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.

challenges

October Happenings

Wow October 1st seemed to arrive fast. Quicker than I was prepared for. As did the chill in the air and fall foliage. I’m not sad summer is gone for now. Rather I’m looking forward to final chapter of 2020. The fourth quarter. The last three months of the pandemic year. An easy bye Felicia will be coming from my mouth as 2021 arrives.

The final showdown of 2020 happens in these last three months. We all know it’s been a trying year for many. Most notably due to the pandemic. As I turned the page to October on my calendar I thought to myself I should finish the year with as much vim and vigor as I did when I started the year. Goals in hand. A bottomless cup of fuel to knock out all the goals I put to paper.

Time to say good bye to those extra covid pounds sitting on my waistline. My jeans are somehow not fitting like they should. Time to get moving at a higher level for myself in all aspects of life. I need to hit a few goals in a condensed time period to finish the year with a bang. The pandemic isn’t going to sabotage me. It merely sidelined me for a period of the year.

Let’s go. That’s what I’m telling myself. Going to find some new obstacles. Going to make some lasting memories. Going to try a few new things too. I’m going to write my ending to 2020 the way I do life. Dream big. Live large. Smile often.

How will you wrap up 2020? Remember as I’m wrapping up the year I’ve already laid the groundwork for 2021. I’m a plan-o-gram girl. Getting things done but enjoying life, too. It’s a delicate but needed balance.

challenges

Taking it on the Chin

Confession time:  I am a klutz in the gym.  OK, actually I am a klutz anywhere, but it seems to be more noticeable in the gym.  Or maybe the bruises are just more obvious evidence and reminders.

First, there were the bruises from learning how to do power cleans.  I’d clock myself in the area under my neck, leaving a nice big quarter-sized bruise.

Then, there were the shoulder bruises that clean-and-jerks left when I slammed the dumbbell too hard in transition.

The chin bruises are their own special kind.  I may have a permanent lump from doing jumping pull-ups and barely getting my chin over the bar, then hitting it as I quickly came down.

Two other scary ones happened on the chin, too.  The first was on my birthday. During the workout and we were racing to do as many shoulder-to-overheads as we could in a short amount of time.  We had to break up the sets too.  It’s hard to explain, but doing them quickly kept me from having to do more burpees or box jumps or something else ugly.  Anyway, one time I cleaned the barbell to my shoulders and then pushed it up as hard as I could, which was great except that my chin was in the way.  I smacked myself so hard I saw stars.  Thankfully I put the bar down safely and regrouped but what a bruise that was.

The final one I’ll share here was a huge lesson learned (and truly cements my mega-klutz-with-a-side-of-airhead status). In a hotel gym they had a large rack of balls of different sizes.  I thought to myself, great, I can do some slam balls.  So, I grab one of the bigger ones, lift it over my head, then slam it as hard as I can to the ground.  Of course, as you can likely predict, it was not a 20-pound slam ball, but just an inflated hard bouncy ball.  It bounced with force and hit me on the chin where again, I saw stars.  The lesson here is:  first, test new equipment.  Second, don’t do new movements in the gym when you are by yourself.  I seriously could have knocked myself out.

I love working out, I really do, and my body is capable of way more than I thought possible.  But deep inside, I’m still the little girl who perpetually wore bandaids on her skinned-up knees, Dad calling me “Grace” in jest of his stumbly, klutzy, accident-prone daughter.  Hope it made you giggle, or shake your head, or some of you maybe feel a little less alone in your clumsy.

business

The Bottom of the Report Card

In elementary school, I was obsessed with my grades. Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, Spelling, Writing, all of the main subjects. I was an “All A” girl from an early age, nearly consumed by keeping my GPA a 4.0. Tests, quizzes, projects, all of it was about chasing the A.

The other day, I was having a conversation with a business owner about his employees. He’s been struggling to find decent workers. As he describes it, his employees, all adults, regularly show up late or don’t show up, don’t follow instructions, are questionable with honesty, stir up petty drama within the staff, spread crappy attitudes, and waste resources. As an employer, it is frustrating to say the least. He spends more time dealing with employee problems than doing the the actual work that generates revenue.

This got me thinking about my report card growing up. I spent so much time on the top part, where they listed my grades in all those core subjects. But what about the bottom part? The “conduct grades?”

This section had things like:

-Uses time wisely

-Uses resources wisely

-Follows directions

-Works well with others

-Neatness

-Punctuality

-Thinks creatively

-Accepts feedback

-Keeps a positive attitude

-Shows initiative

It was a grid, graded on an E / S / N / U scale. I’ll admit, most of the time I ignored it. I would just glide my eyes over the letters. Mostly S, with a few S+ and some Es. But in the end, it didn’t affect my GPA, so I didn’t really think much of it.

In light of the business owner’s comments, I wonder which part of the report card can really tell us who will be success in different areas of life…the workplace, the community, life in general? Are my grades in math and science more important than the way I use my time? What parts of elementary school should be the focus of creating a productive, contributing adult?

As an elementary school teacher, I wonder where I should focus my energy, especially in these pandemic days. What matters in the long run? Just something to ponder.

perspective

Reflections

What do reflections tell us or teach us? If you look at your reflection in the water, the image may be distorted. If you look at your reflection in a mirror it may also be distorted. However if we reflect upon a picture, not much is hidden. A still moment of you. Marked in time.

Photos are often snapped by others. Said photos may show you a side, an angle, or a view of yourself you are not used to seeing. Or maybe it’s a version or portion of yourself you ignore purposely. It may even be a rude awakening of how you really look to others.

When you look at a picture you see you. The good. The bad. The ugly. How you reflect upon the visual image is completely up to you. 

You can focus on the negative or find the positives in any photo of yourself. For me, I have my moments where I look at the aesthetic piece and say ugh… but then I shift to what I can control. My attitude. My desire to improve. My ability to create change.

Can you look at your reflection and do the same? It’s a challenge of sorts. Take the blurred self-image and create the you that you want to see all the time. The look you want others to see of you. 

Maybe you want to smile brighter. Maybe you want to dress sharper. Maybe you want a new hair color. Maybe it’s a fresh haircut. Whatever you reflect on, you can change if you so desire.

My reflection inspired me recently. I won’t bore you with the details as the point of the post is I reflect on myself to improve. I mapped a plan in my mind to execute the improvement.

I did that! I invoked the desire to change. I charted the path. I put the work in. I valued me. I valued my time to change what I wanted to change in my reflection.

My change could be physical but it doesn’t need to be. It could be a spiritual change. A mindset change. It could even be an emotional change.

I noted in a previous post about how others are watching. They may watch whether you strut or walk timidly. That’s right your gait can tell a lot about you. It used to be the handshake in business that defined you but now thanks to corona and the digital arena we live in today we must adapt. Adapt our reflection to meet today’s demands.

I did just that. I asked myself or my reflection how I can up my game. What can I modify within to recreate, repurpose, reposition or redirect to suit my forward-thinking self.

I’m a work in progress. An artist piece that is moldable and remoldable. Never boring. Never stale. Dynamic. A modifiable masterpiece.

My reflection is shifting. Just like life.