Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Why Fly When You Can Drive

This is going to be a quick post before I clock back in today. I am a little out of sorts since I was on vacation last week. I know I'm always saying this but it's true that my life is like hanging onto the end of a runaway train.

Last week, we left early on a Saturday morning for a long road trip to Yuma, Arizona. "Why Fly When You Can Drive" is our motto. It's only 1,209 miles one way. Two hard days of driving each way. We've done the trip so many times it really doesn't feel that long to us.

Dirty or stained? You be the judge.
The bed photos here are of the nightmare motel we stayed in Saturday (White Pines in Ely, Nevada) after driving 12 hours. Of the two, we decided to take the burned hole bed. I slept in my clothes and it wasn't great sleep. I ripped them on Trip Advisor. Problem is that there isn't any service out in the middle of Nevada so I wasn't able to check the ratings prior to stopping. Lesson learned.

That's a burn hole.
All in all, the trip was really pleasant and it was good to be on the road with the hubby. He's lost a lot steam this last year and I did a lot of the driving. I don't mind it though. It's pretty much a straight shot south from Boise to Yuma. Driving through Vegas is never fun. I like to just say I survived driving through that city.

The one thing I know for certain is that sometimes it takes a 2,400 round-trip drive to think about things that I don't seem to find time to deal with on a normal day.  Things as in you-can-read-about-it-in-my-diary-when-I'm-dead kind of things.

Do you love a good road trip?  love, susan

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Just One More

In a couple of days, it will be one year since the mother of my hubby's girls died. She left us on Mother's Day. For me, it was one of those experiences that I won't forget. Bittersweet. Heavy on the bitter. Sweet on the sweet. I think of her often and after writing to my stepdaughter this morning, I feel the need to write here.
Regrets are a funny thing. It sometimes takes me a while to figure out what my regrets are. Today I am regretting I didn't get know her just a little better. I knew a few things about her. She loved everything Elvis. She loved her cats. She loved politics. She loved to needle my hubs when we'd get together for family holidays. He was always a good sport about it but it was slightly uncomfortable for me. The things that drove her crazy about him are the same things that drive me crazy. I  can't help but laugh about that.
The sweet was that the Christmas before she died, I had gone out to the car with her to bring something into the house and we had a chance to have a few minutes alone. She asked me to watch over her family and I promised I would. She was the kind of woman I strive to be. The sweet came in her last 24 hours on earth when I was able to be there to help wash her body before she would slip into the arms of death. It had been a very hard week getting to death. Her last day was the very worst, not what we expected. The sweet came when I saw people show up to honor her life the following weekend. We laughed, we cried, we hugged. She would have loved that.
Just one more hug. Just one more time to hear her infectious laugh. That's what I'd wish for. I think of her often and hope she knew how much she was loved.
Today I will try to hug a little longer. Listen a little better. Slow down just a titch. That regret that I didn't know her better? I'll try a little harder with those around me. It's all I can do.
love, susan

Monday, May 7, 2018

Susan, the Volcano: A Life List

Weather This Week I like the numbers: 83, 87, 77, 72, 73, and 81 on Saturday. Yeah, man! My Favorite Moment(s) Last Week Last week seems so long ago. That happens when I have a great weekend. I received a text from a friend early Saturday who needed a photographer to take pics of her son and his girlfriend before prom. I said yes, and we had a ball. There's nothing easier than taking photos of beautiful people. The hubs and I went to a horse clinic (training) yesterday at a friend's place out in the country. It was a lot of fun and I got some fantastic (IMHO) shots. I also removed many items from various closets and 86'd them forever. I can see the floor of my closet for the first time in 10 years. Never again will I allow crap to creep in. I'm done with living that way. I hate clutter. What's Right in the World I woke up not so angry today. I've been in a funk all week, which was not sitting right with me. Morning pages (journaling) today nailed it. I'm not willing to stay in the battle of wills any longer. What that means is I have a right to live in a space that doesn't make me feel insane. What I'm Resisting Food struggles seeped in a bit with that taco crawl last week and week before. Not horrible but I am back on the horse again and feeling good about it. I have an annual physical tomorrow and looking forward to getting my blood work done. What I'm Thinking Road trip soon. We haven't been on one in a very long time and I am so ready to do it. This week I have the added bonus of driving 4 hours to the west side for training on Wednesday and over night. Thursday is going to be a long day. I'm up to it though. What the Future Holds Time will tell. If This is My Last Day on Earth I hope my last words are not bitter ones. I've been angry for the last week and I never feel proud of myself when I succumb to it. I am a self-described volcano and I blew last week. Letting off a little steam shouldn't hurt so much. Forgive me if you were in my path.
love, susan

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Moments of Clarity: That Moment in Nashville and Many Others

That moment in Nashville I talked about in my bullet points yesterday ... yeah about that. I have had a few moments of clarity in my life and Nashville was one of them. My friend and I were laying around after a day of playing tourist, just talking and catching up with each other. I don't know what led to me saying it out loud but I told her I was tired of carrying around this extra bag of groceries in my gut. I was so uncomfortable all the time. I tried concealing my weight gain over the years by always wearing layered clothing, as if that could hide it. Ugh. Anyone who has extra weight knows what I'm talking about. It was hard to admit. She listened. She didn't tell me what I needed to do. She told me what she did to shed some pounds. She shared her experience.
I've had many other moments of clarity. Sometimes I chose to ignore them. Like the time I married someone, ignoring the nagging voice in my mind that it was the hugest mistake I was about to ever make. Yes, I did that. Or, the time I agreed to be the designated driver and ended up drinking and driving my friends home. So dumb. Oh, here's a good one. Once when I was a teen, I stuck my finger in the beaters of a hand mixer because I wanted to know what would happen. My mom was horrified and I was immediately sorry I had done it because I wasn't sure how to get my finger out of the beater. I can here her voice saying, Sue, what were you thinking?, to which I replied, "I just wanted to know what would happen." I have the slightest scar on my finger from that decision  all these years later to remind me to not be so impulsive. Luckily, I escaped those bad decisions. The clarity of the moments remain.
I haven't stuck my hand in a beater since then. Bad decisions have still been made. I have a mind that never shuts off. I've learned to stop making snap decisions. I sleep on good ideas for a long time these days. I don't share a lot of my ideas with others because I don't necessarily want to hear their opinion. I hold out for hearing experience. Your experience matters to me.
Tomorrow perhaps I'll write about some good decisions I've made.
Have you had moments of clarity? Tell me about them!
love, susan

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

One Year: I Am Free

I only have 10 minutes to write this post before I have to get in the shower so I'm going to make a bullet point post. Today is my one year anniversary of making a decision to change my eating plan. I wrote some notes about this journey that I'll leave here to maybe explore in further posts.
  • That moment in Nashville when I admitted to my friend that I was miserable in my own skin
  • Bought the book "Bright Line Eating" by Susan Pierce Thompson, PhD.
  • Read the book
  • Made a decision to try this program for 30 days
  • Cleaned out my fridge and cupboards
  • Bought fresh food to make a clean start
  • Started my journey on May 1, 2017
  • In July I saw the movie "What the Health" and decided to go plant based
  • Learned that food is fuel, not entertainment, not a drug
  • Sugar craving disappeared after the first 48 hours
  • Journaled every day including my food plan for the day, made my bed, read something uplifting
  • Didn't freak out, learned that I won't starve to death
  • Have replaced cow's milk with almond milk and canned coconut milk for coffee
  • Tried new things like tofu in my pho (Thai noodle soup)
  • Eat two apples every day
  • Plan ahead when I travel
  • Doctor took "obese" off my medical chart
I'm down 30 lbs. and struggling to get the last 15 off. I've decided to read the book again and make a new 30 day commitment to follow the bright lines that I know works for me.
I am free from the constant craving for sugar. I never thought it would happen. During one episode of a relapse, I had one little old chocolate covered cherry at a potluck we attended which led to eight more going in my pie hole. Screw that. It was a hard lesson to relearn something I already know. I cannot successfully eat sugar in any form without it flipping on a switch in my brain.
May 1, 2018 is going to be a good day!
love, susan

Monday, April 30, 2018

Tomorrow is Not Promised: A Life List

The Weather: This week the numbers are 69, 72, 78, 84, and 82. Nice.
My favorite moments from last week: I had a great time doing the taco crawl over in Pasco, Washington. For a $20 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters, we got a coupon book that is good for one taco at 20 locations. To date, we've visited 8 places and had some great versions of the taco. I'm not sure we'll make it to all 20 locations but we're going to give it a good try. The best part was spending time with friends. A friend from the west side visited, and I got to watch another friend get a tattoo. What's Right in the World: I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning so I'm going to take a pass on this prompt today. I'll figure it out soon. What I'm Resisting: I am resisting an all-out meltdown. I think I'm overly tired and haven't been sleeping well. If I can just let this pass without hurting anyone's feelings, it will be a good thing. What I'm Thinking: It was more than crispy cold out this morning when I tried to walk the dog. I made it a block before I called uncle and turn around. Argggh. What's on My Camera: The goslings have hatched and are out and about now. It was a great weekend for photos with the storm that passed through. Better weather is coming. What the Future Holds: I have photo shoot tomorrow night with a puppy that looks to be a part blue heeler and maybe Jack Russell. A party with fur! Tacos maybe tonight and Wednesday night with friends. If Today is My Last Day on Earth: I don't want my last words to be angry ones. I'll get this mood under control before too long. Tomorrow is not promised so I remind myself to make this one the best day ever. I think I'll go hug the hubs a little longer today.  love, susan


Friday, April 27, 2018

Five Bullet Friday

  • We hit 6 different taco places in the Pasco Taco Crawl
  • The sun finally arrived
  • I walked my dogs every day this week
  • I bought bark dust to lay down
  • Planning of the next adventure began
  • BONUS BULLET: I got some photos taken


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Guest Post by Guilie Castillo - Author of It’s About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers


Thank you so much, Susan, for hosting me for the ‘Dog Book’ Blog Tour! I’m thrilled to get the chance to interact a bit with your crowd of dog-loving lovelies. 
I know you have three gorgeous rescue dogs yourself, and I’m guessing some of your readers probably do, too. Anyone who’s ever adopted a rescue dog knows the joy they bring. The countless blessings. You also know, though, how hard it is. You have to work at it, not for a week or a month but for years. Your life will never be the same, for better or for worse. (Better, mostly, especially if you weren’t all that attached to the coffee table that got chewed up.) Most of us, at least that first time, jump into it with little to no idea of what’s about to happen. Some get lucky and either seek or stumble upon someone willing to give us guidance, and somehow end up making a success of it.  Others, however, aren’t so fortunate. This post is for them.
If you’re involved with rescue, you’ve seen it happen much too often: a family comes in, adopts a dog, and a few days later brings him/her back. “It’s not working,” they say. “He destroyed the entire yard.” Or “She keeps escaping.” Or “He attacked my mother-in-law!” Or “She growls at me!” Reasons vary, but they all boil down to a single, simple concept: the adopters didn’t know what to expect. 
Some of the blame lies with us, the rescuers (or fosters, or shelter personnel). We admit it. We spend a lot of time assessing the family and the home, but not nearly enough actually talking to the potential adopters about what they can do to avoid setting themselves—and the dog—up for failure.

Know Thy Rescue. A rescue dog isn’t like any other dog. They come with a history, one which exerts immeasurable force on the dog’s behavior. For most, the bond of trust with humans has been broken, and will need to be repaired. You have no way of knowing what this dog has been through, what they’ve survived, what these experiences have taught them; but you can get a rough assessment from the shelter personnel. Ask them about the dog’s backstory:
where s/he came from, the circumstances of the rescue. How does the dog behave around his/her caretakers? Have they noticed any fears or triggers? Is the dog okay with children, loud noises, other dogs? 

Know Thyself. Ask yourself—and take your time answering this, please: what can you—and can’t you—handle? How much time are you willing to put into this? Because, you see, when you adopt a rescue, you’re not just giving him/her a home; you’re becoming an intrinsic part of their recovery. You’ll need saintly amounts of patience. You’ll need creativity, and an eye for detail. Flexibility and humility, in mammoth doses. You’ll also need to reshape your life, if not permanently, at least for the first year after you adopt. No long holidays away from home. Less visitors. 
Adopt within your means. All adoptions require some level of adjustment, but there’s leeway. If you can’t handle big changes in your life, make sure you adopt a dog with few issues. If you fall in love with a furry bundle of trauma and damaged psyche, make sure you understand what the dog’s recovery will require of you. And be prepared to give it.

Bring a Trainer, Too. Or, rather, a behaviorist. You’re not really interested in getting your new Fido to Sit or Lie Down—not at this point, anyway; what you do want is a professional assessment of behavior and character. You want to know what he is and isn’t afraid of, whether he Fights or Flees or Ignores, whether he’s resource-protective or fearful-aggressive or submissive or a bit of a bully. In short, you want the low-down on the challenges you’re signing up for. And you’ll be amazed at the depth of insight a professional eye garners in twenty minutes with a dog.

Keep the Trainer Around. In this new life you’re embarking on, training is going to take up a big chunk. Yes, behavior modification (re-conditioning, expanding thresholds, desensitizing, etc.) will be part of it, especially if you’ve adopted a dog with… issues. But that’s not all training is good for. No, it’s not about Sit or Lie Down, either. Training, young grasshopper, is about communication. Whether you’re teaching a Sit or an agility course or desensitizing against the garbage truck, what you’re really doing is establishing a common language. You’re teaching your dog what your approval looks like—
and you’re teaching yourself to watch for cues to his/her thoughts. There is no stronger, more binding way to build trust than through the bond established by effective, two-way communication.

No Rushing. Your new dog has probably had little positive experiences with new things, so it’s to be expected that they produce anxiety. You are a new thing. Your home, your family, the car, the street, the dog park, the bed you chose so carefully at the pet store, the toys you’ve been stockpiling for weeks—all new things. All anxiety-producing. And this anxiety isn’t going to die down in a day or two (it takes a rehomed dog around six months to settle in properly). So: keep the new stuff to a minimum. Establish a routine (make it a simple one, as much as you can) and stick to it. Let the dog set the pace. Let him/her decide what s/he’s comfortable with, and avoid forcing him/her into activities or situations s/he seems reluctant towards. Here is where those saintly amounts of patience come in (and the advice of a professional trainer).

Embrace the Fear. Rescue dogs often have irrational (to us) fears: to men with baseball caps, for instance, or to squeaking noises (so much for those twelve squeaky toys you bought), or to… anything, really. One of my dogs (Sam, the same one who generously agreed to grace the cover of It’s About the Dog) is terrified of a 5-inch-high ceramic cow that sits on a shelf in the living room. Terrified. Why? Your guess is as good as mine (and mine is clueless). Could I ‘train’ this fear away? Maybe. But here’s the thing: I’m fairly certain it’s not the cow itself that he’s afraid of. It’s something that the cow represents to him. Maybe it’s the horns. Maybe it’s the colors. (It’s kind of gaudy.) So although desensitizing him to the ceramic thing might work, it probably won’t take care of the core fear: if we were to get, say, a ceramic goat (or colorful horse, or horned toad, or what have you), he’d probably be terrified of that, too. My point is that some fears just can’t be made to vanish as neatly as we’d like. Some fears we just have to accept are not going away. 
The lesson for me here is one of acceptance. We live in a world where perfection has more value than genuineness, where we look not for how things are but for how we think they should be. Loving a dog—or eight, in my case—has the power to guide us back to the genuine, to underline that not everything needs to be perfect to be valuable, or valued, that in fact it’s the imperfections that light the spark of love.

Do you have anything to add to this Checklist for Prospective Rescue Dog Adopters? I’d love to hear your feedback, your suggestions, and your own experience with rescue dogs. Thanks again for having me over, Susan! It’s been an honor and a pleasure, and I look forward to chatting with you all in the comments.

Guilie Castillo, Mexican expat, writer, and dog rescuer, is the author of It’s About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers (Everytime Press, April 2018), a hands-on, less-tears-more-action, 100% practical introduction to dog rescue. During April and May, The Dog Book Blog Tour will be making the rounds of dog-loving sites on the blogosphere to talk dogs and rescue—and to give away THREE signed copies! Every time you comment on a tour posts your name will be put in a hat. On May 20th, the first-month anniversary of the book’s release, we’ll draw three names from the hat and announce the winners at the tour’s closing post the next day. (More about both tour and giveaway here.) Come join us!

You can learn more about the book and publisher here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

My Wednesday Hodgepodge

I've been reading a lot of other blogs this month because it is the A to Z Blog Challenge and I am participating by being a reader. So many blogs, so little time.  One blog I have been following for a year or two is called A Joyful Chaos. She writes a Wednesday Hodgepodge and so I'm giving her credit for the prompts here.

Three Things on Your Spring Bucket List
  • Clean up the herb garden
  • Keep boxing up items to take to goodwill
  • Go photo walking with my buddy
Where do you find rest? What restores your soul? When was the last time you did whatever it was you answered here?
  • Road trips
  • Time spent with friends
  • Last weekend
Read Beauty in the Mess for eight things to do before 8am to make your day less hectic. How many of these are you currently doing? Which one do you think would help you the most if you added it to your morning regime?
  • Start one load of laundry, drink water, empty the dish rack, read something spiritual, plan your meals for the day, get dressed, brain dump (journal), make a to-do list
Describe the view from your window: It is dark o'thirty.
Insert a random thought here:  I can't believe it's Wednesday already. I'm starting a house/dog sitting job today and will get some down time to read  watch non-stop Netflix. I've been reading a lot of new blogs this month and added the blog mentioned above (Beauty in the Mess) to my roll. I love reading other people's ideas, don't you? 
Next week, I will have a guest post from a blogger I've been following for a couple of years now. She recently published an A to Z book about dog rescue that is coming out this month. I'm excited to introduce her and help promote dog rescue. Stay tuned!
love, susan

Monday, April 16, 2018

New Day: A Life List

 Hello Monday. I love the weather temps this week: 57, 61, 59, 65, and 70 by Friday and all with a bit of sunshine in the forecast. I'm more than ready for that.
My Favorite Moments from Last Week Work was a roller coaster ride. But Friday we took off for the beach and the week's worries disappeared fairly fast. Spending time with our grandkids was priceless. They each brought a friend with them to the beach house we rented. Despite the times we all had our faces in our phones, we played games, took a long walk on the beach, danced, and told stories. The hubs and I felt honored that they still care enough to spend time with us. They are the nicest people! Beyond that, I woke up Saturday morning and watched rain melt down the window in our rented bedroom. Looking out and being mesmerized by the rain, I drifted back to my childhood days of living in southeast Alaska, where it rains a lot. I don't know exactly what day I started hating rain but being transported back in time reminded me that I didn't always hate it. Rainy days are for sleeping in and reading a book. One time when the hubby and I had a motorhome, we spent a weekend at the Oregon coast and I stayed in my jammies all day and read an entire book. I long for some days when I can read like that. **big sigh**
What's Right in the World We didn't turn on the news the entire weekend. I know things were brewing in Syria on Thursday but I am unaware of what has transpired since then. What's right in my world is that I am grateful for a whole lot. I often think about people around the world and how different my life would be if I had been born somewhere else. What I'm Resisting I really fell off the wagon with sugar over the weekend and must get back on track today. What I'm Thinking I am going to be house/dog sitting for my good friend for 6 days starting on Wednesday. I am very excited about having some down time in front of Netflix. Maybe I'll even read a whole book while I'm there. I'll be walking her two dogs a couple of times a day so my Fitbit numbers should give me the win in my weekly WorkWeek Hustle with my son and daughter-in-law. What the Future Holds Dinner with friends tonight. If This Is My Last Day, Here is My Final Thought Don't miss a chance to tell people how much you love them. Hug them just a little longer, will you? Don't take time for granted. We're not promised tomorrow.  love, susan

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Constantly: Deep Thoughts and Promises

I was with friends the other night and the topic of being busy and finding balance came up. This is on my mind constantly. Constantly, as in just about every waking moment. The older I get, this obsession gets worse.
It's been almost a year since the mother of my hubby's children died. I was there in her last hours and it has had a profound effect on me. No one wants to experience what we saw in those last hours. We struggle coming into this world and dying should be easier but sometimes it just isn't. I called her my friend and we had an understanding that the grandchildren we shared were the most important part of our friendship and it was an honor to know someone like her. A rare gem. I'll be thinking of her while we share some birthday celebrations over the weekend. I promised her I would be there for them always. It's a promise easy to keep.
How much time we get here is sometimes out of our hands. I often think about how much time I wasted when I was younger and that I have less time ahead of me than behind me. I have become obsessed with making all my waking moments matter in honor of those who are no longer here. How can I complain about anything?
That's all.
love, susan

Why Fly When You Can Drive

This is going to be a quick post before I clock back in today. I am a little out of sorts since I was on vacation last week. I know I...