family, Teddie Aspen

Dog Lessons

It wasn’t long ago I was digging through boxes leftover from my childhood home. I ran across an American Kennel Club certificate. Maximillian was his name.

I had heard his name many times in my life, often with a sneer from one of my brothers. They loved their dog, and I was the reason we got rid of him. Maximillian, the prized pooch, couldn’t stop knocking me over as a newly walking toddler. So, he had to go.

All this to say, I didn’t grow up with dogs. I had a cat named Snoopy I treasured but was allergic to (a story for another post), but never a dog. I just didn’t get dogs. Never wanted one. And who knows, maybe I was even a little scared of them from all my hard knocks as a babe.

As an adult, when my family wanted to get a dog, I resisted. We even had a dog live with us for a while that didn’t really work out. We ended up taking him to a new home where he could have the room and attention he needed.

Then Penny came along. My sister-in-law became her unexpectedly permanent foster mom. She needed a place to live and a family to love her. Would we be interested? I didn’t really want this at all. We could take her for a 2-week trial to see if we could handle it.

And she never left. We live together but I wouldn’t say she loves me. Still, my heart softened seeing how much everyone else loved her. She changed our family.

And then came the dog that I really did love. Chester. The unlikely, homely, wiry guy from the pound. The underdog. I didn’t even know why we would ever need 2 dogs. I was just getting used to 1! Then Chester who got scared by sudden movements and noises, Chester who always backed out of the room…Chester came along. He was very shy at first but eventually came around and became sweet, playful Chester. He loves to run and bound through the woods, and his sad eyes will pull at your heart strings every time. Chester changed my heart about dogs.

Now there’s the newest member of the clan named Nash, who I’ve taken a liking to. I even embrace my extended family and friend’s dogs. Heck, I even get to walk dogs and dog sit once in a while. Truthfully, I still don’t know how to act around dogs, and they can tell. It doesn’t come naturally for me and maybe never will. Thankfully, I’ve learned that many dogs are pretty forgiving if you at least try. They teach me about protection, loyalty, priorities and unconditional love. They seem to bring out the best in people just by being there and present in the moment. That bowls me over in the best of ways.

family

Feelings of Worry

Do feelings or worry keep you up at night or make sleeping restless? The answer for me is generally no.

However, as a mother I have had many sleepless night thanks to my kiddos. It could be when they were little without words crying. Was I doing the right thing as a mom? I could use the sleep but couldn’t sleep as I was carrying the worry burden in my mind.

Then it was when they had a cold, recovered from an injury, or even had surgery. Those seemed like tough scenarios at the time but nothing prepares you for aging kids. That’s when the grey hair comes.

There is even worry about me time. Am I being selfish making time for me when the kids could use x, y or z? Is there a capable spouse that could fill my void while I take some me time? Is my mental balance important even as a mom? Over the years feelings of worry hit at various times for various reasons resulting in sleepless nights. I think it comes with the mother territory but I don’t recall reading about it in the motherhood books.

Nothing in my mind prepares a mom for aging teens to early adults. When they drive a car will they be safe? When they leave your home to adult will they make good choices? Will they eat right? Will they make good financial decisions? So many scenarios that can be stressful if you allow it to eat away at you in your mind.

Most days I do a good job keeping those feelings at bay. However when it’s time
to lay down the law, apply pressure and push the aging kiddos, I wonder if they are ready. Did they mature? Do they have the mental toughness I had at that age? Am I being too hard?

Today’s world is complex. It doesn’t appear that kids mature at the level I was expected to at the same age. There is more coddling and hand holding. Is this society? Is it my parenting? How can one child fare okay and another struggle?

Thoughts at 4am to ponder. Do your kids even think you worry about them when they are adults? I know my mom worries and she is in her 80s. Did I make it home after a long drive? Am I too busy with work? The list goes on. But today’s kids think it’s more of a chore to check in. Why would anyone worry about me?-type attitude.

At what point does one mature and see the vantage point of others? Some days I think I’m mature. Other days I think I have plenty of growing to do. When I refer to maturity, I don’t mean physical maturity. I mean mature in life. Understanding the connectedness of people, emotions and so on.

Again just a random rant capturing the moments of sleep loss due to worry of a loved one. Another day no emergency phone call. I guess that’s a good sign for now. It’s my thought they think I have no worries but in fact they are my only worry.

Life as a mom is the hardest job in the world yet it’s the most rewarding. The job doesn’t pay money but it pays overtime in memories, experiences and keeps you on your toes.

Enjoy today. Live like there is no tomorrow. Regret nothing. Worry less. That’s my mom motto.

business

Just 10 Bucks

The other day I read a rant on social media that annoyed me. It insulted many people, myself included, who purchase frou frou drinks at a premium price.

The funny part of the post was it was from a local small business owner who compared the frivolous spending to frequenting his/her upscale business, noting it was a poor choice. I had to giggle and say hmm.

For me, I frequent the poster’s” small business and I frequent the frou frou drink small business. To me it’s the same. Where I choose to spend my discretionary dollars. My dollars my choice.

I may choose to spend on frou frou drinks while other choose cigarettes. Is there a difference? Not in my eyes. Discretionary spends are at the sole discretion of the party with the money! It’s that simple. Clearly I’m not the only one who likes specialty drinks. The pic below is a throwback to a girls day out with a pit stop at the nutrition store. I’m sure there are worse things one could do, right? Needless to say the messages on the cup are inspiring, thought provoking and even applicable in this post.

Now the flip side on this is negative publicity. As a small business owner in today’s environment one would think to support another business vs throw another under the bus especially if it’s the type of business that relies on discretionary spends. It may seem obvious to me but it’s not obvious to everyone and why I chose to write about this.

We all have a chance to impact communities in one way or another. We can all donate to a local food bank to help those in need. We can all support a small business with a community store front. We can buy a fundraiser ticket from a local athlete. We can all choose not to litter when driving down the road. All of these simple gestures improve communities.

Why not be kind? Why not help others? If you are miserable don’t be a negative Nelly online. It doesn’t make you look good and could in fact hurt another local business or yours. It’s a no-win situation. Add in the fact that most community business owners live in their community and raise their family there. That means negative vibes reach them one way or another.

Kindness matters today. My post today is meant to enlighten anyone reading this who may not think about how their negative rants about a business in their community could have impacts. Far reaching impacts that could lead to devastating outcomes.

Support local. Buy local. If you are tight on budget dollars, like a social media post from your favorite restaurant. Write a testimonial on your local insurance agent. Share a post from your friend who is selling something online. It all helps. And I bet if you own a business you would hope your community would support you in the same way.

Today most adults are online. Maybe even 70% or more of their waking hours. There is a very high probability that they will receive an email, text, instant message, tweet, snapchat or other form of digital communication outing a negative Nelly. Don’t be the negative Nelly. People won’t want to be around you let alone support you down the road. If you didn’t know that, I just told you!

This story is titled just ten bucks. No business names are mentioned as I don’t want to throw shade in any direction. I just want to write about a topic that may strike a chord with somebody reading this blog. During this writing process I wanted to think about what I could get for ten bucks. Ten discretionary dollars. I made my list. I get to choose. My choice. My money. My waste. My reward. My happy.

When I went back and looked at all the things I could spend ten bucks on? My frou frou drinks all made the cut. So did a milkshake, a Starbucks drink and dessert, a single meal prep from a local vendor, an ice cream, and so on.

However, the one thing that didn’t make my list was the $15 overpriced discretionary spend from the person’s business who provided me inspiration for this post. So when I reflect and look for waste in my budget and pleasure received for my splurges, I’d have to say I would cut that service provider if the need arose. They priced themselves too high for today’s market and they bitched about it publicly. When push comes to shove I’d choose to shove them off my budget. Thankfully that is not the case today but one day I may need to make a choice.

Just ten bucks. It’s my threshold. I bet they didn’t even think of their price structure when they made a big long rant. But that rant made me review my spend at their location. Wow that is full circle negative karma if you ask me.

Just ten bucks. Make your list. It’s a challenge. What will you cut?

perspective

It Just Happened

Just like that. I looked up and the calendar is showing September first is right around the corner. What in the heck!

Have I been in a coma? Did I get amnesia? Did I get hit by a Mack truck? No, I sure didn’t. I’ve been living in what seems like a a time warp of sorts. The corona blah.

I see some sense of normalcy on the horizon. School is back in session. A digital start moving on to in-person tomorrow. What a whirl wind for my new high schooler.

One way hallways, masks required, one way stairwells, limited social activities, no fun bus rides, just a bunch of rules, rules and more rules. In her world it’s still better than being stuck at home on a computer for hours. For me it’s a break from the insanity of the last 6 months.

Work adjustments, life adjustments, school adjustments. Just another day of change management. Grind, grind, grind.

September is here. Fall is in the air. Sweaters, sweatpants and blankets ahh how I love me some fall fun. Looking forward to hikes, toasted marshmallows, pumpkin seeds and maybe if I’m lucky a trip for a quick getaway if travel restrictions are lifted. Starbucks coffee in the famous red cup is a must as well. Caramel brûlée I hear you calling my name.

Here’s to hoping this fall is a giant leap forward into normalcy. May the leaves falling be a symbol of corona being a topic of the past vs. the present. May sports this fall be memorable for my child as she begins her high school career. May there be school dances and football games. May there be activities to look forward to that involve people and socializing.

Bring on September, October and November. Let these three months be ones for the record book. I want to look up and say “wow, I’ve had the best three months” instead of “wow, did I just wake up from a coma the last six months?!”

Fabulous fall here we come!

nature

Bloom Where I’m Planted

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A sea of green. Grasses of several kinds, grown knee-high and blowing in the breeze.

It’s a peaceful, idyllic scene, this acre upon acre of green.

Until…

orange!  Orange of all things.  A orange blob right in the middle of all this verdant, lovely green.  An interruption.  An annoyance. Like a lightning bolt to my eyeballs.  Piercing and wild.  Why?  Why here?

I waded through the grasses to get a closer look.  I found that this bright, almost glowing orange was actually a tightly clustered bunch of petals.  A gutsy, piercing, look-at-me! blossom.  A beauty, standing out boldly in her own way.  I studied it for a while, wondering about its roots.

Later that day, walking through the acres, I saw another orange splotch, hundreds of yards away from the one I first noticed.   How did they get there?  Are they family, I wondered?  Long lost sisters, maybe?  Or even just spreading their wings?

“It’s just a weed,” a friend said.

But it’s pretty, I thought.  What makes something a weed, anyway?

(Being me, I looked it up, of course.)

I now know that a weed can be anything that grows where it’s not planted on purpose.  That turns up where it’s not wanted.  Where it’s not supposed to be.  Even someone’s prize roses can be a weed if they come up in a pumpkin patch.

It’s all about context. Beauty can be anywhere.  I noticed and admired these orange ladies more so because they were dramatically different than all the deep green surrounding them.

From these brazen orange beauties I learned to just bloom wherever I happen to be.  Make the most of where I am, even if it’s not the perfectly sunny spot.  I don’t need approval to show my true colors.  To be myself, grow and blossom, wherever I plant my own feet. 

Have the courage to be different.  To stand out.  Will everyone appreciate it?  Not the meticulous gardeners. Who like it all in control.  But to other eyes, I might just be the antidote to the ordinary that they need.  The splash of color in a sea of monotony.   The lightning out of the blue, or green.  The inspiration to spread their wings.