Paint yourself some bliss.
If blue’s your hue, you can’t miss.
Stress just sails away.
Why do humans sweat the small stuff?
I was having a winter melt down this week when my frost bitten garage door wouldn’t budge, and I needed to get to work.
It really wasn’t a big deal, but for a couple of minutes it sure seemed like it.
Once I calmed down some, I realized I didn’t have to call in ‘sick.’ I just needed to phone in ‘stuck’ for a while with a big old piece of frozen wood.
Perhaps our dogs are smarter.
Like my handsome man Rex here who amused himself grooming his spiked mohawk while I donned my dirty dog haired covered jacket for a trip to the vet this morning.
Winter hasn’t exactly been a cake walk for him either.
Rex has slipped on the ice more than I have.
And my tenacious terrier Tuck decided to pierce Rex’s left ear one dark and stormy night over a fallen people cracker.
Even though a tiny earring would look pretty cool with Rex’s renegade mohawk, the vet and I nixed the idea as his ears are paper thin.
Anyway boys will be boys, and these boys will be forever more dining alone in their crates.
After passing his annual medical exam with flying colors of dog treats and high fives, Rex and I left for a little nerf ball/football in a nearby park.
As I opened my trunk to grab his toy, I saw it was empty.
It seemed I’d dropped the ball the weekend before when we were in a different dog park.
I felt bad for my tiny quarterback as we continued back home.
But it seems Rex is more resilient than me.
He bounded right out of his car seat and jumped on down. Then he started nudging our favorite decaying pumpkin by the back door towards the yard with his nose.
We’ve been using that orange frozen door stop on our most blustery days to keep the back screen door silent.
Though one day we did try to use it for snow bowling with mixed results.
I started wondering was Rex thinking of maybe trying a game of soccer?
Even though it is Super Bowl weekend I do know football on TV does make him sleepy.
Or maybe it’s all the commercials.
Anyway, I kicked the pumpkin back towards him for a while after his little nose would nudge it over to me.
And then I think I caught Rex smile.
Oh, what a game we had!
And what a sport is he.
And to think…we didn’t even sweat.
January and I have never been the best of friends.
Or winter either, as it turns out.
I was grumpy when I read the other day that my home state of Minnesota has just won first prize for having the most miserable winters. http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2017/01/04/uff-da-minnesota-ranks-no-1-on-most-miserable-winter-list/
But it wasn’t exactly a surprise and I didn’t need the reminder as I was about to start my third miserable commute of the week, and it was only Wednesday.
Once I arrived at the local skating rink called a freeway, I knew I needed to de-stress some.
I started by turning off Trump’s press conference on the radio in favor of classical music for a while.
Well, actually any music I could find.
I figured if I wanted to hear anger and frustration I could simply listen to the cranky drivers honking around me.
Still feeling restless an hour later, I thought I’d best compose a January mantra to chant during the rest of my prolonged commute:
“I’m thankful each night for those two frozen pumpkins glued next to my old storm door. These orange stoppers keep that door from blowing in the wind, allowing the dogs and me to snore away in heavenly peace.”
“I’m thankful for those dogs. They make for wonderful foot warmers at home and my pack takes their task seriously.”
“And I’m very thankful for my new calendar. It shows the month of January’s almost half over.”
I’m calling that progress.
That’s more than I can say for the roads, however.
While balancing 55 hour work weeks and caretaking responsibilities a few years ago I came to an important realization.
Mom and my husband Richard were both suffering from late stage dementia at the time, and I also had a teen and grandchild at home still needing support.
I was running short on sleep, and even shorter on spirit.
Then one Saturday morning I slid down to the kitchen floor to scratch my corgi Maddie’s belly. In response, she licked my hand and looked up at me with soulful eyes full of love.
Then and there I realized this sweet corgi and the rest of my canine crew were there as my own caretakers.
Specifically caretakers of one very shaky spirit and soul.
I was not alone.
As a result, along with Alzheimer’s non profits, dog related causes have been a yearly recipient of my annual donation dollars.
But this year, those dollars given to the dogs have been less than I’d like due to unpredicted expenses.
I’d been feeling a little guilty, until meeting up with two spirited grade schoolers at a neighborhood festival last weekend.
They both had a love for animals, and a vision.
The first shy brown eyed brunette sat at a table with her father collecting dollars for dogs found roaming in Costa Rica that they’d met on a recent trip. She made brightly colored candle holders out of paint and canning jars to sell for the cause.
I emptied my left pocket and added all the coins I pulled to their bucket.
A few tables down, I met another sweet girl who had a different idea to help out the dogs.
She was busily selling dog toys she and her Girl Scout group assembled to support the pound where I adopted my dog Rex in December.
After asking her to pick out a special toy for my boy, she did so proudly selecting one of deep burgundy and blue that she had made.
I emptied my right pocket this time, knowing these pups needed the donation more than I needed the grilled hot dog I was smelling from the stand behind me.
Driving home, I was happy I’d been able to help the dogs some. Yet I was still a little regretful I couldn’t do more or had the vision to help in a creative way like the two young girls I’d just met.
But then after looking at a newsletter I pulled from my mailbox after pulling into my driveway, I reconsidered.
The rescue group that I’d adopted my chi Grandma Greta from republished a post in it that I’d written in early December right after she passed. I’d talked in the piece about what this old girl meant to my spirit and that of others. https://quiltofmissingmemories.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/christmas-story/
In the same issue, the group mentioned a total of over 700 dogs that they helped last year.
If even half of those new owners donated only a dollar in honor of a second hand dog, maybe I have helped in more than a minor way.
And also in a creative one.
I thought the same as I also looked back on another post that the local pound republished of mine on Facebook in late December after I adopted my pup Rex. I wrote about what this little guy is doing for my soul and spirit today. https://quiltofmissingmemories.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/handsome-man/
The pound received over 700 likes on the piece. If even half of those readers donate as well, perhaps I’ve made more of a difference for the dogs than I’d ever realized.
Though arthritis limits what I contribute by hand, perhaps I can continue giving with my words and as many coins as I can muster.
My canine caretakers have given me so much.
I owe it to their legacy to try and do the same.
September is a month of much change.
Stressful ones apparently.
In fact, four of my current pick hits are showing on a list of life’s top ten stressors.
“Ah, bring it on,” I said to the dogs early this morning.
But an hour later, the pen I’d been using for all those related to do lists had run dry.
And it seemed I had as well.
I drove into town to find some greatly needed lake therapy.
And I found it there on the beach as soon as I overheard a wise man speak my favorite words, “It’s all good”.
I smiled, knowing he was right.
I moved to the breezy dock and stood for a while watching the early morning sailboat regatta with my cup of coffee.
“Breathe, just breathe,” I sang softly to myself in my best Kelly Clarkson voice.
And I did, taking in as much crisp fall air as my lungs would absorb.
It was just the high octane fuel I needed to sail back home and start cleaning out my basement as part of a downsizing effort.
I discovered once there it actually can be “all good”, even below ground.
And surely will be, when the tough task’s completed.
Oh, what a glorious gift change really is.
I did a rough count this morning. There are more than 800 art books in my late husband’s office. Some are boxed. Others are aligned alphabetically on 8 sagging bookshelves.
Problem 1: I may be selling and moving out of my little house in 60 days.
Problem 2: Maybe not.
Problem 3: I may be moving into an even smaller house.
Problem 4: Maybe not.
But the biggest problem of all is I’m no wheeler dealer.
And when it comes to matters of real estate, I’m a lost lamb in the woods, running
the treadmill of offers and counter offers.
I know it will all work out.
And life will get more simple.
Because my true home’s wherever that old green knapsack takes me in life, with the canine crew at my side.
So for this day, I’ll just load up those carefully selected free boxes from the liquor store labeled ‘Le Grand Noir (Black Sheep)’ and ‘Cupcake Angel Food’.
They ought to be prime candidates for the French art books and maybe even my cookbooks.
As green as I am with real estate, this girl’s determined to make the downsizing dilemma fun.
Even if it does take one U-Haul full of Angel Food Cupcakes to keep me going.
I needed to walk.
Then walk some more.
And I did.
Climbing every rolling hill of green I saw.
But soon I was lost.
Then lost again.
Perhaps I wanted to be.
A mourning dove appeared as if to guide me back towards home.
Yet it was not a route I’d expected.
I soon found I was swimming in a sea of azaleas.
Pink, purple, white and orange.
In front of the citrus blooms stood one yellow chair.
A lonely old chair, some might say.
But I only saw its loving heart as azalea branches embraced us both in a breeze.
I’m thinking a chair is never truly empty.
Nor are we.
Our sweetest memories could just bloom there forever.