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Have You Shopped For Yourself Yet?

A Reason For Hope

Hope is the most (1)

 

I stopped watching the news a few years ago for several reasons. Amongst them is the constant barrage of negativity which the media would like the public to believe is all there is in our world.  Add to that social media which helps people think it’s acceptable to make hateful comments in anonymity.  We as a society don’t need to look far to find reasons to hate.

 

Then there was a scene I was blessed to see the other day.  One that filled me with hope. I ordered some food to go and waited outside because it was hotter in the restaurant than outside.  A few moments later a teenage boy with Down’s syndrome walked out of the restaurant with his mother.  He told her “I love you, mom”. She told him she loved him too.  He then told her she was the best mother in the world. She answered with a heartfelt thank you.

 

I was checking my emails but I smiled to myself thinking, yes, she must be. They waited on the sidewalk when her husband and their younger child joined them.  They started to walk past me when the teenage boy yelled something I could not understand. He was trying to get his father’s attention.

 

His mother stopped and said to him, “Wow! That was really loud.” She reminded him how he needed to talk at a lower volume and if he was trying to say something to his father he needed to walk up to him and say it.

 

His father was a few feet ahead of him with the younger child approaching their car. I looked up from my phone and smiled at the mother. She smiled back with a look that said, “Kids!”.

 

I was trying hard to mind my own business but not doing a good job of it. I heard the father talking to his son and exclaim, “Oh, he was reminding us we needed to get something at the store!” I turned around to see the father thanking his boy and giving him a big hug.  I smiled at the father then had to turn away because my eyes were tearing up.

 

These were in fact the best parents in the world for these kids.   The love they had for each other was a perfect, forgiving, unconditional love.  It’s rare we get to see such an open display in such a seemingly hostile world.

 

There are people in this world that will lash out and even kill people for having a differing point of view.  When did it become OK to deal with our problems, real or perceived with violence and hatred? It’s hard to find validity in a point of view expressed through harsh hateful words or violence.

 

I see the hate out there but I also see all the love that is there as well.  I choose not to focus on the hate. For the most part I scroll past hateful Facebook posts without commenting. I ignore what the media tells me is wrong with the world and focus on the positive people and situations.

 

Thank you strangers for showing me what is right with the world.

 

Will You Take The Time To Share?

It has been a few weeks since my book has been available to the public.  I wrote this book for the pet owner that takes in the least desirable pets.  I also wrote it for the ones who are on the fence about taking in a less than perfect pet. And of course for the ones that have no choice in the matter.

 

The following is the dedication for my book:

To the ones who speak volumes without uttering a word,

the ones who suffer yet forgive time and time again,

the ones who never lose hope

the ones who fight the good fight

because their hearts and souls would have it no other way—

and especially to those who love without condition,

be they human or canine

 

I have one simple favor to ask. If you read my book and enjoyed it, please share it. If you find you liked it and were able to relate, please take the time to write a review.

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It is my hope that the people that need to find my book can.  I know when I struggled with raising my pack the right way I had few choices and little support.  I stayed the course and everything came together in a cohesive way.

It shouldn’t have to be a struggle for anyone and I want to help those who find themselves in the same predicament.

Thank you all for the support you have shown me so far.  Please share, talk about it, and get the word out.  Help someone see they are not alone.

 

Are You A Dreamer?

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It has been six months since my last blog post. Some of you may be wondering what happened, some of you may not have even noticed. Either way, I plan on updating you on my whereabouts.

I had some guilt to deal with after selling my mother’s house.  After talking to a friend who went through the same thing, I realized it was the only thing I could do. These days my mother is finding it harder and harder to create sentences that make any sense. She does not know who I am and never asks about me. Perhaps the world she lives in I just don’t exist.

I have done some light decorative remodeling around my house. I find lighter, neutral colors to be my liking these days. I also find the farmhouse look to be quite welcoming and warm. I spent some money and a great deal of my time changing my décor style from eclectic to farmhouse. It is a work in progress but I am getting there. I have built furniture and other items I have been too cheap to buy. I have to say I enjoy working with wood and the satisfaction of accomplishment it brings.

My biggest project and reason for my absence was the completion of my book. I decided I had spent too much time making changes.  I buckled down, went through my final edits and I FINISHED it! What a great feeling that was to send off my book to the publisher.

I did learn a few things about what I could and could not say when writing a book. As far as content and structure, I did well. The biggest criticism of my writing was that I can be wordy. Some remarked to me they found it odd that wordy was not good when writing a book but I get it. I find it ironic that I can be too wordy when I rarely partake in conversations. If I am passionate about a topic I will speak up loud and clear. Most of the time, I refrain from sharing and I listen more than speak.

Through all this I want to tell all my readers to never give up on your dreams. Writing a book has long been a dream of mine and it will soon be a dream I can hold in my hand. Many times I wanted to quit. I thought, who am I to write a book? I am Moose’s mom and an advocate for misunderstood and mistreated dogs. I dream one day I will be able to put all I have learned in my life and career and make the world a better place for dogs.

What is your dream? Have you given up on it? Have you given up on yourself. I hope you haven’t. I did not and I am so glad I kept with it. Don’t let your dreams die within you. Go make them happen.

 

 

Another Year Has Passed

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The start of a new year is a time of reflection for most. We look back at what we have accomplished and set goals for the New Year. Often times we see the dawning of a new year as a chance to start anew.

 

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my forty-eighth year. I choose my birthday as a time to reflect, determine what I have learned and how far I have come. So much happens in a year’s time.

 

Last year was the first year my mother did not call me first thing in the morning. She always said she wanted to be the first one to call me and wish me a happy birthday.   My mother not calling last year hurt my feelings and even more so when I did not hear from her at all. What I thought was stress from my father’s passing was her dementia stealing her memories.

 

After dealing with a natural disaster that killed 42 people and forced me to evacuate, there were two other major events at work. The first targeted my fellow employees riddling their workplaces and cars with bullets and injuring one of them. A few days later I had to respond to a school shooting that took several young lives. When all these events occurred in one year, it made me want to move as soon as I finished out my term at work.

 

After the New Year rolled around my mother’s health took a turn for the worse. I had to find a place for her to live where someone could assist her with daily functions. I had been out to see her in January and I thought all was well with her having full time caretakers. I soon found myself having to learn about dementia, it’s effects on those afflicted and those tasked with caring for them. Six months later I was back in my hometown having to sell my mother’s home and all her possessions.

 

I hated having to be the one to rid her of what used to be her memories. Yet it was healing for me to close the door on the house that held so many negative memories. I am finally free of the baggage I have carried for so many years.

 

Being in the middle years of life means loss is a constant companion. After losing my mother to dementia, I will have to one-day deal with the loss of her presence in this world. A few weeks ago I lost my dog. I spent seven years loving this dog that had nothing to give me but his love, lots of laughter and sweet memories.

 

I like to  take my birthday off from work. The weather usually takes a turn into fall right before my birthday. Every few years I am granted a reprieve and can take part in my absolute favorite birthday activity, taking a nap on my porch swing. This year, I managed to talk one of my coworkers into making me a German chocolate cake so I will go to work. With any luck, I will cut out early. The weather this year is looking promising. The temperatures should be in the mid seventies. It will be perfect for some reflection then a nap on that porch swing.

My lucky seven year journey.

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Seven years ago a large black and white mixed breed dog walked into my life and joined my pack of three dogs. More accurately, he walked into the glass door of the store I was meeting him at. He had my heart instantly. The rescue worker told me he was at least seven years old, he might be hard of hearing, vision impaired and he definitely was prone to seizures. She offered to give him to me but I insisted on paying full price for Lenny.

 

It did not take long to realize Lenny was not hard of hearing and he was not vision impaired. He just did what he wanted to do and on his time schedule. Nothing fazed him. I only heard him bark one time in these seven years.

 

The fifth dog into my pack was Moose. Once Moose came into my pack, Lenny became what a dog should be. Lenny bonded with him and trusted Moose. He would chase Moose, jumping and trying to block his path when Moose was running after a Frisbee. Moose never once lost patience with Lenny and they both had a fantastic time.

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Earlier this year I learned Lenny had cancer. I don’t know how long he was living with it before it became obvious. A tumor was removed from inside Lenny’s mouth and his toe was removed as well. Malignant melanoma was the diagnosis. I had no idea a dog could get a skin cancer. The vet told me Lenny had about 5 month to live.

 

Five months later, that prediction came true. Those five months were filled with fun, chasing Moose, eating as many cookies as he wanted and whatever dinners he desired. You would be hard pressed to know Lenny was a sick dog.

 

Then today Lenny fell and something was obviously wrong. He could move his legs but could not stand. His neck was stiff and his eyes kept involuntarily moving from the back of his head to the forward position. His 130 pound body was immediately loaded into my truck and off to the emergency vet we went. Moose came with us. He was his one canine friend and I hoped he could offer some comfort to Lenny.

 

The doctor was kind and he did a great job explaining things to me. He believed Lenny’s cancer had likely spread to his brain. He was not going to recover. I knew it was time to let him go and the tears free flowed down my face. The doctor told me if it helped, it was what he would do for his own dog. It did, but I continued to cry. Moose came in the room and Lenny seemed to perk up a bit as he recognized the scent of his old friend. I lay down with him and held him while he was injected with the anesthesia. It was easy and peaceful. I knew the exact moment he took his last breath. I stayed there with him for several minutes after he was gone.

 

On the ride home, Moose licked my face then dropped his head onto my chest and stayed there for the rest of the ride. I think he knew my heart was broken. I am grateful Lenny found his way into my life and blessed me with seven years of the purest form of love only a dog can give.   Run cancer free my kind, gentle soul.ml1115bw

A Look Inside Netflix’s Tough But Honest Culture

Death_to_stock_photography_weekend_work (8 of 10)I recently listened to a podcast of an interview with one of the founders of Netflix. Netflix founders started the company on the premise employees will have a job as long as they are a productive member of the team. When the employee is no longer effective, it is time for them to move on.

 

Netflix shows all new hires training Power Points. One of the slides lists the nine behaviors and skills the company values in their colleagues. These skills and traits are further defined so there is no ambiguity about what the company means by each trait.

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  1. Judgment: The Company wants the employees to make wise decisions. Most companies want upper management to make the decisions and lower level employees to carry them out.
  2. Communication: Listening, articulation and treating differing opinions with respect are identified as good communication skills.
  3. Impact: Consistently producing copious amounts of work creates the impact they are looking for.
  4. Curiosity: Netflix expects learning and contributing outside of your field of expertise.
  5. Innovation: What surprised me here was, “challenging prevailing assumptions when warranted and suggesting better approaches”. Again, how many companies encourage this behavior?
  6. Courage: Say what you think even if it is controversial. At this point I am beginning to wonder if this is a set up.
  7. Passion: This one is my favorite. Netflix values inspiring others and caring about their job and others. Passion is an element missing from so many employees in every field.
  8. Honesty: Netflix defines this trait as candor, directness, non-political in disagreements with others and quick to admit mistakes. I wonder how they are able to find a large group of people who embody these traits.
  9. Selflessness: The company wants people who will do what is best for the company and the coworkers.

 

These are fantastic values and I wish every company looked for these in their staff. How much more would you look forward to going to work if your company valued these traits in it’s employees.   A Power Point slide states, “Imagine if every person at Netflix is someone you respect and learn from…” Yes, imagine that. It sounds like the ideal workplace.

 

There is a catch though and it is a big catch. “Adequate performance gets a generous severance package”. Most companies, especially unionized companies expect just a ‘meets standards’ performance. Unfortunately, most companies set this bar pretty low.

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To maintain this high level in their staff, Netflix further explains its stance. “We’re a team, not a family. We’re like a pro sports team, not a kid’s recreational team. Netflix leaders hire, develop and cut smartly, so we have stars in every position.” Do you find this a bit harsh? Maybe it is but Netflix does not expect anyone to work for them forever. The concept seems to have worked for the company as they continue to be a powerhouse.   Work hard as long as you can and you won’t get cut from the team.

 

 

Summer’s Final Days Are Closing In

reasons to love the season

 

I love the long days of summer. Sitting on the patio and reading until the mosquitos drive me inside is something I look forward to all year. But summer seems to have suddenly given up on the Pacific Northwest. We started summer strong with record-breaking temperatures. Now the days are getting shorter and clouds fill the skies. The temperatures have been anything but average.

 

My garden is showing the effects of the sudden shift. It is mid August and it is time to harvest my pumpkins. Last year I had a bumper crop of tomatoes, this year I will be lucky to avoid blight. I did have some luck with cantaloupe and watermelon. I thought I would try them believing the meteorologist’s predictions of a hot summer. This is the plight of gardening in the Northwest. You never know what kind of summer you are going to get.

 

Except for the humidity, it feels like fall around here.   As much as I love summer, fall is a chance to slow down a bit. This summer has been particularly loaded with activity for me. I had an unscheduled trip to Texas to sell my mother’s belongings as well as her house. One month later I hosted a wedding for a friend at my home. The wedding was outdoors and over 300 people showed up. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever been to. Not long after the wedding was over I agreed to volunteer in eastern Washington helping with the wildfires. These major events have added to the sense of a shortened summer. I look forward to slowing down and doing less.

 

The shorter fall days make me go inside sooner and even get to bed sooner. It is a kind of grounding. There are so many other things to look forward to with fall. The trees light up the landscape with their colors of gold and red. Crisp evenings mean bringing out the cozy sweaters while sitting on the porch swing sipping on a cup of hot cocoa.

 

The best part of fall is everything pumpkin, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin treats and even pumpkin soup. The other day I cheated by combining the two seasons. I made an ice cream pumpkin pie. It was amazing.

 

Then there is the simplest of pleasure. The new fall TV line up will be back soon. I am not much of a TV watcher. I do record a few shows and watch the on the weekends while I do my chores and work on projects. I have so many projects I had to put on the back burner this summer.

 

Finally, fall bring back-to-back holidays and the chance to visit with friends and family. I am sad summer is ending but I am looking forward to the fall. I need some serious down time and a few pumpkin lattes.

 

Maybe It’s Time To Mind Your Own Business

THE BEST VIEW

Earlier this week I had a chance to catch up with an old friend. The conversation turned to the people in our lives who are not doing too well. My friend’s eyes began to tear up as he told me about how his wife’s cancer flared up again. She is going through another round of chemo, which has been hard on her body. She has lost her hair again as she did the last time she went through chemo. Her hair is a feature she was quite fond of. Now it is falling out in clumps leaving her partially bald with tufts of hair in random places. She wears scarves and headbands to attempt to cover her balding head. My friend got choked up telling me about a recent cruelty his wife endured. She was out in public when an elderly man made a rude comment about the bow on her scarf. The comment hurt her feelings, as she was already terribly self-conscious. My friend kept asking me why someone would do that. I had no answer and no comfort to offer. What would prompt someone to be rude to someone instead of just offering a reassuring word?

Also this past week another friend posted on Facebook that she needed urgent prayers. She added a comment pleading people to please not ask what it was for. It’s unfortunate she had to add that comment to keep people from prying. It reminded me of a time I had surgery on my foot. I wore a walking boot for several weeks while my foot healed. I was surprised at how many strangers asked me what happened to my foot. Not only did I not feel like explaining my injury but also I was astonished at the intrusiveness of a complete stranger.

Why do we think we need to know everything about other people’s lives? Does asking about someone’s injuries fulfill some kind of morbid curiosity?

That brings me to my final frustration. Often people will say, let me know if there is anything I can do for you. When someone is going through a challenging time and you make that offer, you put the burden of getting help back on them. Someone who already has their plate full is not going to ask you to do something for them. Figure out what you would need if you were in the same situation and then just do it. Maybe they need a home cooked meal, their kids may need a ride to soccer practice, maybe they can’t get their lawn mowed. Do that random act of kindness.

I don’t think people want to know what is going on in other people’s lives. It seems asking how are you is just a nicety. If you don’t want to know or to help, then don’t ask.

Are you guilty of compartmentalizing your life?

Compartmentalization

What do you do when you are on overload? There are times when life pulls you in several different directions: a friend or a family member needs help, chores need attention, an emergency situation arises, the phone call keeps ringing. You still have to work and function as a member of society. No one wants to hear your excuses about why you can’t deal with the right this second.

 

We do what humans do, we compartmentalize. People focus on a crisis; deal with it, then move on to the next one. To the outside world we seem unaffected by these emergencies even if we have not processed the preceding emergency. Some of have become masters at this and the world is none the wiser.

 

Wikipedia defines compartmentalization as an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid the mental discomfort caused by a person’s conflicting values, thoughts, emotions or beliefs.   Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized states.

 

My job forces this compartmentalization process on me so I can continue to be productive. We deal with the crisis at hand, stuff it into its hole then move on to the next one never fully dealing with the effects of each crisis. What happens when the crises move into our personal lives? Now we have a crisis at work and a crisis at home. Crisis mode becomes our daily living style until all the compartments are full.

 

Compartmentalizing is in fact an excellent defense mechanism. It allows you to deal with a situation when you mind and body are telling you to just run away. The problem being the emotional backlash is waiting in the compartment we stuff our crisis into. The stress slowly builds until it cannot be ignored.   It will not go away on it’s own.

 

What is the answer? It varies for every individual but here are some thoughts.

  • Adapt: If you cannot change the stressors. Change yourself or the source of the stress
  • Accept: There are some things we just cannot change. It may be time to accept the stressors and move on.
  • Relax: Take time just for yourself. People will have to understand you absence or try to understand your rage when you finally explode.
  • Exercise and eat right: It’s easy to grab the ice cream or the alcohol when the day gets to be too long. Exercise releases endorphins helping us feel better and changes our perspective.
  • Sleep: Deep blissful sleep is my favorite remedy of all.

 

What ever it is that works for you, make sure you find some way to get rid of the stress. As for me, I am going to read a good book, scratch my dog’s ears and get on to that sleep. I hope you have a peaceful week ahead of you.