Thinking of the play, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) You may have disagreements with friends but you never can stay mad for long because they are too precious. I have never shouted at any best friend and can proudly say that of my husband.

We also spent a lot of time alone together but when we did go out with others it was with positive people, other loving couples. It just makes for:

Prioritize a night to do something special each week. For the two of us, we were involved in quite a few activities from season tickets to the Triple A ball club, to joining in with friends for season NBA tickets, also the Symphony and Live at the Garden seats where we were fortunate enough to see stars such as Seal, Cosby, Nash and Young, Duran, Duran, and so many more that the list is way to long to name. 

The romantic side of Steve would always surprise me such as when he told me that he was taking me somewhere that was a secret. All he would say was how I should dress. He dropped clues but I did not catch on. It was the musical that was in town - Chicago. Then quite an amusing surprise is that he got unbelievable tickets to see Phantom of the Opera. I loved it. In fact, I loved it so much that I had done the same thing. Finally, I broke the news to him that we had seats to see it again in a few days. Only thing was that the seats that I could afford were way up in the Balcony. Not even the Mezzanine. He went on to tell me how wonderful it would be to see it in a different perspective. (That is true love.)

Communication is so very important in staying happy together. It is ok to be individuals even though you need each other. One of the worse things to do in a partnership is to sacrifice your identity for the sake of your partner. There must be honesty and you both must be open with each other and trust each other. Having a sense of humor is a good thing too. We laugh at our different language. We both speak English, just so very different. Some good advice is to remain yourself. I am always going to say ya'll and I am fixin' to cook dinner and he will always say to please add loo rolls to the shopping list or will I check the boot of the car. 

Another little secret that the two of us have learned is that what works for some may not for others. This is just how is. Happy couples do argue. I really can only remember one argument that we ever had. We just had to agree to disagree. Focus on each other's strengths and never expect your partner to complete you. Celebrate the small and good moments. 

Don't sweat the small stuff? Let's rephrase that and say don't stress over the small stuff. However, the small stuff adds up to the bigger picture. If you marry someone with a good heart it will show wherever you go. How a person treats others is a big eye opener. Watch how others respond to your partner. Listening to interactions with others is as important as interaction with each other. Remember, you are on the same team and should always have each other's backs.

Keep the romance alive. Surprise gifts. They all do not need to be expensive - just something that says, "I love you." Perhaps a bouquet? A car wash? Never, ever stop saying the words, "I love you." 

Thinking of the song by The Turtles called, Happy Together. The only one for me is you, and you for me. You know when you got it right! It took a while but so worth it. We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary on Valentine's Day. Marriage is not a give and take kind of thing. It is a give and don't expect anything in return set up. Be there for each other. Everyone walks down the aisle dreaming of their happily ever after. Maintaining that happy ever after becomes quite easy and not at all hard work if BOTH partners are vested in each other. Once you are a team, it is all for one and one for all - Happy Together!