Keeping On

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to make its presence known, Statistics aside, we can see a variety of responses by individuals to a defining moment for this generation. Some think that the new, temporary stay at home rules don’t apply to them. Sort of a sad commentary that our canine family members are better at “sit,” and “stay” than some humans.
I think that this younger generation will see this defining moment in a couple of ways. Taking common sense precautions to protect one’s health and, more importantly, the health of family and friends, isn’t giving up any rights or liberties. It’s allowing common sense to prevail.
Second, I think the younger generation was becoming transfixed exclusively on today’s technology and the promise of technologies to come; so much so, that human contact was ignored in favor of text messages, emails, or any other electronic versions of reaching out to others. Now that we can’t shake hands or hug one another for the time being, the importance of that human contact is being reawakened in all of us. We’re remembering the importance of practicing kindness and looking out for each other. That’s not a bad thing, when we think about it. Letting others know how much we value them is important, not only now as we seek out new ways to share that, but also in the months and years that follow.
I’m reminded of a great line spoken by Chief Dan George in the Clint Eastwood movie, “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” when he stated basically how important it was to “endeavor to persevere.” How prophetic those words seem today. We must all work through this current situation with the goal in mind of surviving, praying that our families and friends all survive, and keeping those who have died or lost a loved one in our thoughts and prayers,
We will get through this situation and we will come out of it stronger, and with a renewed faith in the importance of letting our treasured families and friends know how very much we love each and every one of them. Keep on, folks. Stay safe and stay well.

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/EMhykyMQrD5o7rRc7

A Rite of Spring

Here we are in another March and the annual “lose another hour of sleep” moment. Last Sunday, most of the country did that daylights savings time thing. I never fully understood it when I was younger and now that I live in a place that doesn’t spring ahead or fall back, I confess that I still don’t understand the concept. Exactly how many hours of daylight do we really need? Whatever did our ancestors do without this concept?
I prefer my favorite rite of spring – the start of MLB’s spring training. It started earlier this year and will end in just under two weeks. We’ve had to contend with rain, wind, chilly temps, and a few other odds and ends. But we know that we’re seeing players hone their skills for what they hope will be a successful season.
So why this focus? Because spring is a chance to reset or reboot if things aren’t going as well as we’d like. Every team in baseball right now is going into the season with hopes of a championship. For that one team, the glory will come with the last out of the World Series and they begin that glorious celebration of champions. That success will come from hard work – lots of it – and a dedication to the teamwork needed to get to that point.
And for Jake, it’s a time to spend sleeping on the deck, moving when the sun gets too warm, watching the bunnies run under the deck, and spending some quality time with Mom. For me to have this time with Jake – why, that even beats baseball as the best rite of spring.

Time for a Reboot

Ever have a moment when you think you’ve got such a brilliant idea for a posting but when you sit at the keyboard and monitor, absolutely nothing – not even a glimmer – of that brilliant idea now comes to mind? Even Jake’s no help right now. He’s sound asleep by my feet after spending a few minutes on the sun warmed deck. As far as he’s concerned, life’s good. He’s right. But I think this event is giving me the hint that a reboot is needed.
For the last several weeks I’ve been focused almost exclusively on getting one thing accomplished. But lately, I feel like my brain is fried and it’s been hard to keep the thoughts focused. I think the neurons are letting me know it’s time to take a break. So I will. Leaders do that, you know – listen to the neurons and take occasional breaks. Otherwise, they burn out and lose their effectiveness.
I love major league baseball, especially the spring training. It’s a chance to see baseball like it used to be – affordable for the most part, fan friendly, fun, and a chance to see future stars break into the majors. I also know that as of 28 March 2020, my beloved Orioles will be tied for first place in the AL East. Hope springs eternal that they won’t mathematically eliminate themselves from the playoffs by the end of April….
So now I’m also focusing on MLB’s upcoming spring training season, scheduled to begin 21 February 2020. The Cactus League offers some great games and we’ll have some rather nice weather – we hope. Last year we experienced some cold and snowy days here in the desert southwest but what the heck. February is such a fickle month. But we’ll end the spring training season in late March with delightful sunny days and new memories of times at the stadium. That’s my reboot, folks, and I’m sticking with it. Have a great week!

Transitions

Some days, I like the word, “transition” better than “change.” For me, it means about the same thing but sounds a whole lot better. Either way, be it a transition or a change, it’s my choice on how I accept it. I can resist and go through the transition kicking and screaming, only to have to endure the consequences that come with my half baked choice. Or I can make sure I’m as informed as I can be about both the transition and the reason for it, and then embrace it so that I’m invested in how well the transition takes place. Both my experience and my optimism let me know that making that choice will help with whatever consequences come along. Why do I say that? Because despite my best efforts to make as informed a decision as I can, sometimes the decision leads to a transition that future circumstances show to be not the best. Of course, I could waste time beating myself up about the head and shoulders for making such a poor decision but I’ll leave that to others who think they know everything. When a transition just doesn’t work out even though I’ve given it my best, I choose to take a step back, reassess the circumstances, and then engage in making the best decision I can, given the new and more detailed information now available to me. As I mentioned previously, life’s too short for drama, complication, and negativity.
As a leader within my organization and community, I choose to model good and ethical decision making skills, personal accountability for when a decision I’ve made doesn’t turn out as I had planned, and keeping my focus on the goal I set out to achieve. It’s my way of keeping it positive and simple for the coming year!

A “No Resolutions” Zone

It’s that time of year again when tradition has us thinking about resolutions for the New Year. The only problem is that the vast majority of resolutions go by the wayside well before the first month of the year is over. So this year, I’m going to try something new. No resolution, just an adjustment to my life philosophy.
* Leave the negative stuff and people behind. Although it sounds easy enough, this can be very difficult, especially if one of the negative people is a member of the family, a supposedly close friend, or even a colleague or co-worker. Usually people who harbor anger, envy, or dislike for some imaginary reason, none of which we can control, will have their words and deeds be a complete mismatch. In my experience, I got a polite greeting to my face, but behavior that tried to anger or humiliate me. That’s when I remembered that their anger, envy, and hatred are their issues, not mine. Life’s complicated enough. Let’s leave that drama behind.
* Learn something new. This can be as simple as reading a new book, trying a new recipe, learning to play a new song on whatever instrument we play, or taking up a new hobby and becoming decent at it. Today’s technology now makes this relatively easy.
* Keep it simple. Life can get way over the top in complicated, if we let it. I have a finite number of brain neurons left and I’m going to continue to use them wisely. Life’s too short for complicated.
* Love honestly and deeply.
* Laugh with someone, not at them.
* Continue to be kind.

And every once in a while, I’m going to stop what I’m doing, go sit on my deck with Jake, and watch the cloud parade go by. It’s the simple things that help recharge my motivation.

Happy New Year, folks!

Merry Christmas

The Christmas season is now upon us and in keeping with my Anglican traditions, the season will continue through 6 January when tradition has it that the Magi arrived at the stable in Bethlehem to present their gifts to the Christ child. Our thought has focused on the kindness and unconditional love shown by the Magi as they traveled far to reach that stable, with no thought of receiving anything in return for their gifts.  In their hearts, they knew that the babe born in a stable was a special gift and that was enough for them.

What a great lesson from history for us to think about and to model.  I see this modeled every time I see an act of kindness. People are kind because they believe that’s the right thing to do.  Kind acts happen without the expectation of being repaid.  But somehow, that kindness finds its way back to folks, especially when they least expect it.  Our wish would be that the spirit of Christmas follow all of us throughout the coming year and we are moved to practice kindness with even greater frequency.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy Holidays.

Blessings

10 December 2019

Today was another flight back east and once again,the nonstop flight was pretty much uneventful until I got off the plane and stepped outside into a blast of cold – well below my mandatory requirement of at least 60 degrees. (It’s my dream, I know. But please humor me.) Oh, and the ever present moisture – rain this time, thankfully. I hate that frozen white stuff that falls from the sky. I spent the majority of my life dealing with that stuff so I figure I’ve earned a break from the cold, snow, and ice.
It’s a couple of weeks early but my life is full of blessings. My son, daughter-in-law, and my granddaughter rank first on that list. This Christmas should be joyful because my granddaughter is old enough now to realize that this time of year is very special. Lots of good memories to be had, I think.
My family is a blessing all year round. This year, we supported one sister as she bested cancer so far. Her diagnosis was a wake up call for all of us to keep up with routine exams and tests. The best part is that I realized the importance of letting each of my family members and my friends know how much I love and appreciate them.
The Jake Meister. What more can I say about this extraordinary pup. He’s now retired from therapy work but does occasionally like to go visit some master’s degree students to help them see how a therapy dog can help in a counseling setting. His good days are treasured by me. But I’m also aware of his not so good days which are increasing. I think those days make me appreciate this pup all the more and the wonderful vet who is helping Jake fulfill his life as comfortably as possible.
Why this train of thought? I realized many years ago that focusing on the blessings helps me balance stuff when not so good things happen. Having that balance also helps me maintain a good perspective.
If I were to share any wish as the Christmas holiday approaches, I would wish each and every one of you is blessed with balance in your lives, an appreciation for the wonder and excitement we see in a child’s eyes, and the true blessing of this holiday season.
Merry Christmas.

Not Overthinking

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. I find that sometimes I can overthink the meaning of the day, especially trying to make sure I give thanks for all the good things that have happened, as well as giving thanks for overcoming the not so good things that have happened. We’re simplifying things this year. It’s been a roller coaster ride without a doubt. But here’s what Jake and I are thankful for:

Our family. Even though the pack “family” is much smaller, Jake‘s still with us. My family members are doing nicely, all things considered, and they’re as close as the nearest phone.

Our friends: best friends, long time friends, new friends, and all those in-between. Our circle of treasured friends continues to support us and help us create new memories, share laughter, and best of all, they continue to love us.

My son, daughter-in-law, and my granddaughter who deserve a special mention because of the abundance of joy they bring to my life. Despite the geographical distance, we remain close and in constant contact. They fill my heart with love and Jake adores the video calls with them all.

Despite Jake’s health issues, we’re still having more good days than bad ones. Spending quality time with him has been really nice. I know he’s enjoyed it and I don’t mind taking the hour or more that he wants to sleep in my lap on the floor. I get to quiet my mind, gently rub behind his ears, and just be in the moment with a tremendous pup who I still consider to be a true gift from God.

So, to all our readers and new folks who might visit our page, we wish you a safe and very Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours.

Unintended Consequences

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think through the phrase, “no good deed goes unpunished,” because it really made no sense to me.  If it was a good deed, there wasn’t any reason to think about punishment.  But then –

Jake hasn’t been eating like he should for the past week so I decided that now was the time to begin seriously spoiling him.  I went dog food shopping, looking specifically for grain free canned dog food that had nothing but natural ingredients, no grain, and every ingredient was not only one I could pronounce, it was also one that I could spell.  I thought I hit the jackpot when I found a grain free canned dog food that contained a mix of duck and sweet potato.  I thought we were still good even after opening the can and finding something that looks suspiciously like a paté.  Jake seemed excited after getting a whiff of the contents so I spooned an amount into his dish and crossed my fingers.  The food lasted about 30 seconds, only because Jake spent several moments licking his dish not once, but twice.  Sigh of relief from me, to be honest.  We had something he was interested in eating.  The cottage cheese, pumpkin, and yogurt would be given a rest.  Fast forward to about an hour after he finished his meal….

Sitting in the living room after taking a break from the computer, I was a bit surprised to see Jake get up as quickly as he can these days and walk from the room.  Normally, he’s an attachment to my left hip.  In less than a nanosecond I knew why he moved.  Green air produced by an older dog is lethal at best, and we now have doors and windows opened to air out the house.  Whatever he passed has permeated every room except the bedrooms at the far end of the house.  Good Lord!  Jake has decided that while it’s still comfortable outside, he wants to stay on the deck.  I can’t wait to hear from my neighbors because the gentle breeze is going to bring them a surprise.  My well intentioned deed won’t be repeated tomorrow morning, I can assure everyone of that.

Here’s what I didn’t take into consideration – Jake is a senior pup, over 11 years old now.  His digestive system has been impacted by the gall bladder issue, and the impact of the medications he’s now taking.  Adding the additional protein at a level he’s not accustomed to wasn’t all that smart on my part, even though the portion given to him was small (about three tablespoons) but it was more than enough to insure that Jake and I are sleeping with the windows wide open and the door to the back yard left open just enough for him to slide through.

Sometimes we make decisions with all sorts of good intentions in mind but we get figuratively smacked in the back of the head with unintended consequences.  Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I think it’s far more practical to accept the consequences and revise the initial decision to insure that those consequences aren’t repeated.  It’s okay to make mistakes because we tried to do something right or good.  It’s worse to simply do nothing and make no decisions because we’re afraid of what might happen.  Jake will get through this and his digestive system will settle back into what is his new normal.  I’ll be on the receiving end of some more green air, along with a couple of dirty looks from Jake.  And the upside to all this?  For a couple of moments since that devastating day in March, I actually was glad that Bailey and Elliot weren’t here.  Jake is a rank amateur compared to how quickly Elliot could clear a room and Bailey wasn’t half bad herself.  Even in the midst of the green air cloud, there is a positive.

Some Weeks are Better Than Others – Part 2

This week started out with Jake at the vet’s for yet another blood test. Our very dedicated vet is trying to find something that will ease the arthritic pain Jake’s experiencing in his back and hind legs without sending his liver function tests through the roof. I was able to tell her after the first week that it appears that Jake is getting some relief but there is that Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads – what was the impact of the medication on his liver? So this week, we finally got some good news. The new anti-inflammatory medication has had no impact upon Jake’s liver function so he can continue to take it and experience some relief from the arthritic pain in his body. What hasn’t improved is the “funk” that he’s been in off and on since he lost his pack mates, similar to the same thing he showed when his pack mate, Jessie, died from lymphoma. Now I know that there are some folks out there that will think and even perhaps post comments about how I’m humanizing Jake by attributing human emotions to him when he’s just a dog. But no one can explain away how dogs seems to sense when their humans need them the most, why a pup will sleep under the coffin at the funeral home when their owner dies, or when a pup sits on the step with her boy on Father’s Day, and places her paw on her boy’s knee as he cries his heart out over the absence of the father who passed away before the boy’s birth. That dog stayed with her boy until he was ready to face the world again and even attempted to lick the tears from his cheek. So while Jake isn’t human, he’s the latest in a very long and blessed line of extraordinary pups who have blessed my life with unconditional love, attention, and companionship. I know the day is coming sooner than I’d like for Jake to rejoin his pack mates and I’ve promised him that I’ll honor that wish. So for the remainder of this week and hopefully, for many weeks to come, I’ll get to pause in my work and spend several great moments scratching behind Jake’s ears, walking with him, and sitting with him as we watch the bunnies return to their safe haven under our deck. Chalk this week up to being one of the better ones. Enjoy your week, folks. Jake and I certainly plan on doing just that.