walking the dog


Here in the Northland we have been experiencing a long never-ending winter. Cabin fever has most of us on edge, and frankly with good reason. Yesterday there was a break in the action meaning it stopped snowing for a minute, I think its suppose to snow again tonight. The sun actually came out and gave us for a few hours the blessed hope of spring, it might do it again today. I grabbed the dog & leash and headed outside. First step out the door optimistic Leanne smiling, looking around. Second step a very Virgo OCD  Leanne looking down, “is that water?” Why am I walking the dog?

The mountains of snow we have gotten in April are in various states of melting, there is water everywhere, everywhere! Once you step outside getting wet and muddy are the standard. Haters of dirt beware. Haters of getting wet and muddy beware! OCD Leanne’s beware!

Dogs and kids love this time of year, it’s a free for all of puddles. Jumping in every one of them seems to be a dogs answer to that’s what I’m talking about. My puppy Zeus loves it. Me, the Virgo, with a side note of OCD, a dog jumping on me in various states of muddy and wet is not what I’m talking about!

“Come on dog let’s get this over with” as he jumps on me again, so so so so so so happy.

At first I pretend to be walking the dog for the dogs sake. I am irritated by all the wet but the sun is so bright and before long everywhere I look there are people out and about the heaviness has lifted with the clouds. There are children coming home from school who just have to pet the puppy. Zeus is in heaven. Moving on to the next bunch of kids. Over and over there were children wanting to talk with and touch the dog, all kinds, all ages. It was so sweet to watch their little hands reaching for the dog, their questions, their smiles, Zeus’s smiles.

Crusty cabin fever Leanne may have smiled even as he hit me again with his muddy paws.

He kept jumping all over me ruining my jeans, destroying my coat, excited by every child he saw. There were paw prints up and down my person. Every time he saw another child more jumping, he was having a blast. Everyone wanted to touch him, his happiness and joy was mirrored by the children. In the end he broke through my “are you kidding me by destroying my clothes making me walk in the wet and damp?” and I just started watching him. I was as wet as I could possibly get and muddy to boot, I figured might as well enjoy it. That dog was enjoying every second of the present moment just as the children were. You could see they felt so alive. The sun was making the water puddles sparkle, the birds were everywhere singing, the robins pulling worms, the children were getting as wet as the dog. You had to laugh. It was a scene right out of a Rockwell print.

This moment was found in 2013 in the midst of all the chaos that our world is suffering from. This beautiful normal moment where children and adults were transformed from the worrisome people we have had to be back to our innocence if just ever so briefly. The children and the puppy brought us all out of our revelry and we felt joy. Those children who in a minute can be moved to smiles just by watching a dog walk by are the reason I am finishing this up, leash in hand. Somebody has to walk the dog and the children will be getting out of school soon. Smiles all around!

Digging Deep


Funny how life becomes a teacher when everything you need to know about yourself is revealed in the moment your dog tears up your special something, or your child displays disruptive behavior, or your partner embarrasses the hell out of you. Lose your cool and you will find a lesson ready to be learned right there in front of your red screaming face. We can get mad blaming this or that when things go wrong never thinking to check our reaction to a circumstance that is most likely out of our or anyone’s control. Things often go wrong in our lives presenting as lessons in self-control, perspective and self-reliance.

Don’t like it when things go wrong? Ask yourself; Who do you think you are?  Why shouldn’t bad things happen to you? Are you anymore special than him or her or them? More importantly, What do your reactions tell me about who you are?

Do you get mad when you trip in public? Do you have such control of yourself at work but allow yourself to get completely out of control in social situations? Do you act spiritual at spiritual times and like an SOB when behind closed doors? Do you act supportive to your loved ones with a dark and jealous heart? Do you turn a blind eye and a deaf ear at anything at anytime for any reason? Do you know that you are doing something against your own soul but do it any way? Do you keep your true self locked in a box because “‘it’s just safer that way”? Are you living your life at all? or Are you hiding behind someone’s coattails? Is the reason you are so pissy and mad really someone’s fault?

Face it, we all hate looking in the mirror and we all have shadow stuff that needs to be uncovered.  Equally, we all have to do the work and come on, nobody really wants to but the exit to easy street is a well guarded secret. Plus the reality is life will often reveal our weaknesses and our underwear to everyone every where while we think we’re doing a great job covering our asses. Life is full of life lessons and lots are embarrassing some horrible. Life is hard. And?

Life is hard and you have to learn to dig deep. There is no easy way to approach a difficult life or a difficult time but head on. The victim trains runs for miles and miles but the stops are all the same and get this, there is no destination. That train will take you right back to where you started. In order to turn things around you have to dig deep, do the work and shut up! Most of us sit in our privileged lives unaware of what other humans are having to put up with on a daily basis. There are horrifying stories and atrocities that are unimaginable to us, and we cannot get off the couch and pull it together. People we need to tell ourselves and each other its time to stand up do the work- The victim train has left the station.

I have found perspective to be a great teacher in times of frustration. Someone cuts me off in traffic-there is an emergency in their family. Someone takes my parking space-they are in a hurry and I needed the exercise. The receptionist doesn’t have my reservation-goodie, room upgrade. Driving across the country in a Uhaul pulling a trailer with a full size car and hating every minute of it-better than the person stuck on the side of the road in a Uhaul not pulling its trailer. It can always be worse. It can always get worse. Sometimes it does. And then- usually- at some point- it gets better.

When blinded by the red color of rage, when surrounded by doubt and fear, when plagued by victim-ness, stop drop and roll. Stop your line of thinking, Drop your attention to your breath and Roll your consciousness back towards gratefulness and away from selfishness. Remember it can always be worse, it can always get worse. When you dig deep within your being you will find a river of peace and understanding that will help you get through difficult times. When you dig deep getting upset becomes a thing of the past. When you dig deep you become the person you were meant to be. When we get past the, Why do I always have to be the bigger person?  and just be the bigger person, you will walk towards the understanding of why it is so important. Someone has to be…

Digging deep within the self for answers opens the gateway to true wisdom. It reveals what is happening around you rather than leaving you lost thinking about what is happening to you. This thought changes everything and it leads to self-reliance and peace. Dig deep people!

 

 

 

Training days

Training days

I recently got myself a puppy. That’s a picture of Zeus. At first I was not sure what was I thinking. My eldest son had given me the idea when I was in France having a melt down about being lonely and all of that jazz. He had suggested getting a dog as a companion. Turns out he was right but not without a fight. I had all of my adult life resisted getting a puppy because of the nightmare of the house breaking chewing up your stuff stage which I understood could go on for quite a while. When I was young mother I couldn’t stand the idea of dealing with raising a dog while knee-deep into raising 3 children plus the occasional step child. When the children were small and begged for a dog we adopted adult dogs, well-behaved house broken dogs.

Getting a puppy was a hard sell even now, as we headed to the shelter, I am not getting a puppy, I said…

until I saw his face.

Hmmm, maybe I could do this, she says. For crying out loud!

I fell in love with him at first sight, of course!  But he was just a puppy. I am not training a puppy, I said. I was afraid and way to Virgo to deal with the constant threat of dog doo in my home. But he was exactly the breed I wanted and as my son reminded me training a dog doesn’t last forever and then you have the kind of dog you want. He told me not to be afraid of training the dog. Afraid, me afraid…

I brought him home and I became hyper vigilant and got no sleep for about a week. In my virgo-ness I trained that dog quick. Smartie that he is. Turned out He was way more interested in doing what made me happy than doing what mad me mad.

…And he learned making me wash the same rug over and over again was making me pretty mad.

After fast tract training him to hold his piss which he does, I was reminded of my own hard-core approach to dealing with my kids when they were small. There were 3 of them , Nick was 4 when Natalie was born and almost 5 when Trevor was born.  I raised my kids to be self-sufficient early. I had to, they are a little close together in age and me with only 2 arms.  I worked hard in those early years ruling with an iron fist to keep them in line and out of trouble. I taught them to be independent. The more independent they were the more freedom I had to do chores, take care of homework, take a bath. I was young with 3 little people counting on me. The way we got along in the world was a reflection of the effort I put in to my kids to make it work.

Just like with my puppy.  I brought him home to be a part of my family. I want my dog to behave and act a certain way so I have to put the time into teaching him what I want from him and establishing for him what I will give in return. Because I am also his caretaker he will learn what I will do when he mis-behaves and how that differs from when he behaves well. All the training I do now is to get the results I want when he is much bigger, potentially much bigger!

I think training a dog to be well-behaved involves some basic child rearing principles that when followed breeds loyalty and good manners in a dog and wonderful children, sounds horrible I know but stay with me.  For example establish  authority over your children (in a respectable way) from the time they are small and keep it, children are not your friends and both our animals and children need to know who the leader of the pack is. Offer and give consistent discipline and advice developing mutual respect. Always meet your dependents needs. When you take care of someone they learn to trust you. Never to the best of your abilities make them suffer for lack of; food and shelter, or safety and guidance, or most importantly affection and love. I think following these guidelines with anything that is dependent on you will breed into them the desire to do their best for you.

Paying the kind of attention to your children, partners or animals that it takes to establish the kind of relationship you want is just the foundation of the work it takes to foster any good relationship. Putting in the time be it 3 weeks to 18 years to establish a right relationship with a loved one or a cherished pet will be the best time you will have ever spent.

It’s all about the training days as I pull a shoe out of the dogs mouth, scream at him about chasing the cats, feel my heart melt when he runs to me. That’s my Zeus.

Spring is coming?


IMG_0199This is a tough time in northern Minnesota for me. There is still quite a bit of snow on the ground and the air can be quite cold. No need for a spring jacket its cold as hell outside. The silver lining, the days are at nearly 12 hours of sunlight meaning, the snow mountains outside my garage grow smaller everyday plus, I can see more and more of my yard. In my mini forest of a side yard the trees think of spring while still standing surrounded by snow. Spring is in the air but we are surrounded by the remnants of winter. That can make these days difficult.

I imagine the energy of these early spring days feeling like the energy buzzing inside of a seed. Filled with vibration the seed begins to wake the possibilities of its new life-like the trees getting ready to prepare for new leaves. But there is work to do before the seed or leaves can actually burst forth, foundation work that needs to be finished in order for the promise of the seed or new leaves can be fulfilled. If the seed or trees moves to fast they risk emerging to soon and losing everything. Timing is essential. So the energy of potential just sits there and builds. Until the time is right.

It’s easy to resist the foundation stage in our own lives. I want to skip past the work that first needs to be done to fulfill the dream I have inside me. I want the results right now. We are unfulfilled in our world because we are unfulfilled inside of ourselves. We have forgotten that our own efforts can change outcomes. We have forgotten about work and made work a bad word. How do we learn to curb unreasonable desire like reward without hard work? How do we ever learn to be satisfied if we have never worked hard enough to earn the reward of our efforts? Everything given to us like coddled children. Does a child take care of a car received with ease as well as the young person who worked 3 jobs all summer in order to have one? Which one stands in awe of their car gently wiping the grimy bumpers?

In northern Minnesota we fight and claw towards spring. After a long winter we are eager to get on with it. I want to repaint the garage. I want to add-on to the garden. I want to sit in the sun. I want to put out the swing. The days get longer the drive for spring grows stronger. The spring energy mixed with winter overtones makes us visualize, think and plan because if we move to fast we risk losing everything, nothing ever getting started nothing ever getting finished. So working and dreaming about what we are going to do helps us to collect the energy to make it so, when the time is right. But all that hoping and wishing leads to lots of build up of potential, and it can lead to lots of wanting…

I want the snow to be melted. I want to see my yard and plan for planting. I want the cats to spend more time outside, please! I want the mud puddles to dry up. I want 10 pounds of winter fat to disappear. I want to sit on my front porch. I want the path to the garage to appear. I want to hang my sheets on the line. I want the cats to go outside, did I say that? I want to chase the dog without wading through snow and melted snow. I want to change out to my spring clothes. I want to put my coat away and never look at it again, until next year. I want to put away that same pair of snow boots I have been wearing for months. I want I want I want I want, now I sound like my grandson…

it’s that time of year and spring IS coming.