HOW TO TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS

Yesterday, I joked about writing a blog on how to do anything better. On second thought, I’ve decided that it’s not such a bad idea after all. How else can I improve anything if I don’t even try? Just because I have an unfocused mind doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Already I’m working on my addiction to tea – Orange Pekoe, to be exact. There must be some secret ingredient that makes me crave it. Could it be just caffeine?

I’m sipping chamomile as I am tapping. I hope I can stay awake. Sheba is keeping me company. She is usually very rowdy and restless in the afternoons. It is that time between her supper and her walk. I’ve been working patiently with her for the last few weeks. When she barks up, I coax her in laying down, staying and then giving her lots of verbal praise. It took awhile but she’s finally getting it. Quiet = food and a walk. I could see the comprehension in her eyes and behavior. Really, a couple of weeks is not a long time. It is so pleasurable to see her ‘getting’ it.

The truth is I am the one finally ‘getting’ it. Raising Sheba has been strenuous, frustrating, fun, and satisfying all at the same time. It was very tumultous in the beginning. I was more a cat person, having had 3 cats previously. A dog was a new thing. What I knew about dogs was in movies and on television. It was myths and fairy tales, no true hard facts about raising a dog. The only preparation I made was to buy a very big crate and a book from the library.

The book was a very good resource at toilet training my new puppy. I followed the suggested schedule to a t. I can’t remember the number of times I took Sheba out to ‘potty’. It was enough times to wear me out but Sheba is perfectly toilet trained. One time she got into some ripe prunes and she had to go. She was in her crate in the garage when I was at work. She tried to poop out the crate door. She had some messy back end. When I let her out, she got away from me. Out the yard she ran. I had to chase her through the neighbourhood. Oh, what a time that was! Lucky for us, nobody saw us and the messy back end. A big sigh of relief when I finally caught her.

I listened and read too many accounts of how to raise a dog. I was terrified of doing the wrong things. Everyone and every source stated how difficult it is to correct a dog once it learned the wrong thing. I was a nervous wreck, feeling like a failed dog owner. Puppy classes were of no help. We weren’t keen on the trainer. She made both Sheba and I feel bad about ourselves. One time Sheba charged full throttle into Pet Smart (where we took the class), choked on her collar and pooped on the floor. On the way home after, she threw up in the car. What a mess! Ugh! We decided we did not need any more puppy classes. We’ve been limping along on our own ever since.

My advice on how to if you are a very first time dog owner, is to relax. Enjoy your dog. Get to know each other first. Go from there. The best thing is about consistency. But when you are a novice, you don’t even know what that means. The next best advice is don’t worry too much about making mistakes. Even old dogs can be corrected. They are just like us. They can change given the right motivations. It’s practice, practice and more practice – the same way each time – over and over = success. It only took us 11 years. But better late than never.

 

 

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ADDICTED TO BETTER

Here’s another afternoon staring at me. My mind is a little alot scattered. It is admirable that I am so keen on learning. Putting too much on my plate can negate all that. It sends my head into a continuous spin. I’m not focused. I have no direction and don’t I know it! Right now I’m dying for a cup of tea. It’s my addiction calling. It would help if I could cut back a bit. Too many cups adds to my aggitation. If I’m too intent on cutting back, it calls me louder. I might as well go make myself a cup.

I’m back with my tea. It would be good if I could just sit but I have things whirling around and around in my head – ‘my goals and projects’. Once upon a time I could just sit and read for pleasure. Now, I’m a bit driven to do everything better. I don’t want any prize ribbons but I am addicted with ‘improvement’. I’m considering a blog on how to do anything better – not seriously.  I am a lost cause on giving as well as receiving directions.

I suppose I could blame everything to this crazy weather we’re experiencing. I feel guilty complaining about blue skies and warm temperature. But it does not feel like December or that Christmas is just around the corner. It is a little disconcerting. Weird weather patterns are here to stay. I better adjust. I want to whine less, do better and more. Can’t help but be my striving self.

What specifically am I striving for? I’m thinking of expanding my artistic endeavours to include quilting and embroidery. Blame it on the quilt show I went to in October. Seeing all the fabulous quilts displayed made me want to do it, too. I believe in listening to the  voices of creation. I have no extra time to sit and ponder. It is time to sew, to explore, experiment and go wild, crazy creatively addicted.

 

 

 

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DOING THE HUSTLE

One of these days I will have to hustle my ass and get with the program. I’m always lagging behind, dragging my butt. I’m continuously just treading water and not getting ahead. Wish it could wear off pounds and inches. That would be getting ahead.

I could just pretend I’m that energetic girl. They say you can fake it until it becomes you – if you want. December is a bad month to fake it but it is also the perfect time. I don’t think I am alone in my tiredness. Someone else whispered agreement along with me this morning. We’re all faking it until we make it. A relief I’m not alone.

Sometimes I feel like such a rebel rouser, a bad mouthed, sorry ass gal. In these times I see the world with jaundiced coloured sunglasses. I try to keep these sentiments to myself. I guess the secret is out now. Better here on the page than a verbal diatribe. The written word is much gentler than a shout or rant. But most of my ragging are against myself. It’s all about me. I hope at the end of it, I’m more mellow and positive. I always hope for a transformation.

Yes, it is hard to keep with the program. I try not to rain on others’ parade. This morning I was stepping along with everyone else in our step aerobics class. I wondered how our instructor keeps motivated. What if she was feeling like me. How does she carried it off then? Well, I am recalling there were some days that she was not so together. She lost track of some maneuvers, etc. We are all the same – human. A big sigh of relief. I listened to the beat of the music and kept my body parts moving. That matters. You get the same results however much you enjoy or not. Even if I felt shitty, at least I would be looking trim and fit.

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REFLECTIONS

December can be dangerous – for me at least. The days are shorter, the nights infinitely long. Then there’s the snow. Just when you’ve adjusted to it and the cold, a warm front comes along. The snow melts. You welcome the not shivering and bundling up but the world is grey and muddy. I find myself longing for the snow to clean and lighten my world.

Christmas comes along to add to the challenge. “Tis the season to be jolly. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la. I was born serious and quiet. I was never jolly. It does make me feel obliged to go ho, ho, ho! I still have this bad little girl feeling inside.  I’m so serious and somber. I was criticized by those ‘aunties’ in China when I was a child. She speaks so little, they would say to my mother. That was how I was. How can I unbecome myself?

The answer came later in my young adulthood. I became a nurse. It was not to help mankind. My motive was I was bored working as a steno in a large office. I was searching for another career, one that would help me get over my quiet/shyness. A hospital would fill all my criteria. It answered all my wildest dreams – in a sense. I certainly developed a gift for chatter and a backbone for sure. Then there’s the anxiety.  We won’t speak about that today but it has gone. Thank goodness and knock on wood.

There are so many landmines in December. Even my iPhone is intent on tripping me up. No Internet connection, it tells me. Can’t use Google Map. I think I can find my way. How hard can it be when it’s only 13 minutes away. I’ve been there a few times already. I was wrong! My 13 minutes turned out to 30 minutes. But I got to see the countryside, blue skies, red barns and horses. Maybe someone up there knew I needed to get out of the city if only for a little while.

What I know for sure is that I am lousy at directions. On not so copacetic days, my sense of direction is even worse. I can’t even get myself out of a wet paper bag. Getting lost is not a big deal. Google Map is a good friend. If the iPhone is malfunctioning, turn the power completely off. Then turn it back on and it will work like a charm. It redirected me back on course. I have to give myself a pat on the back for persevering with my day, following through with my errands. I could very well have thrown up my hands and abandon ship.

On some Decembers days, my head is thicker and my fuse is shorter. It’s good to see myself reflected in the glass doors/walls I walk by. Not only did I get lost hopelessly going to Costco, but I didn’t realize I was pushing 2 shopping carts as one. The Costco greeter asked: Do you need 2 carts? Well, no. We had a good laugh and so did another customer.

All’s well that ends well. I have to echo Mr. William Shakespeare. I ended my adventures for the day at one of my favourite spots on 8th Street – A & W. The bright colours and big windows reflect comfort, ease and cheerfulness. Seeing the orange/gold orbs hanging down, I felt a Fa-la-la-la-la rumbling deep within. And maybe a ho! or two.

 

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HOW TO BE HAPPIER

Today I’m tempted to throw up my hands and cry, For what purpose am I doing this? THIS meaning the tap tap of my keyboard. Sometimes I seem to go on and on about the same thing. Worse yet, they seem to be about nothing. Then I read Amy Tan’s post on FB on how to be happier in these trying times. Well, I do have a pet – Sheba. She’s just started up her usual antics now,  barking up a fit.  I see that her water bowl is empty. She has good reason to bark. Sorry Sheba. My fault this time.

Having Sheba/a pet is a life enhancer even though she is a ton of work. She gets me out the door on walks no matter rain or shine. She has taught me to look up and see the blue sky of a sunny day, the soft pinks of a December sunset. She has shown me it can be fun teaching and learning obedience and tricks. She’s given me structure to the day. She has a built in alarm clock.  She is pretty accurate most of the time. But she is not always a reliable security guard. We have been robbed. She was sleeping on the job.

What Amy suggest if you can’t keep a pet, is to take up bird watching. She suggests to learn more about them by encouraging them to come into your yard with bird food. She sketches them, too. I think I will stick to tapping on my keyboard for now. It does make me happier to give voice to the angst – all my negativity and sarcasm. They do tend to fester inside, rolling over and over in the canyons of my mind. Ha! Music is playing in my head again. I’m stealing phrase(s) from Bob Lind’s Elusive Butterfly. It’s a great song. Beautiful lyrics. Don’t you agree? But I really should acquire a more recent playlist for my head.

I’m have to rethink about being ‘happier’. What does happy feel like anyways? I’m more aware of when I’m not. My whole body reacts, screaming, We’re not copacetic. Get us out of here! Everything, all of me retreats, withdraws, shrinking inside, hiding where it is safe. So ‘happier’ for me is to make my body feel good. Sometimes I need some spiritual guidance to help me out. That sometimes is now. That guidance source is from Caroline Myss. I need her ‘put your head in the toilet’ no-nonsense approach. We are so fortunate to be in this energy age. I can access help with a tap of the keyboard – the Internet coming to rescue my InnerNet.

It is good to hear Caroline talk about our present time being special, extraordinary. The stories and myths of yesterday no longer work. That’s exactly how I am feeling – that my stories/myths are passé. They no longer work for me. I have to change my stories, my voice, my vision. I am not the center of the Universe. I’m listening to her voice telling me to humble up, that I am not special. Yes, put my head in the toilet for 7 minutes and reboot my life. Got it, Caroline! Thanks for the cold water.

Oh, I do feel happier now. My body is laughing.

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FREE AT LAST

I love sitting here listening to Caroline Myss speak her wisdom. She is what you call a no nonsense woman. “Stop it!” she stresses. “Or I am going to put your head in the toilet.” I like to put Sheba’s head in the toilet now. She’s barking over her rubber chicken. I can hardly think! I’m suppose to toss it with her. I like sitting here with her when she’s quiet and peaceful. She probably likes it when I play rubber chicken. We are both in training – to better ourselves and to please each other. Mutual love.

I think we are making some progress. We are going to prove that you can teach old broads new tricks. It depends on the rewards used. Sheba is not as discriminatory as I am. She is tail-wagging happy, will sit, down and stand on her head if possible for any treat big or small. I am not so easily swayed. It would be in your best interest to trick me into self motivation. I am a tough cookie. Sheba loves tough cookies, too. She’s always next to me.

For today at least, I’ve relinquished my guilt for everything. I’m letting it fall like puddles at my feet. I can declare like Martin Luther King, Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are I am free at last. A little melodramatic, you say. But alas! I do feel shackled by all that I’ve been taught, unwittingly or otherwise.

I like to turn a new page, a clean slate with no blame. I’ve come to the conclusion that we can’t forget, we can’t forgive so let’s move on and start a new story. We think our wounds are healed but are they just scarred over? They can bleed at any provocation. Ask any survivors of residential schools in Canada. And has Truth and Reconciliation Commission brought about truth and reconciliation? I am sure that many would find a fallacy in my comparison between such a big hurt and my little hurts. But aren’t wounds, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? I’m not a fan of licking each other’s or trading stories of wounds. It makes me want to have bigger ones than you have. That’s why I think it wise for me to move on.

I hate the name of Wounded Warrior. I don’t even like being a warrior at all. The title signifies fighting, warring. Don’t we have a lot of that? Every day in the news there’s a war. The Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan, Syria, Vietnam, Iraq. Then there’s the war on drugs, terror, against crime, poverty, cancer. Why must we fight so much? Can’t we work to find solutions? Maybe if we can change our talk, we can change our thinking and seeing. Maybe we can find common ground without the fight. How about a little brotherhood and sisterhood. And maybe then there won’t be so much ass and other body parts grabbing.

So why this sudden avalanche of sexual harassment stories. They’re tumbling out of closets. Big names, starting with Harvey Weinstein, are falling like dominoes, except for Trump. He is still President even though he said grab them by the *  *.  Maybe he has a big gun mouth.

 

 

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THE VALLEY OF DOUBT

The best thing for me is not to dwell in the valley of doubt. I should just drive through –  looking at possible choices, decide and act. My mistake usually is going back, ruminating and flagellating myself. All that does is create agony and more time in the valley.  I better work on giving up the bad habit. Most things are not that important. Whatever I decide and do will be fine. Things have a way of working out. I have good self talk. I hope I listen to myself sometimes.

I am a little down in the mouth. I hope I don’t talk trash though I tend to when squished between a rock and a hard place. It never works. So the dog is barking her fool head off. The postman was at the door. Yelling at Sheba never works either, but still I try. Eventually she does shut up. Eh, life is full of barks and grunts.

You will have to excuse me a little. The weather is hampering my well being. Not to worry. I’m tapping myself out of my discomfort. I’m contrary to that belief that we should be happy and chirpy all the time. I am an exception to that rule. I hope that I do keep my grumpiness to myself. Let me know if I transgress.

What I hate about these episodes of irascibleness is loss of productivity and more chaos. But being a long time companion of my temperament, I have learned to make a few adjustments of behaviour. I try not to give in to my crankiness and behave badly. I aim for a quieter environment. I try not to talk so much, staying out of arguments. That could be difficult. In those cases, I stay away from social gatherings. I use those alone times for constructive activity. Cleaning house can be soothing.

Today, I’m mostly tired. My throat a little scratchy from coughing during the night. I struggled this morning with the decision of staying home or going out. Staying home won out but I did feel a little guilty. Those I should have been able…I would have felt better if…thoughts tumbled in my head for awhile. I kept them to myself, not voicing them outloud. It would have been more delicious if I just allow myself to feel my fatigue and rest.

You know that when you have a dog, you can’t call in sick for those walks. You will not get any rest. I killed two birds with one stone to save energy. I packed my furry princess in the car. We stopped first at the dog food store. $91.00. Small price to pay for a healthy fur baby. I think it lasts for a month at least. Next was the dog park close by. It was our first one where she learned there were other four legged creatures like herself. She was very timid on her first outing, hanging close to the fence. She soon got over it and ran with her buddies. Memories!

Letting her run off-leash in the park was much easier on me than walking on leash. We did two laps around, climbing the hill in the middle. Done and homeward bound.

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