Category Archives: Life

Dear 2018

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As 2018 draws to an end I find myself reminiscing the happenings of the year.  Holy moly, it was a MAJOR year for our family.  Not only did we have some huge changes, but we also had a multitude of tiny life events that added to the excitement (and stress) of 2018.

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About a week ago I saw this meme on Facebook and immediately the word that popped into my mind to describe 2018 was “CHANGE”.    We have had so much change.

2018 was our first full year without Leo.  We are still humbled on a regular occasion when strangers contact us thanking us for sharing Leo’s story.  We love knowing that Leo is still touching lives during their time of need, even in his afterlife.  Leo was truly the BEST BOY.  We were blessed to have him in our lives on a daily basis for over 14+ years, from bottle feeding him as a puppy, to having my hand on his chest as he took his final breath on 8/21/2017.  We wholeheartedly thank Leo for every moment we had with him and the lifetime of memories he provided us.

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The beginning of February saw Kuki having oral surgery that removed 8.5 teeth (yes, I do have them saved in a small baggie…they were only the tiny front teeth), and Doc having a double surgery at once.  Doc had his stenotic nares fixed (had no idea they would take so long to heal, but now he is able to breath like a champ), and a large lump between his shoulder blades removed.  I laugh because the vet did internal sutures with Doc’s lump surgery, which left two tiny lumps at the end of his scar line.  Kuki’s surgery went smooth, but her healing was a challenge as she developed a heck of a cough, that took a couple different medications to get under control (of course this crazy mama bear went into panic mode fearing we would lose our girl).

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We opened our hearts and home again, just a few days after Doc and Kuki’s surgeries.  When Leo passed I adamantly said “I can’t do this again” even though I knew that we would have to in the future with Doc and Kuki.  In February of 2018 I was contacted by a client, letting me know about a senior disabled Pug that needed a forever home and that she believed we would be the best home for the Pug.  On February 8th we did our meet and greet, driving hours over an Oregon mountain pass (thankfully snow free), and immediately feel in love.  Her name was Lulu.  This name didn’t stick with her long as we quickly realized that it was her “abuse” name and we wanted her to feel happy and safe.  After a few months the name Wu-Puggy stuck with her.  Wu-Puggy has Pug Myelopathy, causing her to have limited control over her hind legs, bladder, and bowel.  Wu is also prone to UTI’s because of her condition.  During the first couple weeks after adopting  her from the Willamette Humane Society, I honestly questioned if we were the best choice of family for her as she was so much work and her adjustment had been a challenge.  I now regret having those second thoughts as we couldn’t imagine our lives without our loving, curious, spunky little Wu-Puggy.  We did learn that having a senior disabled Pug can be quite expensive.  We did also learn how to express her bladder so that she is finally able to eliminate all of her urine and hopefully in the long-run lessen her amount of UTI’s.  Since learning to express Wu-Puggy she has no longer needs to wear her doggy diapers, which makes her a happy girl.  This also makes us happy as there are no urinary accidents any more, eliminating quite a bit of stress and manual labor (aka LAUNDRY and dog baths).  As of right now we are helping keep Wu-Puggy as healthy and happy as possible with a vast supply of supplements, doggy stretches, and all the love we can give.  To end this Wu-Puggy section we say “ADOPT DON’T SHOP” when it comes to adding a new family member.  Don’t forget the senior dogs.  Don’t overlook the disabled dogs.  They are so full of love and all they want is a family to live out the rest of their days with.

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2018 also brought a long-distance move for our family.  A move back home.  After spending 5.5 wonderful years in beautiful central Oregon we made the decision to move back home to Minnesota.  As you know, moving is stressful!  Now, make that move long-distance, with three dogs (two of which are senior disabled), on a limited budget, a husband that has an amazing amount of stuff,  and without the 100% security that the home we would be moving into would be available by the time we arrived…holy moly stressful.  When all was said and done, we arrived safe and sound.  The move all together from out west to getting stuff out of a storage unit here in Minnesota took just under four months, three separate moving trucks (one giant one for the main move, two for getting stuff from the storage unit), four dump trips, two tow trailers, fifteen different helpers (people helping load, unload, haul, professionally clean, carpet clean, etc.), and well over $4,000…ouch.

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Adjusting to the changes from the move has been a challenge.  Personally, I have never done well with change, the older I get the harder it seems to be to adjust.  New state (well, not a new one as the majority of my life has been in Minnesota), new house, new neighbors, new noises (we hear sirens every day now),  new taxes (yes, MN has more and higher taxes than OR), new utilities, new vet, new job for the hubby, rebuilding my business client base…just a ton of new that was overall good, but extremely challenging at the same time.  My husband got his dream job which is fabulous, but the first four months we were here he had a total of one day off…yes, ONE DAY in four months.  I think that made settling in a little more challenging as I was busy working on rebuilding my pet sitting business, and doing household projects while he was busting his butt at work, meaning the tiny bit of awake time we spent together was essentially just a quick cup of coffee in the mornings and the “how was your day” conversations in the evenings before drifting away to sleep.  Thankfully, with the change in seasons, he does now get some time off and is working to make sure that he will have one day off per week once the busy season starts at his work.  Even though it has taken quite a bit of time, we are both settling in well to our new location.

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This year also brought family, reconnections and new connections.  Moving back to Minnesota helped reunite family.  My husband got to spend his birthday with his son for the first time in many years.  The cool thing about this was his son came down (lives just a couple hour drive away), treated him to lunch, and spent the day at his work with him as he didn’t have the day off…this made my husband’s day.   I hadn’t seen my two sisters or brother in 20-22 years…yes, a lifetime.  Have gotten to spend some time with each of these siblings and their spouses doing a variety of activities from a zoo activity to concerts.  Needless to say, after so many years of not seeing each other or being in contact much, there is a ton of getting to know each other still to do, but now living back in Minnesota and being near family will make this easier.  One of my sisters thought it would be fun for us all to do 23 and Me genetic testing so see what percentage of DNA we shared (as they are full siblings and I am just a half, sharing the same mother).  Much to my surprise the day that 23 and Me contacted with my results I also found out that I have a half-brother from my dad’s side.  It was interesting getting to know him through messages and we look forward to meeting him sometime in 2019.

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This year brought more than reconnecting my husband with his son (they have always been in contact, but getting to live close and see each other has been a plus for both of them).  It brought more than reconnecting me with my two sisters and two brothers (it is interesting saying two there as for 38 years of my life it had only been one).  It brought a connection to quite a few members of my dad’s side of the family.  I was honored to be able to connect with and help a cousin of mine as she went through radiation and chemotherapy in her fight against a brain tumor…she is an amazing person who is showing that tumor who the boss lady is and I think we became part of each others lives at the perfect time.  One of the things I am loving about living back in Minnesota is that we are now close (distance wise) to family again, making it easier to visit, catch-up, etc.  During the summer I also got to meet my Aunt Kathy from my mom’s side of the family that came out from California.  Was also spoiled by a visit from my cousin Dani and her wife Vanessa.

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Lessons I’ve Learned and Knowledge Gained from 2018

  • Change can be scary.  Change can be challenging.  Change can be amazing.  Change can be an excellent learning opportunity.
  • Goodbyes are hard, as are Hellos sometimes.
  • My anxiety sometimes makes me seem like an a$$hole, especially to those people who don’t know me well.
  • I struggle to bond, connect with, and trust others.  When thinking about this in depth I realize that there are few people who actually know me.  Yes, a lot of people know of me, or some things about me, or some things they’ve heard about me from someone else, but not many actually know me.  I am painfully guarded.
  • I am stronger than I believed.
  • I am an over-thinker (even though this isn’t new information).  Sometimes it takes me longer to process things than it does most people.
  • No matter what you do in life you will always be the bad guy in someone’s story.
  • No matter what you do in life you will always be the light in someone’s story.
  • You can’t control what people say about you behind your back, but you can control your reaction (or lack there of).
  • Speaking your truth will be/is one of the hardest things you will ever do in life.  The best you can hope for is understanding, compassion, and that the person/people who you confided in believe and support you.
  • Best friends are just that…the BEST.
  • Family is not only genetics, but the people we chose to have and keep close in our lives.
  • I love my privacy.
  • Some people in our lives will love and support us for exactly who we are.  Of course, on the other hand, there will always be other people in our lives that try to change us and make us not feel like who we are is enough…don’t let those people get to you.
  • Words are powerful.  Words can lift you up.  Words can crush you.  Someone can walk up and slap you in the face, you will immediately be shocked, angry, and in pain, but all of those will go away with virtually no lasting result.  Words on the other hand end up etching deep in your memory and can still cause pain years later.  Learning to not let those words have power over you is a challenge…something I am still working on.
  • Learning new skills is wonderful.
  • When you do something or complete something you are proud of, don’t be ashamed of being proud of it!  Own it!  Seriously, I built gates, stairs, etc. this year and was (am) extremely proud of how good of a job I did and how each of the little projects add up to make a nicer place.  I often struggle with finding good in myself or being proud of myself for anything, so being proud of the projects I completed over the year is a huge step.
  • Dogs are the best therapy.  I love being a professional pet sitter, even if other people don’t consider it a real job.  I get to provide care for, teach, play with, snuggle with, and love so many amazing animals, and for that I am honored.
  • Always take the time to look at a situation from not only your view point, but the other parties point of view.  Kind of like a walk a mile in their shoes.  Take your time to understand them and hope that they reciprocate.
  • I have gained new insight this year into things that trigger my anxiety.  This is priceless.  Every little bit of extra knowledge helps.
  • I realized that I have never felt like I belong.  I wasn’t raised around family.  Heck, didn’t meet the majority of family members from my dad’s side until I was 12 years old.  Unfortunately, this left me feeling like an outsider.  I’ve always felt like an outsider or a flattened tire with my siblings too, like I am just there clinging on, unwanted.
  • There are so many more things I learned, but my brain is now mush at this point and I am just ready for 2018 to be over.  2018 was a great and exhausting year.

 

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Image Credits Creator:wujekjery Credit:Getty Images Copyright:This content is subject to copyright.

Knowing the word that best described 2018 was CHANGE, I found myself thinking about the word I would like to describe 2019.  I would like that word to be STABILITY.  This last year had so many changes that I would like this upcoming year (and hopefully the years following) to offer some stability.  Stability in our home/living situation.  Stability in our dogs’ health.  Stability in our finances.  Stability in our family.  Stability in our relationships…friendships, family bonds, etc.  I have had a lifetime of instability, so having just turned 39 years old I would love to put down the permanent roots and have the security and stability of knowing I belong.  Belong in a place, belong in a family.  Stability, yes, that is a good word for 2019.

 

 

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The Never Goodbye

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I’ve written this blog a hundred times at night as I lay trying to fall asleep, each time slightly different, each time with tears muffled in my pillow. Honestly, I don’t believe that I will ever be ready to write it. I force myself in this moment, with tears in my eyes, and an emptiness in my soul to type this out, as maybe in sharing our loss we will be able to take another small step forward in the healing process.

 

Today, March 11, 2018, would have been Leo’s 15th birthday. Leo didn’t make it to today. Leo lived to be 14 years, 5 months, and 10 days old. Our little old man passed away on August 21, 2017 (the eclipse), in the comfort of his home, surrounded by all the love we could give him. Leo took his final breath with mom’s hand on his little rib cage comforting him at 8:21 p.m. He passed naturally, with no chemical assistance (even though his vet did offer to come to our home and help him pass). Not sure how everyone else is with numbers, but we see Leo’s passing as significant as he took his final breath at 8:21 on 8/21, he wanted us to always remember just how amazing of a boy he was.
In the end Leo’s little body could no longer battle the Cushing’s disease and the cancer, but he sure tried. Leo outlived his vet’s life expectancy guess twice. In January of 2016 we were told we would be “lucky to have a few good months.” In June of 2016 we were told he probably had “a few weeks left.” The mum bear in me couldn’t handle the thought of only a few more weeks, so we made big changes to help keep Leo as healthy and happy as possible. Immediately we changed his diet to 100% homemade full of inflammation fighting and cancer fighting goodness to help him with his battle. We started him on a cannabinoid based supplement. Finally, I stayed home to care for him (though this put us behind, I wouldn’t have it any other way as being there to care for my old boy during the end of his life when he needed me the most was the best thing I could do for him as a pet parent). A diet change, natural supplement, and full-time care helped Leo outlive the vet estimate and gave us more time with him, which of course is never enough.

 
During Leo’s life he taught me many valuable lessons. Leo taught me what unconditional love was as his love the was pure (I am still working on transferring this knowledge to humans). Leo taught me how to put someone else’s needs before my own, as no matter what happened in life I would always put him first. Leo was the love of my life. He was my lifesaver, as I have had dark times where I questioned my need for living, but knew that he needed me and I couldn’t hurt him by ending myself. I loved Leo more than life itself, and told him every day. Leo was my best friend. Leo was my son. People say, “it’s just a dog”, no Leo wasn’t just a dog. I am honored to have called him son, friend, love, lifesaver. He was truly the best boy.

 
Since Leo’s passing we’ve realized how truly amazing it is that one little dog could touch so many lives, both during his life and since his passing. How one little dog could help so many strangers. We get messages on a regular basis thanking us for sharing Leo’s eye enucleation story and providing families with some comfort when it comes to their fur kids going through the same procedure. We love that Leo’s story has helped and is helping so many, it warms our hearts. We’ve also realized how important that connection with others is, that connection that helps others, that connection of family bonds…that human connection. It took an amazing little spunky Boston Terrier named Leo to make us truly think about and appreciate love, each other, others, and the connection that brings us all together.

 
Thank you, Leo, for all the laughs, the memories, the stories, the love. Though we had to say goodbye to your physical presence, we will never say goodbye to your spectacular soul.

 

 

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An Open Letter to Ann Coulter

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An Open Letter to Ann Coulter.

THANK YOU John Franklin Stephens for your wonderful heartfelt letter!!

Please take the time to learn more and educate others by going to http://www.r-word.org/

Aging Independently & Doctors Know Best?

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  Dorothy was born the day after President Calvin Coolidge declared the Statue of Liberty a national monument.  Dorothy has lived through Lindbergh’s nonstop flight across the Atlantic, the stock market crashing, the development of plastic, WWII, Pearl Harbor, the A-bomb, tv becoming the next big thing,  Alaska and Hawaii becoming states, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy’s assassination, the British Invasion, hippies, a man on the moon, the endangered species act, introduction of the world-wide web, 9-11, and all of the moments in history in-between. 

     Dorothy was married.  She gave birth to 5 children, but was only able to raise 4 of them due to one passing away while being born.  In her 40’s Dorothy decided to stand-up for herself and divorced her husband who she believed was stepping out on her (a story in itself), this left her to raise her youngest child independently, he was 12 years old at the time.  Dorothy raised her children, worked full-time, maintained a home, was an active member of the community and a very independent woman.  Dorothy lived through the untimely death of her oldest son.

     After all of Dorothy’s children were raised and moved out on their own she became an empty nester.  Dorothy never remarried or even considered remarrying.  Dorothy spent almost four decades living independently after her children moved away.  Her youngest child always lived close and was able to help with tasks that she was no longer able to do on her own like putting the dock in and taking it out, mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, fixing the roof and so on.  A few years back Dorothy slipped and ended up laying on the floor of her home for almost 13 hours before her son came to check-in on her.  She did not break anything, or even get hurt, but her son decided that for her safety she should live with him…this also helped him because their homes were almost 35 miles apart and fuel prices were on the rise.

     Dorothy lived with her son for a few months, she was doing well and slowly starting to adjust to her new living situation.  Not too long after that her son got married and the household became three (well, 4 with the dog).  Dorothy’s sons new wife had worked in health care for many years and having her help was very appreciated.  The home was large and everyone had their own space, so there was still a feeling of privacy and independence.  A year later Dorothy’s son got a job in a different state and Dorothy was offered the choice of finding a nice assisted living facility in the area or moving out-of-state too.  Dorothy had no interest in living in a facility and decided to move with the family.

     The new home in the new state was not handicap friendly.  Dorothy uses a walker and physically is unable to manuever stairs without assistance.  In the new home the three bedrooms were upstairs, so the family set up the livingroom as Dorothy’s bedroom.  Her bed, dresser, lift chair, television, everything in one convenient place…a living bedroom.  At first Dorothy seemed to be comfortable with the set-up, but soon her family found that she was spending very little time in her bed at night which was causing increased edema in her legs.  Dorothy’s mood slowly worsened and she overall seemed very unhappy.  Her family sat down and talked with her and Dorothy explained that she had been independent her entire life and that she wanted to have her own apartment and be independent again, she explained that lack of privacy from not having her own bedroom was really wearing on her. 

     After months of searching the perfect little affordable apartment was found.  The apartment was close to her son and daughter-in-law’s house so that they could stop in and “check” on her everyday (at least once a day).  Dorothy’s apartment was decorated with paintings that he father had done, antique family furniture, and other wonderful things from her past that made her happy.   Dorothy was happy to have her own bedroom and her family soon noticed that she was actually sleeping the whole night through in her bed, and even taking a nap now and then during the day in her bed.  The swelling in her legs decreased significantly, her mood increased significantly.  Dorothy enjoyed feeling like she was independent again.  After a lifetime of being fiercely independent, being able to have that feeling of independence back was exactly what Dorothy needed. 

     Everyday Dorothy’s family comes in and preps her breakfast and lunch for the next day, they make her a wonderful hot supper and spend quality time visiting with her.  They make sure her home is clean, laundry is done, assist her with bathing, do all of her grocery shopping, assist her with making sure bills are paid, and in assisting her with all of these things Dorothy has the belief that she is living independent.  Yes, she gets a lot of help, but loves having her privacy and alone time.

     Due to a different family member attempting to cause some trouble a few months back Dorothy has been being visited by a social worker monthly and has been forced to go have a physical.  Dorothy comes from the school-of-thought that if it isn’t broken don’t fix it, so getting her to go to a doctor’s appointment when she was not sick was like pulling teeth.  This last Monday Dorothy went to her unwanted doctors appointment.  The doctor was shocked that a senior woman of 87 years old was not on any prescribed medications, that all she takes is a daily multi-vitamin.  The doctor did a basic once over on Dorothy and encouraged her to get booster shots.  Dorothy agreed to the booster shots, but strongly refused to get the $300 shingles shot that medicare does not cover.  The doctor told her that she needed to get a pap-smear, mammogram and other tests and Dorothy immediately stood up for herself and told him “No, I don’t want those tests.”  The doctor spent less than ten minutes all together with Dorothy and during that time encouraged her to “move to an assisted living facility” at least four times, Dorothy was not pleased with his pushing and said “I am happy where I am.”

 

This gives you the back story and brings me to my points and questions.  I am the daughter-in-law who has worked in health care for over eleven years.  I’ve worked in group homes, nursing homes, hospice, in-home, etc. and the one thing that has rang true through all of my experience is that the majority of the people I have worked with have one long-term goal and that is to be INDEPENDENT.  Yes, in some situations there is no chance of the person living independently, but in other situations, like Dorothy’s, the person can have their own apartment and live mostly independent.  We believe that Dorothy currently has assisted living being that we help her with the majority of her daily tasks, but she feels independent because she has her “own” apartment and her family is coming over to “visit”…she would hate knowing that someone is getting paid to go in and spend time with her and help her.

As people age and become seniors they need to feel like they are still productive members of society and that they are needed.  When we take away their freedom of choice, their basic tasks that they are capable of doing and their independence, they will then feel useless and that is a feeling that none of us enjoy.  Look at the amount of seniors who get put in nursing homes and forgotten.  I’ve worked in a nursing home where you could see how depressed the residents were because their families had not called or visited in months, and when they finally would it would only be for about half an hour at a time…the residents would feel like they weren’t needed or wanted and that was why their family “stuck them in a home”.

If an individual is getting to a point health wise where they need the professional nursing care an assisted living facility or nursing home is probably a really good choice.  If an individual is getting to a point where they are a safety risk to themselves or to others an assisted living facility or nursing home will probably be the best bet again.  I personally do not believe that if an individual is in overall excellent health (for their age)\and is not a risk to themselves or others that they should be forced into a home.  It is almost like todays social service and medical system believes that once people reach a certain age that they should automatically be placed in state care of some sort, which I find ridiculous.  Why is it that the “system” trys to take seniors rights, choices, and freedom away?

Dorothy has been independent, strong-willed and a very private person her entire life.  She enjoys spending quiet time alone watching sports and doing puzzles.  She enjoys spending time with people when they come over to visit.  She enjoys feeling like a productive member of society.  She enjoys helping fold her own laundry.  She enjoys choosing when she want to go to bed or take a nap.  She enjoys choosing what she wants to eat for breakfast and eating when she is hungry, not when someone else tells her she is.  She enjoys going through her closet and picking out her own outfit for the day.  She enjoys being able to dress herself.  Now imagine if she was in a facility of some sort, where they schedule meal times, pick out and help you dress, and take those little freedoms and choices away?  Dorothy always says the same thing when the idea of a nursing home is brought up and that is “I will die before I go to a nursing home.”

Do you have senior loved ones that you’ve had to make the hard choice of finding an assisted living or nursing home for?  Did they get to help make the decision or was it made for them?

Do you have senior loved ones that you are caring for?

Have you thought about what you would want for yourself and your family when you become a senior and need assistance, both minimal and extensive?

Do you feel like todays seniors are getting their rights and freedom taken away and not having any say in it?

At what point do you think seniors should receive more assistance?

Is our medical system just out to make money?

Is our medical system recommending tests, shots, exams and so on that aren’t really needed?

Do you think that a doctor can know what is best for you or for your loved ones when he/she has only known you/them for less than 15 minutes?

How do you think our medical system should change to actually get to know you and your loved ones before they start making recommendations and choices for you/them?

What are some of the flaws you see in our medical system?

What are some of the flaws you see in our social services system?

Would you want your rights to be taken away once you become a senior?

Do you trust your doctor and their opinions?

When the time comes what living arrangements would you prefer?  Do you want to live in a nursing home or assisted living facility?  Do you want your family to care for you?

With the amount of abuse that you hear about on the news would you feel safe living in a facility or having a family member live in one?

Do you advocate for yourself?

Do you advocate for your loved ones?

Do you encourage your loved ones to advocate for themselves?

What changes can be made to our medical system to make it better?

How would you feel if your freedom, choices, independence was taken away?

Emotional Chords and How We Play Them

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We all have emotions.  Happy, sad, angry, miffed, excited…all emotions.  We feel emotions in different situations, around different people and in different ways.  Sometimes it purely depends on the situation as to how you will react emotion wise, other times it depends on the day.  Example:  That movie or commercial that always pulls at your heart-strings–sometimes when you watch it you feel that emotional connection and respond by really thinking about the theme and acknowledging it, other times you see it and end up bawling for 15 minutes (and no, not the cute cry…the ugly cry, snot and all).  How we chose to process those emotions is where things sometimes get a little tricky.

The following is an emotion wheel that I thought would be fun to use pictures of our dog Doc showing some of the different emotions.  Pets are always great at helping people regulate their own emotions and studies have shown that pets are also great therapy.

 

Doc emotions through pictures.

When something happens in your life that does strike an emotional chord, learning how to react can be a real challenge, we have to learn how to play those emotional chords.  Yesterday a friend of mines young son was at school and injured himself during gym by running into the corner of a wall.  Joe’s injury required that he get 5 stitches in his temple area.  Joe did not cry, nor did his mother, yet when she contacted me about his injury she explained how hard it was for her to stay strong and not to cry so that Joe would be able to stay brave.  It is hard seeing someone you love hurt or in pain and in some situations the best thing that you can do is play your own emotional chords very softly so that the other person’s emotions do not escalate.  My friend did a perfect job keeping her own emotions in-check because they helped her son stay calm.  Later in the evening when Joe’s father arrived at home Joe showed that he had a great sense of humor about the injury by jokingly telling his dad that “he took on the whole class” and that the cut was all he got out of it 🙂

Part of our way of dealing with our own emotions depends on how we chose to look at life.  If you look at life and think that the world is out to get you and that life in general sucks, you emotions will also portray that.  If you try to stay upbeat and positive, even when life hands you the occasional lemon, your emotions will portray that.

Our emotions and moods also rub off on those around us…or other people’s emotions can rub off on us, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.  I have one friend that stands out as always being happy (well, 98% of the time at least).  He has a great sense of humor and loves to make other people laugh and have fun.  If you are in a funk of a mood that day, within just a few minutes around him your entire day will brighten and your emotions will be uplifted.  A smile and a laugh really help in keeping emotions in-check.  On the other hand I have a friend who is always a “Debbie-Downer” she is either mad, angry, ticked-off or irritated all of the time…gosh, imagine how much stress that puts on your body to be feeling those emotions all of the time.!?  Even when something super positive happens in her life, rather than being happy and excited that it will happen, she choses to look at it and say “well, it wont last.”  Your life and emotions all come down to your own choices.  Chose to be happy, chose to be sad…it is all up to you.  Yes, sometimes people are actually not able to control their own emotions which can lead to depression and other health issues, but counseling & some medications (depending on each individual situation) can really help balance out the different emotions.

Years ago I had a friend that would call me in tears at least three times a week and tell me the horrible things her then boyfriend (now husband) would say to her when they were fighting or arguing.  After a few months of this I finally stopped her in the middle of one of her venting sessions and told her that the next time she called me she needed to tell me at least 3 positive things that he said or done for her before she started telling me about all of the negative things.  This made her stop and actually look at all of the positive things that he said and did, which helped her not focus on the negative things as much.  A few months later their arguing and fighting had lessened and their communication had opened.  After one of their arguments where he had said something horrible to her she finally asked him why he says such mean things to her when they fight and his answer was “you hurt my feelings so I just wanted to say the meanest thing I could think of so your feelings would hurt too.”  This made her realize that there were two sets of emotions in the relationship, and when she only focused on hers and he only focused on his their relationship sucked, but when they took the little time to focus on each others emotions their relationship became much stronger.

This leads me to think of a variety of questions, that hopefully also make you think:

Have you ever said something to just purposely hurt someone elses feelings?

How often do you stop to think about how your emotions affect the people around you?

Do you let other people’s emotions rub off on you?

How do you stay positive in a negative situation?

How do you stay strong when your emotions are tested?

How often do you just stop to think about other people’s emotions?

On days when you are sad have you found anything that helps make you feel emotionally better?  An emotional outlet that works for you?  Reading, baking, exercise, pet therapy?

How do you choose to play your emotions songs?

Do you find that little things often times “get” to you?  If so, how do you deal with them?

If you could choose three negative emotions to work on how you react to them, what would they be?

If you could choose three positive emotions to use more and make stronger in your daily life, what would they be?

Have you ever been so emotional that you have said or done something you later regret?

Have you ever transferred your emotions about a situation or about yourself onto someone else?  Example:  You are mad because you got in a car accident and you yell at the other driver, a few days later you realize that it was your own actions that caused the accident, so really the person you were mad at was yourself, yet you took it out on the other driver.

Have you ever let your own emotions hold you back in life?

Do you help others when they are on an emotional low?

Are their people in your life that you can look at and say “Susie is always happy” or “Jake is just a downer”?  How do you let their examples mold the emotions in your life?

As you have aged have you become better at controlling your own emotions?

Do you think that television is affecting the emotions of generations of young people?  Does seeing people get angry, scream, swear and turn a table over teach young people negative emotions or negative ways of dealing with their emotions?

Who are the three people in your life that you admire the most for their emotions and emotional support?

 

 

 

 

A Variety of Friendships

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I read somewhere a while back that “The secret to friendship is being a good listener” which got me to wondering, how many of us know when to just listen and when to give advice?

Often times I find that all I want is to have my friend(s) listen without giving their two cents.  Yes, your two cents are important to me, BUT I do not need advice about every-single-little-thing.  Please tell me that someone else has a friend or friends that do the same thing.  Does your friend(s) advice to you ever feel like it is their way of judging you or just being argumentative?  Seriously, just be happy for me…be supportive…be understanding…be my friend.  I did a little brainstorming and thought of a few different kinds of friends that I either have or have had in the past and thought I would share.

There is a variety of friendships:

1. BEST FRIEND:  That person that you have known for years (and if not for years it sure does feel like it).  You can say anything to, do anything with, and be your true self around and know that they are going to reciprocate and not be judgemental of you.  Yes, they may pick on you some, but that is part of your friendship…you know each others limits and you respect those.  You can tell when that person needs to vent, just visit or be goofy beyond belief.   This is the friend that you never need to feel embarrassed around as they have probably lived through the majority of your most embarrassing situations with you.  You are comfortable being vulnerable around eachother…be it tears or expressing insecurities.  They know your deepest darkest secrets…and if they don’t know all of them right now, eventually they will.  This friend knows when they need to just listen and when they need to add their advice.  You may not see or speak to them as often as you would like, but you know they are always there for you no matter what.  They have made your life and world a happier place just by being part of it.

2. A FRIEND WHEN IN NEED:   We all have that person (some of us more than one) that as soon as you see their name on your caller id or that you’ve received an email from them the first thought that goes through your mind is always “What do they want/need now?”  This is the person who you don’t hear a peep from for months on end and then out of the blue they contact you and the conversation always starts the same:  “Hey Sam!  How have you been?  I haven’t talked to you in ages.  I missed you.”  Then not to long into the conversation, usually within the first 5 minutes the person will finally get to the point:  “Well Sam, I called to catch up and see if you could possibly lend me $350 for new tires on my car?  I promise I will pay you back as soon as I get the money.  I really need the new tires or else I will not be able to make it to work and will lose my job.”  The question, the promise and the guilt-trip all rolled in to one…the friend when in need is an expert at these.  The hard part is being a strong enough person to say NO.  True friends don’t just want to be your friend when they need something.

3. LIVE-FOR-YOU-I-AM-ALWAYS-RIGHT FRIEND:  This is a friend whom you respect, enjoy spending time with, enjoy chatting on-line & through texts and wish nothing but the best for, yet somehow always find them giving you advice about how to live or how they would live every little aspect of your life.  Example:  SAM:  Hey Susie, I am going for a walk to the antique shop later.  SUSIE:  That is great.  If I were you I would watch the weather ahead of time to make sure you don’t get rained on and then I would take Grand Avenue to the antique shop.  SAM:  Oh, I was planning on taking Main Street because it is closer to my house and takes me right to the shop.  SUSIE:  I wouldn’t take Main Street, Grand is better.  Seriously Susie, why can you not just be happy that Sam is making a healthy life choice and walking to the antique shop?  Why must you always make Sam feel like he isn’t making the right choices (according to you)?  You are both adults and having your own thoughts and opinions are healthy and normal…let Sam have his own thoughts and opinions without making him feel like they are wrong.  Everyone  was raised differently, so they approach situations in life differently, so what works for one person does not always work for the other person.  Respect each others differences and don’t try to change the other person.  Nobody is ALWAYS RIGHT!!!  What works for you, your family and your life does not always work for others…accept that, respect that, live with that.  Also, remembering that it is YOUR LIFE and you need to make your own choices, and in some cases, mistakes…even if that friend has already lived through it and made the mistake they should respect you enough to let you experience it for yourself (and yes, in some cases they can say “I told you so” at a later date, but that is life).

4.  TEXT FRIEND:  This is the friend who you LOVE to text.  400 texts messages back and forth in one day is not out of the norm and it actually becomes one of your favorite daily routines.  Biggest problem with text friends is that often times when it comes to actually talking to each other or spending time with each other you realize that you really don’t like each other as much in person as you do through technology.  Having a good text friend or two is always a good thing, especially if you just want to chat real quick and not feel obligated to spend time with each other.

5.  FRIEND EVERYWHERE BUT IN THE CAR:  Many years ago I was friends with a girl that I had met through a work situation.  We texted, talked on the phone, emailed, went out to movies & meals together…it was a BLAST until I got us concert tickets to a concert that was 200 miles away.  It was our first and needless to say our last road trip together.  Within 15 minutes of getting into my car she said “Jake asked me if I was planning on bringing some pot down for the concert, but I wasn’t sure what you would think so I just left it at home.”  The look on my face was probably pure shock as I knew her as a police officer, not a pot head…and I was just dumbfounded as to what to say.  I did decide to thank her for chosing not to bring illegal drugs into my car and jokingly (yet was 100% serious in my head) said “If you had brought it I would have had to drop you off along side the road and go to the concert by myself.”  Mind you this was the first 15 minutes of a 200 mile trip (one way), so the next few hours seemed to take much longer than they should have.  During the concert she complained the entire time due to the people in front of us standing and her not being able to see over them.  By the time  the concert was over and we got in the car she continued to complain because she didn’t know any of the songs, yet, when I had asked her weeks earlier if she liked the band she stated that she “loved them” all I can say is that I am very VERY thankful that she slept the majority of the way home.  A week later two other friends and I drove down to the same venue for a different concert and it was a fantastic, fun, and hilarious trip that I will never forget—they were excellent road trip friends 🙂  When I was growing up my mom would always say “If you want to see if you will work as a couple go on a 500 mile long road trip together in the summer.  If you haven’t fought the entire trip or killed each other along the way you have a good relationship” I think that this is also true for friendships.

6.  THE LIAR FRIEND:  No true friend will lie to you, yes they may sugar coat a few things, but they are doing that to help protect your feelings.  I had a friend (please note HAD) a few years back to was the most OCD person I have ever met.  She had 3 different address books, all of which had the same exact addresses, phone numbers, etc. in them.  She kept each address book in a different location and when I asked her about this she said “If I have them all in different places I will never lose anyones contact information because there is always a back-up” and this made sense.  I witnessed her put my email addresses, street address, home phone number and cell phone number into all three address books PLUS into her cell phone.  I called and left her a message one day and she never returned my call, about two months later I received an email from her requesting my phone number because she had “lost it”…okay, I gave it to her, we talked and everything was great.  Not too long after that the same thing happened again, she “lost” all of my information….this happened 4 separate times and at that point the big RED FLAGS went up in my mind and told me that she isn’t being completely honest with me.  She must have forgotten showing me her 3 separate address books and that I witnessed her putting my info into all of them, I don’t know.  It just got to the point where I had to question the friendship itself and ask myself “Is this friendship worth me getting my feelings hurt because she keeps lying to me?” and the answer was NO.  So, the next time she emailed me and said that she had “lost all of [my] information again” I sent her an email back that nicely explained that I didn’t think our friendship was working and for both of our sakes we should probably bring it to an end…she never responded back, but also never contacted me again saying that she “lost” my info 🙂

Some friendships are healthy, some friendships are toxic…figuring out which is which and separating yourself from the toxic friendships is the only way to be happy in your friendships.  It is hard to close a door on a friendship, but sometimes you have to ask yourself if it is a mutually respectful friendship or if one of the parties is benefiting more from the friendship.

How do you make friends?

Are your friendships equal?

Do you have friends that take advantage of you?  If so, are they truly your friends?

What cues, verbal and non-verbal, do your friends give you when they just want you to listen and when they want you to give them advice?

Do you have a “best” friend and what makes them a “best” friend?

Does your spouse count as a “best” friend?

Are animals friends?

How important are friendships in your life?

Is it ever appropriate for a friend to lie to you?  If so, when?

What is the hardest part about maintaining a healthy friendship?

Have you ever had to break-up with a friend?

How much value do you put on your friendships?

What is the best way that you have found to end a toxic friendship?

What is the best advice you’ve ever received about friendships?

 

5 THINGS: The Appreciation Experiment.

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5 Things: The Appreciation Experiment. Find at: https://www.facebook.com/Appreciate5#!/Appreciate5

In 2010 a friend of mine started posting 5 Things that she appreciated that day on her facebook page and the feedback she got from her friends was amazing.  This prompted her to start the 5 Things facebook page where anyone and everyone can post the 5 things that they appreciate, big, small and everything in-between, they are also able to read what other people are appreciating.  5 Things founder Sarah M:  “My days are often brighter when I take some time in the morning to reflect upon what makes me happy.  It is all too easy to get caught up in deadlines and “have-tos” and “just-gottas” and yes…even the sneaky “yeah-buts.”  Sarah realized that taking those few minutes a day to reflect can really help people slow down and take notice of what is truly important to them.

Far too often in todays rush-rush-technology-driven-work-harder-do-more-make-more society we overlook all of the little things in our lives that are so important.  We literally take the majority of our lives for granted.  How many of us take the time to be thankful for electricity when we are watching our favorite movie, writing a blog, hitting the snooze button in the morning?  Not many, because that is just one of the things that we have all gotten so accustom to having that we barely notice it is there anymore…but we sure do notice when it is gone.  Many of us are in overall good physical health, but how many of us acknowledge how thankful for that health we are?  We take advantage of being able to see, hear, smell, speak, taste, feel, touch, walk, dance…until something happens, something unexpected…an accident, an illness, a fall…whatever factor that takes a portion of your health away, and typically it is not until that factor happens that we finally start to realize how much we appreciate(d) that part of our health…and if we are lucky we will heal and regain that part of our health back and be able to hopefully appreciate its importance of it for the rest of our lives.

Thinking about appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness brings to mind a whirlwind of questions.  Each question will have a different answer for each person.  Each question may have one answer today and then a year from now a completely different answer.  Life changes, the things that we love and care for change, the things we find important change, yet we should always be able to come up with a list of things that we appreciate in life.  The following are just some of the questions that I came up with that I think everyone should stop, think about and take notice of:

How many of the daily things that you take for granted would you notice and miss if they were gone?

What in your life do you put the most value on?  Family?  Friends?  Pets?  Material items?  Money?  God?

What makes us happy?

If you only had 5 minutes to take the “important” things out of your house what would they be?

Can money every truly buy happiness?

Do you appreciate the things in your life that you waste?  Food?

What would you do if you lost everything?

What would you miss most if you lost everything?

Who would you thank if you knew today would be your last?

How many of the people in your life actually know how much you appreciate them?  How do you show them?

Does your spouse/significant other feel your love and appreciation for them?  Do you thank them?  Compliment them?  Remind them?

5 Things:  The Appreciation Experiment encourages you to stop and take just a few minutes out of your day and share the 5 things you appreciate.  They may be little things that you are appreciating at that moment like your morning cup of coffee or big things that you appreciate every day of your life like your spouse and children.  You may be looking out your window at the time and be glad to see the sun shining and hear bird chirping.  Whatever it is at that moment that you appreciate…SHARE.  Being able to read the things that others appreciate can also shed light on some of the things you’ve been accidentally overlooking.

TAKE TIME OUT OF YOUR DAY TO APPRECIATE!            https://www.facebook.com/Appreciate5#!/Appreciate5