Saying Goodbye to My Dog

I’m a firm believer in the idea that nothing good is free. There are different ways to pay for things: through hard work, time, perseverance, etc.

Perhaps the worst payment of all is grief. That’s the ultimate payment, and we can’t avoid it.

I recently had to euthanize my lab mix. She was fifteen years, seven months old. I know she was ancient. For her size, my dog was 107 years old! It’s mind-boggling, actually. But as old as she was, I wasn’t ready to let her go.

The cards were stacked against her from the time she was born. She was the runt of the litter, the last dog born to a malnourished mother. The sac didn’t pop, and had to be pierced manually by my husband. (She was the puppy of a friend’s dog.)

She couldn’t walk well at the end, and she always seemed to be in pain. She got excited about the ball for a minute or two, but she couldn’t really chase it anymore. She was eating, but not enough. She’d gone from a stocky 55 pounds to a skeletal 35 pounds.

And yet, until the end, she would follow me around the house. She’d go outside to do business, and she got excited about food.

Making the choice to end her pain was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long time. I firmly believe that she would have held on as long as I wanted her to, because dogs don’t understand selfishness. She would have stayed with me because she loved me, so I had to make the decision for her.

Even though I’ve had to do this a number of other times with cats (and another dog when I was much younger), I did my research, trying to find something on the internet that screamed THIS IS THE RIGHT DECISION. It never feels right, even when it does. We always want just a little more time.

Almost unanimously, most veterinarians agree that it’s better to do it a little early while the dog is still themselves than to do it too late when the pain has stolen everything from them.

I found this great scale that helped me, so I wanted to pass it on.

HHHHHMM Scale: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility, & More Good Days than Bad.

In the end, my girl wasn’t even having good days anymore. She was having good hours. Because we’d planned it, I got to make sure she did her favorite things. I took her to the creek, and though she could no longer swim, she waded. We got a brand new tube of tennis balls, and though she couldn’t chase them, she carried one around. She got a cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, and a milkshake from McDonald’s.

I’m going to carry those memories (and so many more) with me. Even though grief is a steep price to pay, it’s so worth it. The best things always are. And it doesn’t get any better than love.

Please Don’t Feed The Trolls

IMG_1899The internet can be a magical place, full of wonders and cat pictures.

It can also be a dark and terrifying place, full of smelly creatures like trolls.

My philosophy on life is “live and let live.” I’m not a fan of cyberbullying, and I do think people (especially adults) need to think before they post.

At the same time, I also believe that many people are far too sensitive, and need to go back to elementary school to relearn that rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Words only hurt because we give them the power to do so.

But I digress.

I was on Facebook, and someone shared a picture of this comedian who was imitating various fitness photos. One of them was a photo of a naked model hiding her breasts with two wine glasses. The comedian is a normal looking woman who made no effort with makeup or hair, hiding her breasts behind orange juice cartons. It was hilarious!

As I always do, I went to the comments. For me, comments are often the best part of anything on the internet. One man started commenting about how he didn’t think it was funny, and he found the model far more attractive than the comedian. The comment thread exploded.

At first, it was just people disagreeing with him. Then it devolved into people checking out his Facebook page and denigrating how he looked because he had some extra weight in the stomach. From there, people started cutting down his wife. And so on.

After many, many comments, someone finally said that everyone should stop responding to him because he was obviously just trolling. This guy thanked the person who said that and explained that he was in a sociology class, and his assignment was to go on a comment thread and disagree with what anyone else said until he was called out on it. He got extra points for making people emotional.

I’m fascinated by the idea that people get into so many arguments with random strangers, and that many of these people are obviously trolls. They are arguing to cause chaos. To see what will happen. Because they can.

I read most of the thread, and the man didn’t say anything horrible or personally attacking toward others. He’s entitled to his opinion that the pictures weren’t funny. A model in full makeup probably is more attractive than a comedian who wasn’t making an effort to be anything other than funny. His comments weren’t terrible. But people thought it was okay to attack him, and then his wife (who was at no time part of this thread) because he stated an opinion.

Personally, I’m of the opinion that we shouldn’t feed the trolls. If we ignore people who are obviously trying to incite reactions, it’s far more effective than engaging and attacking them. Whether you think what this guy did was awful or amusing, attacking back is never an effective strategy. Attacking someone else who isn’t even part of the conversation, in my mind, is far worse.

Often, when we attack someone else (whether as an action or a reaction), it’s coming from a place inside ourselves. Secure, happy people don’t feel the need to respond with invective. Philosophically, I prefer to respond to kindness. I’m not perfect, and I obviously don’t always do that, but it’s my preference. But if I can’t respond with kindness, I can not respond at all.

Sometimes we think that we’re going to convince someone when we respond in kind, but that almost never happens. People aren’t convinced by angry, emotional arguments. They’re convinced by action, and one action that has a huge effect on people is to respond to an insult with kindness.

Feeding trolls with anger makes them stronger. Kindness starves them. So does lack of attention. Please don’t feed the trolls.

What are your thoughts on all this?

Five Things Friday- May

Yes, I know it’s June, but just barely, so I’m calling this for May. 🙂 I haven’t done one of these since February!

One- What I’m Writing

I’m editing my YA horror novel, Not Dead Enough. I’ve recently gotten some good feedback on it that I’m incorporating.

Two- Random Fact About Me

Dodgeball is the only real (ie. not video game) sport I’ve excelled at. My strategy in dodgeball was to taunt the other players into throwing the ball at me, then someone athletic would attempt to catch it while I fell out of the way. I’m really good at taunting and falling.

Three- What I’m Grateful For This Month

I’m grateful for my peaceful home and my amazing animals. I’ve recently gotten a reminder that peace and quiet aren’t a given. Funny how it can take a reminder before we’re grateful, isn’t it?

Four- When I Wasn’t Reading

I was editing my book and helping a family member with a medical issue.

Five- Favorite Picture This Month

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Do Happy Endings Exist?

 

IMG_1486For the most part, I prefer books with happy endings. I’m not opposed to a sad ending, but it has to be the right one.

I recently had a friend say to me that they prefer “hopeful” endings, and that makes a lot of sense. What’s the point if we don’t have hope?

A while ago, I read A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. It is an amazing book, but it’s also horrifically sad. That’s not to say that it’s unrelentingly sad, but the ending is not a happy one.

It got me to thinking that where authors end the book makes the difference between a happy, hopeful ending, or a sad one.

A Little Life ebbs and flows with happiness and hope, where it seems like Jude will finally get the life he wanted, and devestatingly sad parts, the kind of sticky sad that stays with you and makes you question your own life.

If Yanagihara had ended the book during one of those upbeat, hopeful moments, it would be an entirely different book with a whole different meaning.

Books only tell the story of a slice of time. They don’t tell you what happens after, if the character suffered a tragedy. Romance novels often end with a marriage or proposal, but they don’t tell you if someone got cancer after they were married for a few years or if someone had an affair with an ex. Mystery novels end with the detective finding the criminal, but they don’t talk about the detective descending into alcoholism  or having a car accident which causes them never-ending back pain.

My point is that anything can happen when a story continues, and it won’t exclusively be happy or sad. Life is about the whole spectrum of emotional experience. My life is just a series of stories I tell myself (and others). Sometimes I don’t get to pick what happens in the story because sometimes life happens to me, but I get to pick the frame.

For example, I was recently supposed to go to a Taylor Swift concert in Arizona (I live in Texas). I didn’t get to go because I had a sick 17-year-old cat, and I was worried what would happen if I left. So I stayed, and my friends went to the concert without me. I looked at their pictures on Facebook and imagined what a great time I would have had with them. 😥

If the story ends there, it’s kind of a downer, right? But what if the end of the story has the sick cat making a full recovery? And knowing that my elderly cat is healthy today because I missed a concert? And that my husband agreed to go see Taylor Swift with me when she comes to Texas? Does it change the story?

I think it does. I like happy endings in fiction; I prefer them in real life too. Life has its ups and downs, just like fiction does. And just like in fiction, I can usually choose where to end that particular short story.

Related post: 10 Reasons I Love Happy Endings

Five Things Friday- February 2018

One- What I’m Writing

I’m still working on my YA horror novel, but I recently finished a few short stories and submitted them for anthologies. I also recently had a short story accepted into an anthology, so hopefully the publication date on that will be announced soon.

Two- Random Fact About Me

I talk to myself. Out loud sometimes. My dogs are fine with it.

Three- What I’m Grateful For This Month

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to settle back into routine. I love the holidays and all, but at the end of the day, I like it when my days are all pretty much the same. I’m grateful for my writing groups and their amazing feedback.

Four- When I Wasn’t Reading

I started skating again, which is wonderful! I’ve done a lot of work on my novel and editing short stories. I’ve been querying agents. And of course, I’ve been walking my crazy dog.

Five- Favorite Picture This Month

The Forces of Darkness really think the computer is for their benefit.

The PostSecret Live Show

I don’t even remember how I fell in love with PostSecret. I think someone mentioned it to me, and I checked it out. It’s not part of my routine to check the Sunday Secrets. I own all the books.

When I went to Virginia to visit my in-laws a few years ago, the only thing I wanted to do was go to the PostSecret exhibit at the Postal Museum.

I’m obsessed. I’m aware, and it’s okay.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, PostSecret was started by Frank Warren in 2005 as an art project. He gave out postcards and asked people to write a secret on them. His goal was to get 365 postcards. He got way more than that.

He started posting secrets he received on his blog. They update every Sunday (hence, Sunday secrets). I enjoy reading the secrets, and I keep a folder of my favorites to use as writing prompts.

I’ve never made it to a PostSecret Live show. I’ve always wanted to, but it seemed that every time one came to town, I already had a prior commitment, or I was going to be somewhere else.

I finally made it this past Tuesday.

When I got there, I realized that I hadn’t known what to expect. I didn’t have any expectations of it, but to me, that was part of the fun.

We were set up in a small theater in San Antonio. The show started with three actors speaking various “secrets” as if they were their own. Their voices broke with laughter or tears. It was powerful.

They flashed secrets on the screen. At the intermission, they encouraged people to tweet about PS #pssantonio, then they flashed tweets with the hashtag on the screen. In the ladies’ room, they had post-it notes and pens. Women wrote on the post-its and put them up on the mirror.

They also had postcards for people two write on, then after break, the actors read the secrets of people in the audience. Then more acting and secrets on screen.

As a finale, they had a Q&A with Frank Warren and with the actors. After that, a book signing where I got to meet the man behind it all.

Frank Warren never intended for PostSecret to become a national phenomena. But I think that it speaks to the fact that people want to make connections with one another. Our secrets isolate us, but they don’t have to. As Frank said, any secret anyone has is shared by someone else.

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I always love live events because the emotion in the room changes the event. In this case, I heard people laugh, gasp, or go hushed after various secrets were read. People cried, and no one cared because others were crying too.

This was a bucket list item for me, and I wasn’t disappointed.

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How to Become An Early Bird in 13 Easy Steps

Step 1: Pick a time to wake. Make sure it’s in the middle of winter, preferably early enough to wake up in the dark.

Step 2: Try to go to sleep early. Toss and turn for about a half hour before giving up and going to watch Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.

Step 3: When your alarm goes off, hit the snooze button. Then hit it again. And again. And… one more time.

Step 4: Get out of bed, mumbling how ridiculous it is to wake up in the middle of the freaking night. That it would be easier just not to go to sleep. Channel your inner Garfield and say repeatedly, “I’d like mornings better if they started later.”

Step 5: Look longingly at your coffee pot and cry a little, since you gave up caffeine a few months ago.

Step 6: Force yourself to get through the day, telling yourself that being exhausted will make it easier to sleep that night.

Step 7: Start to wake up around 8 p.m. By 10 p.m., be at peak creativity and wakefulness. Don’t bother to go to bed. Reason that if you keep forcing yourself awake early, you’ll eventually be ready to sleep early.

Step 8: Repeat steps 3-7 for several days.

Step 9: Be thrilled that you can sleep in on Saturday. Stay up until midnight or so on Friday night, gleeful in the feeling that things are back to normal, at least for two days.

Step 10: Wake at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday for NO REASON.

Step 11: Curse a lot. Ask questions like, “Brain, why do you hate me?”

Step 12: Convince yourself that you actually liked getting up early, that it’s good for you.

Step 13: Come Monday morning, repeat Steps 1- 9. Pretend you like it.