Wednesday, May 29, 2013

There's An App For That... @soulpancake

A quick post this morning to share one of my favorite Sites/Apps.  Soul Pancake is the brain-child of Rainn Wilson and friends.  If you watched The Office- you will recognize him as Dwight.  If you are a fan of Oprah and the OWN network- Rainn has recently been featured on Super Soul Sunday.

The idea behind the website and the app (there is also a book- I am ordering it today!) is to create a dialog between people through conversations, videos and activities that really make you think.  To quote from their "About" section of their website:
About SoulPancake
SoulPancake is media and production company, founded by actor Rainn Wilson, that creates uplifting, thought-provoking content. Our mission is to encourage people to chew on life’s big questions and figure out what it means to be human. We like people who know how to hustle (and if you know how to do the hustle, that’s even better). We create content about life, death, love, purpose, art, and the soul. Among our accomplishments: creating Daytime Emmy-award winning programming for television; managing a premium YouTube channel that provides daily video content across multiple genres; publishing a New York Times bestselling book; and building and maintaining a vast digital audience

I love this website- but more- I love the app.  The app, which I have pinned to the front page of both my iPad and iPhone centers on the conversations and I never fail to find a question (or a response to a question) that makes me stop and think.

Don't just take my word for it.  I would also recommend that you pop over to the Super Soul Sunday site and see what they have to say about Soul Pancake.

If you check it out- let me know what you think!  If you have a favorite website or app that enhances your life in a positive way- share that too.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

For the love of a dog (or two).

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.” ― Dean Koontz

Every single night since the difficulties I am currently dealing with started, I have had two loving shadows.  As you probably know- I am the "Mommy" to two very sweet dogs.  Harley and Auggie came into my life via the Animal Care Society, Louisville's first no-kill shelter.  Harley came to us first in March of 2008.  She's a Yorkie/Schnauzer mix who is currently about 9 years old.  Auggie came to us a little later- in December of 2009. He is about 5 years old.  I cannot tell you how much joy they have brought to my life.

You cannot convince me that our dogs cannot sense when things aren't right.  For the past two months, every evening Auggie has ensconced himself in my lap.  He was always the "love-muffin" of the two but now even more so.  When I am upset or feeling down or in a flare, he will jump up on my lap and stretch himself up, front paws on my shoulder and rub his face on mine lay his head on my shoulder.  He won't move until I rub and pet him and tell him that "it's okay".  He will then curl up and not move until bed time if I let him.  Even Harley- our stand-offish little girl- has been a lap puppy of late.  She will wander over, ease up (she has arthritis in her back) and put her paws on the arm of the chair to let me know that she want's up.  Because of my RA/Fibro and her arthritis I have to stand up, pick her up and then sit down with her on one leg so she can stay stretched out.  This means displacing Auggie to get her up and settled.  He will stand at the bottom of the chair and watch until she is settled and then jump back up and take the other leg.  There's nothing like twenty five pounds of puppy on each leg expecting you to pet them.  As I sit there, stroking their fur from nose to tail, I can't help but let go of all of my worries and allow the repetitive motion, the wiry feel of Harley's coat and the silky feel of Auggie soothe me.  Harley will stay just long enough to feel me relax and then, as if her job is done, she will hop down and either lay at my feet, beside my chair or in her bed.  Auggie will stay until I have to get up again and then pop up to the arm of the couch, both of them keeping an eye on me.

When it's time for bed, whether I "announce" it or just go around shutting of the lights, tv and PC they both follow me through the house and up to the bedroom.  They always were welcome on the bed and now is not any different.  But where they used to sleep either stretched down our legs, both at the foot of the bed or Auggie at the foot and Harley underneath the bed, now they both want up and Auggie will start where I can pet him and inch his way up until he's almost at my head and Harley will ease up my thigh using my hip as a pillow.  It's as if they are saying "we are here and we love you."

If you are not a dog (or pet) person, I don't know how to explain the unconditional love that adopting a dog will bring to your life.  When I walk into the house after a day at work they run to the door and bark with joy to see me.  Auggie will stretch up to my knee for a "hug" and I cannot move until I give him one.  Harley will run and bring me a toy to say "I am so glad to see you, I brought you a present!"  When I say the word "walk" they bark with glee and run to the door to wait for their leashes.  When I say "ride" they nearly jump for joy in anticipation.  When I say "treat"- they run to "their" shelving unit and wiggle their bums until they receive their treat.  You cannot help but smile at each and every one of the ways that they show their different personalities.

Every night, when I am sending up prayers, I give thanks that I was lucky enough to find these two fur-babies and bring them into my home and life.  They keep me going when I want to give up.  They give me love no matter how cranky I am.  They make me feel needed when I feel useless.  They are the biggest constant in my life and i will forever be grateful for them.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's the little things

     Yesterday I made my lunch on autopilot as usual and headed off to work.  I don't take a real "lunch break".  Instead I usually take my lunch either into my office and reply to emails and catch up on paperwork or I go into the stock room and do some receiving while I eat.

     Yesterday was a stock room day.  So I went in, put my music on and opened my little Rubbermaid container and just smiled.  I had cut up a Granny Smith apple and a couple of ounces of cheddar and grabbed a sleeve of saltines.  Looking down at my apple slices and cheese I suddenly got the image of the first time I had that combination.

     I was 13 years old.  We had flown back to the states from the Phillippines to California and then to Chicago.  We were at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.  We stopped for lunch and I must have ordered a fruit plate because I remember them bringing out a plate with a thin slices of cheddar, grapes and slices of green apple.  That was the first time I had ever even considered placing a slice of cheese on top of the apple. I remember the tart but sweet taste of the apple along with the sharp taste of the cheddar.  I don't remember why- but for some reason the whole experience made me feel like a grown up.  Silly, huh?

     As I looked down at my lunch, as I placed the slice of cheese on the slice of apple, as I bit into that sweet/salty/tart/sharp combination; I closed my eyes and for a moment I was transported back, sitting in the airport with my family after long hours of  flying across the world, feeling very adult-like and I just smiled.  My heart felt a little lighter.  My day was a little less stressful.  All seemed right in the world.

     Sometimes, it's the little things that can turn your day from ordinary to a little extraordinary if only for a moment.  And that moment can make all the difference.  So take those little things, take that feeling and cherish it because it's fleeting but it can be so important.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

When you feel powerless to help.

It has been a very, very difficult month or so around here.  One of those roller coasters that never seems to end.  It took some time but at this point I have made peace with the situation, knowing I have done everything I can.

It's hard to watch someone you care about spiral out of control.  Even harder still, at least for me, is knowing that there's nothing that you can do to help or to stop it.  It leaves you feeling angry, sad, frustrated and more.  Then there are those moments that they seem much like their old selves.  It gives you a glimmer of hope, which is quickly dashed when they jump back into the pit that they have dug.  Those instances show you just how powerless you are in all of the madness.  So what CAN you do in those times?

1.  Be loving but firm.  Love doesn't come with an on/off switch but just because you love someone does not mean that you have to tolerate their bad behavior.  It's good to let them know that while you love them, you won't be a party to their self destruction.

2.  Support without enabling them.  This can be harder than number 1.  You want to be there for them.  You want to help them through their tough time.  The key is to find a balance.  Something like "I am here when you need me, but I can not allow you to ____________ in my home."

3.  Say a prayer- or a hundred.  Whether you call to God, Buddha, Allah, Mother Earth, Yahweh or another deity, keep this person in your prayers.  If you are an Atheist or Agnostic, spend time just thinking of this person and sending them positive thoughts.  Whether you pray, meditate or just send your thoughts into the universe, keeping it positive will allow you to lessen the pain that you are feeling.  I often use the first part of the Serenity Prayer to get me through the day.  It goes like this:

God grant me the serenityto accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

4.  Step away from the drama.  Who needs it?  When a person is in a downward spiral, the feed on the drama.  You don't need the angst and you don't need to feed into their spiral.  It's important for your own positivity to step back and distance yourself from all the negativity that they are creating. There's a wonderful article here on Tiny Buddha that talks about how to minimize the drama in your life.  

5.  Forgive them.  By no stretch of the imagination do I mean that you have to accept or condone anything that they are doing.  You certainly don't have to TELL them that you have forgiven them. This is for you, not for them.  By opening your heart to forgiveness, you allow yourself to make peace with this person.  Not their current actions, but the person that you know and love.  That peace will allow you to more easily deal with the myriad of "stuff" they are throwing around.  Forgiveness will also give you a clarity to see through all of the "bull" and to know when/if it is time to step back and when/if it's time to step away.

None of these steps are easy and they may not all be for everyone.  They are just what has helped me over the last weeks and I hope they can help you when faced with a situation in which you feel powerless.

I leave you with this:

“It does not take a great supernatural heroine or magical hero to save the world.
We all save it every day, and we all destroy it -- in our own small ways -- by every choice we make and every tiniest action resulting from that choice.
The next time you feel useless and impotent, remember what you are in fact doing in this very moment. And then observe your tiny, seemingly meaningless acts and choices coalesce and cascade together into a powerful positive whole.
The world -- if it could -- will thank you for it.
And if it does not... well, a true heroine or hero does not require it.”
                                                                                     ― Vera Nazarian