Look to this day!

For it is life, the very life of life.

In its brief course

Lie all the verities and realities of your existence

The bliss of growth

The glory of action

The splendor of beauty,

For yesterday is but a dream

And tomorrow is only a vision,

But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day!

Such is the salutation to the dawn.

"Salutation to the Dawn" by Kalidasa

How to Stop Worrying

Worry

Man, being depressed sucks.

It sucks your energy, your patience, your hope, your confidence, and your optimism into a void of nothingness.

It sucks the life out of you.

As I sit here to write this, I think “no one cares about how you’re feeling”. Comparatively speaking, the issues (and please forgive my vagueness) that are happening to me, my family, and our future are quite small potatoes. But they affect me, nonetheless. They make it difficult to sleep. They make it difficult to ask for help. They make it difficult to clear the mental fog and maintain composure. They make it difficult to keep anger at bay and keep grace in my pocket.

Depression sucks.

Speak Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about words. 

Words are heard by ears, but held by hearts. They have the ability to change a person. 
“You’re fat.”
“You’re ugly.”
“You can’t.”
“You’re dumb.”
“What good are you?”
 Given time to marinate, they become less what someone once said to us and more our internal dialogue about ourselves. They root deeply and suck the water from our proverbial leaves. They are weeds. We whither and die by these words. Our future is bleak, our hope is crushed under the weight of these words.
Then someone comes in and says 
“You’re beautiful.”
“You’re smart.”
“Keep at it!”
“You are loved.”
“You can!”
If you’ve defined yourself by the weed words, it’s a struggle to accept these life-affirming words. 
They are lying.
They are just trying to be nice.
They obviously don’t know me.
More weed words. Those weeds plant seeds with the smallest gust. They change your thoughts, not only about yourself, but they’ve planted themselves in your thoughts about other people. 
In the garden, you can’t just wish weeds away. If left alone, they grow. They plant more weed seeds. They have the potential to crowd out the beauty. 
It takes work to get them out. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes the right tools. It takes constant vigilance because there are more weeds waiting in your neighbors yard to blow your way. 
But there’s hope. Many of you have access to the freshest soil. The weed-seedless soil, ready for sowing. Soil so rich, it’s begging to be planted in. It’s constantly seeking you and your attention to plant something beautiful.
Our children. 
Are you regularly planting flowers or weeds?
I challenge you to take note of how many flowers you plant in your children in a day. How much life do you speak into them? 
Today, let your flowers outnumber your weeds. 

We Spent $2000 on a 14-year Old Dog. Was It Worth It?

When I was a young and giddy fiancé, we took a trip to ARF, a local no-kill shelter, “just to look”. We walked out with “Vicki”, a timid scaredy-dog that peed everywhere in fear, shirked away at touch, and was the epitome of sad. 
Her estimated age was 3 years old, and we were told she has just had a litter of puppies that were taken from her. I wasn’t even a mother yet, but I felt like she was working through some postpartum stuff and for being abandoned in Hanford, CA at a kill shelter. 
We renamed her Sophie and started lavishing love on the timid girl. We bought toys, a bed 4xs her size, and a crate equally large. When she wouldn’t eat, I hand fed her. When she wouldn’t go to the bathroom in the rain, I stood with an umbrella over her. When she got scared of cars while on our walks, I carried her. I took her everywhere with me because she was my baby, and that’s just what you do! I even took her with me to my nanny job, where I would regularly find baby socks gently tucked under her bed, as if she was protecting them. Never a hole, never a drop of slobber. They were her babies that had been stolen from her… And she was mine.
Big was born in 2006, and things took a turn for poor Sophie. I didn’t want her to bark, because she’d wake up the baby. I didn’t take her on walks because it was too cumbersome with the stroller. I would let her (and our other dog, Maddie) out back to soak up the sun, go to the bathroom, and just play with each other, but I didn’t play with them. Sophie began…errr… Enjoying the delicacy known as poop. 
With the addition of Middle and Little, my (our) neglect grew worse. We’d yell at the pups more often than praise them, and because of Sophie’s penchant for poop and the incessant licking, she smelled. Like death. I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with her, let alone snuggle her and love on her.
Vet visits told us “her teeth are bad”, and “she REALLY needs her teeth cleaned”, but we had human babies now that needed our money, plus, we were in the midst of our debt payoff. So, she suffered.
 

The day of surgery

 
A month ago, while I was feeding her, I noticed what I thought was gravy in her food dish. It wasn’t gravy. It was blood. LOTS of blood. I called The Hubby first, then the Vet who told us that was unusual, so we needed to bring her in ASAP.
I loaded the kids and Sophie into the van (Soph in a crate in case she started bleeding again), and we were off. I began preparing the kids to say goodbye to her. 
“She’s had a good life.”
“14 is old for a dog!”
I regaled them with her adoption story. I’m pretty sure they understood none of it.
The vet told us it was likely her teeth. They were black, and rotting out of her mouth. Sophie had lost 8 lbs since her last vet visit in August. She looked sucked up and old. 
She was dying. Not because of a tumor. Not because her heart was failing. She was dying because we had neglected her. 
Ouch.
The cost quote was $1700-$2000 for the surgery. 
The Hubby was an immediate YES. I had to pray about it. $2000 was a LOT of money to spend “hopefully fixing” a 14-year old dog! 
I thought back to my dog, Annabelle, a Standard Poodle, I got when I was Little’s age (3). I loved her until she began to stink. It wasn’t until I came home one day after high school to my dad leading her to the car. I touched her for the first time in 5 years as I hugged her goodbye.
Did Annabelle stink because she was old? Or had we neglected her too? I don’t remember brushing her teeth, or taking her in for yearly shots. I do know her back legs were giving out, but non-functioning legs don’t equal stink.
And then I thought of my kids. Do I want them to love an animal for a season and just put them to pasture when it’s not convenient anymore? 
NO.
I told The Hubby my answer was YES, but that I wouldn’t let Sophie eat through our emergency fund out of guilt. 
It’s been almost 3 weeks since Sophie had 12 teeth surgergically removed and she is like a new dog.
I don’t say that lightly. 
 

Thoroughly enjoying 1:1 scratches on the way to get stitches out.

 
She is playful, gaining weight, and happy. I nuzzle into her soft fur, pull on her long ears the way I used to, and suck in the sweet dog smell. She’s stopped the incessant licking (probably irritating to her because she was licking with a diseased tongue!) and her fur is shiny, not oily, as it had been. When I took her to get her stitches out, she even rested her face on the open window frame. I think the pain of the air on her teeth made her avoid such a simple enjoyment.
  
I took a bit of slack for spending $2000 on a 14-year old dog, but I felt fortunate that we had an emergency fund in place, and this was NOT a painful financial pinch. It was a choice we were presented with and felt well-equipped to be able to make the decision with discernment.
“The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” ~Proverbs 12:10

Mom, I See You.

Each Christmas, my sister and I would rip through our gifts:

PJs, check!
Books, check!
Toothbrush in the stocking, check!
A toy, check!
Clothes, check!
We’d rip through them, but really, it was the “Daddy Present” that took the cake. It was (and often still is) an extravagant gift: a new bike, a computer, a DSLR. 
Christmas dinner would come. We’d sit down for a fancy schmancy dinner, a multi-step main course being excitedly researched and prepared by my dad. We enjoyed some stellar works of art, and some not-so-great masterpieces (*ahem* salt crusted somethingorother). Always from scratch, with the highest quality ingredients.
Come New Years, if my parents went to a party to celebrate, it was with my dad’s connections. He’s a great party-goer, always good for a joke, a killer drink, and sometimes a little ditty about Paddy’s recent accident or a prize-winning Scotsman.
Mom, I see you.
 On Christmas, I see the thoughtfulness, the consistency, the useful nature of your gifts. You spent months, shopping sales and having us on your heart while spoiling us with your dedication to us.
I also see the sweaters you bought for me when I was cold. I see the shoes you bought when I ruined my other ones from dragging them while riding my bike. I see the pants, the hair ties, the diorama material…
Mom, I see you.
At Christmas dinner, I see you grocery shopping in a madhouse to buy the green beans, the potatoes, and the dinner rolls. I see you clean the kitchen, I see you peeling the potatoes and snapping the green beans. 
I also see the meals you made me every day that doesn’t have a Hallmark Card for it. I see you spending your time menu planning, grocery list making, and shopping.
Mom, I see you.
I see you being the one the jokes, the drinks, and the telling of Paddy’s tale of woe is practiced on. I see you being there, always by our sides, loving, supporting, and being a constant. I see you smiling, even when you think we can’t see you.
Mom, I see you.
And I love you. 
Happy Mother’s Day.