Monday, June 23, 2014

G is for Gratitude for Miss Maddie. (aka—what I learned from my dog and how grateful I am for the lesson)

If you're my friend on Facebook, follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you well know that Maddie is my dog. If you don't, well now you know, too.

Maddie and I came to be in October of 2001, when she was barely 8 months old. A friend knew I had passed on a dog that was the mix and look I liked, and when she saw a flyer for Maddie, she let me know about her. I have to admit, when I met Maddie I was a bit terrified. She was crazy, A.D.D like, strong and sitting on a coffee table in someone's house. She had never been on a leash, never really walked, never in a car. The fact that she was part Pittbull didn't bother me at all; but that's because I was told she was a Lab/Boxer mix.

I thought a few days about it and decided I can't pass on another dog. And I can't bear to leave her in a home that didn't have time for her. (Looking back I now know the universe aligned for us to be together.)

Oh, and did I mention her name at the time was Suzie-Q, as in the dessert? Sigh...

So, I "adopted" Maddie. It was definitely a learning experience at first. And there were a lot of curve balls; but after a some training, some good walks and short runs, and some great friends to help and advise, we got in sync (not the band—please, I'm too old for that. But wanna talk NKOTB, I'm your girl). After a year together I moved from our home in CO to NYC. People kept asking what I was going to do with my dog. I found that to be such a bizarre question. My answer was always, "What do you do with your children when you move?" So yeah, I knew I had become 'one of those.'

And from that point on I recognized daily the impact Maddie has made on my life.

Recently we have been dealing with Maddie's Cancer. And by we, I mean Maddie and I (see above crazy dog person admission). I've decided to not treat her as she is 13 1/2 and the Chemo is aggressive and the surgery arduous. She was given MAYBE 4 months to live. That was OVER a year ago. I felt like she was invincible. Then this past weekend a tumor in her chest started to bleed. I couldn't tell if it was opening, busting through or what. I tried my best to not think negative thoughts but I lost my shit Sunday morning. I couldn't believe that I was so naive to think Maddie would live forever like this. Or at least another 2 years. And that's when I decided to write this post. It's my letter of gratitude to Maddie. I have learned so much from her that it seems shameful to not share this while she is alive (yes, I know she can't read but when I tell her I did this, she'll be touched).

So, with that being said, here is a list of things I've learned from Miss Maddie (in no particular order):

BE LIKE MADDIE (this is something my life coach and I have determined is a good intention for me to live up to)

• Keep it simple. Too many words muddle the message (note, this does not apply to this blog).
• Eat, sleep, play and love are all you need to live a happy life.
• It's ok to ask for something (in dog speak we call this "beg").
• Begin each day anew (it's crazy that Maddie wakes up as if each day is her first. Excited, eager and ready to please. Her favorite saying is, "Cancer? What Cancer?")
• Speak up. Let someone know when something is bothering you.
• There IS such a thing as unconditional love between 2 non-related beings.
• It's ok to walk up to strangers and say hello. It's also ok to trust your instincts when it is not.
• A long walk everyday is the key.
• A good stretch is a great way to start your day.
• Live life in the present
• Always say sorry. Always forgive.
• Forget about the bad days.
• We all make mistakes. It's ok.
• Be proud of your grey hairs.
• Get outside more.
• Eat with reckless abandon

I used to wish that dogs lived forever. Recently I have come to realize that if they did, we wouldn't appreciate them as much. We have a few short years with them so we soak it all in, love deeply, commit wholeheartedly and accept our differences. Imagine if we applied that thinking to all humans?

Maddie will pass one day. I'll lose it. I'll likely stay in bed for a week. But when that happens I will still be thankful for each and every day we've had together. The good, the bad, the ugly. And for that I will be eternally grateful.

I love my dog. More than I should. And I'm very ok with being one of those. Because she is one of a kind.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Q is for The Queen of Complaints has Abdicated

Ever use the saying "no complaints?" Sure you have. We all have. Ever really mean it? As in REALLY mean it? I can't be too sure I have. I mean who can't find something, anything to complain about?! Heck, that's what blogs started as. Open and social venting. Twitter limits you to 140 characters and Facebook lets you hide those "my life sucks" posts from your friends but how do you stop complaining?

The other day I was reading a friends post on FB. It was long and vengeful and quite uncomfortable to read. But like an accident on the shoulder of the 10 going west, I couldn't look away. And the whole time I kept thinking, "she really needs to talk to someone." Then I thought, how many times have my friends thought that about me? I have spent the better part of my 30s not in a good spiritual place. That's not to say I was mean or deceitful or unhappy. It's just I wasn't fully comfortable and happy with who I was. I complained about my posture, my boyfriend at the time, my weight, my salary (or lack there of), my friends, my enemies, and so on. Pretty much I was consumed with things that weren't quite right. And I got validation when friends agreed with me (as friends do, because we support each other). It was like hating loves company. And it felt AWESOME. How many times have you sat with a friend, complained about another and both feed off of that conversation? Don't answer (you don't have to, I'm not trying to make you feel guilty). Just read on.

Recently I started "prizing" myself. I've also started Metta Meditation. I've mentioned prizing before but I wanted to bring it up again as I think I am finally seeing and feeling the results. Prizing is when you compliment yourself 5 times (or 2 or 20, your call) a day for little things you like about yourself. Could be an outfit you put together or the way you let that a$$hole cut in front of you (see, I'm still me :) ) or how you got up early to spend more time outside. Whatever it is, recognize it, compliment yourself on it and love it. It really does help. And as hokey as it sounds, it helps a lot when you look in a mirror and do it. Sure, you'll look crazy to someone else, but who cares? If that hasn't stopped me now, it sure as hell shouldn't stop you.

But you are not alone in this world. While loving yourself is the most important, wanting the same for others is equally so. That's where Metta comes in. At night, before I go to bed, I pick 3 random (strange even, but not complete strangers) people, myself and one loved one to focus on. I wish them health, an easy journey through life, happiness and safety. It's small but it also works. I didn't believe it at first but after about 2 months of doing this I really do feel a little bit more compassionate towards others. I'm not enlightened by any means but it definitely changes my POV. (Look, I'm still gonna judge, I just hope to do it with a lighter stick. But, if I see you wearing a dress that's really a shirt, I'm gonna make fun of you...then I'll prolly be slightly jealous you're comfortable going out looking like that.)

And here's something else that will happen—and I speak from experience. You're going to feel awfully uncomfortable when others around you start venting or complaining about their life, random things, or other people. You're going to notice who needs to spend a little more time loving things rather than hating. You're also going to recognize in yourself when you fall in that trap. It's crazy but it happens. And every time it does, I prize myself as such because just 6 months ago, before I started this whole wonderful and strange journey, I was the biggest hater of them all and now I see how I am slowly but surely leaving that part of my life behind me.

I wore the Hater Crown for so long there's a ring mark around my head. However, it's time I've stepped down and leave the hating for someone else. And hopefully they will read this and pass over the throne. And maybe, just maybe, the Kingdom of Haters will not have their Queen and we all will live happily ever after—you know, like they all do in "Shrek."

Monday, June 9, 2014

P is for a big ol' cup of perspective.

Recently I have been trying to figure things out. Well, more like trying to figure out what the universe is trying to tell me. Go full-time, stay freelance, leave SoCal, date more, date less, write, don't write, etc.

But mostly I've been trying not to fret that I don't have all the answers. It's a daily practice to trust and surrender as a Type A-er and to not know the next steps. Sometimes it sends me into a downward spiral, truth be told. And yet, as always, there is something to spring me back.

Enter Natalie. Natalie is a woman I meditate with. She came to our group after a serious bout with a heart condition. She's young. As in half my age. She and her dad come every week and they meditate with us, they smile and she even now works at my Acupuncturist's office, knowing there are other methods that help heal. She is a good person. I'm always very impressed by her maturity and coping mechanisms. I'm pretty sure my 22-year old self would be asking "why me?" and constantly saying "it's not fair!" But not Natalie. SOOOOO impressive.

Last week Natalie told us that the doctor's found something in her heart, again. GULP! They weren't sure what it was but they need to get at it. They've been very honest with her about not knowing what it was and that they aren't sure what the next step is. 22 and she is dealing with something no one at any age should have to deal with. And sure, she's scared, but she's positive. And she keeps on keeping on. Wow.

And here I am, back row of meditation thinking, I'm freaking scared, or maybe a better word is concerned. Worrying about my checking account, my savings account, my retirement funds, when the next gig will come, when will I work again, when will I meet someone and BAM Natalie is dealing with real life issues that need real life love. It's perspective alright. Makes me realize that a) it can be worse b) I don't own all the world's problems and c) it's all relative but I am pretty lucky that all I have to worry about is if the freelance gig I am at will last as long as they say it will. It really put things into place for me.

Perspective is funny like that. You only get it when you need it most. It's like a shot of Espresso or if you're like me and don't drink coffee, a diet soda. Wakes you up from the sleepy haze you've been wandering in not seeing the forest for the trees. My lesson here? drink it all in. Things come to you for a reason. While Natalie suffers, she's come to me to make me realize there's more to life. I just hope something good comes her way as well. Outside of all my good thoughts and compassion.

Note: If you happen to meditate or say prayers or think about people who need good thoughts, please add Natalie to your list. Thank you!