Embrace Challenges

On Motivational Mondays, I post something to set the tone for the week ahead.

Berry Springs Parks and Preserve, Texas Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Berry Springs Parks and Preserve, Texas
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I’ve loved this quote since the first time I saw it:

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”

-Bernice Johnson Reagon

If you come across a challenge this week, approach it from the point of view of what you can discover about yourself and how you can learn from it.

Feel Good Friday

Happy Friday!  I, for one, am very happy that today is Friday.  I’m looking very much forward to the weekend.

Gang members feed hungry kids.

Man leaves letters behind for his family to read after his death.

Printer creates 3-D memories for the blind.

Luggage drive for foster children makes moving a little easier. 

Sewage workers go beyond the call of duty to find a woman’s flushed ring.

Go enjoy something today.

Go enjoy something today.

10 Lessons on Friendship From Dogs

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?

L is for Loss

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Loss is part of life, one of the most difficult parts.  As humans, we resist change, yet grow bored when things stay too long the same.  I didn’t fully appreciate the lush green of Pennsylvania until I moved away.  It was only then that I realized the  green was bright and full of life, and everywhere.  When I first moved to Arizona, the brown and heat seemed so clean and so lovely in a stark, simple way.  I told this to a friend who’s lived here all his life, and he shrugged and said, “I don’t see it that way.  I just want to get away.” Loss reminds us of what we have, strangely enough.  In the days, weeks, and months after my grandfather died, I kept wishing I had called him more often.  Neither of us were particularly chatty, so it probably would have puzzled him if I had called for no reason… but I still wish I had. During the brief time I worked in Hospice, I met a lot of people, and no one ever regretted the things they did so much as they regretted what they didn’t do.  We all get busy with life and assume there’s going to be more time.  More time to do, to love, to laugh, to cry, to see, to know. The fact is: there’s only today.  So enjoy it.  Wring every drop you can from it.  And if tomorrow comes, do it all over again.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” -Norman Cousins

Pay Attention!

“You can’t control the length of your life, but you can control its width and depth. You can’t control the contour of your face, but you can control its expression. You can’t control the weather, but you can control the atmosphere of your mind. Why worry about things you can’t control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?” -Author Unknown

DSCN4305Someone brought this quote to me today, and it was absolutely perfect for what’s been going on with me.  I’ve been feeling a little out of control, a little overstressed, a little overwhelmed, and inadequate to dealing with it.  Sometimes life gets overwhelming and I feel like I don’t know how to manage it.

I firmly believe that the Universe tells me what I need to know, if I’m willing to listen, and this was no exception.  Out of the blue, this was given to me, and I’m reminded that the more I pay attention to the chaos, the more I feel out of control.  The more I center myself and remember what’s important, the more I feel as if things have meaning.

The fact is that I can’t control anything outside of myself, and anxiety comes from worrying about stuff I can’t control.  So I can waste my precious energy, or I can spend it on the things that matter.  Put that way, it’s not much of a choice, is it?

So, Universe, message received.  I feel better, calmer, and ready to go forward in the world again.

Endings and Beginnings

Dead Horse Ranch State Park: Photo Credit Doree Weller

Dead Horse Ranch State Park: Photo Credit Doree Weller


“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.”  ~Harold Wilson

I’ve worked in Mobile Crisis for 3 years, and it’s time to move on.

That may not seem like a long time to most people, but this is a job where it’s not uncommon for people to do a ride along, or work one shift, and then never come back.  It’s clearly not for everyone, but it’s in my blood, and I love it.

I’m sad to move on.  The hours are awful.  I go into all sorts of homes, with bedbugs (and other bugs).  I stand outside in the intense heat, and sometimes the cold.  I also meet wonderful people.  People who are struggling, and they call because they don’t know what else to do.  I’ve met vets.  Mothers and fathers.  Children, teachers, doctors, lawyers.  I’m going to miss it.

I’ve been talking about moving on since the day I started.  You see, I’m a Licensed Associate Counselor, and in order to get my Professional Licensure, I need to have a certain type of supervision and a certain type of counseling experience.  Although we meet everyone with every type of issue in crisis, we don’t do intake assessments or treatment plans.  I can’t get my Professional Licensure if I stay.

I could stay at crisis.  It would be easy.  I love it there.  I love the people I work with, and especially the TV Guy.  I could see myself staying on at this job forever, but that would mean leaving my long term goals behind.  I didn’t want to wake up one day 20 years from now and wonder what happened.  I didn’t want to stay past when I was happy there.  Why wait until I wasn’t enjoying it anymore?

I think this sums up my feelings:

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”  ~Anatole France

I have to buy new clothes.  Grown-up clothes, I’m calling them.  At crisis, we wore jeans or shorts and our uniform polo shirts.  At my new position, I’ll be wearing business casual.  I tried on dress pants, and I swear, they felt like pajamas.  Everything is going to be different.  Different clothes, different co-workers, different commute (shorter!), way different hours.

I don’t like change.  Change is hard.  But, I want the end result, so that means I have to do the work to get from point A to B.  So, I can choose to complain about it, or I can move forward, determined to enjoy the next leg of my journey.  No matter what, it’s a wild ride!

Q is for Quotes

photoI love quotes, and have printed quotes hanging all over my office.  I collect quotes in documents, put them on my Facebook page, and occasionally will bring them out in conversation.  Quotes feel to me like mini-poetry, thought provoking and beautiful.

“Words — so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” -John Barrymore

“Get busy living or get busy dying.” -Stephen King

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” -Anais Nin

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo Buscaglia

“Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.” -Winston Churchill

“There’s something liberating about not pretending. Dare to embarrass yourself. Risk.” -Drew Barrymore

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.” -Bill Cosby

“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.” -Francis Bacon

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration.  The rest of us just get up and go to work.”  I’ve seen this credited to Stephen King and to Chuck Close.  I’m not sure who said it, but I love it.

If you have any favorites, I’d love to hear them.  A great place to find quotes for any occasion is Brainy Quotes.  Everyday can be a great day.  Just start with a positive attitude and move on from there.

Sore Loser

DSCN2922Once upon a time, I was a pretty sore loser.  I’m generally pretty good at games and I’m used to winning.  There was a time when, if I lost, I got cranky about it and generally pouted.  I finally realized how stupid I was being one day when I realized I couldn’t remember who had won last time we played.

Now, I’m not one of those people who believe winning doesn’t matter and that everyone should get a trophy just for showing up.  Nope.  When you do well, you win, and when you do poorly, you’ve lost.  Kids need to learn the difference between winning and losing.  They need to learn to be good sports when they lose, and if they don’t like it, they can practice more!

Winning both matters and doesn’t matter.  The fact is that we can’t all be winners every time.  We need to know what we’re good at, and what we aren’t.  And if we enjoy something we suck at, that’s okay, but we shouldn’t get trophies just for showing up.  I can’t sing.  It’s a well-known fact.  If I ever went on American Idol, I can guarantee I’d be booed off.  And I should be.  Why?  Because I can’t sing!  I can, however, remember jingles and song lyrics for everything I’ve ever heard.  I like singing.  Alone, in my car.

Last night, we played this great game, bezzerwizzer.  It’s a trivia and strategy game.  My brother in law, who is very competitive with me, switched my tiles so I got a geography tile.  I tried to answer geography questions for maybe 10 turns.  I lost the game, but we all laughed at my inability to remember any kind of world geography.  We also played Shrek Super Party, and during that game, he sabotaged me whenever I was involved in a duel against someone else.

For a brief moment, I thought about getting upset with the sabotage and the fact that I was losing.  Badly.  Then I checked myself and remembered… It’s just a game.  We’re all laughing and having fun.  So I relaxed and went with it.  Later, I got my revenge during Life.  Game Karma bit my brother in law in the you-know-what.  He couldn’t land on any positive space and ended the game with $1000.  And you know what?  I laughed just as hard at him as I did at myself.  Who needs a trophy?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

I *try* not to complain.  Some people take the attitude that things can always be worse, and I suppose that’s usually true.  But that’s not why I try not to complain.  For me, it’s more about this: I only have one life to live.  It’s mine.  I can’t control everything in it, nor would I want to.  I actually try to embrace the chaos.  But the fact is that whatever hand I’ve been dealt, it’s mine, and it’s no use to complain about the cards.  Sometimes it feels good for a minute, but it doesn’t change the cards and just delays the inevitable… whatever play I end up making with them.

I really believe that attitude is everything and that most of us make our own luck.  I try to send positive out into the universe, and hope that I’ll get mostly positive in return.  We all have personal tragedies… unfortunately none of us can get through life without them.  People die… loved ones get sick… we ourselves get sick… there’s loss and pain… And none of us can escape those things.  So why not be happy/ grateful/ content with what I have today, knowing that tomorrow it could be different?

I remember with love the ones I’ve lost… my friend John… Jamie… my grandmothers… my grandfathers… my mother and father in law… my grandparents in law… pets…  I miss them, and am even more grateful for those I still have.  Yes, I get mad at those I love.  I’m only human.  But I try to remember what they bring to my life (other than aggravation).  Love, laughter, friendship, a shoulder to cry on.

I know this is a photo challenge, but I felt thoughtful and wanted to share.  So… in pictures…

Family and friends…

Discovering exercise I actually love… hiking!

Quiet time…


Good health…

5 Reasons Why Life Should Be More Like Reading

1.  You can put it down anytime you want to and pick it up again when you’re ready.  Ever wish you could just stop a moment in time?  If life were more like reading, you could stop it and give yourself a moment to mull it over, think about it, and then start again.

2.  You can skip to the end if you really want to.  I’ve never done this, though in certain cases it was hard!  But I know that the ending is there if I want to read it first.

3.  You pretty much always know what you’re getting into.  Pick up a romance novel, and it will have a happily ever after ending.  Pick up a murder mystery, and the hero will find the bad guy.  Problems are usually solved, and if they’re not solved in Book 1, there will probably be a sequel.

4.  If you get bored with a novel, you can just put it down and pick up another one.  Where in real life can you just quit if you’re bored?  I’m too fond of paychecks and such to do that.

5.  It never costs more than $20 to go anywhere in the world.  For a small price (less if I get it from the library), I can travel anywhere, see anything, meet anyone.  There’s no danger and I don’t’ have to get any special shots before I travel.  It doesn’t get any better than that!