Need Some Advice: Dog Problems

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She loves riding in the car, but it’s too hot most of the year for her to do that in Louisiana.

I don’t often ask publicly for advice, but I’m needing some thoughtful ideas right now. I’m at the point where I’m considering finding another home for Ashok. It breaks my heart to think of getting rid of her, but my life has changed dramatically, and I hate that she’s having to spend so much time alone. I find myself not doing things or getting out socially because I don’t want to leave her trapped in her room. We are both suffering.

When I lived in Memphis, I worked long days, but when I came home we always took long walks down by the river, at Shelby Farms, around midtown neighborhoods and down by the Mississippi River. Dogs were welcome in all of the pretty places and on all of the trails and greenways in town. It benefited us both. It was great exercise for me, it was social, and it was great for her. But here all of the parks and greenways have ‘no pets’ policies. One day I drove two hours to get to the St. Tammany Trace only to find that they didn’t allow pets on the greenway. A short time ago I stopped at a Visitor’s Center in that area and asked if there was a place to walk my dog, and he said he could think of none. I’m limited to a few places here to walk/run with her, and some of those have no sidewalks and are really not that safe except in broad daylight.

I’m needing to build a life. I need to make friends. I would like to meet some men to date. I want to do things with people that have like minds. I’d love to go over to the Red Dragon Listening Room to hear live music and maybe make some friends there. I need to get more involved in the recovery community. I’ve decided that I’m not that much into the outdoors here. The weather is too dicey, and for a good part of the year, it’s just uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. Last year I tried to do the things I enjoy like running and hiking and camping, but most of the time I was miserable. In an effort to adapt to my surroundings, I need to find other things I like to do. Unfortunately, most of those don’t include dogs. And, if they don’t include dogs, then I have to leave her alone for more time than I already do. The guilt is killing me.

I know that I could have somebody come in and walk her, but that doesn’t solve the issue that she’s by herself for an excessive amount of time. I can’t afford another dog, so that’s out of the question. I tried putting her outside in the yard when I was in Memphis, but she hated that. She would never even go in the doghouse. If it rained, she sat in the rain. I felt even guiltier leaving her outside.

She’s not a dog that loves toys. She loves me. She likes to do things with me. She loves to walk and to run and to camp and to hike. I actually love those things, too. As much as I tried to do the things we have always done last year, neither one of us enjoyed it anymore. She didn’t want to go outside during July and August. She’d get excited when I said ‘walk’ or ‘run’, but then she’d sit down in the middle of the road as soon as we got outside. I’d have to drag her. I have to learn something new. I’m single. And while I love my dog, I need people in my life. I’m an extrovert. And I know she’s a social animal, too. Maybe I identify how miserable I am with how miserable she must be. I don’t know. I just know that I feel extremely guilty, lonely and disillusioned right now. I need to know what to do.

I’m reading a book right now by Joan Borysenko called ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind’. She’s got some great tips on reframing things so I can deal with difficult situations. Maybe I need to find a way to reframe this. I just know that every time I have to leave after leaving her all day, I feel so guilty. But I can’t build my life around my dog either. I need humans and friends in my life, too. I need help right now with this. I would love to see both of us happy and enjoying our lives. Right now, I think we both feel isolated, trapped and depressed. And I can’t see any way out but to help her find a new home where she has more company. I guess I could just go about my life and let her deal with it, but my conscience has a hard time putting that to rest.

Anybody have suggestions on what they do?

Sunday Night Check-In: Revisiting My Bucket List Louisianne

Cafe des Amis ... Bucket List Item #24

Cafe des Amis … Bucket List Item #24

My friend Robbie wrote about my birthday party in his blog today. He reminded me of my Bucket List Louisianne. I wrote about it when I first moved here. I worked on it awhile and then got distracted by everyday living. I noticed today that I’ve crossed off quite a few in the short time I’ve been here. Some I planned to mark off the Bucket List, and others I just happened to do without any intention other than having an invitation. There’s a few more I need to cross off this list this year.

  1. Take a swamp tour
  2. Drive Highway 1 to Grand Isle
  3. Tour Laura Plantation
  4. Teddy’s Juke Joint for Blues
  5. Chase a Chicken (the real Cajun Mardi Gras)
  6. Paddle to the Queen Bess Island Rookery
  7. Tailgate at LSU on a Saturday night
  8. Discover the Tunica Hills/Clark Creek
  9. Dance at the Magnolia Cafe in St. Francisville
  10. Discover my roots at the Rural Life Museum & Burden Center in Baton Rouge
  11. Catch my own fish and cook it  (Deep sea fishing)
  12. Sleep in a four-poster bed in a plantation
  13. Wander Windsor Ruins on a fall day (Port Gibson MS)
  14. Ride the St. Tammany Trace by bicycle
  15. Take an early morning walk in the French Quarter
  16. Take a sunset cruise on a Biloxi Schooner
  17. Friday lunch at Galatoire’s in New Orleans
  18. Drive your own Boudin Trail – Sampling boudin all over the state
  19. Visit Afton Villa when the azaleas are in bloom
  20. Abita Springs Opry
  21. View photographs from Natchez chronicling the years 1850-1950 at the Stratton Chapel in Natchez
  22. Watch the sun set on the Mississippi River
  23. Take a cemetery tour
  24. Zydeco breakfast at Cafe’ Des Amis in Breaux Bridge
  25. Visit the Huey Long statue at the State Capitol
  26. Find a Conrad Albrizio Mural
  27. Eat an original muffuletta at Central Grocery in New Orleans
  28. Christmas Eve Bonfires
  29. Paddle Virgin Cypress at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park
  30. Take a ferry ride West to Algiers

This evening a friend of mine in Memphis sent me a link to an article that the New York Times published on Baton Rouge’s blues scene. I had no clue the area was once known for Blues Music, and it seems that I live two blocks from Phil Brady’s, a place where live music abounds. Teddy’s Juke Joint is on my Bucket List, so I guess I’d better make a date to check it out. I already know about the Red Dragon Listening Room which hosts a lot of live music in a theatre-type setting. I get their emails with their scheduled performances, but I rarely go. I don’t know why, other than the fact that last year’s budget cuts kept me engaged in free or really low-cost activities. At $20 – $50 a show, it’s not really expensive – especially the $20 ones – but I cut it out all the same. I need to look at their schedule again and get some dates on the calendar. I can always go indoors to listen to live music in July and August!

This weekend has been a mix of fun and feeling a little bit off. I had a fabulous time on Saturday. You can read yesterday’s blog for more on that. But this morning I woke up in a real funk. I felt down and extremely sluggish. I felt the same way on Friday. I hope to settle in for an early night. I took a long walk on the levee today with a new friend and had brunch at Another Broken Egg. I was hoping the sunshine and the walk would perk me up, but I didn’t shift emotionally. This evening I headed over to the Red Shoes for a sacred circle that I attend on Sunday evenings. I felt very quiet, but I was very happy to be among friends and fellow spiritual travelers.

I’m settling in for a quiet evening listening to some soothing music. There’s a dog snoring gently beside me and a cat purring in my lap. I’m sipping some Chinese herbal tea, and I’m hoping they will do their magic. I’ve slept like a dead person Friday and Saturday night, so I hope for more of the same deep sleep tonight. I’m off tomorrow for MLK day. I hope it will be a quiet day, but I do really need to get some intense exercise. Hopefully, I’ll wake up feeling energetic first thing. I was supposed to run the half marathon today in the Louisiana Marathon, but my knee injury late last year canceled that. I had to watch the runners running by my house with some jealousy. But, congratulations to my friend Tracy who completed her first half marathon today! That’s a huge accomplishment, and it’s not ‘half’ of anything. It’s a challenging race distance on its own!

I’m already thinking about Mardi Gras. I downloaded my parade tracker last week, and I want to attend some of the earlier parades as well as the ones the weekend before. I plan to chase a chicken at the old time Mardi Gras this year. It was on the calendar last year, but our plans got derailed by frozen bridges across the Atchafalaya Basin in a freak cold spell. We’ll hope for better weather this year!

The Land of Make-Believe: Breaux Bridge

IMG_0998During the holidays I happened to go back and look at some old pics from last year and remembered my trip to brunch at the Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge with my friend Tricia. You can read last year’s blog here. It was such a blast, but it had been my first time there and I didn’t know what to expect. I had promised myself that I would go back with a group of friends so we could enjoy the dancing even more. I thought I would make a trip in January, and then I remembered that my birthday was in January! So, I invited a group of friends to come along.

I’ve learned in this life that it is best to send out an invitation and let whoever shows up, show up. The right people always come. Everything happens perfectly as it should. This morning was no exception. We ended up with a group of 10 that had agreed to make the trip across the Atchafalaya Basin for morning dancing. I know there were a few grumbles about the early morning hour, but I promised a good time would be had by all. Everybody had to travel, so arriving at 8 AM on a Saturday morning felt pretty weird. I left Baton Rouge about 7 AM dressed in my party clothes.

The fog was still sitting on Bayou Teche when I arrived. I was the first one there but was joined fairly shortly by Jo Ann, Robbie, Jeff, Billy and Christy. We sat in a display window with slip-covered antique furniture. It was a cool little sitting area, but they wouldn’t serve us breakfast there. The gang drank Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s until we got our table. We were totally amazed at the party going on this early in the morning. By 9 AM the dance floor was packed, and the bar was shoulder to shoulder revelers.

We were seated at a long table with a couple from Lake Charles LA with their friends from Seattle WA. We ate breakfast with interruptions of dancing and picture-taking. The woman from Seattle remarked that she couldn’t seem to stop smiling in there. My face hurt from smiling so much. Jo Ann came by and reminded me that her birthday was in March. “I’m just sayin’,” she said with a grin. I have a feeling we’ll be going back. There’s something about that place. The energy is lively, and it is laced with light and joyfulness. Children dance among couples. Many danced every dance, and I recognized several from the year before. We noticed one guy changed shirts midway through the morning because he was so wet with sweat. Big windows funneled sunlight into the restored building while the Zydeco band perched in the storefront window. They took only one break, and it was late in the morning. I didn’t know any of the music, but it didn’t matter. The beat made me feel like dancing all morning long .. and I did. Everybody danced with strangers like we were all old friends.

Robbie’s Amazing Pics

My sister and my niece came in after we finished breakfast closely followed by my high school friends Lisa and Jean Ann. The dancing and picture-taking continued, and about noon, the band said they were playing their last song. We packed up and made our way to Monroe’s next door. I had tried on some dresses there last year, and they still had my favorite one. We couldn’t resist playing dress-up for a picture. I tried on a two-piece red number but opted for a green and brown strapless gown. Somebody joked that it looked like dressed-up camouflage, and I had to admit that it did. But it was pretty dressed-up.

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Kennedy, the store dog we met last year, was there on his little chair. They said he was depressed because they had just thrown his girlfriend away. At first I thought they’d thrown a dog away, but then the shopkeeper said it was a stuffed animal. They kept remarking how depressed he was, and he did seem down in the dumps. I hope they find another girlfriend for him. That’s a happy place, and he looked out of place without his royal perkiness.

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I glanced up at the wall and noticed a quote by Marilyn Monroe on a piece of art. “It’s all make-believe, isn’t it?” she apparently said. I’ve always been crazy about her. Of course I think she was beautiful and sexy. But her tragic life is as interesting to me as her beauty. The most profound contradictions is that she was so troubled and insecure on the inside but on the outside appeared to be fantastic, bubbly and amazing. Her life was all make-believe. I wish that she would not have died young. I would have loved to have seen her overcome her demons … or not. I would have loved to have seen how she would approach the loss of her youth and the inevitability of aging. The longer I live the more I realize how young she was at the time of her death. It was truly a loss. Did she really believe it was all make-believe? Would she have always thought so?

It’s All Make-Believe, Isn’t It?

IMG_1034This morning seemed magical to me. I remember my surprise last year at seeing flowers blooming in January. Camellias are blooming now while my friends up north are shoveling snow. We were making plans for Mardi Gras this morning – a bejeweled spectacular festival in February. Ball gowns, beads, ladders and King Cakes hang poised in the near future. I downloaded my parade tracker last week. I love magic but you can’t plan it. Magic – like make-believe – only happens in the moment. The only thing we can do to bring it on is to be open … and to show up. The right people … the right place … the right energy … the magic ….. happens because we are willing to believe in its possibility. I am grateful to have been in its presence this morning among my amis. It was truly a Cafe of friends ……. even if we only make-believe.

Happy Birthday to Me

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Today is my birthday. Even Google is celebrating my birthday. Google knows everything, doesn’t she? I have never understood people who don’t shout about their birthday from the rooftops. I figure I’ve lived 19,710 days on this earth and only 54 have been about me. Well, it’s not exactly just about me. Other people share the same birthdate, most notably Martin Luther King, Jr. I know he did lots of wonderful things, but I’m truly grateful for the fact that he gave me a holiday for my birthday weekend. I’ve tried to take advantage of it every year I can.

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Me and my sister in our birthday suits.

One of my favorite places to spend my birthday is in Hot Springs AR. I went there numerous times when I lived in Memphis for my birthday. The weekend is the opening weekend of Oaklawn (horse racing track), and on opening day prices for concessions are the same as they were when they first opened. The town is full of men. It is also the weekend that the county fair managers in Arkansas meet in the Arlington Hotel for their annual convention. That is an interesting group of people to say the least, and every time the elevator doors open, you smell funnel cakes and corn dogs. On my 50th birthday, my friend Alayne – whose birthday is the 16th – met me there. I’m telling you, even at 50 and 40-something, we were apparently the hottest things that had hit Hot Springs in a long time. I’ve never been so popular on a birthday. We even hung out up with a budding country music star and his manager. It was a blast.

Hot Springs AR 

I don’t have plans today other than just to enjoy my special day. I’m having lunch with a peer at LSU who has become a good friend. My team served me my favorite “Better than Sex” King cake from Calandro’s. Since it’s been so long since I’ve had sex, I can’t really compare it, but I can say it was pretty darn good … and much easier and less problematic to come by. As an added gift, my body seems to be tolerating it very well. Maybe on my birthday, all rules and consequences are dropped. In that case, I’ve got some ideas for tonight.

My Pivotal Birthday Party at Michael’s House

When I was younger, I used to buy a birthday outfit. I’d choose something fun and zany that made me feel fun and special. I don’t do that anymore, but I do try to wear something that I like and that makes me feel like I’ve still got it … whatever ‘it’ is. During my second marriage, my birthdays were awful. My second husband had some kind of subconscious issue with birthdays – his and mine – and something awful always ruined them. The year that we divorced, my gay boyfriend Michael pulled out all the stops and treated me and about 10 of my closest friends to a fancy formal dinner at his home. It was a celebration of my birthday, for sure, but, more importantly, it was a pivot point to bring birthdays back to where they belong.

Other Great Birthday Gatherings

My favorite birthday cake is the Dobasch cake from Baum’s. I can never decide if I like the lemon or chocolate better, so I like to get the half and half. Apparently a lot of people can’t make up their mind either. I may have to drop by for a piece today. I’ll probably spend a little time dreaming about what I want in my life this year. That’s probably the thing I like to do most on my birthday. I like to appreciate the fact that I’ve had time on this earth, the people I’ve known and loved and the hope that I will have much more to come.

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Slip-Sliding in Integrity and Impeccability

IMG_0970I’m having writer’s block. I don’t feel like writing. I feel like what I’m writing about is boring. Most days I’d just rather go to bed than write. They say the way to get through it is to keep writing. So, I’m going to do the best I can to keep using the prompts I know that work. Tonight, I pulled a Medicine Card with the request that they give me a topic to write about. I pulled the Jaguar card reversed.

I had to buy some new Medicine Cards before Christmas. I took them to work in my lunchbag and something leaked on them. I’ve had those cards since about 2000. I hated to get new ones because I loved the fact that those cards had been everywhere I’d been, but I had no other choice. They were sticking together, and I couldn’t shuffle them anymore. I ordered off David Carson’s website instead of going to Amazon. A friend of mine had ordered off Amazon, and the quality of the cards was not as nice as mine. I thought I’d do better to go to the source. I had some problems with PayPal, and contacted the website. Lo and behold, David himself emailed me back. I actually had an email conversation with the creator of the cards. I told him how much I loved them and that I write about them on my blog. He assured me that he didn’t know much about technology, but he’d love to check out my blog. I have no idea if he ever came by. But, it was really cool.

I got out of the habit of using the cards while I was waiting on my order. I’ve only drawn a few in the last few months. So, I thought I might draw tonight for inspiration. The Jaguar is about integrity and impeccability, a standard that is usually impossible to meet but is a great goal. Since I’m a perfectionist, I think in terms of always having integrity. If I slip up, I’m doomed…. a bad person ….needing to be punished ….  going to hell if there is any such thing. So, I hate when I draw this card. It reminds me of my imperfections in this area. I knew the card was reversed, so I suspected it was calling my attention to an area where I have not been impeccable or in integrity. I immediately listed all of those things I’ve done that I shouldn’t have done, the words I’ve said that should have never been spoken, the days when my attitude got the best of me. Really, Universe? This is what you want me to write about? Well, I’m not telling them where I’ve fallen short. This is public.

It does indeed ask me to correct those areas where I’ve fallen short. But, in the last few sentences, it also says, “Integrity requires a forgiving and open heart. Compassion and mercy are also needed. Self-blame or pointing fingers at others only shows your own lack of integrity.” It reminds me that I need to forgive myself when I fall short. I hate these slippery goals that aren’t black and white. If I’m going to be damned if I’m not in integrity, just do it. Don’t tell me to do it and then let me slide by telling me to forgive myself. I’m being facetious, of course. How could I function if I had to carry all of those faults over the years with me forever? And, I’ve learned over the years that I cannot forgive others completely until I forgive myself. If I’m still holding my own debts in unforgiveness, I truly can’t let go of others’. It is such an important practice and one that I slip and slide on all the time. I’m working on compassion for others’ shortcomings now in a big way. In some areas, I’ve expected too much of people who couldn’t do any better. It’s part acceptance, part forgiveness and part compassion. And none of it is easy… especially when it comes to my own shortcomings.

I’m working really hard to enjoy what is put in front of me. It’s a combination of having gratitude, cultivating acceptance and resolving to lower my expectations. The fact that I’m even trying is amazing because there was a long time in my life when I didn’t understand my role in my own unhappiness. And, if I’m truly honest, I know that some of the people I interact with on a daily basis are clueless in that area, too. Having been there, I should have more understanding that they don’t know any better. There I go with the ‘shoulds’ again. Let’s try that again. Having been there, I am going to have more understanding that they don’t know any better. When I was a supervisor at Starbucks, one of my teen baristas got treated really rudely by a customer at the drive-through. He was so hurt and didn’t understand why she treated him like that. I told him that he had to deal with her for 10 minutes. She has to live with herself all the time. His face brightened, “You’re right,” he said. It doesn’t make it hurt less, but sometimes it does help me have compassion when I remember how miserable it is to be unaware of what is causing my pain.

Sunday Night Check-In: Relationships, Acupuncture and Oatmeal

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So, I continue my promise to enjoy what is in front of me. After Friday’s sadness, I was happy that I was going to acupuncture at 8:30 AM on Saturday for some TLC. Dr. Zhong, my acupuncturist’s mentor was in town from China, and Stewart wanted me to see him to see if he had any insight on my heart palpitations. They have been getting less and less frequent, but they do appear from time to time. Dr. Zhong is a very nice, soft-spoken man, and he checked my tongue and my pulse. He made some recommendations for my chart, and then he asked me if I’d been having any pain in my lower back or knees. I told him that I had a knee issue that had sidelined me from running.

Dr. Zhong, Me and Stewart

Dr. Zhong, Me and Stewart

I love Chinese medicine because they look at everything holistically. This is not the first time that an acupuncturist has been treating one thing and then predicted another ailment. Whereas a medical doctor would treat the one problem, they see patterns in the body and treat the pattern. This won’t make sense to you, and it really doesn’t make sense to me, but he said my kidneys and my heart were not communicating to each other. I asked him about all the food reactions I’ve been having. He said stress is the trigger, and my body reacts to stress in this particular way. When the stressor is gone, and we work to strengthen my body through acupuncture, the food issues will subside. So, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It sure motivated me to get busy getting healthy and remove the major stressors in my life by removing them or changing the way I think about them. He said if I continue the way I am, the heart palpitations will eventually show up in my EKG as an irregular heartbeat and cause heart problems. That’s why it’s important to treat them now.

His advice motivated me to eat a lot of healthy food this weekend. I went to the Farmer’s Market and loaded up on vegetables, oatmeal, fresh dairy and eggs. I usually eat steel-cut oatmeal, and I am almost out. I asked the woman at Papa Tom’s booth if she had any, and she said no. I started to walk off, and she explained to me how they process their oatmeal. I love the idea of oatmeal processed in an old-fashioned way, so I ended up buying some. I’m making some overnight oatmeal for in the morning. She describes the recipe in the below video. It looks really yummy, and it’ll be ready when I get up.

Today was the beginning of my birthday week. A group of women friends went out for brunch at Another Broken Egg and then saw the Wizard of Oz at Perkins Rowe. It was so much fun. My friend Laurie – who I had not seen since high school – came. My sister, her daughter and her step-daugter were there. My new friend Kim, my new/old friend Jo Ann and my co-worker Jennifer joined us, too. I had so much fun visiting with everybody. The food was delicious. We went shopping, and then lined up for the movie. I spent a good hour after the movie in a long, intimate conversation with my Jennifer over some peppermint tea. I left there feeling so connected and loved. It was easy to enjoy what was placed in front of me today.

20150111_155058One of the things I love about the Wizard of Oz is the relationship between Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and Toto. They are there for each other. When Dorothy was imprisoned in the Witch’s Castle, Toto escaped and went to get the band of travelers to help. I wondered if people in real life would actually risk their lives for someone they just met. I know it’s a story, but follow me here. They dropped everything and went – even the Cowardly Lion. The movie is centered around relationships. It’s about family. It’s about friendship. It’s about helping others get what they need. My friend Jennifer and I talked about that tonight. What are we here for? Are we supposed to do something? Or is it enough to just be here for each other? In my mind I often think there needs to be some grand thing that I give to the world. But, what if the grandest thing I can give is my presence when someone else needs it? Could it really be that simple?

I had a rather lousy week last week. I lost a lot of sleep two nights in a row. I ate badly, and I suffered the consequences. I didn’t exercise as much as I should have. It’s no wonder I felt a little sad on Friday. I still feel a little sad, but I feel really grateful for the people I have in my life that show up for me day after day, even when I’m not at my best. Wicked witches, flying monkeys, tornadoes and lying wizards aside, the world is a friendlier place when I don’t walk the yellow brick road alone. Lions, tigers and bears … Oh, My ….. There’s No Place Like Home. Where did I put those ruby slippers, anyway?

Random Reflections on a Friday Night

IMG_0893My thoughts are all over the place tonight. This week was very busy for me. I caught up with all of my appointments I missed over the holidays. They were fun, but they took time, and I found myself missing my regular exercise. I tuned in for yoga classes a couple of times at 6 AM this week on my new fitness site, and I walked my dog as much as possible, but I didn’t get any strength-training or running in at all. I feel like a slug. Of course, a slug would probably freeze in this weather, but I seem to be hanging in. I just have a lot of pent-up energy that I need to let loose.

So, instead of getting up and doing something, I decided to surf the internet. I stumbled across this article that AARP wrote about the perks of dating boomer women. It emphatically proclaimed that men should date closer to their age. Of course, I found that interesting. I’m in an age where the older guys want to date me, but much older gets me dating someone in a much different stage of life. I’d prefer to find someone my own age. But, many of the guys my age prefer to date younger. It frustrates me when I look at dating sites, and the age requirements declare they want a woman at least 5 years younger them at the least. You can read the article here. The article kind of made me feel good about myself. There seems to be perks about being older and more seasoned. I’ve been fairly depressed about the dating scene the last year, and I’ve decided to get out and meet people the old-fashioned way. I think that may work better for me. But it’s slow.

I read some of the stuff about the Paris terrorist attack. I would love to bury my head in the sand and pretend that I didn’t know about some of the bad stuff that goes on in this world. It does scare me that these evil thugs can target individual citizens and walk in and take their lives on what appears to be a normal day at work. I looked at the murderer’s faces and wondered what their parents must be thinking right now. Who would ever think their children would be capable of something like this? How do people become capable of doing things like this? I don’t understand it at all. Why can’t we all just get along?

For some reason today, I googled an old beau. I dated a Democratic State Senator in Tennessee that I met on Match. He was nice enough, but he was divorced the year before, and he hadn’t really announced it to his constituency. He thought it would hurt his re-election efforts if they knew he was divorced. So, his ex still went with him to some events. Sometimes I thought he was maybe still married and lying about it. Other times, I thought he was being a big chicken by not telling the truth about his life and letting the chips fall where they may. I ended it without really giving it much of a chance. Both scenarios turned me off. I found out he was not re-elected anyway. I was tempted to contact him to say hi and then thought better of it. No need to open that can of worms.

Then, I skipped over to my Live Fitness site to see what was happening on the discussion board. Jessica is starting a running group. She tore her meniscus in the fall, and she’s been sidelined from running for 2 months. So, she’s starting a Couch-to-5K training program. I had been thinking earlier that I really needed to find something to get me going again. It’s probably been 3 weeks since I’ve been exercising regularly. And, to be honest, I just don’t feel like it right now. But, I know I will only get the energy to exercise if I start exercising. If I keep sitting, I will only want to sit more. A body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest, you know? I’m on the couch now. I’d like to be running a 5K in the future. It sounds like a Couch-to-5K program would be a great match-up for my goals.

I suppose I feel a little down tonight. My heart feels a little heavy. I saw a picture of some old high school friends on Facebook. One of their classmate’s funeral last week. Seeing those faces reminded me of days in baseball uniforms, dreams that had no basis in reality and the innocence of thinking that life was a series of dances, laughter and fun. Did we ever really think that we’d be attending OUR funerals one day? I can’t recall ever having that in my imagination. My biggest worry was how to keep my hair from frizzing with enough hairspray to create a fairly secure football helmet. Old age … well … it was for old people. And I was young. Our friend that died was hot and cool and rebellious when he wasn’t being smart and kind. My young friend Jessica is attending weddings and losing time with gal pals to pregnancies and husbands. I remember those days, too. We are cohorts, aren’t we, in this school of life? No matter how far we go, we all go there together in time. That feels happy and sad to me at the same time. And, then again, maybe life is a series of dances, laughter and fun – whether we gather at weddings or funerals. I’ll have to noodle on that awhile. But, RIP Leonard. You live on in your friends until the last one is standing.

I’m looking forward to a great weekend. The events will hopefully pull me out of my little dip of sadness. I think I’ll head to bed for some reading and some snuggles with my kitties. My heart goes out to Paris …. to those without friends to comfort them … to animals looking for a warm place to land … and to those whose journey here is much more troubled and precarious than mine. I wish this world were a gentler place. I hunger for softness, kindness, warmth and love. My heart goes out to you, wherever you are. May God bless you with all that I want for myself. Good night and happy weekend.

I

Exploring the Future… Through the Lens of the Past

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I’ve started an exciting exploration this week. I’m going through a process to look at my career through the lens of my personality and my interests. It’s fun because I’m not necessarily doing anything right now. I’m just sticking my hand in the cookie jar and seeing what comes up. I knew that people with my personality type love teaching, counseling and being a minister. But, it turns out that there’s another factor to consider when considering a career. In fact, my guide says it’s even more important. It’s my interests.

So, I took an assessment to determine my interests. She then crossed my interests with my ENFP personality traits, and some interesting things came out of it. Apparently, I have a strong “enterprising” streak which skews me off the teacher roles, although in some situations, it would be a good fit. Marketing Manager, salesperson and operations manager were some that were interesting but didn’t surprise me much. But, there were a couple that really got me daydreaming about a different sort of life. Florist, bartender and chef were from left field but were good fits because I could run my own operation AND serve people. I found myself thinking about spending my days working odd hours and surrounded by wonderful smells in the kitchen or beautiful flowers. Mmmmmm …. how nice that might be. No more corporate baloney. No more 8 to 5. The new boss is the customer, and I can make my own decisions. I also accept my own risks. I must say I’m kind of excited about exploring something vastly different.

In the process, she had me name my role models when I was a kid and tell her what I daydreamed about. I daydreamed about singing in front of an adoring crowd. I sang out in the pasture in our backyard all the time. The crowd adored me. Applause roared, and the lights shone in my eyes … until my sister hit me over the head with a stick. But I never lost the dream. My role models were my high school English teacher Lady Lester and Mickey Mantle. She made me describe them, and she laughed. The first thing I said was Mickey Mantle was a wacky alcoholic, but I read every book I could find about him. And, Mrs. Lester? I just remembered that she was really cute, little and cool, and she cared about each of us in a way that was obvious one-on-one attention. She also taught me a process for writing that I still use to this day. She then broke the news to me that my role models as a child WERE me. So, I guess I”m some wacky mix-up of Mickey Mantle and Lady Lester. Odd, I guess, but it fits. And I forgot about Scarlet O’Hara. She was a favorite, and she couldn’t keep a husband either. We both have that same idea that men are somewhat utilitarian, and, if the need strikes us, we’ll get one. Otherwise, marriage just doesn’t seem like that much fun.

Another eye-opening revelation is that all of my favorite past jobs were those that I held at Whirlpool between 1993 – 2003. I was an Innovation Mentor and ran business experiments to see what new businesses we might create. I even managed a handyman business in Orlando called Rent-A-Husband right after 9/11. I worked with a trade school to start a program for female appliance technicians in Wisconsin. I was also on a demanding project team that wore my ass out with travel. I used all of my strengths in communication, training, helping others and managing an operation. It makes me wonder if I shouldn’t have stayed there and maybe tried field sales or training. Sometimes it is good to look back. You might find something interesting.

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One of my friends in St. Joseph MI – where I lived when I worked at Whirlpool Corporate – posted a picture of the Amtrak station today. I longed to bundle up and walk downtown to Cafe Tosi’s for a mocha in the slush and the snow. My ex-co-worker Ann told me it will be -11 tonight. She said it’s beautiful but really brutal. I remember those days. I loved to bundle up and go into someplace warm and cozy. It felt like a 5 year vacation in another land. I don’t know if I’d want to live there for all time, but I wouldn’t mind going back for a visit soon, and I actually wouldn’t mind if it was in winter. Everybody here is freaking out because it’s going to be in the 20s tonight for about 6 hours. It won’t get over 15 in St. Joe tomorrow. Brrrr…. but that’s what long johns and scarves are for. I can’t get there tonight, but I can show you the webcam.

Click here to see Silver Beach.

I”m loving this journey through my past and my interests. It’s making me think about a future that might be a bit different, and that’s exciting. Who knows what I’ll do. My current field is also on the list, but I have to have an environment where I have some autonomy. I apparently have some issues with authority and want to be in control of my own domain. I’ll accept that about myself. My guide has told me just to explore right now. I can’t make any decisions. So, I’m shopping a bit. Singing wasn’t on that list, but public speaking was. Maybe one day I’ll have that roaring audience that I always dreamed about.

Oh, yeah… my friend Ann is looking for a home for some kittens that were born in her new barn in Ohio. She works in Benton Harbor some weeks and lives permanently in Ohio. They are so adorable, I had to post them just to see if any of you might want one. We’ll get them to you if you want one …. or two!

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Sunday Night Check-In: Still Enjoying What’s In Front of Me

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My new rug!! The animals were enthralled.

I went into Friday with no plans for the weekend. I planned to lounge around, surf the internet, get back into my workout routine, dye my hair and clean my house! Well.…… like I said last week, I’m trying to enjoy what’s put in front of me. My Memphis friend Gerry and his partner Kristi texted me to ask me to lunch in New Orleans on Saturday. Of course, I would do that. Then my friend Beth wanted to meet for coffee. So, I met her before I drove out to NOLA. It was a long day of fun conversations and great food. I wish I could say the same for the weather. The weather was so bad that my friend Jascia texted me from Cincinnati to check on me. The weather was still calm on my drive back from New Orleans, but as soon as I hit Baton Rouge, the bottom fell out. It absolutely poured all afternoon and evening. I thought I would drown.

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The baked Redfish at Peche Seafood Grill. It was delicious, but the fried brussels sprouts took my breath away!

I went to bed Saturday night with the air conditioning on, and I turned on the heat when I woke up. I’m getting used to the drill. It’s either hot or cold. It doesn’t seem to fall anywhere in between. And, if it is comfortable temperature-wise, the humidity hangs in the air so bad that I turn on the AC just to clear it. Blessedly, it looks like we’ll be in the 20s and 30s all week except for Saturday.

I have discovered a reason to be grateful for this crazy Louisiana weather. On New Year’s Day, my sister-in-law had an absolutely beautiful bok choy sitting on her counter. It was so pretty that I would like to have it in a vase. She said she grew it. “In January,” I asked incredulously. She told me that winter is actually a better time for crops down here because there are fewer bugs. So I went to the farmer’s market on Saturday to see if they might have a few more veggies than they had the last time I visited in November. I expected to see a few things, but I would enjoy what was put in front of me. I was stunned to see a cornucopia of greens, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peppers, lettuces and even strawberries. I loaded up my bags for $25 and vowed that I would never complain about the Louisiana weather again. Having access to local home-grown veggies in the wintertime is just about as great as winning the lottery. What a lasting gift of good health!

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Today, I had the opportunity to exercise with Jessica via the Live Streaming Fitness video she made last week. The 30-minute workout was really good. I half-expected it to be too easy since I was using dumbbells instead of gym equipment, but it was a great workout! Tomorrow morning, I’m tuning in to the live yoga class at 6 AM. I’m really enjoying my membership. In fact, I’m considering dropping my gym membership when the contract is up in March. I like working out at home on my own timetable.

IMG_0933I bought some beautiful cabbage from the farmer’s market, so I wanted to make some cabbage soup. I didn’t have a recipe, so I just made one up. I added 1/2 pound sliced andouille sausage, a cup of cubed sweet potato, an onion and 5 cloves of garlic to some olive oil. I sauteed those until they were brown. Then I added some broth, cajun seasoning, 2 small chopped granny smith apples and about 3 cups of chopped cabbage. I boiled that for about 20 minutes and tossed in a can of black-eyed peas. It was absolutely fabulous! I have plenty to eat for the week ahead plus I have lots of greens and veggies for salads. What a healthy start for the week!

IMG_0934-1All weekend I was trying to enjoy what was put in front of me. It’s my new approach to life. We’ll see how it works when I get back to the office tomorrow. Hopefully, it will change my outlook. I’m not sure how to enjoy a gray cubicle, but I suppose I can enjoy being in a building that is on the National Register of Historic Places. I was in there on Friday all alone, and I swear a ghost was trying to open the door in the front lobby. It totally freaked me out. But it must have been friendly. I had a pretty decent day. I hope you all have a good first week back to work. Think about enjoying what is put in front of you. I’m telling you … it’s a great way to change your perspective. Oh … and I doubt I’ll never complain about the weather again. That was a momentary delusion.

Good-Bye 2014: A Love Letter

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One of my favorite yoga teachers and best friends has a blog on her business website for Evergreen Yoga. Today, she posted a love letter to release 2014. She challenged her readers to do a similar thing, and I think it’s a great idea. I’m sitting here right now with Ashok listening to fireworks all over the city, although they are illegal here. I made a big pot of Amish Hearty Soup for dinner with hot french rolls and grass-fed butter. I am still percolating over the topic at my 12-step meeting tonight, and I feel tired but not exhausted from my trip this last week. There was no doubt in my mind that I would spend New Years’ Eve at home alone. I can’t even remember the last time I went out on New Years’. If I”m honest, I kind of miss it this year for some reason. My friend Alayne said she was going out dancing, and it sounded like so much fun. But, I don’t have the choice, and, like I said this morning, I’m trying to enjoy what is in front of me.

So, Leah suggests the letter answer the following questions:

  • What am I most proud of this year?
  • What am I going to forgive this year? Forgive myself for? Forgive life for?
  • What am I letting go of? What did I already let go of in 2014? Want to let go of but are not ready yet?
  • What action can I take to close the door on 2014?

So here goes:

Dear 2014:

It is New Year’s Eve, and I look back on you with mixed emotions. I remember being really depressed at your inception last year, and I had to work really hard to assure myself that this year would be a bit easier. Unfortunately, you have been a very hard bull to ride, and I can honestly say that I’d like to say good-bye with a flourish. I hope 2015 is kinder and gentler to me.

That being said, I am very proud of myself for some huge steps I took in 2014. I finally started to deal with my anxiety issues in a big way. I took steps to eliminate stimulants, add meditation and yoga back into my life and continue to eat right and exercise. It was not a fun journey, but I stuck with it – especially in those difficult 3 weeks withdrawing from caffeine – and I’m better for it. I’m also proud of myself to identifying that I needed to buckle down and pay off some debt. I had to give up some very important items for many months, but I showed myself that my financial well-being was important enough to stick with some hard decisions. Speaking of decisions, I also had to make some key decisions around work, and I worked really hard to make some changes in my professional life. The changes have not been made, but the exploration is underway, and I’m proud of myself for choosing to explore options instead of making a snap decision. This was a difficult year for me in many ways, but I can say that I grew a LOT. You gave me the lessons, but I am proud of myself for doing the work.

I didn’t do everything well, and I want to forgive myself for some of those missteps. I want to forgive myself for pushing myself too hard at times to find a solution to my professional dilemma. I forgot that God is in charge of this area of my life, too, and I got panicked about what I needed to do. My panic caused me a great deal of pain, and I was more irritable with friends and co-workers than I needed to be. I’m turning the corner on that, so I’ll make my amends by being better in the future. I am not perfect, and I was – and am – very scared. I want to forgive myself for not being perfect.

I want to forgive life for the series of events this year that have caused my anxiety to escalate. Events in my history converged with 2014’s events to disturb my sleep, make me irritable and discontent and began to affect my health. Life, I know in better days that your events are meaningless. It’s my reaction to them that causes me problems. But, my reactions are much more difficult to control when I have this tendency toward anxiety. I forgive you for all of the events that gave me that condition and for the ones this year that exacerbated my condition. I also forgive you for the damn weather down here. Well… actually … maybe I’ll work on that one for next year.

In your midst, I was able to let go of two of my remaining addictions – sugar and caffeine – in one of the most stressful years of the last 5 or so. And now, at the end of your reign, I am in the process of letting go of my career path. I can’t control what is going to happen with that. I can only take the next right step. I’m letting go of my worry about the future and trusting that 2015 will move me along my path in a positive direction. This won’t be easy as the aforementioned anxiety will cramp my style. I wish I could let go of the anxiety. But anxiety will need to let go of me. All I can do is make my body a less desirable place to live with faith, self-care and support. I let go of the outcome. Anxiety … best of luck to you.

I’m going to take an Epsom salt bath to wash 2014 off my body and prepare myself for the new year. I’ll light a candle and let the gentle light burn away the old year’s residue and create space for its replacement. I will not greet 2015 nor will I watch 2014 leave. I will go to bed and let my subconscious guide me into the new year. When I awake, you will be gone, 2014. I am grateful for your coming, and I am grateful for your going. And I think that’s exactly the way it should be.

Happy New Year, 2015! Bring it on….

With much gratitude and respect to the departing year,

Sharon