Monday, September 18, 2017

What If: A Life List

Looking Out My Window Darkness and rain. This may be the last week my dogs get walked in the mornings. I don't do dark. Our temp numbers are 66, 66, 60, 64, and 65. My friend from Alaska arrives on Saturday and the temps will go up slightly. I'm glad it won't be too hot when she arrives.
Weekend Review I'm still processing the information I learned at the TedxRichland talks we attended on Saturday. Nine live speakers and several recorded talks in between. The words I heard continually throughout the day were Community, Truth, Justice, Healing. There were some big take-aways, almost too many. Perhaps the words I heard most were what if and we need to.
What I'm Learning I took my youngest dog out to the country yesterday to walk with my friend down to the canal. Remi loves to go in the water. We have been there a couple of times and she likes to wander off into the bushes where I can't see her. We haven't been out there for a year. I'm learning that her training is ingrained nicely. When she got out of sight for longer than I was comfortable, I called her and she would poke her head out and run straight to me. There's nothing a dog owner loves more than a great recall. While we were walking, she would often run up ahead but always came back to check in with me. Love that.
What I'm Creating I have no projects going right now. I feel like right now is the season of transition into fall. It takes me a few days to adjust to it. Yesterday, I took two naps. Seasonal affective disorder is no joke. I've learned to embrace it. It is a part of who I am. Slowing down means I'll sit longer in my comfy chair and read or write.
What I'm Reading I'm starting a new book this morning called A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Someone left it on the kitchen table at work so I snagged it.
What I'm Watching Ozark on Netflix. I'm hooked on it.
What's On My Camera Lots of dog photos. I had two dog sessions last week for my volunteer gig and then I was out yesterday with my camera.
A Quote I Want to Share
From the TED event schedule
Truth is not dead. It is very much alive. Foundational Truths matter now more than ever. Truth is not something you are born with, it is something you choose and create. Truth is not unconditional, unwavering, or absolute. Truth can even evolve, grow, die, and transform, particularly when challenged with new insight. Truth is never afraid of being false.
A Peek Into My Week Tonight I'm meeting at the park with friends from my dog training class for a happy dog reunion. Tomorrow I'm going to stop by and visit a friend whose husband died a couple weeks ago. Work. Dogs. Get ready for a week off.
A Final Thought In the wake of all the political fighting and separation of people because of it, it was refreshing to gather with like-minded people on Saturday at the TEDxRichland talks. This place where we live is full of interesting, kind, progressive people. We're not loud and obnoxious so it's hard to find them. But, they're here. I'm going to pay better attention to that thought and hang on to it.
love, susan

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dogs: Every Day is a Training Day

Seems whenever I go out to do a photo shoot these days, I'm coming home with a lot on my mind. It happened the other night after a great session with a border collie and her mom. Our rescue team got involved because this super nice young woman adopted a 2 year old on the promise of several things which have not turned out exactly how they were presented. Please note: I didn't say the people lied. More on that later. After spending a good 30+ minutes with her and the other ladies from the rescue team, it brought back memories of all three of my own rescues.
It's often a nightmare when a dog goes into a new setting. It has been for all three of mine.  Fights, digging, a torn up lawn, separation anxiety, inability to walk on a leash, won't stay in kennel, etc. And, the worst of all is that they don't play together at all. When I see other dogs being playful I am seriously jealous. I've had to accept that my dogs are not the playing kind. Having said that, they have learned to adjust to the pack but it took a lot of work, some blood on the floor, flying fur, and a ton of training.

Here's the deal:  RESCUED DOGS NEED AN ADJUSTMENT PERIOD. Sorry, I didn't mean to yell just now. I simply cannot emphasize it enough. Nobody tells you this at the shelter or from the ad you saw on Craigslist. Many releasing shelters are just so happy to make a space for the next one that the virtual door almost hits you in the hiney. And, private adopters are usually happy their Fluffy got a new home. Please don't get me wrong. This is not a put down of shelters or people who need to rehome their dogs. Not at all. They are not in the business of training you or your dog. That's up to you.

I've been to a lot of training over the course of 30+ years. You'd think I'd know more but I only know a fraction of what there is to learn about dogs and their behavior. Every time I go out with my dogs to walk or play, I am learning something about them and they about me.  Every day is training day. Let me say that again. EVERY DAY IS A TRAINING DAY.
So, let's say you pick up your rescue. You've been given a list of things this dog will do and won't do. The owner has tried their best to put their dog's best paw forward (and sometimes not). While it's true that some releasing owners may tell lies about their dog's behavior, I'm willing to bet that much of the bad behavior you'll see is a reaction to stress.
Go with me here: Think about what it would be like to board a plane with your favorite people and somewhere mid-flight your people disappear into thin air. You get off that plane in a foreign country by yourself, where you don't speak the language, you don't know the smells, you are not familiar with the customs and culture. NOTHING is familiar to you. Please. Let this sink in for a minute. This is what it's like for your rescued dog.
The best thing I've learned in all my training classes was to give my rescue dog at least 6 months. That trainer said in 6 months I'd have a different dog.  Thank dog she said that to me. It isn't that I would have given up on my K9. What that allowed me to do is stand back and see this dog for the experience she was having. I needed to convey that she was going to be with me forever, no matter what.  And you know what? I needed to know that for myself. I do not give up. I have embraced this idea with each of my three girls.
So, I'd love for you to look at your dog(s) and think about what I've said here. Did they have an adjustment period? Are they different today than they were a day ago, a month ago, a year ago? What have you done to assure them you will never give up on them? Have you given up some of your free time and dollars to train them? Have you talked to other dog people to get ideas and ask for help?

Every day is a training day. Say it with me.
love, susan


Monday, September 11, 2017

Waking a Giant: A Life List

Looking Out My Window It's 6:00am and the sun is barely coming up but the skies are going to be pure blue today and for that I'm sure we are all grateful. I've heard no news on the fires in the gorge as Hurricane Irma has stolen the news. We're going to 90 degrees today. Our numbers this week are 90, 93, 81, 73, and 73. Might have to break out a sweatshirt for my walks this week.
Weekend Review I attended a funeral for my good friend's dad. It was a beautiful service full of people who loved him. I enjoyed hearing about his life and seeing the photos they put together in a video. The man was never without a smile. Yesterday, in a rare move, I stayed home the entire day. I've been doing meal preps on Sundays and really leaning into enjoying that process. I napped and read a little. Enjoyed walks with my dogs.
What I'm Learning Some people are real assholes. I ran into someone over the weekend who we helped rehome two of her dogs. She is getting ready to move and has two remaining dogs. She wanted to know if we could rehome her scraggly old boy and she'll keep the young, cute one. I know I'm not supposed to be judgmental. Sue me. Sometimes I can't hide my disappointment in people. I don't like this character defect I have of judging people. There, I said it. Now, I'll go work through it while I walk my own dogs this morning.
What I'm Creating I'm venturing out a bit in the kitchen with this eating program I'm on. Yesterday I made cowboy caviar and I'm excited to have something a little different in my lunch box this week.
What I'm Reading I just downloaded a new book called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Just one chapter in so I'll get back to you on it next week.
What I'm Watching I'm not watching anything right now. Trying to enjoy the last days of summer outdoors.
What's On My Camera Not much. I'm taking a little break from photography this week although I do have a rescue shoot set for tonight. A young border collie. Squeee!
A Quote I Want to Share Habits aren't destiny. - Charles Duhigg
A Peek Into My Week As I was journaling this morning, I am setting a new goal of getting to work 15 minutes early. I've been arriving later and not feeling good about trying to get a mindset for work at 8:00am sharp. It doesn't work for me. I need to ease into it and get my water glass filled and arrange my desk for a good start every day. Photo shoot tonight, a girlfriend talkfest on Wednesday. Chill week so far.
A Final Thought I was in Whitehorse, Yukon with my dad when the planes hit the towers on this day 16 years ago. We were traveling back to Arizona after spending the summer in Alaska. My mom had died in March and my life was a train wreck. My dad and I were both trying to piece back together some semblance of how life would be going forward. When the planes hit, we were getting ready to leave Whitehorse and I remember stopping at a restaurant on the way out of town. They had the radio turned up for everyone to hear the news. I don't remember ever being so frightened. As we drove closer to the American border, our Canadian friends had placed huge American flags up in their yards and on store fronts. I'll never forget that. I'll also never forget how, as a nation, for awhile we cared about each other like no other time I can remember. Where did that go?
love, susan

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sack of Rocks - One Bad Decision

This was not a good week for a teen who made a bad choice throwing firecrackers into a tinder box forest near Portland, Oregon. A large portion of forest is now on fire and not under control. As you read this, people with asthma are suffering. Animals are perishing. One home has burned and people have been evacuated. We lost the sun over here nearly 200 miles away. It is affecting tens of thousands of lives across Oregon into eastern Washington and beyond.  One bad decision.  Go here for news on it: Oregon Live
Who hasn't made a bad decision before? Rhetorical question, really.

On my walks in the smoky haze this week, I thought of Captain Joseph Hazelwood.  Remember him? The guy who was drunk at the helm while trying to navigate the Exxon Valdez through the straits in Alaska and ended spilling a shit-ton of oil in the sound? Yeah, that guy. That one bad choice changed the lives of thousands of Alaskans, killed a lot of wildlife, changed the land, and left a huge mess for residents to clean up. People whose lives depended on fishing in the area were bankrupted. Who knows how many divorces, suicides, and mental health issues were created from that one bad decision. I lived there. I witnessed much of it firsthand.
I cannot begin to imagine the longstanding repercussions of this disaster. I don't think anyone will know the depth of it for quite awhile. We don't know how long it will be before we see the blue skies or breath fresh air. We don't know what that area of the gorge is going to look like when the smoke clears. We don't know how many people will be displaced because of it. We don't know a lot of things.

What I do know is that a lot of people are perplexed by the one bad decision of this young person whose action has caused a lot of grief. That's a big sack of rocks he'll be carrying for a long time. I think about how that teen must be thinking "if only I had not thrown that firecracker ..." I wonder if he would take back his action? If only.

Have you ever burned down a forest, or spilled a million gallons of oil in the most pristine places? Have you ever made a super bad decision that felt like you had burned down a forest?
love, susan

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day 2017: A Life List

As I look out my window it is pitch black. We are losing light faster and faster. I am having to wait until about 6:20am to take dogs for a walk. Soon, they won't get a morning walk at all. I always dread that day. The entire Columbia Gorge is filled with smoke from horrible fires that started by someone with fireworks. They closed a section of the highway completely down.
Weekend Review We didn't do much over the weekend as far as running around goes. I took a nap all 3 days in a row. The hustle of a busy summer finally caught up with me. I had a photo shoot Friday after work. It was my last one for the August project. Yesterday, I met up with a couple to photograph their 3 month old baby girl. We also drove to Walla Walla just to get out of the house. I packed a lunch for myself as hubby had already eaten before we left. We stopped at the Goodwill store and I bought a pair of capris one size smaller as my pants are starting to look baggy. I've lost 23 lbs. since May 1st. I've plateaued. Feeling really great though and happy to have finally found an eating plan that can work for the rest of my days.
What I'm Learning The dog photo project in August taught me a few things about photographing dogs.
  • Dogs really hate the camera. This was a huge "aha" for me. Even my own dogs won't let their ears up when I take their pics.
  • Give it 10 to 15 minutes for dogs who've never met me to sniff me out and figure out if I'm okay. I get down on the ground and their level and let them sniff and lick and bump my face with their noses. Just charging in and taking photos doesn't work. That's going to be super useful information as I continue to photograph dogs for the rescue team. 
  • I've learned that people love their dogs more than anything else and when we're shooting, it's all about the dogs. I've not met a vain dog person yet. Love that.
What I'm Creating I'm still minimizing my household goods and trying to create a better living space. Right now it seems worse than when I started but it is because I'm saving boxes of stuff to put in a charity yard sale that's coming up this month.
What I'm Reading I am re-reading Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. Now that I've been following her plan for eating since May 1, it is time to go back and look for things I missed the first time I read it.
What I'm Watching I watched two episodes of Ozark on Netflix. We watched a couple of movies over the weekend but can't remember the titles.
What's on My Camera Lots of dogs!
A Quote I Want to Share
NOT MY FOOD Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.
This is a mantra from the BLE program that has served me well.  Donuts on the table at work? Not My Food. 
A Peek Into My Week I have zero plans on my calendar this week. I'm okay with that. My summer has flown by and now it is my time to chill a bit.
A Final Thought A close family friend lost her ex-husband and father of her three beautiful girls to suicide last week. It really took the wind out of me for a bit. I'm sad as hell for his daughters. I've known too many people who have taken their own life. Pain that no one can see eludes a lot of people. Not me. I've never felt suicidal but I can understand how people get there when depression and physical pain is left untreated. I don't want to leave this entry on a sad note. The good news is that one of the best dogs I've ever met got adopted last week by a family with a young teen boy. The photo of their meeting was priceless. I cried when I saw it. I love happy endings, don't you?
love, susan

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Total Eclipse: Life List

Looking out the window, that eclipse was something. I didn't buy special glasses for it but friends at work offered to let me look through theirs. It was pretty cool. Even more so was the reaction from one young co-worker who was giddy when she first saw the eclipse. It seemed to bring a lot of joy to everyone in my office and I really dig that.

Review of last week I had photo shoots every night last week. I'm donating proceeds to the animal rescue group I shoot for. People have been super generous and they all seem to be very happy with the work I've done for them. It has been joyful for me but I am tired and will be glad for a little break in September.

Scary kitty.
Remi patiently waiting for a walk
I was hardly home last week except to grab a bite to eat, change my clothes, say hello to the hubby and dogs, and out the door. I never watched the news or saw one program. No big deal. I know stuff is going on. I'm enjoying the break from it.

Yesterday we took a trip to Boulder Cave near Naches, Washington. It was big fun.

River Park in Hermiston, Oregon
Vegetable Pho

Speaking of breaks, I'm getting excited about my annual trip with my high school buddies at the end of September. This year we are meeting up in Lincoln City, Oregon for 6 days. There is plenty to see in the area so I'm sure we'll use those days up quickly. Art galleries, glass blowing studios, aquarium, people watching, etc.

A peek into my week reveals 4 photos shoots are lined up. Everyone so far has shown up. I have one person on my calendar that might flake out. Tonight I have no shoots and I think I'll just rest.

Hope you have a fun week.  love, susan


Monday, August 14, 2017

August Fires: A Life List

Looking Out My Window It's 5:51 and the sun is barely up. This is the time of year this ex-Alaskan notices the darkness creeping in minute by minute every day. The smoke from this summer's fires was whisked away by the gentle winds yesterday which also blew in cooler weather. It's only going to be 83 today and then 87, 91, 89, 94.
Weekend Review I took Friday off and I packed a lot of fun into the last 3 days. This summer we've not traveled anywhere and I am enjoying sticking closer to home, although I'm not home much. I had lunch with a friend on Friday, two photo shoots back to back on Saturday evening, a photo shoot early yesterday morning, and volleyball and bbq in the park with lots of friends. Here it is Monday morning and time to get back to work.
What I'm Learning The hubby and I went out to dinner Saturday night to P.F. Changs as a friend had given me a gift card in exchange for a photo shoot I did for her. This is not a place I would normally go but I checked out the menu beforehand and found items I could fit into my eating plan. It was the first time I have ever ordered an entrĂ©e from the vegetarian section. Luckily, I had tried fried tofu a very long time ago when my son ordered it and let me try it. I have been eating "clean" since May 1 and I thought ordering the vegetarian dish would be okay but whatever they used in the spicy sauce definitely affected me. I woke up with super puffy eyes and bloat. An experiment I don't need to repeat. The dish was wonderful but I paid for it all day.
What I'm Creating I've been doing more video shoots for the dog rescue gig. I've not ever used the video on my phone before and I definitely have never done a YouTube video but I'm working on it now. Having fun with that!
What I'm Reading Not one single page this week.
What I'm Watching Hubby and I sat down and started watching Ozark on Netflix last night. Not sure I'm going to like it yet but will give it one more episode. It is shot in that kind of dark cinematography that I do not care for. If the series continues that way, it will be the reason I stop watching it.

What's On My Camera  Dogs.
A Quote I Want to Share Love trumps hate.  ~Susan Arthur
A Peek Into My Week Three photo shoots this week. Dogs. Work.
A Final Thought So many thoughts about what's going on in the United States. My job is to keep loving people and spreading joy. I refuse to be part of the problem.
love, susan

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Nod to Glen Campbell and All My Other Boyfriends and My Awesome Co-Worker

Image result for glen campbell and bobbie gentry little green apples album cover
I love my new co-worker. She is 25 years younger than me but she knows a lot about things that many people her age don't.  The other day we were talking about Glen Campbell dying.  I asked her if she had heard the song he wrote before the Alzheimer's got bad.  She had not so I sent her the lyrics. Here they are in case you are wondering. Grab a tissue first. Seriously. Go grab a tissue right now before you read this.

I'm Not Gonna Miss You
I'm still here, but yet I'm gone
I don't play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you 'til the end
You're the last person I will love
You're the last face I will recall
And best of all, I'm not gonna miss you
Not gonna miss you
I'm never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You're never gonna see it in my eyes
It's not gonna hurt me when you cry
I'm never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains
I'm not gonna miss you
I'm not gonna miss you
For non-commercial use only.
Sorry. I know these lyrics hit you in the feels. I'm glad he wrote them. It it likely most of us will know someone or be someone with Alzheimer's. These words are comforting to me.
Okay, so I was telling my very cool co-worker that when I was a teenager, I had a major star crush on Glen Campbell and could imagine my life being married to him. He married Tanya Tucker instead. Whatup with that? She said Richard Gere was her major crush. MINE TOO! Which led me to ask her if she had ever seen American Gigolo. She hasn't but I made her promise she'd watch it. This led to a conversation about another star crush I had for a long time (but am way over it now) on Mickey Rourke. Before I tell her who I'm talking about, I describe him being a real looker in his day but nowadays he's looking worse than rough. She knew exactly who I was talking about.  She's actually seen 9 1/2 Weeks!  Girl went up 100 points on the coolness scale. Her exact words, "9 1/2 Weeks is the original 50 Shades".  Yes. Yes, it is.
I've got other star crushes. Don't even get me started on John Cusack. Or, Sean Penn. But for today, I'm fondly remembering my first real, imaginary love. I've forgotten a lot of things but can remember lying around in my bedroom at age 15, staring at a record cover of Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry, listening to them singing Little Green Apples. (heavy sigh)
love, susan

Monday, August 7, 2017

Burning Up August: A Life List

Looking Out My Window The smoke from the fires in Canada is almost gone now. We had very high temps last week and combined with smoke, it was miserable. This week looks to be no better with numbers like 103, 103, 105, 105, 102, 100 but at least the smoke is going away.
My Weekend Review I'm about to crash and burn from doing too many things in this heat. Saturday we attended two events and luckily I had time to take a cat nap in between. I usually can be on the go but the heat did me in. We attended a birthday party for a five year old and it was magical. They hired Moana to arrive and the little girls loved her. Last night we discovered we have a plumbing problem. It's a biggie. While I get to go to work today, the hubby will be dealing with that.
What I'm Learning I went out to the country yesterday and sat around a circle with women from age 18 to 70 something. I found out I'm not the only one who goes commando in the summer time. This was a huge relief to know. I also learned that they have these little plug in sonic super sound thingy mijiggers that are supposed to keep ants and rodents far away. Who knew? Love those women around that circle.
What I'm Creating Well, my volunteer people are asking me to do videos of the dogs now which has prompted me to figure out how record works on my camera. I'm not sure it is the best option for video but I'm gonna try it. I have a feeling that my phone will be a much better video maker. Love this gig of volunteering. It has pushed me to learn some new things. I have 8 shoots set up as a fundraiser for dog rescue. Very excited about that.
What I'm Reading I actually picked up my Kindle and read a chapter in a book I'm reading called How the Light Gets in: Writing as a Spiritual Practice. Need to get back to reading at least a chapter every day.
What I'm Watching Uh oh, I started a new series on Netflix:  Nurse Betty
What's On My Camera Fun summer stuff.
Quote I Want to Share 
Raisin cookies that look like
chocolate chip cookies are the
main reason I have trust issues.
A Peek Into My Week  Super busy! Coffee with a friend tonight, photo shoot tomorrow night, video shoot on Wednesday, Thursday I'm sure will find something for me. Friday, the kids are stopping overnight from their trip to Canada.
A Final Thought I'm so glad I have great women friends. Sitting in a circle with them last night was good for my soul.
love, susan

Monday, July 31, 2017

End of July 2017: A Life List

LOOKING OUT MY WINDOW There is not a cloud in the sky. We are going up to 109 this week. Hello scorching hot summer. For some unknown reason, the hubby decided to turn off the automatic sprinkler system. I noticed yesterday the lawn was looking crispy but when one of my favorite flowering bushes in the herb garden was looking very droopy I decided to investigate. Now is not the time to conserve water.
WEEKEND REVIEW My weekend went to the dogs. Saturday we drove out to a park to sit under a shade tree and watch the air show. We saw an F-22 do all kinds of amazing maneuvers in the sky. I loved it. Later in the day, I attended a picnic put on for the volunteers in the dog rescue group I am involved with. There were 5 dogs in attendance along with about a dozen women dedicated to helping animals any way we can. On Sunday, I drove out in the orchards to a friend's house to photograph her English Bulldogs. I spent an hour, mostly at ground level, shooting fun images for her. I sent her the images and within a half hour I received a phone call from her. She said the photos way exceeded any expectation she had and that she was sure her husband would be in tears when he sees them. This really made my day. I was super happy with the work I had done so it was reassuring to get that call. I took naps on both days as the heat really drained my energy. I was hardly indoors all weekend except for the naps.
WHAT I'M LEARNING During the picnic for the rescue team, I realized that I can be a part of something and just do my part. I don't have to do other people's tasks. I think that's where burnout happens. This has taken me a long time to learn.
WHAT I'M CREATING I'm still working on creating better space in my home. Actually, freeing up space so I can create. It has been a slow process eliminating stuff that accumulates in every nook and cranny. I cannot stand it.
WHAT I'M READING I haven't picked up a book in weeks. I've been too busy doing other things. I miss reading and as soon as I get my office back in order, I'm going to start a new book. I cannot sit in chaos and be peaceful enough to read. Plus, I'm spending a great deal of time outdoors. I have listened to a few podcasts, that's always fun. My daughter-in-law gave me a long list of podcasts she listens to so I've got some choices now.
WHAT I'M WATCHING I tried to start a new Netflix series called College Friends last night but found myself too distracted to pay attention to it. Summer is not when I want to be sitting in front of a TV screen.

A PEEK INTO MY WEEK I've got some fun stuff lined up for a couple evenings. Tomorrow night we're driving out to Prosser to watch a border collie demonstration of Frisbee tricks and other fun things. I've got a puppy shoot on Wednesday, lunch and coffee with two friends this week.
A FINAL THOUGHT I made a new friend last week while I did a photo session out in the country. Made new friends at the picnic on Saturday. I've been thinking a lot about the theory of six degrees of separation. Six degrees of separation is the idea that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 and popularized in an eponymous 1990 play written by John Guare. Have you ever heard of it? It is fascinating to me.
Hope you have a fantastic week wherever you are in the world. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, will ya?
love, susan


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Off-the-Chart Monday

My daughter-in-law. I love this girl
with all my heart.
Yesterday was a work day but I was off, visiting with my son and daughter-in-law from Michigan. They were here for exactly 24 hours. We crammed in a whole lot of visiting and managed to eat out twice. The funny of it was we ate at a Mexican restaurant that is less than half a mile from our house. In 9 years, we'd never been there. We get a little stuck in a rut. 
In these images, we're at my very favorite, nicer place called Frost Me Sweet. My daughter-in-law picked it from a line up she had on Yelp. These people are serious foodies. She is lactose intolerant so it helped that their menu easily included things she can eat plus a couple of gluten-free, dairyless desserts. And, wine for lunch!
My son and love of my life!
I quit drinking almost 16 years ago so I feel a little-lot out of touch with what's happening on the alcohol menu. When they brought her THREE glasses of wine all at once, I was schooled on ordering a "flight" of wine. All I know is that ascetically it was art for my eyes and senses. Dude. I drank wine out of boxes. A conversation ensued about adult juice boxes. 
I enjoyed this visit. It is rare that I am off work and not traveling somewhere else. To spend the day with these loves, at home, was off-the-charts joy for me. They drove their car from Michigan to gift it to me. When they said they were only staying a day, at first I wondered how we were going to catch up in 24 hours. We did it. It was perfect. Just like that flight of wine. Beautiful. Just right. And, enough.
Today, I go back to work and I'll look forward to the next adventure. Tomorrow night I'm driving out to the country to photograph some spaniels for a nice dog lady. We have an invite to a party Friday night. I'm certain I have something on my calendar for the weekend.  Life is so good.
love, susan

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I Can Die Happy Now

We drove out to The Gorge Amphitheater (near George, Washington) Friday night to hear John Mayer. If you are not a fan of JM, it's all good. I wasn't a huge fan until last year when I started walking everyday and tuned into him on Pandora. When I'm walking my dog, I'm in a zone where I am able to hear only the music piping through my headphones, keeping my thoughts from scattering into a million pieces. He didn't sing it Friday night but one of the songs that hooked me on this phenomenal singer/songwriter is I Don't Trust Myself Loving You
No, I'm not the man I used to be lately
See, you met me at an interesting time
And if my past is any sign of your future
You should be warned before I let you inside...
The pinnacle moment of the evening, for us, was when he and his two equally talented band members belted out Stevie Ray Vaughn's Caught in the Crossfire. They could not have ramped up this song any more than they did. From there, he gave his guys a break while he switched guitars and played a couple of acoustic tunes that made me love him even more. Like, a serious John Mayer crush.
There is something about him that I find completely irresistible. I'd have to say first it is his songwriting. When I hear the lyrics, I think I understand him. Secondly, he is awkward and I really dig that about him. When he came onstage Friday night, he simply said good evening and started playing. I think he's a guy who isn't really all that comfortable with stardom and just wants to write and sing. I hope he always keeps it real.  In the meantime, I feel like he is going to go down in music history as a great guitarist. He'll be 40 in October. I can't wait to see what he brings to the world next.
I'm not one to spend hard earned money on frivolous things like concert tickets but I'm glad I made the impulse buy this time. I truly can die happy.
Have you seen an artist that knocked your socks off?
love, susan

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lies I Tell Myself: Day 79

This is a friend inspired post. You know who you are. I'm not going to out you here but I want to thank you for your brutal honesty. I am on the same path you are.
DAY 79
I started a new eating plan on May 1st. It is working for me and I realize that if I am to get this excess weight off and keep it off, I am going to have to live by this plan the rest of my life. To date, I have shed 17 pounds. This week I have hit a plateau. I've been thinking a lot about the lies I have been telling myself for about 15 years. These lies are often advocated by well-meaning people. Once the words are spoken, they roll around in my brain and all of a sudden these lies become good ideas. I feel like I need to recognize them every time they crop up and smash them right in their tracks.
  • You can have just one bite of that birthday cake. It's not going to kill you.
  • It's a holiday. It's a party. It's a funeral. It's a wedding. It's a potluck. It's Tuesday.
  • You're almost 60, who are you trying to impress?
  • You're a grandma. Grandmas are supposed to be fluffy.
  • What difference does it make, you're gonna die anyway.
  • Eat the ice cream, life is short.
  • You can get back on the wagon tomorrow.
  • One little bite is not going to kill you.
  • It's no use, you're never going to get this weight off. (This is the worst lie)
  • If you eat slowly, your brain will tell you it's full.
  • I have to eat in between meals, I'm hypoglycemic. I'm going to die if I don't eat right now.
  • It's rude to not eat what is offered to me.
  • I have a terrible sugar addiction.
  • I overeat on a regular basis.
  • I do not want to die fat.
I have no idea if I will be able to stay on this path, but I'm no quitter. I have decided to do this one day at a time. I've made some big changes in the last year and a half that have stuck and stayed. There is no reason this won't work for me.
What big fat lies do you tell yourself?
love, susan

Monday, July 3, 2017

Donkey Days of Summer: Life List

Looking Out My Window There is a smoky haze making the sunrise a beautiful pink. A fire started out in the Hanford (nuclear cleanup project) area on Thursday and is still burning. With fireworks going off now, there will undoubtedly be more fires. It is HOT HOT HOT right now. Our temps starting today will be 94, 96, 102, 103, 104, 101, and 99! Hot and smoky.
Weekend Review It was a fun one. I can't remember what I did Saturday but yesterday's fun started at the dog park in the early morning. Some friends showed up and we had a great time shootin' the shit and watching our dogs play hard. Remi never stopped running after the Kong the entire 1 1/2 hours we were there. I got some great photos and I never wanted to leave. Later in the day, I drove out to my friend's farm for the 2nd Annual Ass Shaving. She has three donkeys who get shaved by our dog groomer friends. I got to brush them while they shaved. There were six of us and we had the best time shaving and talking. I love weekends like this one.
What I'm Learning Well, one of my dogs got out of the fence that got left open once again on Friday. She was gone about 1/2 hour before I realized it. When I started out to the car to go find her, she came running down the street. I'm glad she didn't go far. I'm learning to not lose my mind when this happens. Someone in our household keeps forgetting to shut the gate.
What I'm Creating I haven't been terribly creative this last week. I started a month long minimize group on FB and we're collectively cleaning up our areas by eliminating the number of items that corresponds with the day. Today, I'll find 3 items that will leave this house one way or the other.
What I'm Reading I never opened a book or a magazine last week. Work is sucking the life out of me right now and I don't have the brain power to focus on reading.
What I'm Watching Same with TV. Oh, I did watch a wonderful interview that Jane Pauley did with John Mellencamp yesterday on CBS Sunday Morning. That's a guy I'd love to know. Great interview!
What's On My Camera It was a fun photo weekend.
Quote I Want to Share from Jane Pauley's interview with John Mellencamp:
JOHN MELLENCAMP: I am available. I am available to ideas. I am available to free thinking. I am available to thoughts. I am not in a box. Now, I used to be when I was a kid when I was writing songs like "Hurts So Good" and "Jack & Diane." "I have to write a song that's -- no. I can't go over that. That-- that song took a wrong turn." Now, nothing takes a wrong turn. There's no wrong turns to make. These paintings. There's no wrong turn.
I may walk up to a canvas and think, "I'm going to do one thing," and it turns out to be something else that surprises me. And I'm thrilled to death when that happens. When I'm not thrilled to death is when I labor over something and try to force it into being something that, you know, I think it has to be. But that's not art.
JANE PAULEY: So now creativity is about finding out what it wants to be.
JOHN MELLENCAMP: That's right. Letting creativity be creative as opposed to trying to control it.
A Peek Into My Week Work today. Play tomorrow. Who knows what will happen the rest of it?
A Final Thought I'm running out of time.
love, susan

Friday, June 30, 2017

Bright Line Eating

Hi everybody. I am writing today to share a bit about this journey I've been on for the last two months. Today is Day 61. I waited until now to talk in length about it as I was afraid it might be one of those things that wouldn't last. And, it still might not last but for today my plan is the same as it was yesterday and the day before that. It's working for me so I think I'll commit to another 30 days.
Long story short, on May 1st I eliminated all refined sugar (including sugar substitutes) and flour products from my menu. I thought it was going to be really hard. Turns out it was not. I'm one of those all or nothing kinda girls. There are some things I simply cannot stop once I start. Alcohol is one of them. Sugar is the other. I gave up alcohol nearly 16 years ago. Giving up refined sugar had to be the same way. I know that once I start with the first teaspoon in my coffee, I am off to the races, chasing the feeling I get when I consume it, with me ending up tired, cranky, and wondering what happened.
A close friend from high school told me about this program she had started last fall when we were on our annual girlfriend trip. I thought she was crazy (sorry K!) and that it was just another program designed to extract money from the pockets of fat Americans. When we traveled on another trip this spring, she talked about it a little bit and I shared that I was so uncomfortable in this body of mine and tired of being consumed by sugar addiction. I had told her previously I was not going to spend one more dollar on diet crap. She told me that the woman who started this program recently published a book. I ordered it when I got home from that trip. I spent $14.95 to see what this guru has to say.
The author, Susan Peirce Thompson is a recovered meth addict/alcoholic with a Ph.D. both in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. You can read more on her bio here.  She speaks a language I know. She uses a lot of 12-step lingo in her book but also adds some of her own. One of my favorites I have adopted and has served me quite well is "not my food". As in, those cookies on the kitchen table at work -- not my food. The book is an easy read and one that I'm glad I bought in hard copy so I can highlight and re-read. 
Breaking it down into simple terms, which is what I need, there are only 4 Bright Lines:
1: No Sugar (this does not include natural fruit)
2: No Flour of any kind
3: Planned meals with no snacks in between
4: Quantities are measured
What is a bright line?  It is a line you don't cross, no matter what. Simple as that.
I like simple.
On Day 61, I am down 15 pounds.
It is working for me.
love, susan

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thank You!

Just want to say thank you to everyone who reads my blog. Whether or not you comment, I appreciate that you follow me. I thought a lot about my mini-rant yesterday and all the replies I received. I always feel hinky after I stick my neck out to voice an opinion.  But I do it anyway. I appreciate that people comment and make me stretch a bit in my thinking. 

So here's a pretty picture for today!

love, susan