On what happens when I have a bad day, and how I manage to shed those feelings so fast

I am sitting here in my bed, getting ready to read (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). Kendra is lying at my feet, Sabrina is upon her bed, which sits at the end of my bed.

Soon, I will be joined by more. For now, it’s just them and Zeva on her branch. Zeva is grinding her beak, preparing herself for bed as well (she does it before bed as a comforting thing).

I am filled with a sense of peace. Overwhelming gratitude and joy is also in there. It has been a good day. It didn’t start that way.

By the time I post this, two days will have passed since this very moment, but I wanted to write now while everything is fresh. It is my goal to be more vulnerable and open this year. It has also become a goal to focus on the energy I put out into the world. I want to live with grace and beauty. I want to ensure that as I face each day, it is more on a positive note, and a peace state. Peace as in calm. I am usually as such naturally, but living around negative individuals and people who have never matured properly, it affects me. I do not want to live my life in a high strung state. I do not want to be reactive. I want to be active and energetic, but calm within. I prefer that state. It isn’t just for me, but the world. Because I believe everything we do, affects the world. By changing who I am, I am changing the world.

I listened to Eckhart Tolle say that in the last podcast I listened to tonight while I cooked dinner. That what we put out alters the world. If we live in anger, the world becomes angry. Our lives are connected. I want that because I see it in my pets. Alone around my mom too long, the animals become infected with anxiousness, and panicky fear. They become reactive. Even The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan says the same, and I have noticed it through the time that I have owned animals: Your energy affects the dogs around you.

Back to this morning.

I woke up in a very insecure state. I woke up (I shared on my Wednesday Facebook post here) wondering why I bother [with any of it]. I have learned through my experiences that it is best not to hide from that feeling. I felt it, I accepted that was how I felt, and I allowed it to happen so that it could pass me by. It did halfway through the day.

What was interesting was the podcast I happened to listen to from Eckhart Tolle and Oprah was the one where they were discussing that too. When one feels something like that, just feel it. Accept it. But don’t react, don’t dwell, don’t fight it. Simply be in the feeling. You can speak about it, but again, let nothing else be within it. If you can act and change it (my action to change it was to simply go on about my day), then do so.

I used to tell people about that. How I finally managed to acknowledge that sometimes I am prone to depressive moods. Having kicked depressions butt to kingdom come when I was sixteen and nearly committed suicide, I still am susceptible to experiencing it. For me, it isn’t a question of getting to that state again. I know I won’t. I have found that to be the best method to ridding myself of that negative energy. Feel it, accept it, then allow it to pass by as it will. If I have to cry, I will cry. I will feel every last ounce of it, even if it’s to wallow. I will generally do it privately.

I do attribute the way I felt this morning to monthly hormones. Lately I have hit the exhaustion, hormones (insecurity and sadness are the main that really strike me), and dizziness. The first few days are finally passing so my hormones will be balancing back out on their own, but I still decided I should write this down now because of the energy state I am in.

And the answer to my own question?

Because I love to. Because I love when someone messages me and tells them how much I helped them. Because I adore the people who I mentor, or who I teach, who read my books, and everyone else around me.

Because the moment it feels like work, I will stop.

And if I stop and then miss it (doesn’t ever take me long to) I will begin again. I no longer do anything that I don’t feel pleasure in doing.

Not every second of every day does someone who is naturally bubbly and happy, feel that way. Sometimes those thoughts or feelings do creep in. What’s more important is not to hide from them, or fight against them. Otherwise they persist.

I will admit that at times I find it disappointing when I face a moment like that, and I’m open about it, and there will come a person around me that may act as though I can’t handle it. Or that I may revert back into a worse state. I can’t say it won’t ever happen, but I can say that the last time I was anywhere near bad off was because of the last rape (or what happened after more so). I had a reason. Even the strong can get weak for a moment. And that is what it is. A moment. You don’t have to feel as though you won’t make it back out. If you’re feeling a bit insecure, simply feel it, and accept that it is there at that time, then it can move on.

And so too, can you.

And now, as this day closes, and I am about to read the book, I am filled with a sense of peace. I am grateful for this life I have.

It has been a good day.

Ariana
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“We laugh here. We love here.” -A Memorial Day Post –

It is no coincidence that the peonies bloom just before Memorial Day.  In my town, we’ve been plucking them from their bushes and inhaling their sweetness all the way to the cemetery for generations – mothers and daughters, grandmothers and aunts and small children trailing up the hillside steps to lay their offerings beside . . . This stone. We just doted on her, and my, wouldn’t she have loved these flowers? Leave the biggest one, the pale pink. She wouldn’t mind the ants, she never killed a living creature.

Oh, and this little girl. Just pneumonia, but you know back then . . . broke your grandma’s heart. Do you know, she would never lock the back door, for fear the baby’s spirit would want to come in?
Here, him. That was suicide, so tragic – he left a wife, and a baby he never saw.
And that big stone, he was a colonel in the Civil War, Missy did a history report about his life, she got an A.
The branches of the massive oaks knot and arch and tangle overhead so that the ground beneath stays soft and cool, and summer commences to the somnolent buzz of honey bees, the squash of dandelions beneath bare feet. Voices lose their solemnity and ring with warmth and laughter. Children tug their palms from their mother’s sweaty grasps and run flitting between the stones in furtive games of Tag.
 
Perhaps Memorial Day is as much for the living as the dead? Our loved ones honored best by laughter with their flowers?  

For this is our cemetery as much as theirs. Our high school track team runs the seventy seven steps all the way to the first row of stones every spring. And the Halloween parties! Climbing the hill in the dark with our hearts in our throats – the big kids always running ahead, only to jump out later and terrify the little ones. Lovers park in the far corner, out of sight where the ground takes that big dip. Children drink from the hand pump beside the gazebo while their mothers plant perennials. Most years, the senior prank involves hauling the Borden cow statue from the local plant and depositing it amongst the stones.

 Life is sweeter, more poignant in our cemetery. Perhaps only in contrast to those silent markers, or perhaps because it needs to be. But either way, we laugh here, we love here, and sometimes we play hopscotch on the stepping stones beside the entryway. And I’m pretty sure that regardless of where I am buried, my soul will seek this place out to stretch beneath the oaks on a carpet of peony petals.   
    

Lucy Crowe

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On the essence of a past moment recaptured

I sit and watch the pup pups playing. I focus on one, and simply enjoy the show. I’m watching all the years of growth I’ve been around to see, all the years yet ahead.

I sit and watch this fantastic beauty as she sleeps beside me on the chair, listening to the gentle sounds of sleep. I am reminded of the way she (Kaley) looked while she slept in her bed as nothing more than a worm with legs, along with her siblings, after they were born.

My back would scream in pain, my legs would be worse after the long hours of caring for them and their mother, but I didn’t care. I would sit, and I would watch. I observed the wonders of nature, of life, of love, lying there in that nursery bed. Admiring what came of nothing.

Sometimes I will hold them and do nothing more than look into their eyes, seeing everything residing within. The intelligence, the love, the amazing way parts of nothing can come together to form such a beautiful creature. I don’t think about how hard it is at time with them during their misbehaving moments, I don’t stress over the moments of their training that seems to go so slow.

I am simply grateful to know this amazing four-legged adventurer, this loyal lover, this brave warrior who tackles every day with smiles. I appreciate every moment.

I watch them because I love them. I love to see them grow, love to see the way they express their love to one another, I learn from them. I learn how not to dwell, how to be who I am without fear. How to love without conditions.

Most of all I watch them because they are fascinating. They were once nothing more than parts of theirs parents and I am amazed at how life brought forth and transpired to create these creatures. I am fully present, and experience the miracle of life while I watch them.

Sometimes they come over and crawl into my lap if I’m on the floor.  If I’m trying to capture a photo of them, there are times I will find a heavy presence on my lap only to discover one has laid against my leg, or hip. Just so they can touch me. If I’m kneeling down to kiss another, one will creep under my chest and snuggle beneath the cave of my hair, daring a sibling to mess with them. I laugh because they want to cuddle that way and I know it is because deep down they know . . . I will keep them safe. There is a feeling that comes with that, which is hard to express unless you’ve known it.

It’s a feeling that says that animal (or child) has placed 100% trust in you because they believe in you. They not only know you will protect them, and that they feel comfort in your presence, but you know that the faith is warranted because you will do everything to protect them.

I watch them play and I find them so utterly captivating and beautiful that I can’t tear my gaze from them. These are moments I won’t get again and I want to savor every last miniscule part of them.

If they were a child, I would imagine they would be bothered. But then they would grow up and find themselves understanding something vital.

Like the reason she was watched by her father all the time. And though she complained and it drove her nuts to find her father watching her, she would grow up to finally understand why he always said he liked to watch  his beautiful daughter.

It would make sense to her why he treated her like such a treasure. Because he too, saw a miracle sitting before him that he wanted to treasure. He wanted to absorb every moment of her existence because that little girl (no matter how old she got) was his every wish come true.

Even if she always cried out, “stop watching me!” It just made him smile and he would eventually sneak a peak once more.

Eventually I have to work, but I always sneak a peak at them once more as well. I eventually grab one that nitpicks me to get my attention, and I give them a hug and a kiss. They would probably say the same to me if they could speak, “enough mom, geez!” but I can’t stop myself from watching them and being absorbed by their existence.

By what is possible from life.
Ariana

Fat vs. Skinny


Before I begin my rambling, I would like to introduce myself to you.  My name is Courtney. I live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband and two awesome kids. I am an artist, a public school art teacher, co-owner of Yellow Hook Necktie Co., and a mother of a five year old girl and a four year old boy.  Every year I am one of those people who makes a New Years resolution. I actually make the same resolution every single year.  I am going to pick one new thing and try it out, a challenge.  This year, my challenge is to write. Thanks Ariana, for giving me a platform.

Fat vs. Skinny

I am very careful and conscious about how I view my own body, the comments I make about it, and the clothes I put on it.  I have a five year old daughter, and while I encourage physical activity and healthy eating, I want her to love her body whether she grows up to be skinny or fat.

Yes, I said fat.

I have been “skinny” all of my life.  I write that in quotes because people feel that word is okay to throw at others.  “OMG you are so skinny!” “Have you lost weight, you look so skinny?!” No one in there right mind would tell someone “You are looking fat today, have you gained some weight?” Or “Wow, you look fat in that dress!”. But “skinny” is acceptable because we live in a world where skinny is good and fat is bad.

Skinny isn’t always so awesome.  I was teased my whole life for my weight.  I was called skinny, boney, bones, stick, twiggy, and a million other words for being underweight.  Clothes were always baggy, even the skinny fit clothes.  I can tell you these words made me feel awful. I didn’t want to be “skinny.”

Back to my daughter, who is thin, but not skinny.  She has a delightful booty, as she calls it.  She plays soccer, rides her bike and scooter, ice skates, swims, and likes to run with her dad.  At five years old she is in no way insecure about her body.  I hope it stays this way.  I will never moon over the shape of my own body.  I won’t ask my husband if he thinks I look fat.  I won’t diet or binge exercise or stress over the size of my pants… while she is around.

It doesn’t mean I don’t feel it.  I have always been skinny, I still am by American standards but not in comparison to what I was.  I have gained 20 lbs in the past few years.  I am nearly 36 yrs old, I have carried and given birth to two babies, I work full time, and own a small business, and take care of my home and family.  So my pants size has gone from a 24 to a 25 and my dress size from a S to a M. I don’t feel badly about this on my own. (Secretly, I love the way it feels when I rub my hand down my hips and they actually curve. It feels sexy and soft.)

A few days ago, one of my colleagues approached me with a question. “Since you are usually so thin, we (I have not yet figured out who all the we are) are curious if there is something you want to announce?”

So, I used to be skinny but since I’m not as skinny there must be some other type of explanation?  Why does it matter if I gain or loose weight? Why does it matter what I or anyone else weighs at all? Some of the most beautiful women I have ever seen are considered “fat” by our standards. Marilyn Monroe, Christina Hendricks, Jennifer Lawrence. Heck, Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford are a friggin size 6, which in 2014 is considered plus size modeling.

Try as I might, the past five days have been focused on my weight and my body.  I cringe at the idea that my daughter will think her body isn’t good enough the way it is.  I want to project a positive body image but how can I do that when I have allowed someone else to make me question it?

This leads me to think about women and our war on each other.  We live in a fat vs. skinny society.  We will always judge each other.  Or will we? What would happen if women supported each other instead of tearing each other down? Imagine what it would be like if what we like didn’t matter.  What would happen if we told our daughters, sisters, friends that they are beautiful because they are smart, funny, kind, etc., regardless of what their bodies are shaped like?

Courtney

On the possibility that speaking your mind is no longer an asset

I was struck last night with the most random of ideas and this is what I thought of. Mind you, I was barely awake at that point so my higher self was more open to this idea. Now I think to myself, oh that’s going to piss a lot of people off. Yourself (meaning myself) included. I am a proud person. Pride for me is my biggest battle.

I used to think being blunt was a good thing. I thought to myself, I speak my mind, and I am blunt! so people know where I stand. Okay, but then how far does one take something like that?

I have been reading a lot of Eckhart Tolle books, and listening to the podcasts from him and Oprah so it only spurs me on to be a more conscious being who considers her words more carefully, including her actions.
I am now coming to see that:

Speaking your mind is no longer an asset, it could be a liability. Ariana Browning

We are always speaking about the freedom of speech that we have. But with any freedom comes responsibility. I have the freedom to eat candy all day every day and nothing else. Does that make it right? I have a responsibility to my body with that freedom. I have a choice. Abuse that freedom and injure myself, or respect that freedom and take care of myself. Isn’t it the same for speech?

Don’t we have a responsibility to the person we are about to speak too to ensure that whatever we are to say, isn’t hurtful? And I don’t just mean to them. Being honest and straight-forward is one thing. Being proud of being blunt and always speaking your mind is now at the point where I think . . . maybe you shouldn’t be so proud of it. I include myself in that. I was always so proud for speaking my mind, but isn’t silence sometimes more communicative?

Being honest isn’t the same as being blunt. Being blunt means that you don’t care one way or another about how you come across to people. It means you are reactive and don’t think too hard about what you will say. It means you don’t care about this world peace that human kind has being striving so hard for. It means you prefer war.

I, for one, plan to be more conscious of how I deliver myself to the world. I plan to try my best to truly think about whether what I am about to say, is worth saying. I am honest, but most of all I must first be honest with myself. I must ensure that the words I speak, are to be used for the good of the world, and not the bad. After all, it starts with each one of us. If I speak with negativity within me in any way, then all I am doing is adding to the negative energy of the world, I am feeding it, I am becoming responsible for it.

We all have a responsibility to ensure that whatever energy we put out, will bring good will and love to the world, or if our energy we put out will merely add to the negativity and hatred.

I choose love.

Ariana

On creating island beds in the front yard

Been working on the front yard off and on when I can. My mom gave me the okay to go ahead and landscape the front yard. Since it’s her house/yard, I won’t do something like that unless she’s okay with it because the front yard is a big deal for her. She cares what people see when they first approach.

I can’t stand being in the sun too long, and it’s been really hot so I don’t get too much done all at once (I’m one of those people who like to take their time anyway, so it works for me). That whole . . . part Irish thing gets to me when the sun comes out. I may burn fast, but more often than not, it’s the heat sickness. Staying hydrated and eating something sweet has been my method of staving it off, but still, being outside in the sun can’t be long-term.

Because of that, it’s a bit slow-going because where I’m working, is right in the sunny area most of the day. By the time the shadows fall, it’s around dinner time and I am too tired to do more than the dishes, and cook dinner.

We have a fairly large front yard, and as I’ve mentioned before, I’m getting tired of having to mow the grass, and then deal with the moss that wants to grow. It’s never ending. Since my mom’s getting to the point where she can’t help out with too much, I’m more interesting in having gardens out front than grass. So I’m working on some islands here and there to give it an updated look.

This is the smaller area (I may make it bigger, depending on the other alterations I do) that is in the front. My mom bought a red crape myrtle tree, that may replace the cherry tree you see taking over the images.

How do I turn a grassy area into a garden? Turn it over. That’s it. Not kidding. Some rich dirt can be found under our grass, so that’s all I do. Dig down beneath the root system, flip it over, then break it up. New garden!

As a sidenote here: make sure you know where you’re digging. I know there are no pipes where I’m working. Call the city and have someone come out to mark where things are to make sure, unless you know 100% that you won’t encounter a sewer line or something else that you should not be destroying. You’ll save yourself the hassle (read: lots of money in damages). Our particular city will mark it for free. I think they’d rather help you with that, than have to come repair.

Anyhoosles, we will sometimes throw on some rich compost to help the plants out, but if you saw my post about the back garden, more than half of it? Nothing but overturned grass and the plants are thriving. I like working in the garden in a more natural fashion. I don’t add a ton of other items to the soil, I don’t drive myself crazy with working on it so if something doesn’t grow, I find something else that does. Luckily we have that luxury. I take my time, work slowly, then gorgeous beds can be cultivated. I’m also building a small step area so we can walk up and down that side near the driveway, so it’s not just a garden between driveway and grassy area.

What plants I plan to put in each place, I’m not entirely sure. They will be things from around the yard, or seeds that I already have and haven’t used.

Ariana

Raising a Child

My mother had this poem cross-stitched in a frame in my bedroom since I was little. I actually had it memorized at one point and thought my mom was the one who had come up with it until I found it on the Internet many years later. I read this poem thinking I understood what it meant and even when I was told to cherish the days that were to come when I had my children I thought I understood…. Man was I wrong.

I had my son in September of 2012 and since then I have learned so many new definitions for patience, love, and time. I thought I understood what was to come and I just had no idea how this little human was going to change my life and change my outlook on everything. His little hands grab my fingers and drag me around the house most days now. His blankie is normally something I am trying not to step upon as he does. A binkie is a life saver and will get lost so I must know where there is another is at all times. My house is a disaster but that is okay, my little man is helping make memories in his own way.

He currently is sick and I just hate seeing him that way. He lays sluggishly against me watching Frozen for the umpteenth time, but I will cherish those cuddles even if he is not feeling well. He is so active now that those quiet days where all he did was lay and look at things seem so long ago. I miss those days and yet can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring us.

That little man has shown me that I had no idea what love is or could be. He is my world and while he is my world I am scared of that idea. I do not want him growing up with a big head or… oh there is just so much I fear and yet cannot wait to experience with him.

I thought I would start your experience with me out on a positive note. You will probably hear more about my adventure in raising this little guy and any others I have during my time as a poster for Ariana’s blog. Have a wonderful week and weekend.

On a life changing birthday

Three years ago, my entire life changed.

I remember thinking to myself in those final moments, that though I had read up on it. Though I had studied my little heart out constantly. I remember thinking. . . .

Oh my God, I can’t do this.

What am I talking about?

Helping to birth puppies.

Anyone who followed me on Facebook three years ago may remember that day well. I didn’t tell anyone just how petrified I was that I would pass out; that I would not be able to handle it; that I would fail. I was scared most of all, that I would fail. That I would end up harming one of those puppies, or that I would worse . . . kill one.

Of course the vet had prepared us for one of them possibly being stillborn too. The one that was up in momma’s (Kendra’s) ribcage. I was so incredibly scared. I didn’t know if I could handle one of them coming out dead. With every one that came out, I grew more afraid that I would find that one the vet had warned about.

With the way Kendra adamantly refused to obey ALL rules and laws set forth, I thought she would have damaged them. As in rule one, and the biggest of all: NO JUMPING KENDRA!!!!

That didn’t work out so well. She would crash through any gates we set up, any cardboard areas blocked off. She was determined to go against all rules we placed. Mostly that jumping one. I don’t know how many times we found her on the window sill after we blocked it off completely. Even going so far as making an ugly gate of cardboard that was taller than Sabrina.

Simply a pain in the tookus.

Then it started. One after the other. One update on Facebook after the other. Not only a great way to chronicle, but letting all my friends know because I was SO happy, and so incredibly proud of that mother.

The vet was on call for us at any second. My brother was downstairs receiving updates as fast as I could send them. My mom was outside the room. I didn’t leave my room for anything during those few hours, and then beyond that, I only did bathroom and quick food breaks.

I had my set up all ready. Sterilizing tools, cleaning items to clean up everything after I touched one, washcloths to clean the pups, help momma out with them, a sucker (NAME?) to remove fluid from nostrils, sterile scissors for doing the umbilical cords, as well as string to tie them off. A notepad and pen to record the time, the happenings, the weight, the color, the sex. Camera. Did I mention cleaning and sterilizing items? It looked like a mini hospital room.

And I was alone with her.

My mom and I had decided that it best for me to do it alone. Because Kendra and I had bonded, and she trusted me. I put her at ease.

I’ve helped her raise Shih Tzu pups (breeder) from when I was young. I wasn’t entirely new to the process, but being that I was young, I don’t remember a lot of the process, except waking in the middle of the night to help one pup get back on the momma for sucking. It wasn’t anything near as intense as this. I was petrified. There were moments that my hands were shaking so bad in between each birth, but somehow once underway, they became steady.

Then it began.

This is what I wrote after I detailed closing the curtains, shutting all lights off to provide her a dim cave to birth, and silencing the room as much as I could:

Water broke – 10 am Temp 99*

10:09 AM beginning to show

First sac

1 – 10:25 am B&W small girl

Cheyenne was born. I even detailed the fact that her placenta didn’t come out with her, but remained within. I called down to brother when I got her settled, he called and dealt with vet, then called me back within a few seconds. Said that as long as the puppy was okay, the placenta may not come out with that puppy, and in fact would remain until another came out. IF the cord was long enough, I could cut it, but with Cheyenne, it wasn’t. The cord remained at two inches. I needed just ONE more inch to safely cut and tie off. So she remained in her position until the third puppy came out. She could reach the lowest breast to suck, but she had a bit of a difficult start. Poor girl shows it in her life. Weight of the world on her shoulders being the oldest. Our beautiful beauty queen.

Cheyenne is: 

A powerhouse. She belongs next to a gazillionaire, on a plush pillow to be adored. But . . . she’s a meanie. In a good way, and yet not. When she decides you are to play with her, you are to play with her. Hold on. Because she will launch herself at wherever you do NOT want her, and then when you squeak, say no, or otherwise point out that is not nice to nip? (Never enough to do more than a quick little pinch.) You will see this sparkle of happiness cross her face (evil happiness), and she will try another place that you do not want to touch, and then can’t defend against because you’re too busy defending the other. She also loves to act like a wrecking ball. You’re walking down the hall, enjoying your day, and out of nowhere a thousand pound ball slams into the back of your kneecaps, and you almost tumble. “Cheyenne!”

That’s when you see the evil glint of happiness in her eye and she does her deep, “roof!” at you. As though telling you that you are a big ol sucker! Then she runs off. We have had to train that out of her because my mom being older, can’t handle that sort of treatment. Now it’s much better, but she’s also figured out who she CAN do that to, and who NOT. As I stated: they are too intelligent.

Sometimes being a beauty queen who lays around being worshipped gets old, I guess.

2 – 10:41 am B&W girl 

Kaley was born. Beautiful sweet sensitive Kaley. She is the little mini momma to everyone. Also incredibly intelligent, and has to tell everyone off for everything. She is a talker. Also attached to Kona more than the rest of them.

Kaley is: 

An intuitive and intelligent being. When we took her to get spayed, we had a lot of problems with her reacting to the stitches they used, and more. The vet who fixed everything told me: I can’t explain it. I have never met such an amazing dog. Very intelligent, and so calm. When I had her lying on the table, she just remained upside down, and let me do whatever I wanted. I told her, that sounds like Kaley. Though Kaley is a talker, so she tends to whine through her haircutting, or grumble through her nail trimming, she seems to know what you need her to do, and does it. She loves to take care of everyone in the house. And she has an interesting quirk. She is very particular about kisses. All the other dogs will clean your face and kiss you any time. Kaley? You ask, she’ll tuck her head. You ask, she’ll turn away, or just smell you. SHE decides when she will offer you one lick on your forehead, or if she’ll clean your eye. Not you. Her.

3 – 11:14 am Brown and white girl

Lucy was born. The baby doll of the house. Don’t let that trick you, though. She is a little devil child. Because she gets babied by Chewbacca (her daddy), she thinks she has a right to do anything she pleases, and believes it is HER duty to rule the house. She is the tiniest at 9 lbs I believe. But boy, she doesn’t know that at all. Near identical color to Kendra now.

Lucy is: 

Such a sweet girl. And rambunctious. I can’t get her to leave bows in her hair. I can’t get her to stay clean. She likes to creep around the back yard and get into everything she shouldn’t. She likes to tackle Kona and Cruz. Cruz she tries to pull his ear off, Kona she knocks over and kills (Kona rolls himself over for her). Being so little, she tends to bark at the others when they are playing, and not including her. If my brother does something she doesn’t like, she will adamantly refuse him love for lengths of time. Once it was 3 months. Then it was 6 months. Don’t ask me how a dog can do something like that. They are extraordinary. It’s still amusing.

4 – 11:59 am B&W boy butt/feet first

Kona was born. The love of my life. This was the only puppy that made Kendra utter ANY noise. Kona came our breech. He came out with his backend first, little back chubby feet up against his stomach. (Side Fact: If you hold Kona’s back feet up against his stomach? He’ll start falling asleep. When he IS going to sleep, he’ll try to pull them up so he can tuck into that little ball he came out as.) He was a BIG boy, too. Kona got stuck halfway out. I got a leeeeetle up close and personal with that birth. As in, I had to reach in, and make sure that Kendra had help. I didn’t do anything until I felt her contraction and push. Then I helped slide him at an angle the same way the rest came so he could come smoothly out. I provided backup, but wanted to make sure she tried on her own.

Once Kona came out, she started working on the wrong end of the sac. So I had to help her remove the sac. Let me tell you, those things are MIGHTY when they want to be. My nails struggled to hold and cut. Once I did, I went about cleaning him with Kendra’s help, then he had some gunk trapped in his little mouth so he required a bit of siphoning to get him clear and breathing okay.

Kona is: 

Oh my Kona. A happy little helper for me. I can be gardening, and if they are outside, I call out, “Where is my little helper?!” Kona will come flying across the yard, laughing, to find me. And that is a sight that always makes me smile. I am grateful every day of my life to finally have met this guy. We share a bond. That’s for sure. He’s a little Hercules, and such an amazingly intelligent little guy. Just like them all.

At this point my mom crept in, and I think that she sort of stressed Kendra a bit. Because like clockwork, you can see the above, they came out about 30 minutes apart each. I told my mom to leave the room out once we hit the 30 minute mark, and I noticed Kendra. . . . Well, I don’t know how to explain. I just sensed her stopping herself. It was a feeling I felt within. And that was a danger point because we’d reached #5. The one the doctor felt wouldn’t make it. I wanted everything to be as calm and perfect as I could get it for that one. To give it the biggest chance possible. My mom left, and sure enough, 30 minutes later Kendra started contracting. I believe that because of Kona stretching her more than normal, that it helped that last one to come out much easier. Gave it that extra bonus it needed.

5 – 12:51pm B&W boy

Cruz is born. Our little Professor and lady’s man. He came into this world with no expectations of survival. We were going to call him Cooper (after my mom’s favorite Anderson Cooper) and then I suggested him to have strong name. He needed all the help he could get. He was the smallest and the weakest, and a smidgen of a thing. So we thought of Tom Cruise and all his action movies. Cruz was a strong name and we said: perfect.

Cruz was the first one to walk, and not just walk, but run. Them little wobbly legs waddled and managed to move across the huge world (two foot wide nursery bed for momma and pups), to the other side to do his first tinkle! He was so excited he tried running. Up! Step step, plop. Up! Step, step. Plop.

Cruz is: 

Now he is one of the biggest and healthiest, and the most happy guy in the world. He loves his grandma a little TOO much, hahaha. My mom laughs because he has this adoration that knows no bounds for her. He likes to just sit and watch her. He also loves music. I used to help them go to sleep by playing a Silent Hill music box sound. Now when he hears certain commercials he runs around the living room wagging his tail, and trying to bring people toys. He loves music, and offering toys to people.

We had plans to sell them, and then through time realized that it was a huge risk. For multiple reasons. Eventually we decided not to because we could give them the home they needed, and I am glad we didn’t. Because they brought something to my life that I didn’t realize I needed. I discovered a different side of myself with them needing me to sacrifice to put them first. I noticed a deeper peace fill me with their birth. Most trivial things stopped mattering and I grew even more as a human being. Moments here and there I grow exhausted. But 100% of the time, I love them, and wouldn’t trade them for anything.

I would play with them all day if I could. But then that wouldn’t buy them food.

When they all clamor to snuggle me (forgetting I don’t have THAT much lap space), I feel at peace. There is something special about looking at them and acknowledging that I was there at the first moment of conception, to the birth, to the raising of them. Kendra has chosen to deflect to me many more times so I know she trusts me as a sort of “surrogate” mom, and she too has been my baby since we got her, so even she tries to snuggle with me. She gets her time every morning when she comes up and lays her neck over my neck.

We couldn’t have asked for better dogs than these guys, or better parents to them. I laugh and I tear up with every single one of these memories. I bust with happiness, pride, and love for them as I do the rest of our animals. It is amazing the way they are. My hope is to see them grow up, age, and remain with me every step of the way. I will be ever grateful for each day I have with them long into the future, as I have been. And I will definitely continue to share their adorable pictures and stories.

Happy Birthday to The Gremlin Gang pup pups!
Cheyenne, Kaley, Lucy, Kona, and Cruz.
Love you all.
And today they will be getting a special doggie cake made for them. ❤

Come back off and on. I will be adding pictures as I can. Some videos, too.

Click here for the adorable photos.

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On magic being found within the earth

I love to work in the yard and in the garden. To me, there is always something magical about doing so. I feel connected to the earth, in more ways than one. I’m not sure where, or when, it started, but I have always felt a sort of spirit, if you will, within plants, the earth, everything. Something that’s there if you’re willing to see it, to feel it, to hear.

I’ve been listening to Echkart Tolle podcasts from when he was on the Oprah show. He often speaks about feeling the isness of things. It helps to remind you to be more present. To focus on the now. Because plants and animals only know how to exist in the now. By observing them, you learn to live more presently as well. I have to agree with that. Oprah told him about her experience when she was walking through the woods, and how she really understood that, because when she was by a tree, she really could feel the presence, the aliveness, of the tree. Ekhart often speaks of this. When we place a name upon something, then we label it, and it then becomes an object and less of a presence, or a spirit.

So in some ways, I believe that is what I speak of, but to me, it sort of goes beyond that in some ways. Some like to call it spirit, some God, some mother earth, and on and on. The descriptions can be vast. For me . . . I say magic. I prefer thinking in terms of magic, and yes, I am a huge science person as well. I try to think up my dreams that come true as scientifically they happen, versus something of magic. I am a constant back and forth. But at the end of the day, I prefer to forever believe in magic. I do not like a harsh black and white world.

So for me, that is what I love about working in the garden. There is something special about it. That connects me to the earth. That connects me to everything. It grounds me. It relaxes me. I’m often hit with a load of creativity while working in the yard, and I have my hands in the dirt.

I even feel like that is where a lot of problems come with growing things in ones garden. At the end of the day, I believe that if you don’t completely and utterly love what you’re doing, and love those plants, you won’t get them to grow for nothing. All the miracles in the world can’t bring forth that secret ingredient. I often feel that’s my secret ingredient to cooking and I’ve had it backed up. When I don’t completely focus on what I’m cooking, and love what I’m cooking, then it tastes . . . like crap. (When I think of that, I’m reminded of that Sarah Michelle Gellar movie where her emotions went into her food. If she cried while cooking, the people cried while eating, haha.)

I was thinking about that when I was looking at my center garden in the backyard today. Below is a storyline of how it started, why it remained utterly pathetic for a while, and then when I finally gave it back my full attention and love. Now, that garden is beginning to show its true beauty.

This is where it first started. I started with the barrel that is in the top left corner. I was moving it across the yard, then it told me that it would move no further (it began falling apart). I said to myself, okay, this is as good a place as any. So then I built the teirs around it. Those were made from the old porch bits that we pulled up to be replaced with new. The most recycled and beat up wood one could use, but I didn’t care. I painted them to add a pretty punch to the vast green of the lawn. Then shoved some bricks around it, and threw a few potted plants in. Didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with it. (My Amber helping me in the top right of the picture.)

I had great plants to make a pretty border as well. You can see, I did nothing with the grass. The grass is still in there in the tiers as well. I cut those angled pieces to hold the tiers together by just angling a regular saw and hand sawing that to an angle. I don’t do power tools if I can help it.

Then . . . something far more important than that garden came into my life. The little fluffy bits you can see right in front, and back there near the fences. Didn’t care about that trash to clean, the garden, or anything else but raising those little gremlins. They took my every free minute.

Look at those little bodies! Love them so damned much.

trying to catch them on film was almost impossible!

Then Fall came and again, I did not do much more than get some dirt into that outter area. I had to do that part because I had plants that needed to be dealt with. 90% of those plants are long gone. They weren’t a part of my plan, and the harsh Winter wiped them out. All I did for that exterior part, was to place a layer of paper bag down over the grass, and then add dirt. Nothing more.

Then Winter hit, and few of the plants that were there, bothered to survive.

The next year, I hated those bricks and removed them, then expanded the garden further. I made it circular, then a bit more oval-shaped. My hostas are happy to be there, and I brought in some miniature roses. My friend Donna sent me a variety of candytufts (white, purple, and pink) so that is what you see near the ends. I have roses in the center tiers and a broken deer that I have no clue where it came from. But it’s adorable there. I also have some really pretty long stalked purple plants. They look a bit like heather, but they aren’t heather. Can’t remember what the name is.

I tried to grow a hibiscus plant in it, but that didn’t survive. I even tried to have a pretty little house and design . . .didn’t work with dogs running in and out of the garden, haha.

That pink flower in the upper right (I rarely know what plants are what, lol) is something from my my childhood. My mom had this pink flowered plant that had only survived in that barrel that I had moved. Now I’ve multiplied it and it’s finally all over the yard again.

Here is what the garden looks like as of May 12, 2004. You can see my hostas are thriving. The cream edged hostas start a little later than the green, but they will be almost the same size as the green you see. They all put off little lilac bell flowers (no smell) later in the season. That tree on the front corner won’t stay. I’m starting it so I can place it over as a “screen” for our neighbor. He removed all his trees last year and there isn’t much of a privacy area for us anymore. From him, we need one.

This is what it looks like from the porch.

Other side. Hard to see with the magnolia tree and lilac bush.

Closer look. You can see that the above tier has become where I place things to start. I will put the mum starts here later. Right now, it’s a bunch of cuttings from my mom’s roses. Even a sedum. I added a bunch of solar lights because in the Winter, the gremlins get a little concerned about the total darkness. They know we have animals that like to creep around so they get a bit freaky about going out in the complete dark. I added those lights so that they would stay outside a longer time.

My mini roses are thriving. I did have strawberries, but last year I removed them. I didn’t think about little boys who’d lift their legs. Sadly the transplants all died so I’m getting more. I love fresh strawberries. I have had many cuttings from those mini roses.

Love the hostas so much! They are such beautiful plants. I started out in the beginning with just a couple dried and scraggly roots that I found in the garage. Can you believe that? Now? Now they are allllllll over the backyard, front, and porch. Amazing plants. I’ve even given a lot away. Seriously, you want some, I’ll send you some small roots, if I can.

Some of the forget-me-knots that we got from my dad’s funeral are peaking through the hostas. This is my brother’s lavender plant. His plant has been dying in the front yard because of a creeping charlie plant. The roots are strangling everything like this lavender. So this year I decided to move it and this is more green than it has shown in a while. If you have any good tips for this plant, and helping it out, let me know in the comments. I would love the help.

Here is that pink plant I was talking about. It’s just starting to bud. If you know the name, please let me know what it is. There are roses in here that were started from nothing more than a dozen roses I received (and my mom) for Mother’s Day as few years ago. And I also have some of my mom’s pink plants that are sort of like baby’s breath, but tiny pink flowers, and sticky stalks. You can see the base of them at the bottom right of the white box. I don’t even know the name of those so tell me if you know.

This is some of my starts for my Irish Moss creeping up, and besides the few weeds, the candytufts starting. I love those plants, but I don’t see as many coming up this year.

I love moss. So yes, all of that you see is intentional. I’m trying to make it more Irish Moss because I love the way it looks.

Up in the middle is the first lavender I transferred. I wanted to make sure it survived in my garden, before I touched the other plants. Well, plant. I multiplied it myself.

I discovered what looks like a little cedar starting! Up there next to the hosta. I’m not touching it. I will move the wood if I have to, but I won’t touch that little guy. I love cedar trees, and that would be a great place for one. I keep finding all these cute trees popping up in our yard. Remember the flower pot holding one above? Came from a start that appeared in our yard. So fun! I love trees that remain green throughout the year, and I love cedars. See the pretty Irish moss, too? We’re ignoring the small hole that’s been dug by Amber. Snot face.

Ariana