Monday, February 28, 2011

The Truth Revealed: Two Truths and A Lie Finally Answered

Last Thursday I posted three "truths" for a Two Truths and A Lie Blog Carnival.  In case you've forgotten, here are the three "truths."

1) In a time of need, I gave Cody water by taking a sip from a bottle and spitting it back to a baby bird.

2) This past year, I was on the news twice in one month, and my photo was used in multiple advertising campaigns for a local sports team.

3) I train dogs with hot dogs, and if I'm really hungry I'll occasionally eat a few bits hot dog to calm my stomach.

So, which one's the lie?  Read on to find out.

Last August, Hans and I took Cody on a trip to MN.  In the sheer confusion of writing up care instructions for the dogs, packing, and working up until the very last minute, we completely forgot Cody's food and water bowls.  This wasn't a problem when we arrived to our final destination since we borrowed a bowel, nor was it an issue when we stopped in a hotel since hand feeding can be fun, and Cody can drink from a faucet.  However, in the car it was definitely a problem.  We didn't have a bowl to water Cody.  At rest stops, I would simply pour some water into my hand and let him drink that way, but in the car this wasn't an option.  I didn't actually realize how thirsty he was until one point when I went to take a sip of water, and Cody "attacked" my water bottle.  He kept trying to steal my water!  So, I took a big swig, and I slowly let a little seep from my mouth.  Let me say that lots of Cody kisses were involved.  Apparently he was thirsty!  So, Number 1 is true.

Last fall, a tornado hit our house.  I was stuck in my car when it happened.  A tree fell behind me and in front of me.  I was featured on the news (tornado not fun, news fun).  Within a month, I also went on a local morning news program to discuss holiday safety with your pets.  So, I was on the news twice within a month.  Earlier that year, our local baseball team had a Bark in the Park night, a night where you could bring the dogs to the game.  It went so well, they decided to hold another night a few months later.  Apparently they had gotten a picture of me holding Cody and used it on flyers and their homepage to promote the night.  Last weekend, I found out that they're using the same image to promote their Bark in the Park nights this year.  So, Number 2 is true.

Yep, that's right, Number 3 is FALSE!  Most of you did guess number 3 to be the false one, but for all the wrong reasons.  I do, in fact, train dogs using hot dogs.  Nothing special, just some cheap chicken dogs.  The dogs love the hot dogs.  It keeps them interested, and it makes them really excited to see me.  In case your wondering, we do phase out the hot dogs, but that's beside the point.  While I always seem to have hot dogs with me, I would never, NEVER eat the hot dogs.  Sometimes training requires me to put them in my mouth, and I think they're not quite tasty.  They're salty and slimy.  Eating them is not my idea of fun.  Here's what I figure.  If my car ever broke down and I was stranded somewhere where no one could help, and there was the possibility I could starve to death, I'd have something to nibble on.  Until that day, though, the hot dogs will stay for the dogs.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed playing.  Obviously, my life is centered around the dogs...particularly Cody.  If you have any questions about me or my answers, please feel free to ask!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two Truths and A Lie

So, Liz over at The Lutheran Geek had a great idea.  She wanted to do a  blog carnival, create a way for people to explore other blogs and get to know each other.  So, she asked if people would like to join her for a two truths and a lie blog carnival.  The game is the same as that get-to-know-you game we've all played.  I'll share 3 "facts" about my life, only one of them isn't true.  You can guess which is false in the comments, and I'll share the answer on Monday.  Also, please feel free to hop on over to some of the other blogs and get to know them.

So, here are my three facts:

1) In a time of need, I gave Cody water by taking a sip from a bottle and spitting it back to a baby bird.

2) This past year, I was on the news twice in one month, and my photo was used in multiple advertising campaigns for a local sports team.

3) I train dogs with hot dogs, and if I'm really hungry I'll occasionally eat a few bits hot dog to calm my stomach.

I hope you all enjoy my facts.  Enjoy playing along!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Treatment of Dogs

This weekend, something terrible happened.  A pit bull / pit mix was shot and killed after escaping from her yard.  If you watch the video, you can get more details.

Obviously, I think this is unacceptable.  What I really think is outrageous is that charges have not been filed yet.  In this day and age, most people view dogs as more than just an animal.  Many dogs are seen as members of the family.  Some dogs provide a service such as therapy or search and rescue.  Some dogs participate in sports with their families, and thrive in Rally-O, agility, fly ball, or dock diving.  All of these dogs are loved in ways that people without pets could never understand.  The fact that the law has not recognized this is absurd.

Many people who know me, know the story of one our dogs, Sam.  Sam was a stray that came to our house for food and friendship.  While we left food out, we didn't adopt him right away (four dogs was enough), and we noticed that he roamed quite a distance, about three miles.  After a while, though, he started hanging around our house more and more.  We would come home, and he would be there.  He'd whine and smile when we got home.  He loved to snuggle, and he got along well with the other dogs.  At least, that's how he was with us.  With new dogs and new people he was much more stand-offish.  If we were around, he'd protect us, but if we weren't around he'd simply keep his distance.

Then, one day, I was at home after school, changing out of my uniform, when I heard a gun shot.  This was nothing new, we lived in the country, but then I heard something that caused my heart to drop.  I heard a yelp.  It took less than a second for me to understand what had happened.  I ran outside and searched the back field, trying to see the dogs.  Out came Benji, Lani, Sweet Pea, and...Sam.  Except, Sam stopped short.  Before he could make it to the edge of the garden, Sam fell over.  I ran to him, and there was the wound, right in his shoulder.  I ran as fast as I could back to the house and made two phone calls, first to 911 and then to Mom.  Then I ran back to Sam.

If this happened now, I would be better equipped to deal with it (I could drive, for one).  Then, though, all I could do was sit with him and let him know I was here.  Mom, who was at least 30 minutes away, got there before the police or animal control.  When the police and animal control arrived, we were told the only thing they could do to help was to assist in loading him in the car.  I was flabbergasted.  Thank goodness Mom was home, because otherwise Sam wouldn't have been able to get help.  That was the day we officially adopted Sam.

I'm thankful for two things that day.  One, it was tax season, so Mom had extra money to pay for his treatment.  Two, and most important, the shot did not kill Sam.  However, it did leave a lasting scar.  Sam had to have his leg amputated.  While Sam did well with three legs, it definitely slowed him down.  He could no longer keep up with the other dogs, and he got winded much faster.  Long walks weren't an option without long breaks.  Plus, the spot where his leg used to be was often sore, and caused him pain and discomfort.

While that was sad enough, the worst part was that nothing happened to the guy who shot Sam.  The guy claimed that Sam had been chasing his horses, and in Hanover it's legal to protect your livestock.  So, what problem do I have with this argument?  Well, for starters, we had two horses of our own, and the dogs never bugged them.  Then there's the fact that Sam couldn't have weighed more than 40 pounds...much too small to hurt a horse.  Oh, and then there are the neighbors that knew that the guy had used another dog for target practice.  Obviously, this does not equal a situation where I think it would be OK to use a gun on a dog. 

Since this time, I've learned two things.  One, keep an eye out on your dogs.  Cody doesn't go out unless I'm with him.  Two, laws need to change.  A dog's position in the world needs to change.  In a world where people are leaving their fortunes to their dogs, how can we deny that dogs are more than just "dumb animals?"  Things need to change!

OK, so what are your thoughts?  Do you know a dog that has experienced trauma?  Have you tried to help?  If you're looking for ways to help, just ask.  There are tons of organizations out there.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pet Expo 2011

Well, I'm thoroughly exhausted!  It's amazing how long it takes to recover after a busy, busy day.  What did we do?  We went to Pet Expo 2011!!  Hans and I first attended Pet Expo in 2009.  I was still in training to become a trainer, and I wanted to work with Cody on social situations.  I was also transporting a dog from NC to Richmond, and figured this would be a great chance for her to practice as well (that dog's picture is featured with Cody on the home page).  Hans and I had a blast, and I knew immediately that I wanted to be a vendor at this thing.  So, last year that's what we did.  I set up a booth, handed out cookies and dog treats, and got to know as many people as I could.

What did I learn from that experience?  First, 10 to 4 seems much longer when you're on your feet and talking over music.  Second, it's not only stressful on me, but it's really stressful on Cody.  He did great for about an hour or two and then just wore out.  This year, I was prepared for my part, and I decided to leave Cody at home.  Mom helped out by transporting and running errands.  Cody did get to walk around for a bit, but then we sent him home.

This year was much busier than last year.  Part of this had to do with our booth location (we had a lot more traffic), but I also think the event was simply busier this year.  We ended up running out of cookies and biscuits.  Luckily, Mom was there to save the day.  She brought extra biscuits from home (which was luckily only 10 minutes away) and picked up a few extra cookies.  

This year we did something different, too.  This year we started selling dog products.  There are so many toys that I love, but they're often hard to find.  So, I decided to carry them myself.  What was the number one seller?  The dog beds that Hans built!  My goal was to sell three.  At 3:50 I had sold two.  I was happy, but a bit disappointed that I hadn't reached my goal.  In the last 10 minutes, though, I sold an additional three!!  Apparently a lot of the volunteers at the show liked the beds, but they didn't have a chance to purchase one until the very end.  Woot! 

The day ended with Chinese delivery and much needed sleep.  Hans and I got to bed fairly early (for us anyway), and I thought I'd be fine on Sunday.  Yeah, Sunday brought lots of sleep too.  Luckily, Hans has today off, so we're doing some chores today.  Question:  Does anyone know a good recovery method?  Yesterday my whole body ached.  Am I just out of shape and need to tone, or is there something I could do to lessen the agony?

Anyway, here's the day in pictures:

Mom and me at my extra-large booth with Kyla and Alex.

Doggie Goodies for sale!

The toys are super-fun.  I promise!

Doesn't Hans make some beautiful beds?

I love visits from clients.  Meet Roxie and Shadow!

And Luke and Lily

And Connor

And Ashley!  Her dog isn't quite ready for Expo yet.  :)

Mom and Alex doing agility.

Mom and Kyla doing agility.
Boomer and Gail doing agility.  Boomer used to be our foster dog.  She has thrived under Gail's care.
All in all, it was a super-fun day.  I still have to take inventory to make sure no one had any sticky fingers, but I think we did alright.  And you know the best part?  Quite a few people recognized me from the previous year.  Go name recognition!  Yay!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Battle of the Bulge

C25k Update
Well, I thought I'd give you all a quick update on my Couch to 5k workouts.  I have one word.  UGH!  Actually, things aren't going too poorly, and I've been getting everything in, but it seems to be a lot harder than the last time I did it.  I guess that's because I've been going at a faster pace.

Also, a friend of mine suggested I should set the incline slightly higher to simulate running outside, so I have.  Well, yesterday I forgot to raise the incline, and everything seemed so easy.  Of course it did!!!  At least this means my transition to outside running will be easier.

Battle of the Bulge
I've been thinking a lot lately about my weight.  I've always seen myself as being a bit plump (not obese, just plump).  I've wanted that Cameron Diaz body (from My Best Friend's Wedding, not Charlie's Angels) for as long as I can remember.  You know, the one that looked stunning in a bikini!  I would diet and workout like crazy, drop a few pounds, and then stop.  A plateau would kill my motivation.

Things recently, though, have changed.  Yes I want to eat healthier, but I don't want to deny myself foods.  Yes, I want to exercise, but I don't want the only reason to be because I'm trying to lose weight.  I want to be healthy overall, and that's going to take more than a slammin' bod.

The other day, I said something I never thought I'd say.  I told Hans that I'd be perfectly happy with my current weight and size if I was physically fit.  If I could run a marathon or climb a mountain without getting winded (something I used to do on a regular basis) I'd be happy.  That, however, is not how I currently am.  So, my current goal is simply to train my body.  I don't want to beat my body into submission.  I want to show my body what it can do.

My body can walk dogs, lift crates, carry Cody, run up and down stairs, and sleep well at night.  Imagine what it could do if I really put it to the test!  If I can love my body instead of resenting it, if I can love myself, then I think I'll be happier in the long run.
Oh, one last thing.  As I think back over the blogs I've written in the past, I realize this is something I've touched on before, but it always seems to escape.  I can't promise that I'll always have this mindset, but I certainly will try.  I like this mindset so much better than the one that tells me I'm not good enough!  Here's to hoping.

Thank You

First of all, thank you to everyone who commented on my blog the other day.  That post was meant to do two things.  1) I wanted to share my story, get it out there, and encourage others to do the same.  It is only recently that I have felt comfortable in letting others know that I was that geeky, picked-on kid in school (why is there such shame in that?), and I believe it's important for other "geeky, picked-on" kids to know they're not alone.

2) I simply wanted to promote a better attitude towards others.  I guess this goes hand in hand with encouraging others to share their story, but the truth is, if we don't share how we feel, how can we expect others to change?

In response to one comment that was left regarding "angry" comments I had made on another's blog, I am truly sorry if they came across as angry.  The truth is, I was a little sickened by some of the adjectives used, and I was hoping to convey a sense of hurt and disappointment, not a sense of malice.  Who knows? M\aybe my awkward years made it so I really can't convey my thoughts in a decent way.  :)  Still, though, I am grateful for that comment, and I am sorry you have ever been treated poorly, for whatever reason.

I want people to know that it is NEVER ok to treat people poorly.  I don't care if they look funny, smell odd, talk with a lisp, committed a crime, or simply like different things than you like.  What you say, do, think, feel, act, can and will affect someone else.  I am not saying that I am perfect...far from it.  In fact, the only reason I stress this point so much is because I'm having so much trouble learning it myself.  I'll end that story here, because there's a lot more to say and another blog post in the future would probably be best.  For now, just know that I am grateful for your comments and your support.  Thank you!

By the way, if anyone finds this post to be a bit random or disorganized, forgive me.  It's earlier than I usually post, and I haven't had my breakfast yet!  :D

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


We all do it.  How can we avoid it?  It's everywhere.  We judge.  We judge people on the way they look, on the way they act, on the clothes they wear, and even on the way they drive.  I'm not perfect.  I judge too.  When, however, does a simple passing judgment turn into something mean and cruel?  Where's the boundary?

I read a popular blog, and I probably shouldn't.  The girl who writes it always leaves me incensed.  Sometimes I'm upset because of how she views herself and how she thinks others view her.  Other times, I just feel she's a b**** (See?  I'm being judgmental!).  Still, I continue to read. 

Recently, she blogged about an experience she had, and, while her writing was quite good, there was one thing I couldn't get passed.  Her descriptions of the people she interacted with were horrible.  Those descriptions may have come from a genuine dislike of the people, but they were still awful.  They made me feel sorry for the people she was describing, and they made me angry towards her.  I took personal offense to the comments that were made, and I wanted to smack her.  The question I had to ask my self was why.  Why did her comments upset me so much?  Well, aside from the general lack of respect towards humanity, I'm sure it had something to do with my own past.

When I was a pre-teen puberty hit me hard.  My straight hair turned curly, my body developed a shape I certainly wasn't used to, I quit swimming, I developed acne, and I probably could have showered more than I did.  I also started at a new school, a small private school.  One would think that going to a smaller school would be easier, and in some ways it is, but it also limits the number of people who could potentially be your friend.

Middle school was hard.  I started out OK, but for some reason lost it somewhere in there.  Kids made fun of my acne, and tormented me for dandruff (which I still have no recollection of ever actually having).  That was bad enough, but what was worse was simply being ignored.  I was shunned from any social activities.  At my small school, we still had recess and I was simply barred from any of the games.  I'm still angry at the teachers who wouldn't allow you to read during recess.  Boys that I had crushes on would call to ask me out as a prank.  Apparently it was hilarious to them that I actually liked someone.  When I caught on, I learned to hang up, but it didn't stop them from laughing.  They simply made up my answers.  My mom tried to help by talking to the principal and to teachers who in turn talked to my class, but you can only imagine the damage that caused.  For three years I was in Hell. 

By the time high school started I had learned to lay low and avoid anything that could turn into a painful situation.  Girls at my high school were kinder, but I never truly found my place (other than being the teacher's pet).  I feared what people said about me behind my back, and I found myself on the offensive, trying to make that preemptive strike before I could get hurt.  I hid who I was and who I had been from everyone.  Even in college, I tried to keep things secret.  I still remember crying as I showed Hans a picture of myself from eighth grade.  He won me over by not laughing and by telling me I was beautiful.

Looking back now, I have no fondness for those days.  The only good thing that really came from it is that I found my solace in my dogs.  Had it not been for them, I would have been much lonelier, and I certainly would not be where I am today.  Anyway, I have to wonder why children treat each other so. 

Some of it is simply because children are mean.  They have to establish an order, and someone has to be on the bottom.  However, they learn these behaviors too.  They see these behaviors on TV and in their families, in books and on blogs.  As a society, we are taught that different is bad, that if someone doesn't match your way of thinking then they're wrong.  I was different.  I was socially awkward and having trouble coping with some big changes in my life, and the other children saw that and attacked.

The only way to change this is to change the way we act ourselves.  If we, as a society, are more accepting of others then so will our children be.  Acceptance is not something you can teach, but rather something you can show.  Telling your children how to behave is not the same as showing them.  The blog I read angered me because it did not teach a healthy way of living.  Sure, it may be how she felt, but why did she have to spread that?  So many people laughed at the poor women she described.  How can mocking someone be funny?  How can teasing someone, no matter what their flaws, be hilarious?

As I grow older I am finding that I am much more accepting of who I am, and in accepting myself I can accept others as well.  I pray for my children that they may live a life without ridicule, and that they may spare some poor child as well.  Instead of spreading this disease that most call "society's norm" I hope we can instead learn that the "norm" is to be different...very, very different.  Instead of teasing or mocking or ridiculing we can embrace, or at the very least simply avoid.

I don't expect everyone to get along all the time.  There are plenty of people I don't like, and I wouldn't want to be forced to be with them.  However, I encourage everyone to take some time before judging.  Get to know the person you are looking at.  If you don't like them, fine, but make sure it's for the right reasons and not simply because they're different or "odd."  Get to know someone, and love them for who they are.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Happy Valentine's Day

Saturday was crazy.  I only had two appointments, and I wasn't going to adoption stand, so I figured the day would be light.  When I look back, it really wasn't too busy, but time seemed to slip away and before I knew it short tasks were taking hours.  I got a lot accomplished, but when all was said and done, I looked at the clock and realized that I had not been home for more than 13 hours (minus the ten minutes I stopped by to let the dogs out midday).  I was exhausted, and I had eaten terribly...adding to my exhaustion.  Bed was more than welcome.

Sunday I felt groggy and sluggish.  I hadn't been running in two days and I knew I had to do it, but oh how my legs ached.  I got through it...barely, and then Hans presented me with a Valentine's Day treat.  You see, we both have to work today, and we knew we wouldn't see much of each other, so we decided to do the V-day thing yesterday.  Anyway, Hans made me waffles.  Yummy, yummy waffles.  We then got ready for the day and went to church.
Since we were celebrating V-day, we decided to make it really fun.  Up in MN there's this bakery called Great Harvest Bread Company.  The closest one to us here is in D.C., so we decided to make a day of it.  The plan was to go to Great Harvest and then to take Cody to one of the multiple dog parks in the city.  That was the plan.

There was only one Great Harvest open on Sunday, and it closed at two.  I suggested we merely change our plans, maybe stay in the area, but Hans figured we could make it if we hurried.  So, he did some quick research on a dog park, found one that looked perfect (lots of open space, room to run, rocks to climb, etc.) and we were off.  Two hours later, we were ten minutes too late.  Great Harvest had closed.  To make matters worse, this beautiful, sunny, 60 degree day had turned cloudy and a little chilly as we headed north.  Oh well, it's not to cold for Cody, so off we went to the dog park.

If you know Hans, you know his true calling was as a doctor.  Well, at least that's what his hand writing would lead you to believe.  An hour later, we were nowhere near the dog park.  Why?  When reading the address Hans had written down, he and I both believed the number was 20115.  Instead, it was 2011 S, as in south.  Luckily, we had my phone to discover the mistake and we headed back from whence we came...closer to the dog park.

As we approached the dog park, I could tell immediately tell that it was nothing like what I wanted.  I wanted acres upon acres of land.  It didn't have to be fenced in, it just had to be big.  I wanted a place where Cody could run and splash and really wear himself out.  This park was not that.  I was a little peeved and became seriously ticked-off we realized that this park, while long, was also extremely narrow, and that instead of acres of grass it was more like a walkway of dirt.  Looking in, it looked littered and over-crowded and plain-old disappointing.  Honestly, I could have done better here in town.  There wasn't even enough space to throw a frisbee.  How could Hans have done so poorly?  I wanted this day to be wonderful, magical, full of memories to last a lifetime.  Instead, I was faced with disappointment followed by let down.  Great!  Happy V-Day to me!

We thought about chucking it and heading home, but we had fought all the NOVA traffic and we were going into the dog park, dog gone it!  And you know what?  As we entered the dog park, and passed the smelly trash cans full of bags from responsible pet owners, my bad mood went away.  Cody was soooo happy.  He ran around from dog to dog, sniffing butts, looking for some sort of toy.  Cody obviously didn't care that there wasn't tons of acreage.  He didn't care that the bread shop had been closed.  He didn't care that NOVA traffic is scarier than I'm used to.  And he didn't care that the temperature had dropped 10 degrees since the sun disappeared.  All Cody cared about was that he was in a new, exciting place, and that he got to share it with his two favorite people in the whole wide world.

Hans' and my lives are so busy right now, and we try to do as much as possible with Cody and with all the other dogs in our house, but the fact is we rarely get to do these things together.  Cody and I will go to the dog park.  Hans and Cody will go for a walk.  Hans will run the dogs on the treadmill, while I train the dogs in the other room.  Most of our time spent together is brief or is spent decompressing after a long day before giving in to much needed sleep.  I guess that's why I wanted yesterday to be so magical.  The thing is, I was trying so hard to make everything perfect I couldn't see what Cody saw...that everything already was perfect.  It was perfect because we were together...oh and because Cody got to play with a tennis ball.  :)

So, on Valentine's Day I encourage you all to look for the small perfections in your life.  Share that time with that special someone, be it husband, wife, dog, cat, brother, sister, mom, or dad, and let them know how great you think they are.  


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Posting a Post

Last post for the day, I promise!

Blogging is very interesting to me.  It's cathartic and infuriating at the same time.  In many ways, it's better than journaling because I can throw my thoughts and feelings out to an open audience.  There's the possibility of feedback and support.  That said, there's also the problem that anyone can read it.

There are so many things I'd love to talk about on the blog, but I don't.  Either I'm worried what y'all in blogland might think, or there are too many people I know personally who would read it.  That's the frustrating part.

That said, one thing I will NEVER do is post something and say that I don't want comments or feedback.  I might tell you it's not needed, but I'd never deny you the opportunity.  What's the point in telling you if I don't want to know what you think about it?  Sure, some comments are best left unwritten, but that's the commenter's problem, not mine.

This post was created because I recently read a blog that made me want to post something.  I wanted to offer support and suggestions, but the blogger then stated that she didn't want to hear opinions.  She didn't want to know what more experienced people had to say.  She didn't even want to know what the world at large would say.  If they didn't agree with her, she didn't want to hear it.

It infuriated me.  Who is she to say that I can't give tips?!  If she didn't want comments, she shouldn't have put it out there.  She should have told a friend and moved on.  So, please know that I'm always open to comments.  I'm open to comments that agree.  I'm open to comments that disagree.  I open to comments that spark debates.  I'm even open to comments that are so awful they need to be deleted.  Why?  Because I wouldn't post on this blog if I didn't want to know what others thought. 

This blog may be about my life, and what I'm thinking, but it's also a conversation.  What kind of conversation would it be, if I was the only one who talked?

My Greatest Fault

I am not a perfect person.  For the benefit of my husband, I'll repeat that.  I am NOT a perfect person.  Although I often like to believe I am, I have many a faults.  I have a fast temper.  I'm often socially inept.  I'm terrible at making decisions.  I love chocolate just a little too much.  But the one thing I feel is my greatest fault is my inability to ask for help.

Maybe it's because I grew up an only child, with only myself to count on.  Maybe it's just how I was raised.  Who knows?  Maybe it's just the way I was born.  The fact is, though, that I hate asking for help.  I first noticed the problem in college, but didn't think much of it.  Lately, though, it's been on my mind.

Asking for help makes me feel two things: 1) I'm weak.  I should be able to do all of this on my own.  I don't need anyone to help me.  I actually know where this one comes from.  It comes from my Baba (grandma).  She was such a strong woman, and she did so much on her own.  She cooked and cleaned and fed two children, all in a country where she couldn't even read the language.  That takes guts.  But maybe, she had more help that I realized.  Maybe her friends helped her get jobs, or her ex-husband helped her with child support.  I don't know.  I do know that I often wish I could be as independent as she. 

2) I often fear that the people I'm asking help from will feel like they're being taken advantage of.  A good portion of this fear comes from the fact that there are so few people that I will ask for help.  I'm afraid that I've had to go to them too many times, and that they'll soon get frustrated and a little ticked off.  I'm also afraid that I won't be able to repay the favor, and I'll always be living in debt...even if it's just emotional debt.

I've gotten by in life quite well without asking for a lot of help.  Some I've done on my own, and some is help that was given without me asking (I love that kind).  But what happens when I truly need help?  If I can muster up the courage to ask, I often can't articulate what I truly want for fear of looking dumb or for fear of asking too much.  I don't want to show my "weakness" my need, and if I do, I don't want people to think I'm selfish.

Just so you know, there's nothing I'm asking the blog world for other than an open ear and sometimes a few comments here and there.  I really just wanted to share a little piece of me with you.  I don't have the answer on how to make this better, but at least I can admit it's a problem.  And, isn't that the first step to recovery?  :)

Old Fashioned Money

Bear with me as I have a few posts to post.  There's a lot I want to talk about.  The first of which being money.

A friend of mine and I got into a discussion (aka heated debate) over stocks and the stock market in general.  Many people have a love-hate relationship with the stock market, but still feel that the right stocks are a great investment.  I, however, refuse to invest in the stock-market.  I absolutely refuse. 

There have been times that I've thought about it, but I have two fears: 1) That I would make some money and want to invest more (much like gambling).  2) That I would lose everything.  I think the high you get from investing in stocks, the adrenaline rush that you're "taking a risk," and the thrill of actually making something (even if it's small) is just too much for me.  I really don't even want to be one of those people who go through an investment firm, and use it as a retirement (slowly making money in a calculated manner).  Again, the risk is just too great.  I don't like gambling...I've seen the effects it can have, and frankly it's a little scary.

For me, I'm much more of an old-fashioned gal.  If I could shout from the roof-tops I would shout "INVEST IN LAND!"  I like having something tangible, something I know I could use.  Land is like gold to me.  It will never truly be worthless, because it can always be used for something...even if that use is just letting the dogs run wild.

I would invest in real estate if I had the money.  A few houses, some basic property, heck I may even add money to this house if I had the funds.  I could possibly be persuaded to invest in a business, but it would have to be one researched so solidly that I personally knew the owner and had eaten with his/her family...on more than one occasion.  Do any of you understand what I'm getting at?  I would invest in myself.

Instead of using MY money to invest in a business that OTHERS had created, I would invest it in me.  A piece of land, a house, or even a car, with proper care can be more valuable than anything else.  Yes, housing prices may plummet, and that house that was once worth $500,000 may only now be worth $250,000, but even that is better than nothing.

What else do I feel about money?  If you ever get any, pay off all your debts...ALL OF THEM...first thing.  Pay of the credit cards, pay off the loans, pay off that friend who loaned you $5.00 last week.  The lack of stress from having them paid is amazing (who wants to pay off my home loan?), but even more so, you are, in fact, saving money by paying off sooner.  Interest is a bitch, to put it plainly.  Pay off that $10,000 in credit card debt, and you've probably saved yourself an extra $10,000.

  Imagine being debt free, owning a home, a car, and lots and lots of land.  The money you make may only be enough for basic bills...water, electricity, insurance, etc, and you may wonder what you're going to do for retirement.  The options are endless.  You could build on your land and rent places out (providing money for you and for future generations).  You plant fruits and veggies and sell them at a farmer's market. You could sell everything and take the cash and run. You could give it all to your kids with the condition that they take care of you.  You could do whatever you want!

Now, I can't tell you how to get out of debt.  That's something for you to decide how to do.  And I can't say that the stock market has been a terrible thing.  Obviously, that would be a stupid and very misinformed statement.  However, I can say that it's not for me.  Maybe someday I'll change my mind.  Maybe someday I'll have so much extra money, that the risk won't be as great or as scary.  Maybe then I'd be willing to invest some of the extra, just for fun.  Until then, I will NOT treat the stocks as my way of getting rich or getting out of debt.  Stocks for me are not a career, they're like a night in Vegas...I'm only going to spend what I can afford to lose.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Starting Over

I want to be a runner.  I've always wanted to be a runner.  I remember in elementary school how we would have to take the Presidential Fitness Test.  Part of that test was running a mile.  I could never do it (I also could never do a pull up...something else on my goal list).  I remember in high school how I ran a full mile for the very first time.  Ironically, I was sick with a mild case of bronchitis, and I think that actually helped me to pace myself.

Anyway, I have some pretty lofty goals as far as running goes.  For the past few years, I've wanted to run a marathon.  What's the problem?  I've never even run a 5k!  Yes, I can run a mile now, but in actuality it's more like a slow jog and it leaves me feeling beat up.  The farthest I've ever run was 2 miles on a treadmill.  Last year, I started the Couch to 5k Program with my SIL, LutherLiz.  She had posted it on her blog, and a lot of people decided to do it with her.  I actually got through the program, but I was at a such a slow pace that I never actually made it the full 5k.  This does not work for me.

So, this year I'm starting over.  I've been jogging every morning, and I've been loving it, but I haven't made the progress I'd like to.  So, I'm doing the C25k again.  I've determined a much better speed for me, something a little faster, that will have me completing a full 5k in a decent time.  Then, it's on to bigger and better things.  In case you're wondering, right now I'm still using the treadmill.  I know this makes workouts easier, but frankly I hate running in the cold.  I'm very much looking forward to warmer weather and running with the dogs.

So, who'd like to do this with me?  I could definitely use the support and the accountability.  If you're in, let me know.  Either way, I'll be regaling you with updates every once in a while.  Thanks for being there for me!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Swimming To England

I was thinking the other day about what running a business is like.  What can you compare it to?  What did I think of?  Crossing the Atlantic.  Swimming to England.  "What?!" you may ask.  How on Earth does this analogy work?  Well, let me explain.

Crossing the Atlantic without a boat is a mighty big task.  Heck, it's probably one of those impossible, never-ending tasks.  You have this amazing goal in your head, and all you can do is work towards it.  However, crossing the Atlantic isn't easy.  You can't get there in one night, so you're going to have to take a rest.   You may just float for a bit and let the waters carry you.  If, however, you rest for too long, the waters will simply carry you back from whence you came (or you'll be eaten by a giant sea monster).  So, after a short break, you must start swimming again.  Crossing the Atlantic is hard...very hard.  It's exhausting, and you'll often feel like you're alone, but you know that somewhere there's someone cheering you on.

That's the best way to describe starting and running a business.  You're never going to stop.  You're always working towards something.  Sure, you have to let yourself and your business rest sometimes, but if you rest for too long nothing will change.  You won't grow, and that ultimately will equal regression.    Yes, it's exhausting, and that's why you have to love what your doing in order to do it.  If I didn't love swimming, do you think I'd want to swim across the Atlantic?  NO!  If I didn't love working with dogs, do you think I'd continue a dog training business?  Absolutely not.

Bear in mind, that this analogy is not just for running a business, though.  It can work for almost anything in life...weight loss, schooling, starting a family...anything.  The fact of the matter is, life isn't always easy.  You're not going to be able to float to England.  And, it isn't always fair.  There are sometimes hurricanes to swim through or around.  However, in the end, it's all worth it.  Whether you're starting a business or trying to lose 500 pounds, in the end, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

Oh, and for those of you who have started a journey and have "failed," do not think of it as the end of your journey.  Think of it simply as a new beginning.  One of my favorite quotes of all time is from You've Got Mail.  Birdie is talking to Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) about closing the shop her mother had opened and says, "You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life. Oh, I know it doesn't feel like that. You feel like a big fat failure now. But you're not. You are marching into the unknown armed with...nothing."  So, whether your business has failed, or your marriage has failed, or your weight loss journey simply isn't going as planned, know that you are not a failure.  You are victorious and brave, because you dared to do something different, something scary, and that is certainly not failure.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Music and Memories

Everyone talks about how smell is the memory's greatest trigger.  For instance, the smell of peppermint always makes me think of Christmas, and the smell of a gas stove (particularly one cooking onions in butter) reminds me of my grandma.  However, I'm always surprised at how much a certain song can do that too.

There are some songs that just make me feel good.  Take Disney, for example.  I've heard Disney songs so many times and in so many places that I can't help but be happy whenever I hear a Disney song.  Occasionally, I'll find one that strikes a certain memory, but those are few and far between.

Then there are songs like "The Way" by Fastball.  That song came out when I was 12 or 13, and every time I hear it I instantly remember riding in the car with my cousin, Tina, having a blast.  That's a very clear memory.  Granted, it's faded a bit, and it's been diluted with other memories of that song, but that's the first memory I'm taken too.

And then there are songs where the simple melody brings back a series of emotions and memories.  You see, like most people, I go through phases.  Phases where I want to listen to a certain artist or a certain genre non-stop.  Occasionally, I'll return to that artist or genre, but the passion is never the same as what it initially was.  This morning, I returned to the Decemberists.

For some reason, I got their song, Red Right Ankle, stuck in my head.  As I hummed the melody in the shower, I hit one note, just one, and I was immediately taken back to sitting on a back balcony with friends on a hot summer's night..  Ironically, the memory did not match the song.  I never heard that song when I was sitting on a back balcony with these friends.  However, the song reminded me of them and of good times.

Later this afternoon, I listened to Death Cab for Cutie, and I was transported to a ride up I-95, headed up to D.C.  I just can't help but find it amazing that one tune, one simple song could take me back so much.  Part of me wants to relive these memories.  I want to repeat the past and relive was wonderful.  I know, however, that repeating the past is neither possible nor healthy, and there are many other wonderful memories to be made in the future.

You know, it's a good day for this sort of introspection.  On this 60 degree day (the warmest in months), I'm reminded that the world is ever-changing, and if I just roll with it I'll soon be in the sun and warmth again.