We Laugh, We Cry

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It has come to my attention, yet once more, that the state of my life since adopting Chloe “dog diva extraordinaire” six years ago have brightened up stupendously. So much has she enriched, not only my life but the rest of my household, that to imagine waking up without her daily presence is just..well..unimaginable.

I can only conclude that this is the curse of having a pet that has become an entrenched part of the family, the agony of loss no different from that of losing a husband or child. We all dread the day of her passing because this will, for sure, leave an empty cavity in all our hearts.

Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.
It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”
~ John Grogan

So for now, there is nothing to do but enjoy every living minute with the ones we love (be this human or dog). Take the time to laugh, to embrace and once in a while, enjoy the silence that company brings.

So It Begins

Today I am reminded of how surreal life can actually become. Take having children for example. Now, being a mom with four teenagers has it’s fair share of ups and downs, and no doubt, I am not proclaiming to be an expert mother and a perfect saint but I am pretty confident that I have done a pretty good job raising my lot. All that diaper changing, snot wiping, hair pulling…I can go on forever with what went on in my life’s chapter when my children were little but now that they are in their teens, all of a sudden, the tables have turned and instead of me instructing them to do things, I now have to listen to them in order for things to be done. Surreal. Surely. But frankly, I would not have it any other way. We have made raising confident and fun loving children intentional and looking at how far these slave drivers have come along, my husband and I can’t hide the fact that we are pretty plum proud. Here is a clip for you to have a taste of how crazy two of them are. Who knows! Maybe next time, they may just showcase Diva dog…

High On Lows

Liberty.Tax. A Slice of American Pie.

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Week one away from kemosabe and living life in the land of the free.  I can’t quite say that the clan and I now have our living patterns smack in the bag since we are yet to lay “witness dawn’s early light” owing to a severe case of jet-lag, but we are just about close to “catching the gleam of the morning’s first beam”.  Almost.  Maybe give it a few more days.

Had the pleasure of calling in for a visit the other day to the US Bureau of engraving and printing in Fort Worth, Texas where I was told listening through a prehistoric mobile looking piece of contraption placed close to my ear, that 80% of the American smackers and moolas are printed here in Fort Worth for this country’s Reserve Banks.  Walking along an elevated platform witnessing how clean sheets of what seemed like B4 sized paper undergo the process of transformation and come out as freshly printed one dollar and hundred dollar bills, I could not help but reflect on a quote once made by Franklyn Roosevelt,

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Having spent time living here in the past and now returning back in the guise of a tourist, I am afforded the fortuity of surveying the abundance and resources bestowed upon those residing in this country.  Now living in New Zealand, I cannot help but walk the local shopping aisles here, with their huge product range at a wide assortment of prices and not not feel slightly cheated that I am unable to get the same mode of offerings in my home country.  Life is indeed unfair.  All around me, people are surrounded by what can only be recognized as ‘materialistic abundance’.  For example, I walk into Walmart with an aim to simply (in my head) procure a bottle of shampoo.  What I end up with, an hour later, are four bottles of hair products –   a ‘clarifying’ wash, a ‘deep’ conditioning wash, a ‘leave-in-even-deeper’ conditioner, and a dry shampoo spray for days when I am in a rush and don’t have time to wash.  The problem is not that it took me forever to decide on what brand or product to choose from.  The issue is not even the assortment of prices to pick at.  The dilemma I have is that I thoroughly, wholeheartedly, enjoyed that shopping experience.  I love, love choices.  I just delight and relish in this whole experience of skimming the shelves and oogling at all the different types of, in this case, hair care products provided to the American public.  It is crazy! Mind numbing.  But, nevertheless, however, on the hand – do I really necessarily need so much empowerment when it comes to picking a simple item?  How do I draw the line between what I need and what I want? Lionel Shriver once said,

“A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it.”

Perhaps just because we are not able to get something does not necessarily mean that we need that item in the first place.  Perhaps the mere presentation of so many ‘stuff’ around us makes us believe that we require these so-called provisions.  As Bertrand Russell eloquently said,

“It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”
So, as much as I desire choices and pickings, I think I’d much rather be a Kiwi with a black dog and living a totes amazeballs life, the simple way.  Maybe it is by living simply, without the frills and thrills that makes me more sensitive to those around me who are afforded even less than I am.  Maybe.

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as one, two, three and not a hundred or a thousand… We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.” – Henry David Thoreau

Missing Kemosabe

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In a couple of days, 38 hours to be exact, the whole family and I would be on our way to our much-anticipated holiday in United States for five weeks.  My mental state is however, at this present moment divided into half, bisected, even-steven.  I am so torn between wanting to go and needing to stay.  One side looks forward to some rest and relaxation with the clan whereas the other side soaks me in apprehension, annoyance and heartache.  Apprehension because I am having to leave all that I am accustomed to; my regular, my normal, my everyday behind in stasis while I adopt new ones as you do when you land into unfamiliar surroundings.  Annoyance because every big and minute detail of my otherwise sedentary life now seem to crop up screaming at me to get done before I go.  And heartache because I will not have ‘kemosabe’ by my side for five weeks.  Chops licker will be at home taken care of by two lovely people who I am sure will be doting on the mutt so much so that when the time comes when I do return, black mama will be missing them.

These few days of trip preparation has made me realize that human beings are at the very core, creatures of comfort and familiarity.  We of the flesh draw comfort from knowing what comes next in our daily routine and even though we find ourselves wish that life is not so conventional, we are at the very depth, bland and monotonous.  We draw comfort from the expected and ordinary because it provides us peace and some dominance over our lives.  We grow, we learn, and we inspire within the proximity afforded to us by routine.  I believe that routine has received a fair amount of ‘bad rap’ in these modern age of the YOLO culture.  You do only live once but to foolishly go against the inevitable habitual of life and purposely tempt the unnatural for the sake of flicking the middle finger at life, well, seems pretty dismal to me.

“We all have our routines,” he said softly.”But they must have a purpose and provide an outcome that we can see and take some comfort from, or else they have no use at all. Without that, they are like the endless pacings of a caged animal. If they are not madness itself, then they are a prelude to it.” – John Connolly

When the Dung Hits the Fan, I Open My Umbrella

ImageIt has come to my attention that Chloe-the-dog is very clear-cut, deliberate and intentional when the situation calls for her to…err….micturate.  To tinkle. To wizz.  To take a leak, pee-pee, have a go..Every time we go for a walk, within a period of 60 minutes she would have performed at least 8 random acts of peeing.  It is so fluky that this dog walker can only shake her glossy haired head and wonder each time, where in tarnation does all that flow come from?  Apparently, a dog tail-wagger’s size would carry with her a bladder the greatness of Navels, Valencias, Sunkists and Moros. Oranges. So just this last Monday, mellow ol’me took an orange from the fruit bowl, cut it in half and handclasped each as steadfastly as possible.  I then extorted the fruit with all of my might.  Really wringed the succker dry.  What I got was nearing one cup of juice.  Now, because it was a rainy day, exams are just over and I have nothing else better to do since my coffee girls don’t like to hang out on Mondays..ahem.. I took the effort of dividing all the squeezed juice into 8 portions and Walla! Genius!, I got the quantity upshot, or rather down shot of tail-wagger. 

Now, bear with me as I write the next half of the story. Before peeing Chloe does these reconnaissance acts. A look, a sniff and then cross-checking praxis to determine supreme spots to perform her squats.  Hilarious.  Cesar Millan says,

In some it is definitely dominance – I am here and letting you know. With others it appears to be almost friendly – Oh that smells nice; I think I will leave them a message.  Kind of like the Facebook for dogs.”

Facebook.  For dogs.  Really..I will go with that logic and claim that diva-dog is a total Miss Social when it comes to leaving her cue cards behind.  That every morning as she steps out of the house, she intentionally makes her Sunkist go into overdrive. That every morning as her and I brisk-trot that sidewalk, her side pull to pee is intentional and purposeful.  To leave her mark on earth and proclaim to those canines who had come before her and to those still yet to pass after – “Hello Snout-bookers! Newsfeed My Timeline and I Will Notify Your Wall!!”

Yet again, perhaps there is some lesson which we can drip off from Chloe-the-dog’s intentional and purpose-filled bladder.  Perhaps the lesson here is that when we take up on any sought after venture or any deliberate deeds in life, we must expect and look forward to releasing a little bit of ourselves into the situation.  Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” That just like doggie’s practice of leaving her bouquet behind for the next furry butt that comes along, we sometimes won’t possibly be around to witness what or how our choices, our decisions, our undertakings, our schtick can or will affect those around us.  And it is OK.  Because when we intentionally and willingly release ourselves with a clear intention of doing good to others without selfish gains, that decision to “lose ourselves in the service of others” can only reach out and restore the goodness in others.  Shauna Niequist said,

“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”

Perhaps the trick to any successful endeavor is to give in to that element of risk because in relaxing our grip and demands over situations, role, people, circumstance, affairs, etc., we can gaze up long enough to focus, to calibrate, to sharpen our view and then on find our bearings.  That nothing in life is full proof but the only way to come out unscathed from the other end is the ability to release life’s pressure “one squirt at a time”.  Because life is all about change and the risks that comes along with it.  Change is necessary, is inevitable, is compulsory and just like a dog’s pee that lasts only until the next one comes along to leave it’s number, we must expect to lose ourselves and welcome change.  Perhaps we just need to learn to embrace the fact that when we let go and let God, then truly can we find peace in transformation.  There is a poem written by Annie Johnson Flint and part of it sings,

“One day at a time, with its failures and fears,
With its hurts and mistakes, with its weakness and tears,
With its portion of pain and its burden of care;
One day at a time we must meet and must bear.

One day at a time to be patient and strong,
To be calm under trial and sweet under wrong;
Then its toiling shall pass and its sorrow shall cease;
It shall darken and die, and the night shall bring peace.”

Chloe…wanna go potty?

Dedicated to my gorgeous gf Rachel Lewis (whose mom still whispers in her ears) and my buddy Las (who smokes too much). XOXO..

It’s Not FaceBook But How Can I Unfriend You?

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I have pondered much lately on the passage of human friendships; the budding, the blooming, the display and soon after, the drying sojourn.  I brood and I compare the dynamics and intricacies of this person-to-person rapport against the  consanguinity of my liaison with my pet licker.  The inner workings of relationships we build with our fellow homo-sapiens, obviously very different to that with an animal because as humans, it is never that simple. 

“It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that when I’m in the company of others – even my nearest and dearest – there always comes a moment when I’d rather be reading a book.”~Maureen Corrigan

We are not that simple, people are not that simple, and motives are never that simple.  Our elaborate make-up and the nature of how we are made allows us a more symbolic method of communication in that we can reason, articulate, introspect, problem solve, and manipulate, all at our own choosing.  Choice.  We are afforded choice and the ability to choose.  And when we apply these endowments to the act of forging friendships between one human to another, the results can be something exceptionally beautiful but also sometimes unsightly.  The complexities of expectations, demands and stipulations all under the mask of ‘friendship’ never looms too far behind and when left unobserved, steps forward and takes charge.  Murray Gell-Mann writes,
“Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behavior of the whole. ”

Ahh…the complexities of human behavior.  The perplexities of the human mind.  The way we think and act paints the abstract picture for others to appraise us.  How many for us know of that one person amidst who stilly manipulates and easily takes offense?  Or another who no massive passing of time or large vessel of words can appease their quest to seek affirmation?  I can only conclude that the way I deem them to be is not what they appraise themselves as.  Which then begs the question – What landscape am I painting of my self?  Is it a pretty picture or the opposite?  Too complex.  Too multifarious.  Too elaborate.  Henri Nouwen said,

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

An apt observation indeed. The establishing of friendships is a perilous exercise because there are risks involved.   How can we safe guard ourselves from the pain and disappointment of gaining a friend and loosing them at the same time?  How can we be open to those we hold dear and not risk being judged?  How can we prolong a friendship when we know that to gain them means to lose your soul? And how can we find that one person who is willing to leave footprints in our heart?

CS Lewis eloquently said,

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Perhaps making friends is a human choice after all.  Perhaps it is not essential, non fundamental to accumulate a field full of friends because all we need really is a handful.  A handful of those who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness.  Perhaps not everyone we meet are called to be a friend to us but instead we are actually called to be a friend to them. Perhaps.

In the meantime, Chloe-the-dog sits by my side and is my kimosabe, my pal, my buddy.  She may not articulate her feelings, she may not know how to cure me, heal me and she definitely abandons me when her time is up but there is something in her stillness that comforts me. There is something in her quietness that calms me. That as she gives so much meaning to my life, one which in turn, I offer my companionship. No expectations.  No prejudice.  Perhaps that is the essentials of all human friendship.  And that maybe, is the crux of the matter…

Dedicated to my buddies out there (you know who you are) who have sat with me, listened to me, cried with me and rejoiced with me.  I am eternally grateful for our friendship..