Feel-good Friday: Halfway Mark

Well we made it to day 7 of our 14 day mandatory self-quarantine of a New World Disorder.  And everyone is still alive and somewhat sane.

Layla wants to know when we can go for our regular walks again.  Photo: Tamara Gauthier

What a trip this has been, and still is.  We drove from Palm Springs to Vancouver and we arrived one day after a newly enforced Canadian government order that stated all Canadians returning to Canada from anywhere abroad had to do mandatory self-isolation for two weeks.  Before this it was voluntary quarantine. Timing is everything they say.  However we still had to (and still have to until further notice) maintain 2 metres (6 ft.) distance from one another.

When we arrived at the border, which by the way, was empty, our border officer read us the new rules and told us in no uncertain terms that if we were to leave our place of isolation (where we had to head straight for, with no stops whatsoever) we could be fined anywhere from $1,000 to $1,000,000.  Yup; that’s up to 1 million dollars!  Needless to say I’m not gonna let that happen.  If so, is there anyone who can bail me out for a million?  Didn’t think so!

So we had to bid adieu (for now) to simple everyday outings like getting our own groceries and walking our dogs.  Although I do let mine just outside the house several times a day.  A good friend and neighbour is nice enough to walk Layla (who needs more exercise). We’ve been ordering takeout (my new safe word) and having groceries delivered since then.  

Still, it’s strange to be on “house arrest” when we have no symptoms, although I do understand it’s to help keep the possibility we have it from spreading to those who are more vulnerable. We all know by now what we’re supposed to do to help get everything back to normal.  Remember normal?

Here’s what I was not expecting… coming home to find my fridge conked out for the first time due to a power outage and dealing with the stench of throwing everything out including the melted frozen berries that made a mess in the freezer.  Luckily for me I have a backup fridge in the garage.  Who has a back-up fridge?  I do!  But then no food because all was tossed.  And forget about getting a service person.  I tried.  Once they found out I was in California… forget about it.

Then, my phone died.  Aaaarrrggghhh! Can phones contract coronavirus?  Nah.  It may only need a new battery. But how do I order groceries with no phone? And why do I not have a back-up phone? Next best thing – to email someone you know with your essential list.  Then they deliver and after they’ve left, you find out that you forgot to add that one critical item on your list that you needed to make your meal complete. It’s like having a bagel without the cream cheese or bread without butter.  You get the idea. So you make do.

Next up: let’s say you need to print out a document and fax it to someone?  Under normal circumstances if you’re out of printer cartridges you get in your car and drive to Staples, get more and that’s that.  But when you’re under house arrest you can’t go anywhere, let alone drive.  So you have to ask someone (via e-mail because no phone remember?) to print it out for you and put it in your mailbox.  No one wants to be near you…just in case.  No one!

Here’s the good news:  not having to get dressed, more time to make soup and cookies, no excuse to not clean house, cannot think of anything else at the moment.

So here we are.   I’ll let you know how we made out next Friday. Which is Good Friday.  Which will be very good Friday for all in this house.  In the meantime a friend sent me this timely poem:

Suddenly

Suddenly, we slept in one world and woke up in another.

Disney has no more magic and Paris is no longer romantic..

Suddenly, in New York everyone sleeps.

And the Great Wall of China is no longer a fortress.

Suddenly, hugs and kisses become weapons.

Holding hands and walking the parks become outlawed.


Suddenly, not visiting aging parents and grandparents becomes an “act of love”.

Suddenly, our bombs and machine guns, our tanks and artilleries begin to gather dust.

Suddenly, we realized that power is with faith

alone.

And that money has no value when it can’t even buy you toilet paper.


Suddenly, we have been put back in our place by the hands of the universe. 
And we’ve been made aware how vulnerably “human” we truly are, when faced with a microbe so powerfully inhumane. 

Keep the hope alive, be well & stay safe everyone!!

Photo: Tamara Gauthier

Header photo: Tamara Gauthier

Feel-good Friday: on the wagon

This is how we roll

Jia Jia + Layla. Photo: d. king

My senior is almost 18 years old.  Since he now walks like a turtle I found the perfect solution for taking him from A to B without much effort on my part and no effort on his.  Baby strollers didn’t hold him properly and the pet wagons were too small.  So I went to the sporting goods section of Walmart and found a wagon designed to take blankets and beer to the beach.  Outfitted with comfort it works like a charm.  Also can be pulled either way, has a handle for extension to arms length, a flap for carrying stuff and folds for easy storage.  Yay!

When we arrive at our destination I take him out and he walks until he’s too tired at which point he goes back in the wagon.  Layla walks alongside for exercise but she enjoys hitching a ride from time to time.

My boy outside Revivals. Photo: d. king

This is a faster, more convenient way to take him along the River Walk. Photo: d. king

Along the River Walk. Photo: d. king

Okay Layla; don’t get too comfortable. Photo: d. king

Hope you enjoy your weekend.

FYI: I’ve been giving Jia Jia a product called Rejeneril (a patented and clinically-proven longevity product for pets) every day for 8 years now.  I believe it helps his immune system among other benefits.

The link is below if you want to check it out:

Rejeneril®

 

Solicitous Sunday

Just wanted to share this life lesson on letting go:

Jay Shetty lived as a monk for 3 years and built philanthropic ventures.

It’s been a mission of mine to spread knowledge at the pace we want entertainment, something I like to call making wisdom go viral. Since launching my channel in 2016, I’ve garnered over 4 billion views and 24+ million followers. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s how to turn a message into an inspiring story that’ll impact the masses. I work with authors, entrepreneurs and influencers to help them bring their stories to life – Jay Shetty

Jay offers a live weekly meditation and coaching, a huge vault of coaching sessions and there’s in-person, member-only Meetups in over 60 cities around the world. 

The Paradox of our Time in History is that

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but have less. We buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment;
More experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little,
Drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired,
Read too seldom, watch tv too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life.
We’ve added years to life, not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space.
We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.
We plan more, but accomplish less.
We write more, but learn less.
We build more computers
To hold more information
To produce more copies than ever,
But have less communication.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion;
Tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.
These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare;
More leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are days of two incomes, but more divorce;
Of fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality,
One-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do
Everything from cheer to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the show window
And nothing in the stockroom;
A time when technology can bring this letter to you,
And a time when you can choose either to share this insight,
Or to just hit delete.

written by George Carlin

REMEMBER TO

spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and doesn’t cost a cent.

say ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it.

a kiss and an embrace will end hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

give time to love, give time to speak!

give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by those moments that take our breath away.

 

 

Food for Thought – the Best Dog Food!

Below is a link to a very helpful article on what is best to feed your dog….aside from the usual kibble.

Photo: Tamara Gauthier

Photo: d. king

I’ve been meaning to publish this for months but put it on the back burner.  I strongly believe that dogs deserve to eat real food the same as humans for health purposes mostly.

All living creatures deserve real food. 

It is narrow-minded to think that dogs should eat only kibble.  Perhaps the thought of eating kibbles for the rest of your own life helps make the point that pets forced to do so are being shortchanged.

I’ve been making simple real food meals for my dogs for dinner since day one (day one being the day they came into my care).  Unless we’re travelling they get homemade.  Not in the morning, just in the evenings.  Sometimes in the morning they get oatmeal or eggs  but mostly good quality kibble. Aside from health benefits, the enjoyment of watching them polish off  a bowl of freshly prepared food, knowing how much they love to eat it, is enough for me to want to make it.

My male sheltie is almost sixteen.  I met him when he was eight, and he became mine furever when he was ten.  He was used to eating only kibble once a day. But on several occasions he went into a hypoglycemia shock where he could hardly function.  Twice I didn’t think he’d even recover.  So I decided to change his diet by feeding him twice a day with the second meal consisting of ‘real’ meat & veggies.  No filler. Since doing so, he has not gone into shock syndrome once.

Cost wise, buying real food is not as much as you think.  You can buy stir-fry beef or chicken on sale, mix it with plain rice, add steamed veggies like yam, sweet potato, zucchini and carrots. Then mix in frozen or canned peas. Ground turkey & fish such as salmon are also good choices.  Just like us, they like variety.   You can buy canned pure pumpkin and give them a bit of that too.  Make enough for several days and refrigerate in portions.  Your dog will love you even more for it.

Photo: d. king

Selfie in the Park

When it comes to buying kibble for your dog please carefully read the label.  Animal protein should be at the top of the ingredient list with whole vegetables, fruits and grains next.  Don’t forget to check the best before date.

Let’s keep our furry family happy and healthy for as long as we can.  It’s the least we can do for them.  They enhance our lives, we should do the same for them.

ARTICLE:

https://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/health/articles/feeding-homemade-dog-food.html

 

Self Care: the One Year Mark

The anniversary of Don’s passing is coming up in a few days and I’ve been deeply affected by it.  Don wasn’t only my husband; he was my best friend and the best person I’ve ever known.  Certainly the most solid.  I spent almost half my life with him.  Watching the struggle and rapid decline of someone who was my rock was the worst experience of my entire life.  I am only now beginning the healing process.

Some of these photos I’ve never seen before because they were recently sent to me.

Photo: Fred To

Photo: Fred To

People say it will get better but so far I don’t know what they’re talking about.  As of today, I can say that I’m managing my grief.  I say managing because I’m living with it, not overcoming it.  I don’t have a time frame for when it will affect me less; maybe never.

Grief feels very solitary. Even if we’re not alone we’re still alone in our grief because it’s all individual.  No one can tell me otherwise.  But there are a few similarities with others living with loss.  We work through it.

Working through grief is painful and tough.  It’s about finding ways to live alongside your loss; building a life around the edges of what will always be a vacancy. Making sense of something senseless.  We live in a culture that doesn’t understand.  It’s not really our fault that we’re ignorant. We’ve grown up with what we’ve learned; trying to fix things and make everything better.  Most people mean well.  But knowing that you had a good life with a partner doesn’t cancel out the fact that they’re no longer here to continue with the life you had.  Certainly doesn’t make one feel any better.

Photo: Fred To.  Our mutual friend Colleen Kohse was sitting on the other side of Don (but she would not have approved the photo of her in this shot).  RIP dearest Colleen.

It’s even more difficult if someone looks for the flaws in how someone got to where they were.  Hearing things like he/she didn’t really take care of themselves, didn’t exercise enough, or exercised too much, didn’t take proper vitamins or took too many.  They should never have taken that turn; things like that. As if that would have changed the outcome.  It’s hard for some people to accept the cold hard fate of what is.

Photo by Willy. I was surprised to see this up on the screen at Beth’s recent Celebration of Life. At former Heaventree Gallery from our Ambience of Africa photo exhibit.  RIP beautiful Beth.

So you try to heal as best you can.  You continue to go out with friends but there’s a huge void.  And there are moments where you lose yourself in laughter which feels great, but then you may feel guilty because your partner is not here to laugh alongside you.

Don with his mom Jean. She was lovely.

Don with another love.

Transforming  grief into a work of art that touches someone has been and continues to be a way of healing.  The best songs, poetry, movies and art are created out of loss.  Expressions of great pain were reflected by the images of Picasso’s Guernica or in the words of writers like C.S. Lewis.  Or Eric Clapton’s song Heaven written about the loss of his little boy.  Creating art out of loss is certainly not a fair trade for the loss, but sharing an expression of grief with others can help tell the story and stay connected to who you’ve lost.  Many people find that journaling helps.

*There is something to be said about our biology being affected by grief.  Losing someone close to us changes our biochemistry.   Respiration, heart rate, and nervous system responses are all partially regulated by close contact with familiar people and animals: these brain functions are all deeply affected when we’ve lost someone close.  I’m not a neurobiologist (surprise, surprise) however it is a factor of neurobiology.  Losing someone close changes us is ways we never could forsee.

Activist Don with friend Ruth

Then there’s the emotional rollercoaster just when you think you’ve got it all under control. And so you cannot expect everyone to understand your being overly sensitive or acting a little irritable at times.  Your real friends of course will understand some occasional out of character behaviour as being related to a deep sadness.  Someone said “those who support your shifting needs are the ones to keep in your life.  The others?  They can be set free.” Well meaning people can sometimes be very unkind; even cruel.

So missing someone who you’ll never get to see again in this lifetime is like finishing a great book that you like so much you don’t ever want it to end.  You turn the last chapter but the storyline will resonate with you for the rest of your life.  

And that my friends is what true love is all about.

*Source: Megan Devine, therapist + author

 

Feel-good Friday: in my dreams

I had a dream. A very vivid albeit absurd dream last week.  Or was it?

Obsidian Butterfly

I told a few people about my dream and they suggested I blog about it because as it turns out, it contains quite a powerful message.  And I swear that I was not aware that apparently it could be a thing because Dennis Rodman and a few others had already done what I’d dreamt about.  You know you can’t even have a simple dream now without someone else having done it before you.

Anyway, in my dream I was getting married again….but to myself.  I told you it was strange.  I had a white dress, flowers in my hair and glass of wine in my hand (naturally) but no man in sight.  It appeared pretty clear that there was only me, myself and I.  And I was happy (key word).  Then I woke up.  Then I could not get back to sleep.  I pondered about the strange dream and what it meant. And it feels weird to even try to explain it here.

Now your first reaction could likely be how very sad and lonely she must feel and I would think the same thing had it not been for the feeling of happiness inside the dream.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m nowhere near being over the sadness of losing Don and might never get over it, but this gives me a little boost of hope in a powerful message.  Because what I believe (rather choose to believe) what the message is really saying is that through grief we still can find happiness.  Without going too deep, happiness within ourselves.

But aside from Dennis Rodman who I’m sure is extremely happy, I found out that a woman named Linda Baker was apparently the first person to marry herself in the US back in 1993 as a celebration of her 40th birthday.  And then I remembered the episode of Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw gave herself a wedding shower for one.  Apparently Sologamy, the act of marrying yourself, is on the rise across the globe. ???

I think that’s a great choice.

And I didn’t dream that up.

But it didn’t take a fortune teller or psychic to tell me that my dream, in a nutshell was making a commitment to myself, fully.

That there is no man, job or circumstance to make me more whole – because I already am (okay more likely I’m trying to get there).  I might be missing what I had, but I’m all I really need. I will be with me in sickness (god forbid) and in health. Besides, I will never leave myself.  I’m stuck with me for better or for worse so better to make the most of it…meaning, me (as it).  OMG… what a clear message.  Because if you really think about it….another person cannot fully complete you.  You have to be together and fairly complete yourself because you cannot expect another person to do that for you – it’s too much to ask.  So to make a relationship work you have to have a solid foundation first and foremost.

And I was thinking…what kind of person would I like to attract? Okay; truth be told, someone kind of like me.  AHA moment. Someone solid, with a sense of humor, who likes to cook or at least enjoy food,  a non-smoker, non-drinker (I mean someone not excessive), animal and shoe lover, likes to go for walks and enjoy travel.  Is that too much to ask?  Maybe. So I will be all I needat least for now.  It’s nice to dream right?

Thoughts?

 

 

 

Culture/Film: Mightier than the Sword

Film for Thought

When you believe in something that’s bigger than yourself you fight to make yourself heard.

Journalist Roberta Staley is fighting for women’s rights in Afghanistan.  Having traveled  undercover to Afghanistan on several occasions,  she took risky chances trying to create positive change.  She’s responsible for the award winning documentary entitled  “Mightier than the Sword” which has helped enpower women over there by giving them a voice to be heard.  A major accomplishment.

Rahibib Rahimi (L) and Roberta Staley (R)

I first met Roberta in a Spanish class over coffee in 2012 and was intrigued when she said she’d be leaving for a few weeks to go on assignment for Elle Magazine. In Afghanistan no less.

The Story (in brief)

Roberta went back to Afghanistan three years later to tell the story of Mozhdah Jamalzadah, a regular person here and a superstar in Afghanistan, where she’s a powerful voice for women similar to that of Oprah.  The Vancouver raised woman is actually referred to as the Oprah of Afghanistan.

This 48-minute documentary focuses on Afghan female journalists and filmmakers and their impact on gender perceptions and gender equality. In Afghanistan, a significant advance since the fall of the Taliban has been the entry of women into the media as reporters, directors, writers, producers and authors.

Excerpt by Lucas Aykroyd from Vancouver Magazine:

The powerful debut by Vancouver filmmaker Roberta Staley examines the impact of female media personalities in Afghanistan’s fight for gender equality. Staley, an award-winning editor and longtime contributor to Vancouver magazine, created the new 48-minute film to complete her Master’s degree in graduate liberal studies at SFU. After spending three weeks in 2012 in the Central Asian nation on assignment for Elle, she returned there in 2015 to shoot Mightier Than the Sword in 35 C weather during Ramadan. Staley remortgaged her condo to finish the film, which cost her more than $80,000. “That’s what you do when you believe in something,” she says. “I was obsessed with telling this story about the media and how it was changing gender perceptions and gender equality.”

View Trailer:

http://www.mightierthanthesword.ca/videos/

More to come

Monday Mood: Meaning

My Monday mood board is normally light but sometimes we just need to vent. And sometimes it takes more than that.  Sometimes it takes an army to get a message across. Sometimes our lives depend on it.

March For Our Lives 

Looking west, people fill Pennsylvania Avenue during the “March for Our Lives” rally in support of gun control, Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The kids have spoken.  We cannot keep America great if we cannot keep America safe. 

On Saturday, March 24, kids and families in cities across the country and around the globe took to the streets to demand change to gun control laws, so that their lives and safety become a priority in order to end gun violence and mass shootings in schools NOW.

The main protest was organized by students from the High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman from the same school killed 17 people and injured others on Valentine’s Day. March for Our Lives was anchored by the main event in Washington, D.C.

Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.

On Grief and Grieving:

Death can give focus to what money can and cannot buy.  It can teach us what being rich is all about.  No amount of money can ever replace the loss of someone we love.

Wealth and poverty are states of mind.  Many people without money feel wealthy, while many rich people can feel poor.  Death is a factor that changes all our views as we are forced to evaluate our worth and what ultimately matters in life – by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D. & David Kessler.

I like this quote from Mahatma Gandhi – Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

On life Lessons:

Maya Angelou told Oprah Winfrey: When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. Your problem is you have to be shown 29 times.

How many of us have to be shown 29 times or more?  Why do we have a lack of discernment for things that appear to be obvious?

Character is very much a defining matter in everything.  Integrity is important.

If we’re not living life to the fullest we can at least create meaningful moments. That to me, seems reasonable.  Because someone’s idea of living life to the fullest can mean jumping out of a plane every day while someone else might feel that reading a book a week is the answer.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Self Care: Words from the Wise

Six months, when looking ahead seems like an eternity, but when looking back, it’s a blink of an eye.  It really is.

One of my best friends gifted me with a book entitled when thing fall apart when things fell apart after losing my husband.  Unknowingly, my sister gifted me with the very same book.  They both believed the book would help guide me to some understanding or at least a place of acceptance.  It was an interestingly thoughtful read and it did help to some degree.  At the very end there was a website where you could enter your e-mail address to receive weekly mindful insights to your inbox.  Reassuring insights are always encouraging, especially when they come from an American woman who became a Tibetan Buddhist.

Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it. -Pema Chödrön

Just wanted to share one which I feel to be thought provoking and true.  Let me know if you agree.

THE UNIVERSAL DILEMMA

The source of our unease is the unfulfillable longing for a lasting certainty and security, for something solid to hold on to. Unconsciously we expect that if we could just get the right job, the right partner, the right something, our lives would run smoothly. When anything unexpected or not to our liking happens, we think something has gone wrong. I believe this is not an exaggeration of where we find ourselves. Even at the most mundane level, we get so easily triggered—someone cuts in front of us, we get seasonal allergies, our favorite restaurant is closed when we arrive for dinner. We are never encouraged to experience the ebb and flow of our moods, of our health, of the weather, of outer events—pleasant and unpleasant—in their fullness. Instead we stay caught in a fearful, narrow holding pattern of avoiding any pain and continually seeking comfort. This is the universal dilemma.

When we pause, allow a gap, and breathe deeply, we can experience instant refreshment. Suddenly we slow down, look out, and there’s the world. It can feel like briefly standing in the eye of the tornado or the still point of a turning wheel. Our mood may be agitated or cheerful. What we see and hear may be chaos or it may be the ocean, the mountains, or birds flying across a clear blue sky. Either way, momentarily our mind is still and we are not pulled in or pushed away by what we are experiencing. – Excerpted from: Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears – by Pema Chödrön

Why do people look for outside help or answers, and in doing so discover spirituality?  It’s a survival mechanism to deal with life’s challenges which hits you in the face.  I found out Pema came to explore her spirituality as an attempt to cope with the emotional trauma of her failed marriages. 

About Pema:

One of the most beloved of American Buddhist teachers, Pema Chödrön has devoted her life to inspiring people to awaken and has changed many lives in the process. She is the author of many influential books, such as When Things Fall ApartLiving Beautifully, and The Places that Scare You. Her writing, which explores Buddhist concepts and offers paths to conquering subjects such as suffering, fear, and difficult times, has inspired people worldwide.

My advice: You take sound advice from the wise until you’re wise enough to offer your own.

Any advice?