Monday, June 23, 2014

The Emotional Roller Coaster of Animal Rescue is an Awesome Ride.

I've never been one to promote myself or wax poetic about what I've achieved. Least of all, I rarely advertise my "giving back" in the dog rescue world. A few years ago Dustin and I felt that we needed to volunteer for a cause we really believed in. As a family with multiple interest and activities every other moment of the day it was hard to set aside free time to any organization. That's when the idea of fostering dogs came into play. Signing up as a foster home for doodles was exactly what we could offer, our way of giving back to the greater good without devoting too much of what little free time we had in our schedule. The love and affection we gave our own pack of Doods (at the time, only 2) could be shared with others lost or forgotten along their own journey without much more of our time than pulling a dog from a shelter could take.

What is slated to be a simple addition to our pack seems so easy and frankly is - ideally, but every dood is different and the twists and turns of animal rescue draws you into an emotionally charged state of "what the bleep am I doing?" It can all be madness and insanity until that moment when stars collide and a rescue dood is matched with their forever family and all the ups and downs you experienced with this dog comes sputtering out in smiles, tears and laughter. It's all genuine happiness for the next step in the dood's journey and your heart skips a beat. There's a moment of emptiness at first (typically coinciding with ugly crying), you are in fact losing a piece of yourself when that pup leaves your home but that emptiness is soon filled with joy for the possibilities in their new life and what their new family can offer that you couldn't. You also have a moment when the emptiness is filled with deep breaths and the peace of your life going back to your "norm".

I'm often asked "how do you do it?"- in regards to fostering dogs, "how do you not get attached and keep them all?" I question myself each and every time as to how I am doing it, it's not easy. It's emotionally draining and you become hyper sensitive of animals in need and how you helping other dogs affects your other fur family. It's hard not to get attached, letting go of that bond you've invested so much time building and the trust you struggled to achieve together is extremely hard and unforgiving emotionally. You constantly tell yourself, 'I'll keep my distance and not let myself fall for this one.' But if you are an animal lover in general you can't shut it off, the love spews out of you in buckets of tears when they go off to their new home without you. As far as keeping them all, I would love to if I knew that I couldn't and wouldn't spread myself too thin. With three of my own Doods, I realize adding a fourth temporarily is a lot and its hard at times but it is also not overly pressing on time and resources. It's doable (doodable). If we kept any more as our own I'm not sure we could continue the fostering journey and help more Doods in need. With four dogs in the house you can feel maxed out. It can be draining balancing the needs of my own crew with the sometimes special needs of our visiting furry friends. I am constantly grateful that I can continue doing so. I'm always thankful that I can foster, that I can open my home and heart to another dood in need and that my family is on board. For his part, Dustin is my rock that keeps me grounded and away from the ledge of crazy dog lady and I don't thank him enough for that. As for Kendall, she's a trooper for playing by the rules of "there's a new dog in the house" and you HAVE TO listen to me and she typically gets rewarded with love and cuddles. So back to the how do I not keep them all question, I am constantly reminding myself that if I did - I wouldn't have the room in my heart or home to help so many Doods along the way or my next Doodle in need.

Regardless of circumstance as to how they ended up with me, they each left their paw print on my heart. To all my rescued Doods, I still and always will keep you close to my heart. Ollie (Finn), Checkers, Mickey (Lucy), Max (Bert), Snicker (Muppet), Lloyd & Mona.

To IDOG, Jo, Lynda, Alana, Pat, Jenna and all those involved with the organization - thank you for helping Save the Doodles and for all your support along the way. It's an incredible journey and I'm so glad to be a part of this crazy roller coaster called animal rescue.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Solitary World of Social Technology

How many times have you been in a large crowd of people and turned to your smart phone as a refuge from a real life social experience? Perhaps it’s because I’m eternally introverted that I’ve noticed my natural tendency to look inward for an escape route from forced interaction has started creeping up in every person with a smart phone. As new media is created for us to enjoy a “social” experience (whatever the latest app or website happens to be for that day), we are becoming more isolated from reality and relationships than ever before.

I’m not totally against online social experiences; I’m actually an active participant. They’ve brought my long distance social circle closer to me and my introverted self is able to network with individuals I never imagined I’d interface with. For that reason, the technologies created to minimize distances, share life experiences and develop new relationships have been a blessing to my life. At the same time there’s always a sense that I am more alone and introverted than ever before. I feel cursed by the solitude. I’m always alone mentally and sometimes physically when I’m stalking my feeds. Taking one’s self out of a real-life moment and diving into the online world of “building” relationships is a solitary act.

I know you’ve done this too. You sit in the same room with a family member or friend and one or both of you is on your smart phone checking out the latest posts on Facebook. Instead of creating memorable moments, you are ironically enveloped in the post worthy moment of someone else's life, memorable or not. And if it happens to be the latter, you’ve probably internally berated them for posting some minuscule detail of their life that you never wanted to know. 

Every person with a technology driven life has at one point been so engrossed in a social application that they’ve been “checked out” of reality, letting life pass them by. Technology brings us closer together when long distance separates us, but when our physical separation is minimal I firmly believe that technology and social apps drive more space between us.

My case in multiple points: Work, Play & Food.

Work - Having an entire conversation via emails with a person in your office, both of you isolated in separate spaces with headphones drowning out the sounds of real life verbal conversation.

Play - Playing “Words with Friends” with your spouse while sitting in the same room together.  Without speaking, you finish an entire game while your high end Scrabble board game is tucked away in the cabinet beside you.

Food - My personal favorite; snapping a picture of a meal you are enjoying with friends and immediately posting to a social profile to document the amazing time you are sharing and…squirrel…another friend just posted a picture of a squirrel on their feed! Not important, not even interesting really but a quick open of Pandora’s Box and you’ve learned about new babies, bad karma and why do all my friend’s suddenly love giraffes so much? You’ve forgotten about the real-life experience you were supposed to be living just moments ago and you’ve now isolated yourself further away from the living breathing person sitting just a mere three feet away.

For all of these activities, technology has provided us amazing benefits to better our lives and fulfill our social nature as human beings. Let’s not allow these new tools, created to bring us together, to drive us further apart.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dog likes Car

This sure as hell beats the Camry "Grounded to the Ground" Commercial. Kudos Vdub... I think Bert would do this on purpose.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Life Won't Let You Down

Suite 709: My latest obsession.

I'd like to introduce you to Suite 709. You can thank me later when this song is stuck in your head. Thank you Austin, Texas for this band and this song.

If you're feeling down this song will for sure, pick you up.

Just read the lyrics:

Well, you can get up,
When you're on the ground
Open for faith to turn it all around,
When things fall apart, the world will still turn
Stars fall, bridges burn, pick pick pick it up
You live. You learn.
Hope Life Wont Let You Down.
Hope Life Wont Let You Down.
No Life Wont Let You Down.
No Life Wont Let You Down.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

If you can, you must.

Its been a long time out since my last post. Life has changed, I’ve changed, my daily routine has drastically changed. I am different.

Somehow putting your words out there feels more real than having a conversation. Your words are your reality and when they are typed up in an online forum then it feels more real and more permanent. You put your words out there for history to swallow up and spit back out in a feed, making an indelible mark on your life’s path. You can’t erase your words, you can’t erase the memories that your online words influence or generate. Your words become your history, your story, part of you.

Admittedly I have slacked off on writing and self reflection in general. The past six months have been a mental struggle. By choosing not to share my words in my blog, by taking a hiatus from writing down my thoughts I removed any possibility that my negative emotions and thoughts would become my reality. If you don’t say it, it can’t become real...right? Or by not saying anything I just drowned in my own solidarity and had no outlet to be me.

Unemployment is not fun-employment. Not having a job, not having any means to support my family is NOT for me. I struggled to be myself and be happy. To me happiness is contributing to the greater good of my family and feeling like I’ve made a difference. There was only so much yard work and home maintenance that I could take care of over the past six months to feel like I made a contribution. Happiness is Success. I suppose while my manicured front lawn was earning compliments I was a true success.  But where I’ve truly been for the past six months was in a writer’s block hole (pun intended) no where near my happiness.

I even let someone else steal my yoga from me. If you know me you know who. The block hole I was in also kept me out of the hot room with my eyes closed and barely breathing. The hardest part is admitting to the fact that I let that person take away my happiness without a fight. I avoided the hot room for fear of an awkward moment, for fear of the inevitable discomfort of being locked in the hot room for an hour and a half trying to focus on not thinking. The fear kept me away and I feel sad about that.

Funny enough, the topic of this post; if you can, you must - came out of the hot room during that time I was ridden with inexplicable fear. During wind removing pose I received the best piece of advice for life in general and an escape route out of my block hole. 'If you can reach your elbows, you must reach for your elbows. If you can, YOU MUST!' Since I started doing Bikram a year ago, I am no where near reaching my elbows and my regular teachers know this. Its fairly obvious that when I can barely clasp my hands together I’m a long way off from reaching my elbows, but I could try so I did try. In that sweat filled, stretching moment of internal reflection in the hot room, in that fleeting moment of eye opening positivity I realized that if I can then I must, no matter what. Disregarding time, money and effort - if I can, I must and I will. Whatever the goal, I will try. If I can try, I must try.

This is my new vision statement for my life; I can, I must.

My new found vision for how to be happy and succeed led me down the path of completing long forgotten tasks that I pushed aside thinking that I couldn’t, I didn’t have time so I shouldn’t. I turned my couldn’t, didn’t, shouldn’t into I should, I could and I did.  Painting, framing and picture hanging. It was three years coming but even a new job and a new schedule couldn’t stop me.

As we head towards fall and my anniversary of blogging I invite everyone to hold me accountable to my new vision statement. If I can write, I must write. I’m giving myself a few passes when I really don’t have time to sit down and write but the 5-6 month hiatus is a thing of the past I promise myself that I will reflect more regularly with my eyes open and breathing normal again.

I can, I must.