Life Lessons with Dogs

My house has gone to the dogs. Literally. The Bald Genius thought that it would be a fabulous idea to purchase a Great Dane 3 years ago. He brought her home, and left (OK, the real story is that he was deployed, but my version is more dramatic). Just when I thought that our doggy days couldn’t get any crazier, we adopted a 1-year-old Boxer. There is rarely a dull moment around here, and in the midst of the craziness, I found that maybe I could learn a few things from the furry goobers.
Dog Day

Make a Good Day.
If you aren’t a dog person, you may not know this. Dogs love life! Most are happy by nature. If they have food, water, shelter, and love, it is a good day. I think we humans have a tendency to see what is missing, or wrong in our day, and forget to just be happy. Things may not always go our way, but we can decide to make each day a good day.

A Good Run Rocks.
If your dog is being destructive, or suffering from selective listening skills, have you checked their activity level?  When a puppy gets adequate exercise, it tends to behave appropriately. Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after your favorite exercise of choice? I can remain focused on all of my necessary tasks after I exert some energy and sweat.

Bury the Bone. My poor backyard and garden take so much abuse from these dogs! If these pooches are given anything that they value, they race to the backyard to bury it. It may stay buried a day, or several weeks. They will dig it up when they need it (or whenever they happen to remember it). I am finding that each generation is learning less about investing and saving, but more about consuming. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of the newest, coolest gadgets and fads, but nothing material should ever jeopardize our well-being or future. Make the time to put away money for your rainy day.

Forgive, Forget, Love, & Live. Our second dog, the Boxer, was rescued from less than favorable conditions. Her foster family showered her with praise and love, and she is now a new dog. She doesn’t dwell on her past of being abandoned, but instead looks forward to all of the hugs and love of her daily life. There are times, and people, in our lives that downright stink. We could carry the baggage of hurt, scars, bad memories, and bitterness, or we could decide to forgive, forget, move on, and enjoy life.

These girls keep the love flowing around here. It seems as if they cannot help it. If we leave the house 5 minutes or 5 hours, the dogs are always elated and grateful to see us. These crazy pooches are quick to forgive, and eager to love. Guess what: we should be the very same way. I am not suggesting that you charge the door, and drool all over your loved ones when they arrive (although that might be hilarious). It may make life a bit more enjoyable, and less stressful, if we all make the effort to create good days, make the time to exercise, invest in our futures, and love freely.

I am daily reminded to take a break from the demands of my schedule, and to just enjoy life. I am grateful for these lessons from the furry critters in my home, and I hope that you find your inspiration to have your best week.

Until next time,
xoxo

3 Words

This will be short, and sweet…

love

Let’s face it: we all enjoy hearing it, and we never say it enough. We need to feel appreciated, cherished, understood, and accepted. Everyone should know how it feels to be loved, and be able to freely express their love to others. Don’t allow another day to go by without sharing your heart with your loved ones. Let there be no regrets in your relationships. Find the way to let others know that you care. You just might make that person’s day.

In other news, this afternoon and evening will be AWESOME! Why? Because our household gets to celebrate our Tech No Thursday again, and slow things down a bit. I wish you a wonderful evening with your family and friends. Take some time to share your light and love with each other.

Until next time,

xoxo

Revealing the Most Shocking Exercise

I saw a video of one of my favorite songs, for the first time, while doing cardio on Saturday. Then I walked into church on Sunday, and heard the very thoughts that I have been mulling over. It was clear that I should write about this today, so here goes…
Most shocking exercise? I am sure that you are thinking about some torturous routine with kettlebells, or burpees, right? Well, there is one exercise that makes us all sweat, and requires more strength than most of us realize. Failure to properly execute it can cause unnecessary aches and damage. The most difficult, but undeniably most rewarding exercise that you could ever do is to forgive.

People often ask why I go out of my way to encourage others, or find a bright side to a situation. You would think that it is because I was born as a naturally cheery person. HA! Not in the least (& if you want proof, try asking a question before coffee…if you dare). I am simply a person who has experienced an unwavering, non judgemental Love. Even after being subjected to people who pervert it, I elect to love, and uplift others. It is so much easier said than done, but I know what it feels like to be rejected, and I never want to cause that type of harm to anyone else. Even if I disagree with you, or if you hurt me, you will always find forgiveness and love from me. Why? When I was at my lowest, and darkest, the purest Love imaginable rescued and restored me. I didn’t deserve it, could never do anything to earn it, and have no way to repay it. The best thing that I can do is share it.

Many moons ago, I worked for an organization that should have been a beacon of hope, and den of restoration. Unfortunately for many people, it was not such a place. I started to see why people would say, “I don’t go to church because of church people.” I always thought that was the craziest statement…until I found my own life being torn apart by false accusations, and relationships suddenly ended by isolation. The very people who professed to love me, and the One who create me, were hurling the hugest stones of condemnation and rejection. I had every right to hate everyone involved. I lost more than what most people ever realized. Years later, when some of the same people reached out to me, they were shocked when I wasn’t horrible to them. How could I not hate them, or at least the people who started the foolishness? I hate no one. I would cause zero harm to the organization, or its supporters, by carrying a torch of bitterness. In fact, I would only hurt myself by refusing to forgive. My life is full of joy because I choose not to allow anyone to make me miserable.

Remember the old adage – unforgiveness is like drinking poison, and waiting for the other person to die? It seems so stupid, doesn’t it? Why would anyone willingly drink poison? We do it every single day when we refuse to forgive. Your feelings about the wrongs committed against you are valid. No one expects you to be a teflon superhero, and feel nothing. No one suggests that you pretend not to care about your hurts. I wish that we could control other people, but the only control that we will ever have is over ourselves.  When we elect to release the other person from the clutches of wrath and bitterness in our minds, we open up our lives to receive healing, restoration, love, and life. It isn’t easy, but nothing that is worth much ever is. Trust me: when I was constantly the sickest, and most miserable, it was when I harbored all of the ill thoughts about all of the horrible people and experiences of my life. I cannot pretend that none of them happened, and some of them are so awful that you wouldn’t believe that I survived them. What I can do is live a wonderful life in spite of all that has happened. I can be happy no matter what. I can love, and overcome hate. I can forgive, and reject fear. I can be at peace, and be a peacegiver.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, or failing to see the truth about an issue. If you have been physically attacked, it would be downright ridiculous to invite the attacker out to dinner. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to become friends. However, it releases you from the prison of fear, and the torment of replaying an incident, and frees your  heart and mind. Forgiveness doesn’t help the offender; it liberates the offended. You can lift weights until you’re chiseled, and run a million miles, but you’ll never be 100% healthy until you allow your heart and mind to heal from bitterness.

This song by Jessica Reedy is touching without ever seeing the video. I played the song for over a year before seeing it; however, watching this made her story even more moving.  She was born with the looks and the voice of stardom, and everyone around her just knew that she was going places. Her awesome talent earned her a scholarship to school, and everyone around her praised her for it. She, like so many other kids who leave home for college, made a series of poor decisions, and found herself back at home…no scholarship or degree, no job, and a child on the way. The same people who praised her became the very ones who jeered her.  Fast forward to her second chance at a singing career..it worked, and people started to rally around her. She could be bitter. She could be judgemental. However, she is simply grateful for grace and love.

I don’t know what you believe, or what faith you accept, but I do know a very simple truth. When you encounter real love, it changes you. You should not inflict condemnation upon others when your transgressions have been washed away. Your freedom should make you want to see others set free. Rather than dying inside from isolation, and suffering from instant replays of all of the wrongs that were done to you, I hope that you will exercise your forgiveness muscles, and live your greatest, strongest life of freedom.

You are loved!

Until next time,
xoxo

Tresses & #TechNOThursday

Let’s talk about hair for a few moments… My hairstylist recently whipped out the blow dryer, and completely stunned me. I haven’t been aware of the length of my hair because it has been either braided, twisted, or curly for several months. Why? I have been “growing out” my hair after ending relaxers.  My decision to do so was met with mixed reviews. Most of the negative things said were “braids aren’t professional” or “your hair is too frizzy to forgo relaxers.”  Did the comments hurt or stop me? Nope.

This has been quite the interesting journey for me. I had no idea that so many people placed an emphasis on hair. It is just hair. Really, it is. Little did I know that there were so many negative beliefs about “natural” African-American hair. Just in case you didn’t know, all hair is not the same. Some people have one, or a combination of, naturally wavy, straight, curly, frizzy, thin, thick textures… None of these descriptions denote  whether their hair is good or bad; however, there has been a perception that only certain types are acceptable, professional, or good. My hair? It is, without question, naturally thick and frizzy. That can make home styling a challenge, and it was one of the reasons that I continued relaxing for so long.

Why did I stop? I wanted a lifestyle that was as chemically free as possible.  I began changing the types of foods that were going into my body, and then I took a look at the items that were going onto my body. Have you ever read the lists of ingredients in relaxers? Scary!  A few health challenges caused me to race away from the land of relaxers, and I haven’t looked back. Here is a glimpse of my almost 19 month journey from a fun, sassy relaxed bob (center), to curly, twisty, frizzed out, and the bottom right, blown out.  What will I do with my hair next? I am not certain of the style, but I am positive that I will continue to steer clear of unnecessary chemicals.

hair evolution

In other news… It is Thursday, so you know what that means for my house: Tech NO Thursday! This afternoon, we will begin with Superkiddo’s after school activities, and then proceed with our phone-free time and dinner together. I am noticing that the more that I select actual books, and put away my e-reader, Superkiddo stops asking to play on a tablet  or phone as much.  A few friends have also instituted phone/tablet-free nights in their homes, and they are discovering so many new ways to connect as a family, and enjoy their time together. Why do I encourage Tech NO Thursday so much? I know that the demands of life, and the distractions of our many gadgets, can prevent us from fully enjoying our time with loved ones.  We need to give our attention to our spouses, kids, and loved ones, and show them how much they matter. We simply cannot do that if our eyes are focused on a screen, and not upon their faces.

What fun plans do you have for tonight, and the weekend? I wish you wonderful moments with your family and friends. Take some time to connect, and enjoy them.

Until next time,

xoxo

Bah Humbug! Already?

Dude…this just made my blood boil, so I thought I’d get you riled up, too. I think I need to step away from Christmas gift exchange planning, and search for my happy place. I’ll give you a background story first, and then we will get into the craziness of my morning.

Background Info Section A. We are typically the weirdo, overly protective parents who “screen” all of the families of Superkiddo’s friends. Most of his friends are children of our friends. There are rare occasions on which he gets to hang out with a friend that we do not know well, but we are always there with him. We have valid reasons for being so protective. Why are we so nut-so when it comes to our kid?
1) He has severe food allergies, cannot be exposed to certain items, and people need to know how to respond if there is an emergency
2) We do not allow him to have access to certain types of music, movies, or video games, and we need to be certain that our preferences will be respected
3) We are, by most accounts, private (so private that I’m sharing this haha), and tend to not hang around very many people

Background Info Section B. Superkiddo currently has friends with whom he has exchanged gifts for birthdays, Christmas, congrats on school tests, etc. I like to buy what I consider to be nice items, but they are rarely toys. Typically, we give a really cool book, art supplies, silly hats and the like. We occasionally have conversations about a particular child’s latest interests or hobbies, and that helps us select what we believe to be a thoughtful gift.

 Now, let’s fast forward to today. We encountered one of his new friends today, and he wasted zero time to enlighten us that books are not presents. The gist of the conversation was that better ideas can be found in the electronics section of a certain toy store.

I hesitated to respond. I didn’t want to scar the poor child for life, nor did I want to insult the parent, but… HOW RUDE! I am now on the hunt for children’s books on manners & thankfulness. That may be the end of our gift exchange, or maybe it will encourage a new dialogue with them?

How would you handle such an encounter? How do you prevent your little darlings from demanding specific gifts, and being ungrateful for others?  I am still floored…

Until next time,

xoxoxo