Category: Observations about Life


From left to right: Ripley, my parents' dog Harry, and Midnyte

From left to right: Ripley, my parents’ dog Harry, and Midnyte

It’s a gorgeous Texas day, warm and sunny.  (I’m ignoring the humidity on purpose, hoping that if I pretend it doesn’t exist, I’ll stop sweating.)  The breeze is great though, very refreshing.  It’s a pleasant change form the hot winds in Arizona!

I decided to come outside and write, partly because it’s one of my favorite things to do, and partly so I could play with the dogs.  We play for a few minutes, until my old dog is ready to pass out from panting so hard.  She’d play until she drops, but I’d rather give her breaks and play again.  It works out for both of us; I get up from my laptop, stretch, and take frequent breaks.  She gets to play and hang out for a few hours.

I was brainstorming blogs and this topic came to mind because my dogs really are my best friends.  Even my husband, who was not a dog person when I met him, has come over to the dog side.  Why do we love dogs so much, and why are they such great friends?  I think I have a few of the answers…

1.  Be happy to see one another, no matter how much time has passed, and show it!  People appreciate when you’re happy to see them.  It makes them feel like they’re the only one that matters.  When I get home and my dogs greet me, it automatically lifts my spirits.  I look forward to going home because I know that I’m going to get a dose of joy.

2.  Live in the moment.  It doesn’t matter if your best friend said something mean to you 5 minutes ago.  Let it go.  Friends don’t keep score, and if you can forgive easily, you will feel lighter.  It’s more fun to be happy and pay attention to what’s going on right now.  Now is the best place to be.

3.  Give little treats.  It could be a tiny morsel (like a compliment) or a huge bone (like a gift).  Those treats say “I’m thinking of you.”  Treats show others that we care.  No, they’re not necessary, but who doesn’t like getting treats?

4.  Play together.  Dogs make us laugh when we throw balls for them or watch them splash in the water.  They’re not afraid to be silly.  Be silly with your friends and laugh together.

5.  Don’t focus on the superficial.  My dogs don’t care how much I weigh, how I’m dressed*, how clean the house is, what job I work, etc.  What they care about is who I am to them.  I can be myself and will never judge me.

*The one exception to this is that Ripley gets really excited when I put on yoga pants, as that’s usually what I wear to hike.  She cries and jumps up on me.

6.  Just be there.  When I’m having a bad day and talk about it, my dogs will never interrupt me, never jump in to offer solutions, will never tell me what I should have done.  They just listen without judgement, and give me a lick on the cheek or the hand as if to say, “I’m here for you, and I love you.”  There’s nothing more comfortable than reaching down and feeling a furry body at my side.

"Hi, I'm here!"

“Hi, I’m here!”

7.  Whatever you want, chase with abandon.  Whether it’s a ball or a pesky squirrel, go after it.  It doesn’t matter if you catch it; the fun is in the chase.  Good friends will cheer one another on through that chase and never say, “You can’t do it.”  In fact, they’re probably running by your side with you!

8.  It’s never too late to build a lifelong friendship.  No matter how old they are, if a dog loves you, they love you.  Even if they’ve been abandoned many times before you found them, they will love you if you let them.  They don’t care if you’re old or young; as long as you’re willing to share your space with them, they will be glad to be with you.

9.  When you’re together, give the relationship your attention.  I get frustrated with people when they check their phones or watch the restaurant TVs when we’re together.  My dogs do their own thing when I’m busy.  They go off and think doggy thoughts, watch squirrels or birds, chew up toys, squeak toys, play fetch alone, or bark at other dogs.  But when we’re playing together, they are completely focused on me, and I try to stay focused on them.  Time together is more fun when we’re both engaged.

"Why aren't you paying attention to me?"

“Why aren’t you paying attention to me?”

10.  When someone you love hurts, don’t take “no” for an answer.  Many times, when I’ve had a bad day, Ripley (65 pounds) jumps in my lap and starts kissing me, whether I want her to or not.  She pokes at me with her wet nose and demands to be petted.  Midnyte lays at my feet or puts her head in my lap.  Even if I think I want to be left alone, they won’t.  And I can’t resist them.  Maybe whatever happened didn’t get better, but I feel a little better, and that’s what’s important.

Is your dog your best friend?  What have you learned from your dog?

Feel Good Friday

Hello, and happy Friday!

Google funds all teachers requests in LA. from donorschoose.org.

Veterans are being trained to be America’s next farmers.

Janitor uses breaks to play piano for hospital visitors.

6 year old explains the meaning of life.  Seriously.  She gets it.

Have a great day!

Truth.  Attitude is everything.

Truth. Attitude is everything.

Feel Good Friday

Sorry for the late post today.  I went and got my hair cut today!  Here’s your feel good moments for this week.

Football players suspended while coach requires them to show good character.

Really sweet story about the last surviving search dog from Ground Zero of 9/11.  It’s one of those stories that feels good but also hurts.

Girl Scouts save lives while hiking Pike’s Peak.

Chef from Detroit takes back empty lots and starts teaching people how to cook and grow food.  (Video)

Man-ups: Men posing as 50’s style pin-up girls.

Hope you enjoyed today’s dose of positive.  And remember, if you don’t want to focus just on the bad stuff in the world, don’t.  Sometimes you have to look for the good stuff, but I promise… it’s there.

It was cool in there, but like 98% humidity.  I was soaked! Innerspace, Texas Photo Credit: Doree Weller

It was cool in there, but like 98% humidity. I was soaked!
Innerspace, Texas
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I don’t like to sweat, unless I’m dressed properly.  In yoga pants or bike shorts and a T-shirt, I’m okay with it.  I do whatever I’m supposed to be doing, then I shower and change back to normal clothes.  In Arizona, you don’t sweat all that much.  What they say about it being a dry heat is true.  However, you get filthy from all the dust in the air, so even if you only sweat a little, you still need a shower.

Out here in Texas, you sweat, even if you don’t feel hot.  You sweat in your house.  You sweat walking to your car.  You sweat in your car.  You seriously sweat every-freaking-where.  I’m tired of sweating.  I know it’s my body’s cooling mechanism, and blah-blah-blah, but I still hate it.  But it’s funny… in Arizona, you have to drink gallons of water to stay hydrated.  You con’t feel like you’re sweating, but you are, and if you don’t drink excessive water, you get headaches and fatigued and stuff.  In Arizona, I would hike 7 miles, drink 128 ounces of water, and still not have to use the bathroom.  Here, if you drink 24 ounces of water, sweat 37 ounces, and then have to run for the bathroom.  How does that work?!  Seriously!

I know that it doesn’t sound awesome when you say that it’s 120 degrees “but it’s a dry heat.”  It doesn’t feel great either, when the sun is seriously burning your skin, and you feel like a vampire (only not the wussy-sparkling kind, the kind of vampire that gets worse than a sunburn), sticking to the shadows.  That’s how Arizona feels.  And if you do sweat, there’s so little moisture in the air, that it dries in a few minutes and you quickly forget about it.  In Texas, it’s definitely cooler overall, and I’m comfortable enough with the sun that I can eat garlic without fear again.

But seriously… enough with the sweating… okay?

Cedar Park, TX Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Cedar Park, TX
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Now, I’m not a nutritionist or an exercise-ologist.  I’m not thin, and I have high cholesterol.  (My doctor tested me; apparently I will always have high cholesterol, unless I eat carrot sticks and celery only for the rest of my days- true story.)  So you can take or leave what I have to say.  But several things occurred to me the other day, and I thought I’d share them.

I was out walking in the woods near my house, sweating like a pig and out of breath.  My legs were tired, and I didn’t want to walk one more step.  And I was having a great time.  In fact, I was figuring out where I could explore next, and assessing the concrete (yes, there’s a concrete path in the woods) for rollerblading potential.  As I walked, I realized two things.  1.  This is exercise.  2.  I’m having a good time.

I’m very pro-body acceptance.  At my thinnest, I’ve never been thin.  And I have skinny friends who can’t gain weight.  Our sizes say nothing about our character, and I’m tried of having weight be made to sound like something important.  So here are some of the lies that the fitness industry tells us.  In no way is this a comprehensive list.

1.  No pain, no gain.  Bear with me for a second.  Yes, exercise needs to be a little strenuous in order to work.  Yes, done well, you might have some sore muscles.  But for me, this always meant that if I wasn’t torturing myself, I wasn’t exercising.  I hate: running and weightlifting, going to the gym (inside!  ick!) and doing pushups.  If it’s exercise, I can almost guarantee I hate it.  But if it’s fun, I don’t mind moving my body.  For me, walking through the woods is fun!  Skating is fun!  Yoga is fun!  Kickboxing is fun!  Running is horrible torture, invented by skinny people for sadistic reality TV to watch me jiggle.  Which brings me to my second point.

2.  You have to work hard to call it exercise.  I kind of stopped skating for awhile because I read on some website that you only burn a lot of calories skating if you’re going full out.  If you’re just kind of cruising along, you’re not exercising.  While I love skating, I need exercise.  I want to take off a few pounds.  So I put my skates away and did nothing.  Effective, right?  Here’s the fundamental flaw with that whole “you’re not exercising” thing.  For anyone who isn’t good at skating, they’ll tell you that it’s hard to stay up, coordinate your feet.  They’ll tell you how much it hurts their leg muscles.  I never understood that, but now I do.  Even cruising along, you’re activating your core muscles.  And I’d rather skate than do sit-ups.  Something is always better than nothing.

3.  A cheeseburger is “better” for you than a salad because that salad has too much fat/ salt/ calories.  You know what I’m talking about, those websites that call out different restaurant foods.  They talk about how unhealthy certain salads can be for you, and that you shouldn’t eat that high calorie/ high fat/ high sodium dressing.  Yes, and we should all be eating organic foods and cook everything from scratch in a blissful, chemical additive free lifestyle.

See, I fell for that too.  I thought, “well then I might as well eat the cheeseburger.” (Back when I ate meat.)  And somehow, in my mind, that worked.  I tried to force myself to eat tasteless, low-fat dressing.  But then I didn’t want to eat salad and made excuses why I should eat something else.  Here’s the thing.  The salad is healthier.  It’s got fiber and vitamins and all that good stuff.  If I use unhealthy dressing, I can just use less because it tastes better.  None of us are perfect, and life is all about harm reduction.  Just do the best you can with eating.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  In a choice between the salad and the cheeseburger, I still think the salad is better for you.  Even if the veggies are drenched in bad for you stuff.  Where’s the redeeming part of the cheeseburger?  The tasteless tomato slice they put on top that almost everyone takes off anyway because its’ mushy?

4.  Certain exercises are better than others.  Yeah, this is true.  But you know what the best exercise is?  The one you’ll do consistently.  That’s the best one.  You can work up to something better later.  But if you’re doing nothing right now, a 5 minute walk is better than thinking about running 30 minutes and putting it off.  5 minutes every day is better than a half an hour once in a awhile.  I live in the real world.

5.  Exercise is something you have to do; no one enjoys it.  We’re talking about average people here, not people who have body smarts.  (I’m talking about the kind of intelligence where people are actually good at moving their body.)  Actually, if you don’t like exercise, you probably just haven’t tried the right one yet.  My husband loves bike riding, and I hate it.  I love to skate, and he thinks the only thing he should ride on 4 wheels is a car.  We both enjoy walking/ hiking.  He likes going to a gym; I think that going inside a building to exercise is crazy.  The only exception to that is DDR, which is the most fun I’ll ever have while sweating.  The point is that if you need to get more exercise, try a few things.  Don’t get stuck in the gym rut or think it has to be one particular type.  Google “exercise for people who hate exercise” or something like that and see what you come up with.  Remember, if you do something weird to get moving, the exercise police aren’t going to come get you.

6.  Weight is a good indicator of health.  Nope.  Disagree.  It’s a lie.  Here’s why I say that.  First off, I’ve been trying to lose weight forever.  I’m a whole foods vegetarian.  Which means that I eat my daily dose of veggies and grains and all that stuff.  And I’m still fat.  Why?  My doctor put it best:  “You come from German farming people.  Being able to keep weight on and be strong was an asset.”  Yep.  I just don’t lose weight like some people.  I could starve myself and exercise excessively, but why?  I have more stamina than my thinner friends (as evidenced by the fact that I can keep going longer when we go places).  I can walk for miles and my body does all the activity I want it to do.  I feel pretty good, sleep pretty well, and am happy overall.  So how am I not healthy?

Like I said, I’m just a person trying to get healthier myself.  I’m also a therapist, and something I’ve noticed is that mental health and physical health are tied together.  If you feel good mentally, it’s easier to get moving.  And if you feel good physically, it’s easier to feel good mentally.  So do yourself a favor; if you’ve been putting off positive change because it’s overwhelming, start teeny tiny.  Babies learn to roll over before they crawl, and they pull themselves up before they walk.  Apply that to your own stuff and remember that even if it seems really, really, really slow, a little progress is better than none.

Oh, and don’t forget that you should probably ask your doctor before starting any kind of exercise program.  Because, you know, I’m not a doctor.

Feel Good Friday

Take a moment to check out some of these news articles, and remember that there’s a lot of good in the world… we just need to be willing to look for it and recognize it.

Dog saves child from bees.

San Francisco law allows tax incentive for landowners to turn a vacant lot into an urban garden.

Mom talks about the value of a smile.

A young lady’s response to an embarrassing photo that went viral and the cyberbullies who tried to put her down.

And how it made her into a role model.

Puppy-brothers rescued from being bait dogs for dogfighting are adopted together.

1-legged breakdancer rocks the house.

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

I was recently watching a stand up comedy routine by Louis CK, and he went on a rant about all the amazing things around us.  He talked about how amazing cell phones are, and how we complain when texts don’t make it immediately or cell phone coverage is spotty, and how amazing it is that we have this at all.

I remember rotary phones.  I remember being tethered to the wall, and when I wanted to talk on the phone, not being able to go too far.  I remember how excited I was when we got an extra long cord so I could walk around while talking on the phone.  Then cordless phones!  How amazing were they?  I remember being excited because I could go pretty far from the base station.

I wonder who first thought it was a good idea to talk on a cell phone in a public restroom.  Technology is good, but there are definitely some issues with it.

I remember the days when I had to go somewhere to rent a movie, and then had to rewind it before taking it back.  And if I got it not rewound, then that further delayed my movie watching experience.  Nowadays, the worst thing that might happen is that Netflix would crash.

I remember wanting a book and not knowing where to get it.  The guy I was dating at the time went to Waldenbooks and they ordered it for me (which was very sweet).  Now, between Amazon and Ebay, I can pretty much find any book or CD I want.  And speaking of CDs, remember when an import was a big deal?  I remember feeling very worldly that I was able to acquire a copy of Moxy Fruvous Bargainville.

Technology is amazing, but I think it’s made us a bit lazy.  Everything is too easy.  And maybe that’s why I like records.  I can’t control them from my cell phone.  On a lazy Sunday, there’s nothing like having to get up to flip the record every 4-5 songs.  I love the crackle that records add to the White Album.

At dinner recently, a couple and their four children were ALL looking at their cell phones!  Why?  Remember when eating out used to be a thing?  At least a semi-big deal?  I used to have to wait minutes for dial up or for a page to load.  Now I can get my cell phone out and have it all pretty much instantly.

Don’t lose touch with how cool all this stuff is.  Appreciate it.  Enjoy it.  Otherwise… what’s the point of having it?

My former garden had some incredible veggies!  That's a 55 pound dog for reference!

My former garden had some incredible veggies! That’s a 55 pound dog for reference!

I’m not fond of cooking.  The problem is that I like eating, I like knowing what is in my food, and I like high quality food.  When you add all that up, it means that I get to cook.  I really didn’t want to have to cook all the time, and fervently wished to eat other people’s cooking.

In the weeks leading up to my move, cooking got less and less feasible, as I was trying to make sure everything got done.  Then we drove to Texas over the course of two days.  By the time we pulled into Texas on Monday, I was ready to get set up and start cooking again.  The only problem was that my new refrigerator wasn’t set to be delivered until Thursday.  But I could live with a couple more days, right?

Then we found out that our fridge is apparently special order, and won’t be here until Tuesday!  So I have all of Labor Day weekend without a fridge!  We’ve been using a small cooler to keep a few things on hand, like coffee creamer and yogurt so that I have some breakfast, but I want salad.  And maybe some fajitas.  Lentil loaf with baked potatoes and asparagus sounds awfully good too!

I’m sorry I said I didn’t want to cook anymore, really.  I’m sorry I wished to eat food others made, really.  I promise, I’ll keep my mouth shut in the future!

(Okay, no, I probably won’t.)

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Being the Harry Potter fan I am, I’m fond of Daniel Radcliffe.  Yes, I realize he’s not really a wizard, but it’s hard to separate them.

You never hear that much about him, mostly because he seems pretty grounded and avoided the child star curse.  He’s just a guy who does stuff.  I read a recent interview with him, and the following quote really stood out for me:

“It’s an interesting thing: The internet isn’t about having a good time — it’s about showing people you’re having a good time. When you go out to bars and clubs, nobody’s actually dancing or enjoying themselves; they’re all taking photos of themselves at the bar so that later on they can say, ‘I was there, wasn’t it great?’ It’s crazy.”- Daniel Radcliffe

I’ve noticed this phenomenon before.  Every time I go on Facebook, as a matter of fact, I wonder for maybe a second or so, “Why is everyone having more fun than me?”  And I think I finally realized, maybe they’re not.  Maybe I just don’t take pictures of all the fun stuff I do.  I don’t update Facebook with: “I just blew through 50 pages of Man’s Search for Meaning, woo hoo!” complete with photos and the ubiquitous selfie.

I read an article that said that people are having more trouble forming memories because of the rampant picture taking we do.  By looking at things through a lens, instead of better remembering them, we remove ourselves from them.  In my house, we’re in the habit of no cell phones at meal times.  I’ve been trying to see something awesome, like when I’m hiking, and resist the urge to whip out my camera phone.  The picture never looks quite the same anyway, so if I sit there and drink it up instead of photographing it, maybe I’ll enjoy it more.

I love pictures as much (or more than) the next guy, but I’m trying to be where I am.  I try to just do what I’m doing without giving into the urge to document every step I take.  It can be hard.  I love taking pictures, and I have a nifty camera with me at all times!

I don’t think that picture taking is a positive or a negative.  I just think that we should strive to do all things in moderation, and picture taking is definitely one of them.  I love digital cameras because I can snap as much as I want to, but there comes a point when it actually intrudes on the experience, instead of adding to it.

So where do you weigh in on the whole picture taking thing?

 

 

 

Here’s this week’s edition of Feel Good Friday.  Remember to focus on what you want to see in the world.  That’s not to say to ignore the negative stuff, but try not to focus on it.

People pay MORE for coffee on the honor system.

Acid rain effects are reversing.

You can’t change what happens to you, but you can change how you react to it.

Celebrity employs the homeless to make jewelry.

Florida cop helps man in wheelchair.

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way, and not starting.” -Gautama Buddha

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