Insight from COVID-19 – Transforming Reaction into Response 1.0

We are in the midst of chaotic times, no doubt.  It is truly a call for us all – to wake up to the fact that we live in a global community.

Arguments to the contrary can no longer be entertained.  However, new thoughts, habits, and routines can be inner-trained.

When faced with challenging circumstances, I have trained myself to search for something worthwhile that can be gleaned from the suffering.  With practice these kinds of thoughts become like beachballs in water – they inevitably pop to the surface.

Folks are afraid, and there is good reason.  This contagion is real.  Government protocols are being rewritten because of it.  The lifestyles of the rich and famous and poor and unfamous are changing because of it.

We are at a crossroads.  Will we react?  Or respond?  There is a world of difference.

Here are a few of the things that I am learning from this outbreak.  These include the pragmatic and philosophical, as well as the humorous…humor is Now Therapy.

  1. Appreciation is an Elegant Art.  Appreciate our health care workers, retail clerks, truck drivers, utility workers, and those who maintain our vital communication, and emergency services.   Friends, this realization is changing the water on the beans – without these folks we WILL be in dire circumstances indeed.  Keep in mind that those who are in direct contact with the public (you and I) have to go home to their families.  We can spread the love not the virus.
  2. Appreciate our personal vitality, health, and strength.  If you are healthy it is honorable to help others.  There are those who will not be able to get to the grocery store.  We can always drop off food and meds to those who are even more shut-in than we are, while maintaining a necessary distance.  This is a vital community service.  Contact your local organizers to find out how you can assist.
  3. We can walk outdoors (if we are not under a strict isolation order) while keeping our distance from others and even if we are confined to our home we can do stress-relieving and flexibility enhancing exercises like yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong.  There are hundreds of videos that are free online.
  4. Kindness costs nothing but pays a huge return on our investment.  It is also stress-reducing.  We are all consumers.  We are all contributors.  What are you consuming?  What are you contributing?  It is true kindness to only use what you need and leave the rest for others.  These days, kindness also looks like staying home!
  5. We can ration paper products.  What is this new Toilet Paper Index but a sign of irrational times? This is not gross, folks, it’s a natural bodily function.  In many cases, two small squares of TP is all you need to attend to a #1, ladies.  Gents understand this pragmatic approach and have for eons.  Hippies and hikers have known the benefits of rationing products that decimate our old-growth forests for what seems like forever.  Glad to have y’all on board!
  6. We can get by on about half the amount of food we regularly consume.  The SAD (Standard American Diet – this includes all of North America) is excessive.  We have heard that before.  With people hoarding food, this is the perfect opportunity to practice calorie-restriction.  It won’t hurt you.  Cut your consumption of meat in half or quarter – there are huge benefits for your pocketbook as well as your innards.  You won’t simply survive, but you may find yourself thriving.
  7. Eliminate food waste.  With the requirement for social distancing, you may find yourself a lot more mindful about what food you are buying (getting to the store is a privilege of these who are healthy) and, if you are community-minded you will find yourself naturally limiting your trips to the stores that remain open so we can continue to eat.  You may find yourself using leftovers in creative ways!  Bravo!
  8. Staying at home has its benefits.  We can play more games.  We can write and listen to music and hang out with those that share our home.  Our wardrobe is not a concern.  One change of clothing is all we need.  Minimalists have been saying this for years.  Consider what truly is important – enjoy the benefits of not doing nearly as much laundry too!
  9. You now have time to give your windows the attention they deserve.  I accept my responsibility for cleaning the dog snot off the living room window, and now I have plenty of time to attend to it.  Wash your dishes by hand!  My hands have never been cleaner!  🙂
  10. I have new empathy for my dog and cat and every critter who has ever spent time confined.  I can go outside.  I can move around my home.  I don’t have to hold my bodily functions like my pup does if he or she is crated.  My human litter box is clean.
  11. Feed the need now – pets need more than food.  Pets need petting.  That is the definition of petting – where it originated.  Pets give us so much – this is the perfect time to give them a whole lotta love!  This is a gift that keeps on giving!
  12. There is logic in cat poop.  Sharing negativity and nastiness on social media is like taking the contents of your cat’s litter box and handing it to others.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a piece of it.  Neither does your cat!  Litter box wrangling is a solitary endeavor for the cat (ask him!) and a solitary pursuit for their hooman…scoop it up and dispose of itPlease don’t try to distribute it to your social media community.

Yes, I agree.  Some choices have to be curtailed for a while.  It isn’t fun.  There is a whole world of adjustment happening – financial strain and frustration and fear is real.  We still have many choices available to us – ones that don’t cost anything – like learning to transform knee-jerk reaction into clear-eyed response.

This virus outbreak may be historical, but it is only hysterical if we let it be.

Stay healthy, my friends.

To You? Or Through You? – Chats With My Constant Traveller

Dream job.  Dream house.  Dream vacation.  Dream life.  How to do I bring these dreams to life?  Wouldn’t it be cool if, instead of anticipating the “dream” we lived it every day?  There are folks who do.

I’m unstoppable because I’ve decided I am. – Tony Robbins

This morning, around 5am, I began an interesting chat with my Constant Traveller.  She asked, Does creativity come to you, or through you? 

I have learned, through experience, that it is much easier to speak about what I know than to live from that knowing.  It is humbling to admit that there are times when my actions speak so loudly that others cannot hear what I am saying.

Every one of us is an example for someone.  That we may not seek it, or even welcome it, or care, doesn’t matter.  Regardless of our interest in this pursuit, we will experience its results.  Like it or not, we live in a world of cause and effect.

Creativity, as I define it, is being open to possibilities.  Elegant.  Simple.  Engaging.

Creativity comes to you…

Creativity comes to us when we seek it.  We enjoy the work of elegant, interesting authors and poets, attend book signings, discuss their work in book clubs.  We contemplate and study the theories and ideas and conclusions of elegant and interesting minds.  We appreciate the skills of elegant, interesting actors and directors as we watch their films.   We enjoy the masterpieces of elegant, interesting composers, singers, and musicians.  We attend art galleries and exhibits, or search online for elegant, interesting visual art – painting, sculpture, architecture, fashion, and other objets d’art.

Every day, we are presented with the effects of other people’s creativity.  For many of us, that is enough.  We are content to talk about the work of others, read the work of others, listen to, sing, or play the songs of others…experiencing an aspect of their creative genius by our vicarious expression of it.

There is nothing wrong with vicarious expression.  Every person alive stands on the shoulders of giants.  Every student needs a teacher.  Celebrating their genius can serve to make us masters in domains of which we may never have dreamed prior to their example.

However, my Constant Traveller invited me to explore further.  I have learned that I ignore her voice at the peril of my best life.

Creativity comes through you…

Consider how a child learns to run.  They progress from struggling to sit to learning to crawl (or booty-scoot, depending on the kid), to pulling themselves into a standing position, to taking their first few steps, to learning how to run.  At some point, generally around 12-15 months, our bottle-sucking, blanket dragger becomes a little speed demon.

How many parents remember that first wicked grin of mastery?  That chortle of delight when our child realized he was speedy?  Our happiness-tinged fear for her safety when she demonstrated that the rules of the game were now changed?

Folks, guess what?  At one time, perhaps way back in the day, that wicked grinner, that delighted chortler, that game changer…was you.

It still is, but somewhere along the way, we have forgotten how to run.

Am I elegant and interesting?

Creativity comes to us all in the form of other people’s creative genius.  When we choose to appreciate their story and express their composition, are we, essentially, smiling at the memory of our own wicked grin?  Laughing with delight along with those who dream up the reason to laugh?  Cheering for the one who expresses his Andre Degrasse brilliance?

No matter how fast a baby can run there are very few adults, no matter how disappointed and disenchanted, who could not run faster than a little kid…if they choose to do so.  Somewhere along the way did we leave the wicked grinning, delighted, laughing little speed demon behind?

Feeling that quickening when we act from a WOW! moment of inspiration brings on the wicked grin.  Contributing to the flow of a truly funny conversation inevitably brings the chortle of delight.  Allowing our personal creative expression to come through us on the pin-point of now demonstrates that we are still that game changer.

Creativity is being open to possibilities in elegant, effervescent expression.  It is when we dip our toes into our personal wellspring of possibilities that we begin to imagine the best version of ourselves.

Your best life can only be expressed through your creativity.  You owe it to yourself to bring those gifts to life – welcoming them to you and sharing them through you.

What if your dream job, your dream house, your dream vacation…your dream life, is being experienced right now by those who dared to dream?

Who do you think you are?  In the realm of possibilities, there is always room for one more…

Friend, when was the last time you ran?

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.  Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart.  Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. – Mary Jean Irion

 

Can You Live With That?

The skin you bring to the game creates the game pieces.

Ingress and egress are facts of life:

look it up

check it out

try it on

You pay the entry fee.

Everything you need to thrive you already have.

Your house will always be dusty.

You will run out of clean underwear.

There will always be a lineup.

You are not immune to gravity.

Every experience is scalable.

You can buy your own damn tiara.

Others may walk a mile in your shoes, but they aren’t your cobbler.

This bus needs a driver and there is nobody else who can fit behind the wheel.

You will find yourself driving in places that scare you.

“That guy” will cut you off in traffic.

It won’t matter one bit if you like it one bit.

You will say FUCK! a lot…or think a lot about saying it.

Watch the movie Speed.  Crashing is inevitable – burning is a choice.

Dreams not acted upon morph into regrets.

You have one true Velcro friend, but you may despise her more often than not.

If the journey is the destination, can you live with that?

 

Life Does Not Conform…

Today is a day for celebration!  I finally got back on the internet!

I live 20kms out of the city of Fredericton in New Brunswick, Canada.  I love where I live and wouldn’t trade it for the world.  However, there are times when living in the city would be advantageous.

Today, that advantage can be condensed into two words.  Fibre Op.

Our wireless connection is notoriously unreliable.  As is our connection to satellite television.  As is the time of day when our road gets plowed after a snowstorm.  As in being able to flush my toilet during a power outage…

But I am not complaining…still wouldn’t trade it…

This time I was hit with a double-whammy.

I am not tech savvy (ask my son and he’ll tell you the same!) – a recent update skewed something in my computer and I couldn’t access my word processing documents for a time.  Then there was a motor vehicle accident that set the switching station that provides us with internet…on fire.

All of this skewed my plans to post every day in January.

So, what would a warrior do under such circumstances?

Well, she would continue!

Why?  Because this is only a minor inconvenience that reveals the good stuff when you reframe it:

  • It gave me the opportunity to do my Everything Gently practice in the face of frustration (see below).
  • It offered me the chance to read some of the books that have been waiting for me to pay them attention.
  • It allowed me to snowshoe a bit more with my husband and KC Marie, our Australian Shepherd.
  • And my cats enjoyed even more kitty lovins than normal!

All good stuff! But most of all, it taught me that…

Life does not conform to my version of what is..because life does not conform to my version of what is.

So yayyy!  I am now doing a little happy dance!

Have a wonderful day, folks!

 

 

The Poodle, the Patience and the Angel

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We have a feisty old poodle named Sarah.  Some of you may have already met my furry guru through some of my other posts.  Sarie (her pet name) is a unique little crit. . . and each day that she wakes up on this side of the grass Sarie offers me a new opportunity to practice patience.

As our dogs have grown older they have begun to develop peculiar quirks in their behaviour.  These quirks may have always been part of their personalities, or they may be an adaptation to accommodate for the fact that they are losing their eyesight, hearing (a natural process ) and most of their teeth (a very expensive veterinary process) in their old age.

Before Sarah,  the oldest our dogs had lived was 14.  Our other dogs were all bigger and died from a variety of mishaps more associated with accidents and sickness than with old age.  Now my husband and I live well off the road on a farm with plenty of acreage.  Our dogs can have free run and have less chance of ever encountering any reason for an early demise.

That has all worked in Sarah’s favour and she turned 16 on Feb 29.  I have chronicled many of our adventures in Sarie-land over the past year.  In order for these adventures to be considered the great teaching tool that they are instead of the rampant aggravation that they could be, we have developed a rather peculiar behaviour ourselves – a quirky sense of humour.

I bet that those of you who have lived with elderly dogs know what I mean, and are smiling wryly when you remember stepping in cold dog pee, strategically placed so as to mask the covert operation a small canine executed with Ninja-like precision . . . of finding vomit between the cushions of your sofa AFTER you plunked yourself down to rest after a busy day . . . or of being awakened at 3:43 am by a lil’ old doggie that you just settled into her bed at 2:43 am . . . and of the many indelicate operations that involved the hind end of a struggling poodle determined to do everything she can to dissuade you from completing your task in an efficient and timely manner . . .

I could go on and on.  And sometimes, I do.  Work with me, my friends – it keeps me sane!

This morning Sarah offered me another opportunity to realize another layer to the teachings of this furry guru.  This one carried with it an elegant subtlety, an ongoing instruction in acceptance of . . . it is what it is.

Little old doggies can sleep most of the day, but even they cannot sleep all day.  In between their trips to go potty they need to get some exercise.  Sarah cannot walk very far now (and considering that she is nearly blind we don’t want her to be walking too far anyway – she is still speedy enough when she gets into a run and THINKS we are way up ahead of her instead of behind), so her exercise generally consists of taking laps around the house.

The majority of our living space is open.  She goes from the front door to the basement door (we have to be careful as she has toppled down the stairs) to the back door, gets a drink from the water dish – continues on around the kitchen island and on into the living room area.  She walks between the end table and my side of the sofa, stumbles over the sub-woofer (she likes the woofer I think) and exits between Mark’s side and his end table.  At that point she may decide to get up on the sofa in order to immediately want back down again . . . or she may continue on to the front door in order to execute another loop.

Sarah is no NASCAR driver.  She turns right only.  I think she is too contrary to turn left.

Many times, during her loop-de-loops Sarie brushes up against a tall tin angel that I have sitting on the floor, up against a short wall that separates the kitchen from the living room (see pictures).  She seems to enjoy it when the angel crashes to the floor.  This angel is very loud when she falls and even though Sarah cannot hear it she seems to take particular pleasure in making the angel crash.

Angels don’t generally crash at my house, so when they do the effect can be downright startling.  It can take you from a nice, cozy Zen moment into a fit of WTF (WHAT THE FRIG)  in the blink of an old dog’s eye.

This morning, after two crashes (and questioning WHY I leave the angel there for Sarah to knock over) I realized something.  The reason I leave the angel there is because, dammit, I like the angel sitting there!  And I am sure I need the exercise in patience that each crash prompts.

I don’t get it, but perhaps she knows why she has incorporated these crashes into her daily adventures as she circumnavigates the house.

All I know is this is the extent of this little dog’s life.  She cannot see much more than light and dark – and she sees much better than she hears, so there is not too much sensory input from either of those faculties.  Her sensation and interaction with the world has become muffled, confusing, startling and claustrophobic.  Her world is getting smaller and smaller as she gets thinner and thinner, despite still having a vigorous appetite and more “piss and vinegar” attitude than 10 young pups.

This is what it is to watch a creature get old.  I am leaving the angel where it is.

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Sarie Berry, quite contrary,

which way do you go?

Right, I only go right . . .  

And yes I know this doesn’t rhyme, and I don’t give a sh-t . . . 

I’ll never go in a row,  just so you know . . .

A TAIL OF WOOOOE

I like philosophy.  It is interesting to me to consider different concepts and perspectives on things.

I seem to have attracted a couple or three canine philosophers . . .well . . . perhaps they are more like doggie philosophy teachers who have, of late, contributed to what seem like graduate studies.

If you follow my Facebook page or blog you have probably met them all – Sarah the Diva, Ruby Slippers the Schnauzer, and KC Marie, the Aussie.

In the past 48 hours both Ruby and Sarah have amped up their philosophical Zen-type lessons.

I have been painting my basement a delightful sunshiny tangerine color called August Morning.  I am using complimentary creamy soft beige on accent walls.  We have a walkout at one end of the basement with windows that let in plenty of light, but this colour transforms the whole room into a glowing tropical sunset.

I love to paint.  It is a relaxing, moving meditation for me and I enjoy listening to a variety of wonderful speakers on YouTube, as well as a lot of great music on my computer, while I work.  It’s been a revival of Rockabilly and specifically, the Stray Cats, in my basement this week.  Gotta love that Stray Cat Strut!!

My point is that my painting makes me feel very Zen.  I have been down with my cool self, chillaxin’ as I practice, with grand gestures much like Daniel-San in the Karate Kid . . .wax on and wax off . . .

Ruby Slippers (or Boo-Boo, her “pet” name) likes to join me in the basement while I write or play guitar, and while I have been painting she has kept vigil on her little bed beside the computer.

I have to concede that sometimes time can get away from me and perhaps I do not read Ruby’s cues as well as I should, but folks, I really did not know that one little old dog could generate that much urine in the span of a couple of hours (this is in addition to being let outside!).

Live and learn, grasshopper.

Ruby Slippers, Miniature Schnauzer

I think Boo-Boo was tanking up when she went to the water bowl.  Then, with Ninja-like stealth, she was depositing urine in strategic places so I would step in it with my slippered feet as I moved along, so “at one” with the paintbrush.  It doesn’t help that the floor is a warm golden beige colour, precariously close to the colour of Schnauzer pee.  Ruby uses the advantage of camouflage with tactical precision.

We have a wood stove in the basement.  Things dry quickly.  There are times Ruby sneaks down when we are not looking and “makes her water” as a friend’s mother used to call it.  We don’t find those until they are sticky and dried.

Additionally, in the past couple of days Ruby also has made several “deliveries” of a more substantial kind in the weight room and the downstairs bathroom.   My husband Mark and I are grateful for not having stepped in those with our slippered feet.

Thank you once again, Ruby Slippers, for being so forthcoming.

Yesterday Sarah offered me some particularly fine opportunities to practice my Zen.  As I was cleaning out my brushes and getting ready to go upstairs for supper Mark mentioned that Sarah had peed on the floor.

Sarah will be 16 on February 29, and with age she has gotten less sure of her feet.  She now walks with a determined, bow-legged, cowboy-like stagger.  She seems to enjoy walking in her own pee (or any pee for that matter) and then tracking it all around the house – little wet doggie tracks that mark her sidewinding trajectory.

To prevent further distribution, Mark had thrown a piece of paper towel over it to soak it up while he went to get the bottle of cleaning spray.

I come upstairs just as he is cleaning up the puddle, and walked around the kitchen island so as to get food from the refrigerator.  Sarah had also left ME a slightly cooler puddle in front of the cupboard, tucked in nice and close so I wouldn’t see it at first glance . . . okie dokey . . . off came the purple fuzzy slippers and white ankle socks  . . . pre-pre-rinsed and ready for the wash . . . thank you, Master Sarah.

And there she was, in her little camo-coloured hoodie, staring blankly at me from her favourite spot (also my spot) on the leather couch.  Sarah is almost blind but does see colors and shapes well enough to negotiate and so I am sure she sees me but not sure if she knows it is me until I am close enough to let her smell my hand.

I try to put myself in her place, poor deaf and half blind little ole doggie . . . and I wouldn’t want to startle her.

And at that moment I was sure that I could read her thoughts . . .  Sarah NEEDS to go OUTSIDE and pee . . . and whether she wants to or not, she is going.

“Karma can be a bitch, can’t it, Sarie??? “ I thought to myself as, smiling wryly, I offered her my hand . . . and then I got a whiff of sour, ripe vomit.

Sarah loves noodles.  When she was sick a few years ago it was, quite literally, all she would eat and so that is what we hand-fed her to nurse her back to health – cooked unadorned pasta.  That day Sarah had eaten some leftover noodles (with tomatoes) for lunch as a little treat.

As she has gotten older Sarah’s stomach has gotten a bit less predictable.  I keep anti-nausea meds from the vet on hand for if her stomach gets really upset, but she seemed to be great that day – and gobbled her noodles with gusto.

Well, it looked like she had puked them up with just as much gusto – over two of the sofa’s cushions and dribbling down between them as well . . . and then walked in it and smeared regurgitated noodle-bits over the rest of the couch.

My little treat . . .

Supper was on hold at that point.  Sarah went out to “get some air” and I went downstairs to get the scrub bucket and some cleaning rags.

And while I was washing the couch, I happened up on a couple of nicely hidden deposits on the area rug . . . glad I was in bare feet (I guess).  That specialness was addressed with the assistance of two of my best friends, Mr. Clean and my trusty 5-hp Rigid shop vac.

It was, once again, a wonderful opportunity to practice moving meditation and gratefulness.  Each day I thank the stars for my impermeable leather couch.

After supper we began to realize that Sarah must have gotten a bit of the “vom” on her little camo-coloured hoodie.  The hoodie went in the wash.

Then we began to realize that Sarah must have some “vom” on her feet – I washed them but apparently not well enough and . . . perhaps some on her “goatee.”

Because Sarah struggles so frantically when she is getting clipped that we are afraid she is going to have a seizure, the groomer only does what was absolutely necessary to keep her presentable.  Mark said the hair under her chin made her look like Col. Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.

During an episode of MASH, Sarie, Mark and I went to the basement and Sarah had a bath.

Sarah hates baths.  And after her dip and towel dry she showed us just how much she hated it by dropping in front of us at the bottom of the stairs and taking a nice long in-your-face bitches , what are ya gonna do to me, I’m old!!!???? . . . power-pee.

Today Mark decided that Col. Sanders was going to leave the building, so he tried to clip her chin.  Sarah the Diva was not pleased.  So shaggy she stays.

Ohhhhmmmmm . . . .

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Sarah the Diva poodle after Mark’s attempt to clip her goatee.