Our family is getting four new legs.

It's official: we are adopting another dog. She’s an English Springer Spaniel like our sweet Sophie was. She lives in Texas right now. And like Sophie, she is coming to us because her owners are experiencing a medical crisis and can’t take care of her anymore. At least that’s what we thought at first. We learned after she was surrendered that the situation was much more dire than that — she’s been neglected for a long time. Living outside, severely malnourished, and her ears have giant dreadlocks that point to being ungroomed and unbrushed for a long time. I’m trying to hold this family in my heart without judgment because I cannot pretend to know what they are going through. But it’s hard for me to fathom allowing an animal in your care to get to this level of neglect without surrendering them sooner. :(

We named her Penny. (With the help of this lady, who also named Sophie.)

Penny the lucky pup.

The happy part? She will be coming to live with us as soon as she gains enough weight to be spayed (hopefully next week) and will live the cushiest, most love-filled life with a family of four who so desperately miss having a dog in the house. She’ll get to swim in the lake, go for walks, eat the best food, and get more snuggles than she can even begin to fathom.

None of this would have been possible without the power of social media and the magic of people willing to go above and beyond for a dog in need and for perfect strangers.

  1. To Robyn Arouty, when we started working together and decided to barter my design services I said I didn't know what you could do for me yet but I wasn't worried about it. I had no clue then the gift you would be giving me. Because of you and your connections, this was made possible.
  2. To Melissa White Raynor at peacelovedogs, you knew nothing about me but went out into the night to rescue a dog before a huge rain storm so that she wouldn't have to spend one more night in the elements. You have provided the most amazing care for Penny and everyday I see more light and life in her eyes. Your heart and your kindness truly give me hope for the human race. You work long days and still find time to text me photos, videos, and updates of our sweet girl. Someday I will find the proper way to thank you for what you have done for us. 

And now I'm crying.

Welcome Penny to our family. We haven't met her yet, but we're already in love with her.

Semi-frequent Tidbits

Let's just not bother with calling this "Five on Friday" anymore, okay?

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1. Chillin' with Daddy. Hank's legs are naked because he just had his toenails clipped (a.k.a. his mother was trying to murder him)

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2. Wind was blowing this sign around at Delta Sonic. #ohmy

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3. ILL JUS WAIT HER BY DIS SKOOL BUS 4 DA CHILDRENS

 

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4. Papa and Hank both REALLY love trucks. 

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5. Elf on the Shelf has officially begun. We are totally uncreative about it. Figure we may as well save ourselves for the later years.

Presque Isle

We live about 20-30 minutes from Lake Erie's beautiful beaches at Presque Isle State Park. All summer I've been dreaming about a beach day, but busy schedules and crappy weather prevented one from happening until today. Today we had no plans and 79 degree sunny weather. So we packed up the car with the baby, the dog, and the Opa and off to the beach we went.

Taking a baby and a dog to the beach is seriously f*cking exhausting. I was not prepared. There are a million things you have to remember to pack, lug onto the beach, and then try to unpack while dealing with a mobile baby who likes to eat sand and a dog who vibrates with adrenaline coursing through her veins and makes demon noises until you let her go in the water. It was chaotic and stressful. I even snapped at Rick while we were trying to pitch our half-tent in the wind and it blew around like a kite. 

But somewhere in there I got to hear Hank's giggles as the waves lapped up over his legs. 

And I got to see my crazy dog fetching sticks in the water like it was the most important job in the world.

And in those moments, every ounce of stress was worth it. Isn't that how it goes sometimes? You have to give an hour of fight for 30 seconds of beautiful.  

 

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Lost his legs. Loved every minute of it.

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Licking the bottom of a Subway cookie bag. Shameless. Like her Mama. 

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My little sand-eater. He had sand in every orifice.

 

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Here's to breathtaking waves and licking the bottom of the cookie bag. 

Perfectionism

I know many people who would qualify themselves as perfectionists. I count myself among them. Perfectionism is like a badge of honor. Saying you're a perfectionist is like admitting you have a flaw but giving yourself a compliment at the same time. There aren't many flaws like this. When a job interviewer asks what your weaknesses are, it's a pretty safe bet you aren't going to lose any points for saying you're a perfectionist. And yet, perfectionism is a destructive, self-loathing behavior. It is not healthy. It is not productive. And it does not honor the best that lies within us. But it comes with this amazing, heroin-high. The high of doing something perfectly well. Baking a cake that looks like it'd be at home in a magazine. Getting all of your laundry done, everything neatly folded and tucked away just where it belongs. Completing a task at work and doing it so well that everyone is in awe. These things are rushes. The joy of perfection washes over us like a wave.

The longer you live as a perfectionist, the more things you find that you need to do perfectly. And the things that you can't do perfectly? You just stop doing them altogether. Can't exercise like a champ everyday? May as well not exercise at all. Can't stay away from that bag of chips? May as well eat the whole thing. You can only cook when the results will be amazing. You can only invite people over when your house looks perfect. The irony is that everyone thinks you have your shit together. Maybe they're even a little jealous.

There are messy alcoholics and then there are high-functioning alcoholics who manage to not only hold their liquor but do it while walking a tightrope and making the whole room laugh. We are kind of in awe of them. And when and if they decide to stop drinking, we grieve a little over the loss of that charming person. Of course we want them to get better, but we also think secretly that maybe it is okay to go through life being a little beautiful trainwreck.

The drunk of perfection is not that different from the drunk of alcohol. Perfectionists love to please people, and people love to be pleased. And that works so well until it doesn't anymore. Until you get to the point where you're so drunk on perfect that you can't just "do" things without a full-court press. That's when the exterior starts to crack, and you start letting people down, and the snowball keeps getting bigger.

It was easier to write this with pronouns like "you" and "us," but we all know I'm talking about myself here. I am on a journey to stop being a perfectionist. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done. I wish they had a rehab for perfectionists because I would pay the money and take the time to go. To be able to focus solely on the hard work of letting this go would be much more manageable than trying to tackle it on top of everyday work and everyday life. I can see it now, instead of the Betty Ford Clinic it'd be the Martha Stewart Clinic.

One of the things I am learning is how to reframe my thoughts. I want to go swimming at the Y, but I can't possibly take 1-2 hours out of my schedule to go everyday. Is it really so bad to just go once a week? Wouldn't it still be worthwhile?

This is hard work, but I am so determined to do it. There is no going back. I don't want "perfectionist" to be marked on my grave.

Mindfulness and Meditation

After 32 years of trying to sift through my own mental shit alone, I recently engaged the help of a therapist. I tend to carry stress in my lower back, and when life gets very stressful I experience a lot of pain. So I was at a point where I needed to do something about it. It has been hard to confront myself in this way, the kind of hard (I suspect) that a great workout provides. It feels like I'm stretching, growing, and gaining new mental muscles.

This is one of the books that my therapist recommended. It's the first book I've read about meditation that really resonates with me. It's made me more present in the moment.

At times I get so wound up thinking about a huge line of things that need to be done, and this needs to happen before that can happen, etc. etc. I'm learning to stop and notice what surrounds me. The leaves rustling on a tree and the sound they make, the way that blades of grass move in the wind. The things that are there all the time, but I tune them out. And when I notice these things, it's like my mind gets to take a little vacation and my body feels peace and levity.

I don't know if you should read this book or not. I know that is has helped me. But it also found me at a time where I was ready to receive it.

Perspective...

 life

This photo has been making the rounds on facebook and tumblr. It breaks me every time I see it.

We're currently undergoing a bathroom renovation in our house. We have a small house, with only one bathroom, so it has made life inconvenient for a little while. Every room is a mess of tools, supplies, dust, etc. Sometimes I get so anxious about it all. Then I see something like this, and my heart stops for a beat. How silly of me to be annoyed about a blessing in my life. We are so lucky to have a home, and not only that but we can afford to improve our home. We are warm when it's cold, cool when it's hot, and we never have to worry about having food to eat for a meal.

It's good to be humbled, and to put things in perspective.

The Obituary

It's raining today.  I have some time to sit down and get this blog started. The rain has always made me happy. I love the way it sounds, and I love how it makes the world feel clean and even a little sexy.

Over a year ago, I was part of a small group of individuals taking an intensive course on Tribal Leadership. It was life-changing, to say the least. One of the assignments we had was to write our own obituary. We were learning how to live a designed life, one of intention. Writing our obituary would help us to see where we want to end up.

I wasn't expecting the assignment to be hard, until I sat down to do it. The more I wrote the harder I cried.

I am not sure what was more emotional:

  1. the thought of me dying someday, and leaving behind people I love
  2. the fact that I was hiding from my dreams, staying safe by doing things that didn't challenge me and didn't make me feel alive

After I was finished, I took a deep breath. Over the next few minutes the tears gave way to an almost euphoric satisfaction. I wish I could explain how this felt, but I don't know if it's explainable. When you take the time to write down how you envision your life going — without any constraints about what you are capable of doing — there is a peace and a sanity that washes over you.

The hard part was writing it. Now, I just had to start doing those things.

So here it is. It's not perfect, and I think if I were to write it again today I would change a few things. But that's not important. What's important is that instead of seeing myself as a passenger in my own life, I now see myself as the driver. I can go where I want to.

 Obituary

Those of you who know me know that I did quit my job. I did start that company. It took about 1,000 baby steps to get there, and it was not easy. But I knew where I was going.

 raindancing