Monday, November 29, 2010

The pursuit of joy

My husband spoke these words to me today. The pursuit of joy. He told me over dinner how he liked my pursuit of joy. Actually he said it after he asked me how my day was. I replied (rather slowly) that it was "okay". Usually I'll say, "I had a good day!" Today I just said it was okay. Pretty simple really but he sensed the difference in my countenance. It mattered to him. He is strengthened by me. By my joy. He relies on it. Truth be told I felt sadness today. Loss. I accomplished many chores. I got a lot done, but felt heaviness in my heart ... and it showed.

That simple exchange of words between us reminded me how much we can influence and impact one another by our attitudes and outlook. I'm reminded of the responsibility (I believe) that I have to bring my best to my relationships. I know we can't possibly be bubbling over all the time with happiness. We need to be honest in sharing how we feel and be able to express our sadness and struggles too. Especially with those we love. Life is hard and grief inevitably comes knocking ... but making a point to pursue joy is a lofty and honorable goal. Joy usually comes easily to me, but when it doesn't I can still pursue it. I know it makes a difference in my life and definitely in the lives of those I come into contact with. Especially my husband's.

Things that bring joy...
A heart to heart conversation
A loving embrace
Sometimes a good cry
Random acts of kindness
Puppies... and my own sweet old tail-waggin' dog
Warm fireplace
Bubble baths (my jacuzzi!)
A back rub
A good book
Morning cup of coffee
Candlelight dinners
Making ordinary things into celebrations
Clean sheets
Good music
Loving words
Gentle touches

“One joy shatters a hundred griefs”

“Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A nice beginning to the holiday season

It was a nice, warm and cozy Thanksgiving. I did miss my daughters and other precious family members, but I don't expect perfection anymore. I try to just go with what is. I accept imperfect situations. Imperfect people. Imperfect ME. I continue to learn from others. I am learning from the journey I'm on. I am thankful for life. As it IS. I have little control over the things that happen around me... but my responses to what happen are mine. I will continue to strive to be a better ME! :-)

It's important to learn new things every day..... but it's also important to relearn something old! I was reminded over the weekend how I want to be others oriented. I think the way to show you care is to focus on others and not just your own problems. I see people who are very self absorbed... it's all about them and their small world. Always has been. Probably always will be. How thankful I am for examples I've had in my life of selfless people who have a genuine concern for the people in their lives. Oh, God, don't ever allow me to be so into myself that I don't reach out to someone else with concern, interest and love. I think of precious people in my family who look outward ... reaching out to others. To me. People who have always made me feel loved... and validated. They have cared. My brother Rick. Nancy. My parents.... Good examples. I'm not sure why I've thought of my immediate family so much this weekend, but I realized how much I appreciate the way they show love in a way I can relate to. Some people are just all about others... some people are all about themselves.

We came home from our Thanksgiving trip and I put my energy and efforts into decorating our 9-foot Christmas tree! Dragging out the Christmas decorations was even fun! I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it this year. It is beautiful and just came together perfectly! I bought a few new ornaments, but didn't have to spend a fortune. The "old" tree fit perfectly in the dining room too, so we have two Christmas trees decorated in the house this year.

My sweet husband went out this evening and brought home a delicious pizza and we enjoyed it with a nice cabernet sauvignon. It's a lovely evening at home. These are some of my simple thoughts and musings tonight as I sit in the living room .....surrounded by the beauty of hundreds of white lights, Christmas music freshly downloaded and playing from my ipod, and the warm glow of the fireplace. I am full of gratitude.

Peace. Be still. Enjoy. Live.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tribute to an old dog

Some things in life aren't really appreciated until they are gone. How many times have we heard THAT! But I am living my life trying to focus each day on the things that mean the most to me. To live in the moment and reflect on those things in my life that are so much part of the landscape, part of my reality, without which my life would have a noticeably missing part. The obvious things include my husband (who means EVERYTHING to me), my daughters, my parents and family members. Friends. People I love. They are all supreme. To lose them would be to lose a part of myself.

But here's the thing. When you've had the same little dog frolicking around your home for the past 13 years, he leaves a mark very deep on your heart and in your soul. He is (almost) as much a part of the family as anyone else. A constant companion who never tires of wanting to be with you or do what you do or go where you go.

Every morning for 13 years he has greeted me in the morning. Tail wagging. Brown eyes locked onto my own looking for validation, a greeting, a kind word, a scratch on the head. A bundle of joy.

Nicky has been in our family since my daughters were 13 and 10 years old. Kind of old really to get their first dog, but before that we moved around a lot. Whatever the reasons for delay, we finally got Nicky because Jenni kept bugging us until we did! He was born the same day we arrived in Texas from Germany. Our new home in San Antonio would include a dachshund puppy who was born for us! I truly believe that. He moved into our home and into our hearts.

Now that he is older he is full of understanding. He's lived through 13 Christmases and knows that there is a present under the tree for him that he can open every year. He looks for it! Picks it out and opens it.

He knows if we put on our sneakers we will take him for a walk. He watches carefully to see what kind of shoes we put on which will determine what his morning will be like.

He watches me pour my morning coffee and then excitedly dances around me because he knows I will sit somewhere comfortable to drink it and he can lay next to me.

He sleepily walks to his bed the same time each night knowing he will be lovingly coaxed into bed under his blanket to sleep contentedly till he smells the coffee in the morning and sees the light seeping in under the door into his little room next to the kitchen.

He understands that suitcases mean someone is leaving and he begins to get anxious because his separation anxiety has increased dramatically over the years. He feels secure and happy when the pack is together, but gets concerned when we are not... and feels vulnerable. I think I understand that feeling too....

He LOVED to visit Austin when I was dating and later married Edd but was especially happy to go back home again to San Antonio where he had lived for 10 years. He knew the landscape. He knew every inch of the house and yard. When we eventually moved to Austin into a big and different home he felt lost for a while and scared. He clearly wanted to go back to his old house and would run to the car whenever I went anywhere in hopes that I'd bring him back "home". It took a while, but now he is happy, content and totally at home here. He routinely "sniffs me out". Being the hound dog that he is, he'll keep sniffing the ground till he finds me. There is always an excited recognition when he does!

He's been with me through good times and hard times. He has seen a lot. If he could talk I'm sure he'd tell us a thing or two. We can learn a lot from our pets and their habits but I think one of the most valuable lessons man has learned from his dog is to kick a few blades of grass over it and move on!

He's an old dog now. He doesn't hear very well and his eyes are growing dim. His fur is turning white but he still acts like a puppy much of the time (when he's not sleeping!). He has definitely earned respect, love, extra kindness, and extra attention. He has given us so much and only desired our companionship in return. Gilda Radner said, "I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive."

I wholeheartedly agree.

I've heard it said that until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.

He has been a great dog. Precious and sweet. How nice we've had him for so long and I hope we'll have him for years to come!

"Old dogs, like old shoes, are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well."
- Bonnie Wilcox 'Old Dogs, Old Friends'