Changing Perceptions, One at a Time

I was a young girl around 8 years old when I met my first pitbull. I have always loved dogs and would go up to pet them whenever I could. We never had dogs at home so this was always a special treat.

My mother and I came out of a store and were walking along a sidewalk when I saw a man sitting on a bench with a dog next to him. The dog was white with some light black splotches and a big blocky head.

I don’t remember what distracted my mother, but she turned around, saw me petting this dog that was only slightly smaller than I was and she yelled out, “Get away from that dog now!” I remember being upset thinking that the dog didn’t look mean and couldn’t understand why my mother was yelling.

The dog was a pitbull.

Years later, I’m living in Phoenix involved with animal rescue. I had two dogs—perfect mutts, and two cats. The kids in my neighborhood all knew my dogs as I walked them every day. Whenever they found a stray, there would be pounding on my door.

One morning I opened the door to see one of the most pathetic-looking dogs I have ever IMG_20111126_180149seen. She was emaciated, had what looked like bite marks all over her. Her head was hung low and she looked like she had been through hell.

She was a pitbull.

I looked her over and handled her, and she seemed quite sweet and friendly. I took her inside and set her up to rest in a spare bedroom. I later introduced her to my dog, and he wasn’t having it, so I scrambled to find her a place. Thankfully, a friend had recently told me about one of her friends looking to foster dogs. Voila! I had a short-term foster and went about looking for a rescue to take her. Thankfully I found the perfect place, Lost Paws.IMG_2853

Venus was spayed and vetted. She was cared for physically and loved, and flourished in their care. I visited her periodically and would take her for hikes. She blossomed into such a beautiful dog when she was cared for as she should be. Then she was adopted into a home perfect for her, with an active woman who loved hiking and running daily. I cried with happiness for this perfect happy ending.

Venus forever home

I got more involved with Lost Paws as my way to say ‘thank you’ for the kindness they paid Venus. She likely would not have made it out of the county animal care and control facility as a scared, under-socialized pitbull.bad Che

I fostered two of their dogs—one that I sprung directly from county who was on the euthanasia list for a cold. I nursed him to health, and promptly ‘foster failed’ by adopting him into my home. The second dog stayed here for ‘staycations’ but she was such a great fit with my male dogs that she never left.

Moo2

My pack was now complete, including two pitbulls.

Che and Molli

I live with these dogs and love them. I volunteer with them, and I advocate for them with every fiber of my being. As a marketer, I have extreme dislike the media campaign against them and know that if people took the time to get to know them, they would realize that under the blocky head is a big heart devoted to loving people. They are great with kids, they are great with other animals, and they are perfect reflections of the love and care they receive.

I’m participating in a contest with my rescue called The Lost Paws Amazing Race. Every week we are given four activities to do with our assigned dog, taking pictures along the way. The activities are like going shopping, going to a restaurant, taking a picture by a public art space, spa day and going to a dog bakery. Activities not only to get them out socializing in places that they will likely go when in their forever home, but also giving them exposure to find their forever family.

My dog is Gemini. Isn’t she gorgeous? Gem Stock Shop 9She is shy, affectionate and incredibly sweet. She is very under-socialized and anxious about new experiences, and it seems that almost everything is new to her. It only took one outing for her to connect with me and two for her to start marching up to people, even groups of people, to say hello. I am so enjoying watching her as she learns about new experiences and settles in to enjoy them.

Whomever gives this girl her forever home will be incredibly lucky. I am completely in love with her and will commit to taking her out regularly until it happens for her.

Happy gem and fountainGemini is one-and-a-half and appears to be a pitbull crossed with a greyhound. She is tall and lanky with a silvery blue coat with tan undertones. She has beautiful gold eyes. She will need someone who will support her confidence as she learns and grows. She is good with other dogs, though would need a slow introduction. Her interest at this point seems more in people. She has a moderate energy level, so she would love someone who would take her out places and for walks and hikes but is also willing to snuggle. Beware if you meet her—be prepared to fall for this sweet girl.

Please share so we can find her a forever home.

 

Gem puppaccino collageGem Stock Shop 10

Living from my Heart

This was my message one morning in my Notes from the Universe (www.tut.com):

When a thing hurts your eyes, Samantha, stop looking at it.

When it hurts your ears, Samantha, stop listening to it.

And when it hurts your heart, Samantha, stop justifying it.

I love you so much,
The Universe

Somehow, these notes often seem to run along with my life, telling me just what I need at the time.

The Universe is watching.

But the message that I need isn’t always what I want which is when things really get fun. I’m learning to pay attention. So many times I have a feeling in my gut but I haven’t listened. Especially when it wasn’t what I wanted to know.

And now, my intuition often hits my mailbox. I open this email and then get a punch to the gut that somehow just seems to ring true. I can’t explain the feeling, but my stomach knows and then my heart engages, as if forced to see something it doesn’t want to.

Living my life by an email? No, it’s not that simple. I find that the messages come in multiple ways—my intuition chimes, I see and hear but don’t want to believe. Then the email hits as a final statement that I simply can’t ignore.

The day before I got that message, I got this:

simplereminders.com

simplereminders.com

The pieces fall into place.

2014 was my year of exploration. I really dug deep to get to know me, to work on my relationships and to better understand what I need and want in my life. I made some positive changes. I loved, I lost, I got hurt, I moved on. I spent my time and energy focusing on me and on the places where I find joy. I said goodbye to things that don’t bring me joy, mourned and moved on.

I released that which did not serve me.

I am learning to no longer carry other people’s baggage, as well as to release my own. I am not defined by who I was but by who I am. And that person is evolving. It’s scary and feels powerful all at the same time. I can bring into my life what I want and I can release what I don’t want.

Magic.

I’m also learning to do it sooner because it’s often not about me. My holding on doesn’t help anyone, certainly not me. It’s ok to let go, without anger, without hate. Leaving doesn’t have to be a negative and it may just be for now. Or it may be forever, and that’s ok too. Not all friends are meant for a lifetime.

I have always hated the word “goodbye.” Maybe it actually means “goodbye for now, until I can say hello again.” Ever the optimist.

Living from my heart isn’t always easier than living out of my head, but I will take those wonderful moments that make my heart sing any day. Even with the tears, because I am worthy of happy.

My Truths

It wasn’t until my thirties that I realized by always being in “protection mode” I was missing out on my life. It’s hard to feel, and to really be present, when you’re busy trying to protect yourself from getting hurt.

I learned that I had to consciously decide I was going to open my heart. It was scary, so I would dip a toe and watch the ripples in the water before retreating back into my shell. I even went so far to pick people that I couldn’t trust or that weren’t right for me to validate that I shouldn’t be out there learning to trust people. Thankfully, I realized it’s important and kept trying.

pixgood.com

pixgood.com

In my late thirties I realized that living life as I was wasn’t enough. I was enjoying myself, but I wasn’t happy. I wanted leap-in-the-air-giggling kind of happy, and I was going through the motions of a life. That’s when I decided to really change and to become more open.

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I’d love to share a beautiful ‘happily ever after’ story, but in truth, it hasn’t been easy–I have trusted, and I have been let down. I have opened up and I have been rejected. I have loved and I have lost. But I have also found an amazingly loving and resilient person in myself. I don’t have to compartmentalize my pain and resist it. I can feel and I can be ok. What a gift.

Here are some of the truths that I have learned during this journey:

  1. Real friends will support you regardless— People come in and out of your life—some friendships require regular nurturing and others can stand the test of time and distance. A true friend of the heart is someone that you will support, and who will be there for you. Period.
  2. Love is action, not language— Anyone can say the words, but it’s the people who demonstrate their love for you that feel it. It’s important to communicate what I want or need, which makes me feel vulnerable, but those who love me will either follow through with my ask, or will talk about it. We can’t always do what those we love need but we can step up and explain why and what we can or are willing to do.
  3. Assumptions are almost never correct (and the stories that I create while avoiding the conversation, are also never correct)– Maybe because I am a writer, I am a master of crafting stories. When I’m the protagonist, those stories always evolve to protect myself. I was joking with a friend that, “when I write the story, he/she is the @$$hole.” When I take the time and the risk to ask instead of assume, the story almost always is different.
  4. The risk is worth the reward— Whether a relationship lasts or not, as a friend or otherwise, I always learn more about myself. It has always been a good thing to put myself out there and when I am truly open to the lessons to learn and grow, the effort has always been worth it.
  5. It’s not always about me— We’re all moving about our lives floating in our own stuff. We write our own story and we view life through our own lens. What other people do is not a reflection of me, and I can’t let my thoughts or feelings be impacted by others.
  6. Vulnerability can actually be ok— This continues to be difficult for me. I know I won’t get what I want if I don’t put myself out there, but exposing myself to being hurt is uncomfortable. When I started my growing process, my feelings were so wadded up that if I let my guard down, even a little, I was scared of the flood of emotion that would flow out. When I cry now, I still feel uncomfortable and a little embarrassed, but that’s life. If crying allows me to feel joy, then I’m ok with a few tears.
  7. People always come into your life when they are meant to— I’m 43 and I have never been married. I know my truth: I wasn’t ready, open and capable of the kind of relationship that I wanted when I was younger. I know that I am now and that the Universe is providing me with people to practice with. I also know that when I have learned what I need to and I’m truly ready, he will come.

I don’t have all of the answers and that’s ok—it’s about the journey. I’m growing more comfortable with knowing that I will find answers eventually, when I am ready to. I have faith that things will work out in the way that they are meant to be.

faith

Turning the Page

Today is Thanksgiving. Like most people, my mind is filled with all that I’m grateful for in my life. I used to be bothered by the fact that I didn’t have a big, loving family. Now I’ve created my own and I’ll spend the day with some of the people I have grown closest to.

They are my family.

I recently left my job and took another one. I’ll be honest—it has me a bit off kilter. My routine is shot, and where I knew what to expect in my day-to-day, I now have no idea what my days will look like. It’s disconcerting. It’s exciting.

I chose a chance at enjoyment over frustration, growth over boredom. Though my work is no longer such a central part of my life, I decided that some learning and a chance at enjoyment was more important to me than the stability and flexibility I had in my last job. I considered what was important to me and I chose me.

I’m also giving thought to my life—what my priorities are, to see how they have changed, and what my goals are for the next year and five years. Maybe I’ve been working in business for too long that I take such a methodical approach, but it fits who I am now.

I’m grateful for the confidence to choose me, and what I value, and I’m grateful that I can. I’m grateful that when I decide I want something in my life it seems to appear, as if my magic. I’m grateful that I no longer question it, but instead, enjoy it as a reflection of where I am now. I am grateful that I am learning to live in the moment and am no longer driven by the past, but instead by my clarity as to what I want and what will make me happy.

I look to the future with excitement. I know the hardest times of my life are behind me, and provide a solid foundation for continued growth and happiness. I choose to be happy.

I have enjoyed writing this blog, first weekly and then every other week. I love writing and this provided accountability for my taking the time to do that. It now feels a bit too structured, so I’m going to write when I feel like writing and will post when I have something to share. I appreciate the feedback over the years and the encouragement. What started as a fun project for myself turned into a network of support, where people shared their experiences and I’m grateful for that as well.

rick-warren-happiness-choice

Disney State of Mind

When my cousin reached out to me a few weeks ago about a trip, I hesitated. Yes, believe it or not, Miss “Addicted to Travel” paused before replying with only a half-hearty, “Well, ok.” You see, I wanted a moratorium on travel. I traveled a LOT this summer and think I burned myself out. The appeal of a few months staying home to just enjoy my life was really tempting. But seeing my cousin after a three-year hiatus was more tempting.

Where did he want to go? Disney.

One of the things I adore about my cousin is how in touch with his inner child he is. He is the guy I went to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia with (a children’s museum) to play on the ground with a group of kids and a huge pile of Legos. He’s the guy that made the richest, most crazy chocolate overload drinks of ice cream, blended cookies and liquors that I swore would make my teeth rot in my head and was oh-so-good. We’ve run through zoos and done some silly stuff. So his interest in going to Disney seemed quite logical, and of course I would do it.

After talking him into Disneyland instead of Disneyworld, we booked our tickets and planned our trip.

Things have been quite challenging in work over the last few months and I’m caught in some very not fun, very adult situations. Being a kid again, even for a few days with my cousin, sounds like a really great idea. What better way to gain perspective than to take off the adult hat and plant propellors on your head?

We met at the hotel and after catching up for a bit, headed over to Downtown Disney for some magical fairy dust and fun. We walked around to orient ourselves, and grabbed a bite. There’s something about walking around amongst all of the Disney imagery and excited kids to put you in a childhood state of mind.

We spent the next two days in California Adventure and Disneyland Park enjoying the rides, ambience, people watching and magic that is Disney. I think that if you want to be a kid again, all you have to do is be. Decide that you want something and poof! It’s now the new you.

Disneyland

The time flew, but it was a wonderful trip reconnecting with my cousin and my inner child. It reminded me that things don’t have to be perfect, but if you’re clear about what you want and truly believe you will get it, then that is exactly what you will see. You will float through the jungle, tour Radiator Springs, soar above the clouds and follow wherever your dreams may take you.

It’s wonderful being a kid again.

Anniversaries and Celebrating Being

October marks two years that I’ve been writing this blog. I started it for a number of reasons—a fun hobby as I love to write, a semi-structured way to get myself to think about things and a way to hold myself accountable for the things that I want to focus on or change. There is something about putting it “out there,” whether it’s read or not, that encourages me to tow the line to what I say I want and will do. Maybe it ties to the importance I place in integrity.

It has been interesting looking back at some of my early posts. I received encouragement along the way to dig deeper—to really share more of myself then I was previously doing, and though that has been scary and challenging, I have done that. It has definitely stretched me as a person and as a writer to not only put the words to the page, but to click “send.” Yes, I have had several mini heart attacks, but they were all worth it by the feedback I received each time. Not only did what I write matter to me, but I heard from quite a few people that it truly mattered to them and helped them to not feel quite so alone in these feelings. That warmed my heart and made all of my anxiety worthwhile.

As I look to the future, I realize that I never really had a plan for what this would become, but decided to just let it evolve. Two years later, I still feel the same way. This blog will continue to be my musings about life, love, work, relationships and anything else that trips my fancy. I will continue to explore me and the world around me, and will share my observations with the hope that they help more than just me. We are all part of a much bigger whole, and I’m honored by those who read this of the many blogs available.

I’m honored by those who have reached out, to provide feedback, support or to extend a connection. I have deepened some friendships and created some new wonderful relationships through this experience. By taking a chance and doing something that was scary, and continues to be, I have grown. As I learn to open and further expand my heart, I wanted to take the opportunity to sincerely thank each of you for being a part of this wonderful experience. Thank you all for being a part of this!

love you

Taking Care

A few weeks ago, I brought my dog to the vet for what I expected would be a routine visit. She’s probably close to eleven but in great health—she hikes with me and nothing seems to slow her down.

I saw my vet’s lips move but it took me a few minutes to register what she was saying.

Cancer—BOOM!

Her liver values are really high—we need to take her off the NSAIDs for her severe hip dysplasia immediately and give her some things to try to heal her liver.

BOOM! BOOM!

When I finally took in what she was saying, my head spun. I then engaged and started to ask questions. Lots of them.

I left the office in a stunned shock and drove partway home when the sobs hit. It exploded out of me, and I allowed it. Then I did something unusual. I called my sister, and then I sobbed some more.

I am lucky to have some wonderful friends that I talk with about almost everything. I’m learning to share more about my feelings, and now I’m practicing in the moment, raw as they may be. I felt a bit uncomfortable, but it was so soothing to feel enveloped in a warm hug of love instead of tackling this alone. It gave me the strength to quickly get from shock and grief to determination—we are going to fight.

WE ARE GOING TO FIGHT.

I got home and realized that I wasn’t exactly in fighting condition myself. I had been sick for over three weeks, first with a bought of bronchitis, then dealing with continued shortness of breath and pretty extreme fatigue. Getting out of bed was an effort, and I’m a pretty high-energy always-on-the-go person.

Now, my dog’s health scares didn’t motivate me to push harder to get well. I had a doctor’s appointment a few days earlier where we ran a battery of tests to try to determine what was going on. However, I realized that in order to care for her, I need to care for me and to focus on getting well. My wellness became more of a priority that I’m focusing on as much as I will on caring for Molli post-surgery.

I often focus externally in terms of caring for others. It gives me joy to do so, and to be there for someone else. I find this with my friends and also with the hospice volunteering that I do. That joy translates to my feeling good.

I know I also need to care for myself directly and I must make that a priority as well. As much as I want to hike right now, I know I need my rest more. I’m careful to sleep enough, to rest when I need it and to reach out to people when I can use support. I called a friend and asked her to come over for lunch on the day when Molli was having surgery as I knew I would be worried and would appreciate the distraction.

The old me would never have done that, and I am proud of myself for asking for help. 9b824eb314c93a5dac7533ef33d5858a