My Joyful Pause Moments: Weekly Recap.

What were your joyful pause moments this week?  Here are mine!

1924324_10203292171678285_3643091216225265851_nChilling out with Miss G on the front stoop of my house. She is such a contemplative dog!

20140723_123448 eSitting outside on my deck enjoying lunch and perusing this new magazine I recently heard of, “Artful Blogging.”

20140724_083431 eEnjoyed being a part of the Horizons 4 Girls retreat at Tree of Life which is only about 8 miles from my house.

delilahThis is Delilah, a sweet faced dog I met while visiting my friend Cassy at her art studio.

20140726_115600 eFinding this skirt that seemed to be made just for me (and everyone else who loves wiener dogs)!  Found it at our local Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market. These are skirts made from t-shirts.

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Heart Matters.

20140724_083431 eAbout eight miles from my home, where I’ve lived for 27 years, is a retreat called, Tree of Life. You’d think I’d been there before, right? Being so close to home? Well, I’d never been. But what a treat to finally experience this gem near me, tucked into the Kettle Moraine.

Yesterday I took part in my first activity with the Horizons 4 Girls since signing up to become a volunteer with this organization that helps young girls navigate their way in this world with positive resources.

“Heart Matters” is the theme I took part in helping come up with during the planning stages for the retreat. The things we talked about and shared yesterday isn’t what is taught in school. But what seems to happen as most of us go out into the world where we are bombarded with what society deems as “important,” we find ourselves pulled in so many directions. We can lose our way.

What I love about Horizons 4 Girls is that the organization is about giving these girls many resources to pull from. But most importantly to instill in them to listen to their own hearts and intuition. To follow their inner guidance.

We had an instructor come in from Milwaukee who taught us about Tai Chi and we learned Tai Chi walking, which we did around the pond that is on the property. Can you say, divine and lovely?

What I enjoyed about Tai Chi, as well as, what I’ve also learned in regards to my yoga practice, is that it is a reminder of how to live our lives – consciously, and from our heart. It reminded me of my yoga practice and one of the biggest things I’ve come to understand about it. While it is a daily practice of balancing my mind, body, and spirit, what is important is that I take that best me off the mat and out into the world. When we live from the center of who we are, we no doubt impact the lives of those around us in a positive way– often without even knowing it.

What was truly inspiring to me, (and I felt a wave of emotion overcome me), was watching the young girls Tai Chi walk around the pond. It had me thinking back to my younger days when we didn’t have these resources. These girls will now have this to call upon when they are feeling lost.

Pam, one of the facilitators who works with horses and helping people through the lessons of horses, shared with the girls how horses live in the moment. They don’t worry about the past or what’s ahead, but live in the here and now. It was inspiring to hear Pam talk about horses and their powerful teachings, while I shared with the girls we can find many of the same lessons from the dogs, cats, and birds in our lives, too.

When we did our last “heart matters” exercise of the day by building each other up and saying what we liked about each other, I just had to tell the girls how proud I was that they were there. I shared with them it takes courage for them to be who they want to be.

As I drove home, not only did it feel good to share the wisdom of what I know at the age of 51, but to also hear the the wisdom of the other facilitators. But seeing my younger self in those girls was a reminder for me of how far I’ve come, too. And such a beautiful reminder for me to continue to follow my own heart.

When I got home and was checking my email, I believe it wasn’t a coincidence that I found this quote in my inbox from a blog I follow:

And every day, the world will drag you by the and, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!”

And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” -Iain Thomas

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Referring to Ourselves as Dog Moms. A Label that Can Evoke Many Feelings.

me and g in thought eI came across a very interesting article today titled: “Why Do Dog People Get Pissed at Dog Moms?” by Carol Bryant.

I think she made some very good points. But one thing I struggle with is when we call our pets, kids. Carol stated in her article that “dogs are the new kids.” Each of us is entitled to our opinion and I certainly mean no disrespect for what others feel, as we all have that right. My response to this article are just my thoughts I wish to express.

While I deeply love my dogs and they are a huge part of my life, I don’t see them as children. I think it’s important to make the distinction. While at the same time, I feel we get hung up on labels. But that is how we identify, people, places and things by a label, so others know what we are talking about.

Do I call myself mom to my dogs? Yup, I do. Because in one aspect it sounds much nicer than guardian or owner. I also like the warm feelings it evokes. I don’t own them either. I look out for their well being and do the very best I can to help them live a happy life.

The word mom can mean so many different things whether you care for children or you care for animals or pets. I think for me as I think about this article and the title mom, it comes down to love. I love my dogs. People love their kids. Other people may love their donkey or chickens.

I enjoy nurturing and caring for my dogs, just like many mom’s do their children or other people in their lives such as spouses, parents, friends, or whoever it is that they care about.

Carol stated in her article that she has heard the statement “that if you didn’t give birth, you aren’t a mom.” I agree with what she said and that just because you give birth does not make you a mom. Carol wrote, “People adopt. I choose to spend my life with dogs, not children. It isn’t politically correct nor socially acceptable to question an adoptive human parent, so why question a dog mom? In many cases, the whole concept of pet parenting is that pets have replaced children for many of us. Some of us wait longer to be married, have fewer children, and prefer to dote upon the four-legged variety instead of the two-legged species.”

Maybe others out there purposely chose to have pets instead of kids, but I can’t say I thought of it in these terms. While I know I didn’t want children, and I know I love caring for dogs, I don’t see them as a replacement for kids. I just happen to enjoy having dogs in my life for many reasons. I love to take care of them, I love having them at my side and I truly enjoy being open to the lessons they teach me, that only dogs can do. My life would look very, very different if not for the dogs I’ve had to date, and Kylie and Gidget that I have now.

Another issue Carol pointed out in her article is that in the eyes of the law, animals are viewed as property. “If someone harms your dog, they have essentially damaged your property. This makes you a property owner. Pretty unsentimental and demoralizing, isn’t it?”

It upsets me to think they are viewed as property and again, even though I don’t see them as children (which in my view would make them human, which they aren’t) they are living, breathing, spiritual beings who deserve kindness, compassion and love. If we took away the word property perhaps we would have less abuse of innocent animals. But then again, maybe not, as there are vast reasons why this occurs.

Lastly Carol shared that she attended the Global Pet Expo in 2013 when the President of the American Pet Products Association said, “I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say pet humanization is evident in every category of the marketplace.”

What bothers me about that is that it isn’t our pets that are being marketed to, it is us, as humans. Pets don’t get to decide what beds they want (or don’t want), toys, food, etc. We, as humans, have to make those choices and hope that we are doing our very best for them. The pet market is a huge industry and I think in part because so many of us have humanized them to the detriment sometimes of the animal.

The article sited that science is on our side when it comes to humanizing our pets with a non-profit and research organization called Human Animal-Bond Research Initiative. According to their website they:  research and education organization that is gathering, funding and sharing the scientific research that demonstrates the positive health impacts of animals on people. The growing body of scientific evidence that proves the specific health benefits of the human animal bond can be used by everyone – from doctors to policymakers – to make informed decisions that improve both human and animal health. 

I agree 100% with the positive impact animals have on people, as well as, the positive impact we have on animals in the world. The human-animal bond is a beautiful thing. It’s why I started my blog, and writing about animals. To share that unique and special relationship. It’s why I did therapy dog work with Frankie, which was rewarding in so many ways. I grew by leaps and bounds from what I learned through those experiences. My life is enriched in so many ways because of my love for animals.

So it comes down for me that yes, I call myself mom to my dogs. I don’t really care if someone takes issue with that word. I know I love them and they bring me so much joy. That is all that matters. While I don’t see them as kids, I respect if others do. It is just my hope that we aren’t trying to make dogs (or animals) something that they are not. We still need them to be just what they are, which is dogs, just as we want to be who we are.

Carol’s question at the end of the article is asking her readers if the title dog mom/dad should be reserved for humans only. I don’t think so at all. I’m proud to love and nurture my dogs and feel blessed that I can have them in my life.

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