sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Posts tagged ‘new perspective’

Life with a dog… 11 months and counting

Our dog, Olive, came to live with us in late October of 2010.  She was our neighbor’s dog.  We met her as a cute little puppy and got to know her as we assisted our neighbors with dog sitting on occasion.   My daughter, the animal lover who has wanted a dog of her own, enjoyed helping take care of the dogs across the street.  She then had opportunities to take Olive for walks and got to bring her to our yard for visits.  My neighbor described that when Olive would hear Abby’s voice outside their house, she would get all excited and come running to the door.  Olive became my daughter’s best friend.

Then in early  2010, my daughter’s irrational fears, nighttime difficulties  and over hand washing grew into full-blown dysfunctional Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  It was a crazy time for the entire family.  Through the most difficult times, she begged for a dog, saying that a dog would “make it better”.  We realized that a dog would not really make it better but as we learned to cope and help her navigate this disruptive anxiety disorder, we considered the idea of a dog.  We did witness how our neighbor’s dog, coming over and at times into Abby’s room could take her from a state of rage to a more calm and rational place.

Then in October, we learned our neighbor’s were moving due to a job change.  They were looking for rental property and could not find any that would allow all 3 of their dogs.  They came to my husband and I quietly and asked if we wanted Olive.  We did not have much time to make a decision.  We choose to take her temporarily and they agreed and had others who could take her if it did not work out for us.   We told our children it was only temporary to give us time to figure out if this was going to work for us.

I have had cats since I have lived on my own and am clearly a “cat person”.  My husband grew up with dogs but dogs who lived outside.  We would have been happy to continue through life without a dog.  Cats are self maintaining.  They bathe themselves and use a liter box. They can even be left home alone for a few days with plenty of water, food and clean liter boxes.   We have always been able to find someone to check in on our cats when we have been away.

So just prior to Halloween, 2010, Olive came to live with us and a few days later we watched our neighbors drive off in their moving truck- off to live several states away.  Olive was on her best behavior when we first got her.  I vividly recall that first night as we ate dinner, she sat quietly at a distance from the table.   We had to fix our fence to be able to let her run in the back yard and I can recall standing outside with her on a leash in the dark before bed.   Sometimes, I was happy to be standing outside in the quiet of my yard at night.

Somehow, after Olive came into our home, her place with my daughter changed.   The first few nights, Olive slept in my daughter’s bedroom but then something changed.  I am not sure what, other than Abby’s OCD- the part of her brain that is not functioning as it should and giving her false messages of danger. Olive was no longer an escape from her anxieties and fears but now part of our family and part of her issues.   Because we took Olive in on such short notice, we had no expectations for our daughter as to her role in caring for Olive.  We hoped she would take to caring for Olive and it would become her activity, something she enjoyed.  Yet, as time passed, we saw that Abby’s irrational fears and anxieties and inability to touch things now included Olive, feeding Olive, taking her outside, and even petting Olive.

We made our first trip with Olive over Thanksgiving and even my non-dog mother declared her a great  dog and she was welcome at her home.  Olive is a great dog with a wonderful temperament.  She is an ideal dog for a family with a toddler.  She gets along great with our cat who I think despite her air of superiority, is happy to have an animal companion.  She gives that away when she hides from and then jumps out at Olive, running from her, knowing despite being much smaller, she the cat with claws, has the upper hand.

At times, I do grumble about having a dog because I feel that we have the dog for my daughter and yet she can not usually do the simple things like feed her and take her outside.  Things are much better than those first few months~for Abby and with Olive.  Abby has participated in Canine Good Citizen Class with Olive and my sister has been coming about once per month and spending time with Abby and Olive with dog training.  Olive is more comfortable and now begs at the table and follows us when we have food.  She also is attention seeking at times and has wiggled her way between Jason, the toddler, and another person to get affection.  She likes to sit in our lap even though she is about 37 pounds.

Olive has become our family dog.  Jason calls her “my dog” and enjoys giving her treats- often many treats- but this makes for a good relationship with the two of them.  She barks a lot when she is outside.  She didn’t bark at all the first week or so that we had her.  She rarely barks in the house.  She is a great dog.  Yet, I do ask the question, “Why is there a dog in my house?” at times because I am still a cat person.

We are going to take our first trip where Olive can not come and so we needed to find someone to watch Olive.  Before Olive came to live with us, and we contemplated getting a dog for our daughter, we figured our wonderful neighbors across the street could dog sit for us.  The ones who gave us Olive and moved several states away.

I found a homeschool family with a young daughter who loves animals so much she started her own pet sitting business.   We had met them  several months ago and so they came over to meet Olive and will be coming over to take care of her when we are gone.   It feels good to hire another young girl who loves animals like my daughter with a mom that I know and trust.  I am not sure how Olive will do with us gone as she is so used to us being here during the day.  It is rare that we are gone for more than maybe 4 fours at a time.  Olive’s previous owners, our former neighbors both worked full-time and so she has lived that life.  Yet, she has been with us for almost a year and has grown accustomed to us being around.  I know we will pick up all the toys in the living room.  She has chewed a few toys on days when we were gone for a long stretch of time but only one toy per incident and I would say less than 5 times total.

I have come to appreciate aspects of life with a dog.  The happy, tail-wagging greeting whenever we return home.  Her unconditional love and acceptance of us as we are.  She listens well and can be trained easily with treats.  She does come when you call her (unless she is in pursuit of a cat or rabbit) and tolerates bathes and nail clippings as well hair cuts in a calm manner.   She is happy to go off in a corner when given a good bone.  She has learned to get off the couch when people are sitting on it~ well, will move as told, we are working on this.  Our youngest, Jason, has learned to be gentle and loves Olive.  Our oldest has learned to tolerate a dog in his home and even has helped to care for her.  I think having pets is wonderful for children.  We had a dog when I was young, but my sister, like my daughter, loved the dog and took full care of our dog.  I was very sad when our dog ran away from home and we never found him.  We only had him for about 3 or 4 years.

Olive is really a part of our family now even though some aspect of me still resists this.  When my husband had a heart attack and was in the hospital for 12 days, it seamed that Olive sat at the top of the stairs, almost watching over us but also waiting for him to come home.  I think my husband has bonded more with Olive than I have.  That part of me that still resists having a dog has not fully accepted that she is with us permanently now.  When our neighbors were still trying to sell their house, across the street from us, there was this possibility that they would move back but once they sold the house and new people moved in, that door closed.   It has been about 6 months now since that time.

My husband’s heart attack happened just shortly after our new neighbors moved in.  So now, that we are getting back to “regular life” do I find myself reflecting once again on life with a dog.   I feel that I am only now beginning to step back and reflect on life with a dog.  I know I could re read this post and likely want to re write it or start over.  Writing the post has propelled me in to thinking about it from a different perspective.  This post reflects where I am now (or where I was as a wrote it).  In my commitment to writing on a regular basis, I will share it for all to see.  Know that even now, I see it with a new perspective and possibly an altered title.  It is what it is: life with a dog, 11 months now and counting.

Getting Unstuck: No more “trying to”

Recently,  I decided to let go of my story of loss.  I wrote out all of my losses over the past several years, all the big ones and decided I would let go of “my story” of loss.  What does that mean? I don’t know but what comes to mind is Debbie Ford.  And so I googled to jog my memory and found this wonderful interview with Debbie Ford.

I wrote all about the letting go of loss in another blog entitled, Letting Go of “My Story”…of loss.

Today, I would like to talk about the part of the interview that first caught my attention; getting unstuck in “trying”.

I was immediately drawn to read more of this part of the interview because I, too often, find myself saying that I am “trying” to do something.   I have had ideas and even visions of what I would like to do with my writing and yet, find myself frequently getting stuck.  Even though I was reading this interview to learn more about letting go of “my story”, I knew that what I was reading was extremely relevant.

At the above link, if you scroll to page 5, 3rd paragraph,   the interviewer, McGee,  speaks of something Ford once said, “Don’t say you’re ‘trying’. You’re either doing something or you’re not doing it.”  and asks her “How do we get unstuck in “trying”?”

Debbie Ford answers:  quoted from the text

I use the analogy in The Right Question of a car trip.  If you just say, “I want to have a better business,” that’s like saying, “I want to go to the South.”  Where in the South?

How much better do you want your business?  You need to get really specific, and yes, you may have to modify your course.  You need to start with a very, very strong vision, because then you can wake up every morning and say, “What do I need to do to get there?”

If you were going on a road trip, you wouldn’t look at your map once a week or once a month.  You’d look at it every day.  Say, “This is where I want to go.”  Then, ask yourself, “What can I do today to get there?”

That is where we’ve got to go with people.  Whether it’s a New Age retailer or an individual, we’ve got to inspire them to have clear and concise vision.  And know you can change your vision.  Maybe I say I’m going to New York, but all of a sudden I wind up in New Jersey and I love it. That’s  okay-you can change your vision. 

We need to be clear about it.  We have that picture, and we hold it in.  We have the intent to get there, and we’re taking those steps. We’re taking really good, strong steps.  I don’t think the universe can guide us.  I think our souls know. 

The above information  is taken from an article in the  New Age Retailer from Jan/ FEb 2007.  The author and editor in chief is Kathy McGee.

After reading that, I had the idea of creating a plan for my vision in the form of a map.  Instead of listing out goals and objectives in outline style, I need to create a map of my vision.  A map that I can write on and amend as my vision unfolds. Unlike, a travel map with clear highways to travel on your route, this map needs to be ongoing.  I can write out my vision with as many descriptions and specifics including financial aspects and then, I can either work backwards and add in possible things I need to do to get to the final destination.  Or, I can just start from today and list what I can do now to get to my destination.

My brain is busy with possibilities of how I can create this map.  I do need to let my right brain, my creative side, take the lead.  My left brain has already made the list, written goals, objectives and daily tasks, only to find myself not able to follow through in that format.  I think I need to keep this visual and start with a vision collage of what I would like my life to be like.  From that vision collage, I can then create my map.  I believe I need to plan to do just that and stop thinking about it, because then I am once again, “trying”.

So, I will make a vision collage.  This You Tube Video gives a good explanation on Vision Boards.    I also found this blog that describes the idea well, How to Make a Vision Board.  After I make my vision board, I will let you know where I went from there and how I am making my map.  Maybe you might be interested in doing the same or something similar.  I would love to hear about your vision collage, or road map to where you want to go.  Please share, for the benefit of all.

June 18, 6 weeks post MI, A message to my soul

This is my first moment to breathe in a long time.  I worked 20 to 25 hours outside the home for 10 weeks (Feb to May), about double the hours I had been working, and still homeschooling three kids, ages 13, 9 and 2. The week that the extra hours ended and I was relieved to cut back from working every Sat, Sun, Mon and  Tues to just some Saturdays, Sunday and a few hours on Tuesday, my husband had a massive heart attack.  It’s been just over 6 weeks from that day, May 4, 2011.

I used to go out about once a week by myself to a coffee-house (to drink tea) with my lap top and journal and write and work on my website and play games.  It was my alone time where I was only responsible for myself, a needed break and recharge for a homeschooling mother of three as well as a chance to reconnect with my soul and my passion, writing.

Over the past week, it has become more obvious to me that I am experiencing “burn out” or caregiver overload.  My husband, Don,  has been home for over 4 weeks and improving but only watching the kids in small increments of time and not at night yet.   He is still recovering and so I play the role of mother, homeschool mom, wife, caregiver of my husband, Occupational Therapist for my husband as well as still working a couple of hours at a time when I can as an OT at the Nursing Home where I have been working for a while.

Today, the youngest two kids and my husband went across the street where our neighbor has agreed to give our shaggy dog, Olive, a much-needed hair cut.  My oldest is still asleep or maybe just in his room, he’s 13.  The house is quiet.

The last time I got to enjoy a quiet house was when my husband was in the hospital and I would wake up around 3 am, because I couldn’t sleep more than 3 hours when he was in the hospital for 12 days, and I would come to my lap top in the kitchen and get a few things done and then write.   I have been missing that early morning time to myself.  The lack of sleep caught up with me and shortly after my husband came home from the hospital, I slept well and slept in. Now I am ready to live on less sleep again, not 3 hours, but wishing for alone time in my house.

I am not religious but a spiritual person and I get daily messages from Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversations with God series of books.  His messages are sometimes very fitting to my day.  They became very timely when my husband, Don, was in the hospital.

And a few days ago one of the messages was very loud:

June 17, I got this message:

On this day of your life, Gina, I believe God wants you to know…

…that your Inner Life is begging you for some attention. Can you not hear your soul calling to you?  Please do not ignore this call any longer. Please do  , “Yeah, yeah, tonight.” Or…”Okay, I get it.   I will meditate every morning…”Stop everything right this minute. If only for 90 seconds. And say hello to your soul. Reconnect. Touch in. And listen to what you are trying to tell yourself.

So I set my blackberry down but I didn’t have to pause for even a second and my soul screamed, “BLOG, BLOG BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!” at me.  I stayed quiet for a few minutes and tried to be in the silence.Writing has always been my form of meditation. When I journal, I find my own truth and things become more clear to me. Creating my blog recently, has been my way of finally sharing my journaling and my truth, something I have felt compelled to do for many years.  Despite 30 years of journaling, I only started my blog less than a year ago.
Yesterday, Neale sent a great message about choosing how we feel and I decided to choose to have a great day.  It worked for most of the day, but when you are in “burn out”, unless you stop and take time for yourself, no amount of choosing happiness in your day is going to prevent that burn out from seeping out into your life.  For me, in the form of yelling at my kids (loosing my peace and falling away from the parent I choose to be) and just feeling disappointed at the end of the day.  I had a sore neck yesterday and it lingered despite me exercising and stretching.  I was blaming it on my pillow and the fact that my two younger kids sleep with me and sometimes on top of me, reason enough to feel achy in the morning.  And today, the sore neck was still there.

This morning I decided to go out and take a walk by myself again (something I also used to do several times a week and have been trying to get back to) with my music.   I was checking Facebook on my blackberry, because I did that yesterday and had fun hosting a game of “Name that Tune” to my Facebook friends and I read this message from  Neale Donald Walsch on Facebook:

Your soul talks through your body, which gives you a here-and-now experience of your truth. If you want to know your truth on any subject, look to your feelings. Checking in with your body is the fastest way of doing this.

My first thought was, “My neck hurts, I wonder what my soul is trying to tell me.”  I kept walking, not giving it much more thought. When I got back from my walk, it occurred to me that the reason my neck hurts is most likely not my sleeping arrangement or my pillow, but the fact that I have been communicating with my friends and trying to connect with others via Facebook on my BlackBerry at night and in the early morning.  Let me paint a more clear picture: using my touch screen blackberry while laying on my back, my arms over my head to type and to read message.

I had symptoms of shoulder capsulitis  not too long ago, likely from the same situation, too much supine position BlackBerry typing.

So clearly, my soul’s message is this:

Find a way, no matter what I have to do, to have time on the computer, sitting upright with good posture and  good ergonomics and write, blog, journal. 

In other words: spend less time on my blackberry  and more really writing on the computer!

…Thank you body and soul for giving me that message. My mind has taken it in. Here I am.

Journaling because it is no longer an option

Perspective.  Having your 51 year old healthy husband have a sudden heart attack and go in to cardiac arrest in your living room with 3 kids, age 2, 9 and 13 standing by (and thank God, the medics who had gotten there before he arrested) is a life altering experience to say the least.

I have been filled with so much gratitude for his life since this experience. I know I need to write about it and there is no more time for”him hawing” about not having enough time.  The past is behind me, keep moving forward is my new mantra.  I will make time and find a way.

we survived that, we can survive anything (don’t take that too personally universe) but I now now my strength and things that were difficult for me, I can push forward cause I got through the 911 experience at home and waiting 2 plus hours in the hospital to know if he was alive… the rest is easy compared to that.

we are blessed and as I keep telling my husband, we can get through anything and we will more than survive but thrive and we don’t need to worry or stress about little things or even money or any of that worldly stuff…we are spiritual beings first, having a human experience.  I told Don, you survived the nearly fatal MI, it is not your time, you are going to be here for a while. We have soul work to do.

The best mother’s day gift ever.  My husband is alive and my kids are doing amazingly well despite all of this and I am so grateful and blessed!!!!!!!!!!