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Posts from the ‘Dogs’ Category

Joy Guards

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” – Marcus Aurelius

Pessimism is easy, passive and spreads quickly. Optimism requires daily intention, attention and aggressive pursuit. Guard your joy. You own it and are responsible for it. No one else, it’s yours.

The girls always guard me, their toys and their joy. Each day, they remind me that joy really does come in sips, not gulps.

They were watching me get ready for work and their eyes were telling me to put on a bit more make up and do one more brush through the hair before leaving.

Joy guards reporting and on duty.

“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.” – Sharon Draper

To Be Seen

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” – Ann Landers

Sasha and Abby follow me around and keep a close eye on me. When we go for a run, they glance back to make sure that I’m still there. This adoring unconditional love is why we love our dogs – they are both friend and family, teaching us to be better humans.

Each day is a relentless pursuit of more joy than the day before. They look deeply into our eyes, wanting to be seen as much as they see us. They make it easy to love them.

If only we would love and treat people in the same way that we love our dogs. Unconditionally, loyally, with concern and care, drawing out the best in them and accepting their faults and foibles. It’s not easy to love humans a lot of the time but somehow dogs have figured out how to do it. Seeing the best, forgetting the worst.

If you want to experience the deep colors and hues in the world, open your eyes and see others with no judgment, assumptions or angst. When we look deeply into the eyes of others, we see ourselves, sharing the same imperfect, finite and beautiful journey.

If you need a model of eternal optimism and unconditional love, look no further than our four-legged, bright-eyed furry friends.

See and be seen. Cast light!

The Deep End

Abby, Sasha and I went up north this weekend to my sister-in-law’s family cabin. This was the first time at the cabin without Grace, my brother and sister-in-law’s black lab who died in Winter, way too young from lymes disease.

When the girls jumped out of the car, they enthusiastically ran to the cabin door looking for Gracie to ask her to come out and play. But Grace was not to be found.

Grace loved the cabin and swimming. She was the head of the pack and would lead the girls around showing them the ropes of cabin living. Diving off the dock again and again in pursuit of the perfect jump to get the ball as it floated on the water. In awe, Abby and Sasha would watch her dive long and deep and then run off the dock to enter the water from shore to meet her the middle.

After bringing in bags to the cabin, we walked down to the lake with tennis balls in hand. I threw a ball for Abby off the dock, assuming that she would come off the dock and enter the water from the shore. But this time, Abby dove off the dock, a bit tentative but a solid first time effort. Swimming to shore, back on the dock, she pursued the ball yet again diving off the end of the dock with more confidence this time. And it continued.

With a big smile inside and out, I thought of how proud Grace would be of Abby diving off the deep end, learning the lessons that she taught her over and over. Sasha gazed on and then ran off the dock to enter the water by shore and met Abby in the middle as she proudly swam to shore with ball squeaking away.

Without Grace by their side, they hesitantly carried on. A timely reminder that in the depth of our loss, we honor those who have gone before us by carrying on. A bit of solace on the fourth Father’s Day without Dad by our side to honor in person.

In the midst of loss, we remember, we miss, we regret, we wish for one more day and most importantly, we carry on. And we honor those who have gone ahead by diving off the deep end in pursuit of daily joy and adventure. Carry on, the deep end is calling.

Somewhere In Between

Yesterday, I listened to my favorite songs loudly on the way into work and decided it was going to be a good day. And not only was it a good day, it was an outstanding day. One of the best in a long time because I set the stage, I made a plan, set my mind and stuck to it. Enjoy the day and have some fun. It worked.

Today, I had the same intentions. Hit the repeat button and let’s do it again. Same intentions, not same results. Pretty strong start to the day with some engaging conversations and meetings. And then mid-afternoon, it unraveled. Tech issues with our internet that I had been asking our vendor about for the past month, only to be ignored, and then the internet went down for the entire office for two hours with no back up and while I was in the middle of a client meeting. Other than getting them to fix the connection, I couldn’t talk to them today because I knew it wouldn’t be a constructive conversation that I would be proud of.

We live in extremes – way up or way down. And both are exhausting if we remain in them too long. Most of living is found somewhere in between the highs and the lows. I went home quietly to push the reset button again which consists of wandering in the woods with the girls and throwing balls in an open field while listening to nature party.

"You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters." -Saint Bernard

“You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” -Saint Bernard

And then as the night progressed and errands took my attention, I realized that three years ago on this Thursday evening, I was going 60 miles an hour down West 7th to rush to Regions Hospital after getting off a flight from Boston, even though I didn’t need to rush. It was too late. I didn’t make it in time, Dad had already passed away in the hospital. This Sunday, April 28th is the actual date and not a day has gone by where I haven’t missed him and haven’t wanted to pick up the phone after a day like today to talk to him about it and have him masterfully put it into perspective for me. Not one day. And I know my brother, sister and Mom feel the exact same way. One big hole.

It sure puts in perspective a stupid preventable tech failure or another day at work putting in too much damn time thinking more time at work will make an impact other than to the bottom line of someone else.

Pick up the phone, drop by and never let anything go unsaid to your loved ones. I am happy to say that’s how it was left with Dad. In an instant the internet can go down. And, in an instant, you can lose your best friend. Don’t waste your time pining on stupid problems and caught up in the BS people throw at you all day. Spend time with family and friends who really make life worth living and rich with joy. You can find them “in between” it all.

Spring Confetti

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!’”— Robin Williams

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.”— Gertrude S. Wister

It always takes longer than we want, but the snow always melts. Winter releases into spring inviting the flowers to awaken and work their way through the frozen ground. With a slow and steady thaw, the gifts of spring unfold and ensue. Suddenly the birds are singing with glee and nature awakens to a new season inviting us to join the party. Winter bids adieu making way for spring to make its long anticipated entrance.

Many gifts appeared for the girls this week as the sun did it’s work on the thaw revealing a few dozen balls, bones and toys trapped by the grip of last bit of ice. A bouquet of balls and confetti celebration welcoming long days ahead to soak up the sun, chase balls and delight in outside endeavors.

We can even enjoy winter while going through when we trust that spring always awaits our arrival in due time, filled with the promise of transformation and celebration of fruition. Winter builds resilience, spring is the reward. Let’s party.

Nonsense Makes Sense

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

“Now this relaxation of the mind from work consists on playful words or deeds. Therefore it becomes a wise and virtuous man to have recourse to such things at times.” – Thomas Aquinas

I sure did get a lot done this week on my ridiculously long and unreasonable list. And yet, there’s little satisfaction in that because as soon space opens up, it is immediately filled with the next thing, the next deadline, the next urgent request.

Humans are built and made for more than production.

There’s a restorative power in play, in rest, in space. When we get off the treadmill of our “to do” list and wander about with no agenda, no task, no deadline, we restore our capacity to be present in our own life and grateful for what we already have in this very moment.

Each day, we must carve time for play. Book a meeting with yourself to reconnect with what’s most important. Play, be frivolous, lay upside down with a ball.

There’s joy to be harvested in each day. Don’t get tangled up in the weeds of “one more thing to do.” Plant playful seeds and enjoy the harvest. There is a lot of sense in nonsense. Get that on your list and get it done.

“Your soul is infinitely creative. It is alive and expansive in nature. It is curious and playful, changing with the tides of time.” – Debbie Ford

Breaking Trail

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.” – John Muir

It never fails. Nature opens us up. As light snow steadily falls on a soft Sunday morning, a run on the trail into the woods turns into a delightful excursion off trail. As the girls open it up and break their own fresh trail.

Our thoughts bind and limit us. Quiet, gentle nature frees us to think new things, see the world as it is meant to be. Wide open spaces ready to be explored and discovered anew. Inviting us to break trail.

When the noise of civilization returns, return to that open space within, to your true self. That still, steady quiet voice within, that place of ease that needs no explanation. Time to break some trail.

 

Joy Habit

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Just like exercise and good nutrition, joy is the result of habit and discipline. Repetition, practice and doing the work daily to reach our long-term goals and aspirations. Our intentions, thoughts and actions lead us down the path to fruition. And no matter where we are at in our journey, even if we are steeped in difficulty, we can experience joy, daily.

Our own joy does not reside in others, in circumstances, in the past or in the fictional “someday” we’ve created in our mind. We search broad and far until we figure out yet again, joy is borne within. The secret is found in returning to ourselves. Joy always comes from within and is available right now, experienced fully in this moment. Joy is a choice and a habit.

Joy strengthening exercises: gratitude, generosity, laughter, reflection, forgiveness, compassion, prayer and throwing ball in a field with your best friends witnessing the delight and awe in simple, soft moments.

“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.” – W. Bruce Cameron

There is discipline in joy and joy in discipline. Practice, practice, practice. The journey is completed one habit, thought, action, day at a time. Get in the habit.

Deep Freeze

“Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring.” – Terri Guillemets

We are about to enter a deep freeze in Minnesota. Schools closing in anticipation of -35 degree temps coupled with additional -30 degrees wind chill in the next few days. The weather, circumstances and the world can freeze us in place.

While we should prepare and hibernate when weather gets severe to be safe, we should do the opposite when stuck by our own thoughts, others’ opinions and life’s challenges that rise-up, keeping us frozen in place.

It is precisely then that we should risk moving out of our comfort zone, to crack the ice, thawing to keep our hearts open to the ebb and flow of life. Worry and fear are thieves that steal our joy.

Frozen in place? Look up to the sun and let the thaw begin. And spring soon follows in due time.

Chasing Balls

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer

Our days are defined by what we hold on to and what we let go. The balls we chase and the ones we don’t. The stories that we tell ourselves and the stories others put on us that hold us back, that preach scarcity and fear.

What has been cannot be redone or undone, and it all has its purpose in the full story. The future is so much more than the repetition of the past if we dare. We get to choose what’s next for us at any age. Not what is supposed to be or what others think it is or should be.

Be open, in tune to that quiet voice and change your story by widening your view. Hold on to what’s most important and let go of everything that does not complete your story. There are signs and signals all around guiding, directing and hollering at us to get our attention.

Chase the right balls and enjoy the daily pursuit of simple joy. Dream and then do the work.

“Have a dream, chase it down, jump over every single hurdle, and run through fire and ice to get there.” – Whitney Wolfe Herd

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