Sunday, October 30, 2011

Attitude Determines Altitude

When you wake up in the morning what are your first thoughts? Do you groan, roll over, and just pray for more sleep? Do you jump out of bed, embracing the new day and all of it's opportunities and sing "Oh what a Beautiful Morning" to your children as you throw open their bedroom doors? (Oh wait, no one on earth does that other than my father????) Or is it a mixture? Do you groan, roll over, and then think of everything you have to do and calculate the time needed to do them? I'm normally in the latter of those camps. Once I'm awake, I can pray, wish, and try for more sleep but the list that is constantly running and being revised and reviewed in my mind is on auto-start and there's no turning it off. In fact, as my mind goes through this mental list, I begin getting exhausted just thinking about getting it all completed. Today was quite refreshing. I woke up and there was only one thing on my mental to do list. I have added a few more since getting up, but to only have one thought of something to do for the day upon waking up was good. My thought was, "I bet we have time to go to the gym today." That may seem like an odd thought to have upon waking up, but I can't help what my first thoughts are...they just are there....that's all.

I'm excited because I've started running again. I know that I have mentioned my issues with running, the mental block I have had about it in past posts. It has taken some time to believe that yes, I can do this. When I first start running, I always think that death is fast approaching, but as I get into my stride (about 5 minutes in) I feel like I can take on anything. When I finish the run I feel like I've climbed Mt Everest. It's an amazing and wonderful feeling. Not to mention, the health and diet benefits that it offers.

It's fall in Michigan. We had our first hard frost yesterday and this morning it was 26 degrees when I woke. This will be my fourth winter here and I can honestly say, that even though there are reports of it being even more bitterly cold this year and that there will be more snow than usual, I'm not dreading it as I have every other year. I'm accepting it as part of what life here is all about. Every other year I have sunk into a depression as summer has faded and fall has quickly moved into winter. This year I'm feeling much better about it and for that I'm grateful.

I've noticed that my attitude truly does determine what I accomplish. Today, I'm going to run and feel as if I've reached the apex of Mt. Everest. And I will embrace this beautiful fall day and enjoy it's beauty and let tomorrow (winter) worry about itself. Attitude determines altitude whether it be 45 minutes on the treadmill or a positive outlook toward winter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How Different Are We?

As I watch our pets interact, it amazes me how much behavior I see in them that is so typical of humans, typically children, but unfortunately, I've seen it in many adults as well....including myself. Lucy has every toy imaginable. Remnants of stuffed animals, pull toys, fetch toys, you name it, she's got it. Blue has a few toys as well. And even though Lucy has every other toy imaginable, all she wants are Blue's toys. Blue has this little stuffed mouse filled with catnip. If Blue is playing with it (and that's the key piece of information) all Lucy wants is that mouse and she will do anything and everything to get to it. If Blue starts playing with a toy that Lucy has left  forgotten in another part of the house, Lucy will immediately forget the toy she was so contentedly playing with and make every effort to take the toy away from Blue.
I firmly believe that car manufacturers were clearly fathers and mothers. Have you ever carefully looked at the back seat of a car?  There are clearly defined borders for each seat. I remember so often sitting in the back with my brother and sister and carefully watching to make sure they didn't cross "the line." Unfortunately, the chair that Lucy and Blue try to share has no division. And so we have issues where they are each trying to push the other out of the chair.
If we give them both a piece of ice. Lucy doesn't care that she has her own piece, she only wants Blue's. Do you remember when we were told to share a piece of something...anything?  Our Dad would have to use precise cutting skills to cut it exactly in half...or thirds...or fourths...depending on how many of us there were at the time. And even though he did everything possible to make them even we strongly suspected that the other sibling had a bigger piece.
It is pretty crazy to witness it in the animal world as well. And in looking at the pictures, don't worry, I broke it up pretty quickly. The crazy thing is, they roughhouse like this all the time. Blue wants it as much as Lucy does.

It starts like this. Notice that Blue is not only sitting on THE chair, but Lucy's toy is also in that chair.     

Then Lucy jump on the chair and starts to try to squeeze Blue out. Yes, the toy is missing because it is impossible to get it all in "one take."

This is way around it.... but suffice it to say, Lucy kept nudging until Blue attacked.

And all out war is declared....all because of the fact that they both wanted to sit in the chair.

And for those of you worried that they didn't survive. Peace was eventually restored.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Products

I am an avid TV watcher. Nate would tell you that I'm an addict, but I prefer the term avid. I'm one of those that will watch the ads and will buy new products hook, line and sinker. Still to this day I drool over this amazing item:

And I will admit that when I go to Kohl's I linger over their "Seen on TV" section for quite awhile. New products get me every time. Except this time. Recently I saw an ad for an automatic soap dispenser.

The commercial claims that people should use this hand soap dispenser because then they don't need to touch the germy  dispenser. Now, as you've seen, I'm pretty gullible. I love automatic things and love new products. However, I find their ad campaign downright ridiculous. Let me explain. Your hands are dirty. You put one finger on the dispenser pump and squirt soap into your hand. You then rub the soap all over your hands, including the finger that has just picked up every germ imaginable from the soap dispenser. You sing "Happy Birthday" loud and proud because you know that you should scrub your hands with the soap for that length of time to kill the germs and then you rinse. You see what I'm saying? No matter what you've just picked up from the dispenser, it's gone after you've washed your hands. I don't get it. You could market it as a cool automatic hand soap dispenser.... that's fine. But to claim that you can keep yourself from touching the germy dispenser seems like a poor ad campaign. Is it just me? Is someone actually getting paid a whole ton o' money for this thing? They claim that you will "never touch a germy soap pump again." My question is, isn't the person that changes out the soap containers going to touch this germy soap pump?
Can someone explain all this to me?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

At the end of September the weather turned cold with highs in the mid 50's. I decided it was time to switch the clothes. This entails taking everything that is "summer attire" and folding it up, putting it in bins, and putting it in the basement along with the box of summer shoes. Um...what I should say is that it entails Nate carrying the bins of winter clothes from the basement so that I can sort and then carry the summer clothes back down to the basement.  So, one weekend that is what I/we did. What happened that Monday? A warming trend in the weather. And for two weeks we had highs near 80 degrees. Now don't get me wrong, I am NOT complaining about warm weather. But, for the first few days I suffered wearing winter attire in this warm weather. Then I saw that they believed it was going to continue for awhile, so I put on my puppy dog face and asked Nate to bring up the bins again. Now I have a bin of shoes and a bin of clothes sitting in the bedroom. I keep grabbing items out of them. Now the weather has turned cold again. I'm in a slight conundrum about whether I (Nate) should take the summer clothes back down to the basement. I don't think Nate will take too kindly to have to do it all over again if there is another warming trend. So, what I've been told is that I should keep out a few outfits so that if there is another time of warm weather, he won't have to lug things back and forth again..... huh! Now why didn't I think of that?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Depression Era Cat

I've come across people, mainly elderly relatives, who kept everything. You probably have too. My Gramma, for instance, kept everything she could in her single wide trailer. My grandfather died when I was 1 and when my gramma died when I was 17, my dad and his siblings had to clean out her home. All of my grandfather's clothes were still a single wide trailer. Stuffed to the gills. I was told that it was because she lived through the depression and never wanted to go through that again, so would hold on to things "just in case." Well, I think Blue might just be kinda like that. Blue is either going to learn to control herself when it comes to food (hmmm..... maybe I should use the same will power with myself that I will use on her!) or she is going to be the fattest cat in the history of the universe. She can not get enough to eat. She wants more and more and more. It's constant. Once she is done with one bowl she wants another. Yesterday I fed her 1/4 can of wet kitten food. She ate that and started meowing as if death from starvation was imminent. I thought, good night, she obviously is hungry! So, I gave her another 1/4. She gobbled that up like she hadn't eaten in days and started begging for more. I ended up feeding her the whole can. She ate that and then wobbled over and started eating Lucy's food. When Lucy came to eat her own food, Blue guarded it as if it was a matter of national security. She took a bit of a breather and then moved on to Buddy's food. She could barely walk by the time she was finished.
Today began Blue's controlled eating plan. She received a 1/4 of a can of kitten food mixed with a whole lot of water. Buddy was fed out in the garage, so that he could eat in peace and actually eat his food today. Lucy was fed dry food, which doesn't hold the same power over Blue as wet does.
I'm wondering if it has something to do with her being a stray and having suffered with hunger when she was really young. I feel like we should have named her Scarlet O'Hara, because I swear, if she could have, she would have stood up on her hind legs, grabbed a fistful of dirt and cried, "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!"
We will have to see how it goes. On the human front, we are no longer eating a gluten free diet.  I have found that any time that I totally remove something from my diet, I overcompensate on what I am allowed. So, not cutting calories at all, in fact, in most instances, increasing the caloric intake. I need to go back to basics, remind myself of my own blog post, and start crackalackin'!

PS: It's hard not to have the focus of the blog be the animals when this is the view while I'm writing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Be Careful What You Pray For

When I taught, I was always able to tell when a student was lying. Other than the obvious signs of: no eye contact, fidgety behavior, eyes looking off to the right (or is it to the left), there was the story itself. When you teach middle school it's always amazing how a lie grows. As I would, with one eyebrow raised, listen to their excuse for anything, they would begin to embellish their story with "and thens." And THEN, the dog ate my homework. And THEN, he ran away when I tried to chase him down.... you get the idea.  Well, what I want to know is when did my life...the real life I am living, live itself out with "and thens????"

My true life, no embellishment necessary tale begins on Monday. Monday was the day I took Blue in to be spayed and get her shots. I had made the appointment two weeks before. Blue and I dropped Nate off to work and then drove to the vet to get in on their "October Spay/Neuter just $55" Special.  I was under a time constraint because I needed to drop her off and then get back across town to work, so efficiency was of the utmost importance. I walked in with Blue to meet a very unsmiling person behind the desk who asked, "are you here for surgery?"
Yes. (Remember short and sweet. Time is of the essence.)
Have you filled out your paperwork already?
No, I haven't.
You need to leave your cat in the car until you fill out the paperwork. 
Excuse me?
Leave your animal in the car, then come in and fill out your paperwork, then go get the cat.
SIGH (yes, it was a very big, very loud sigh. So, I took Blue back out to the car wogged (walk/jog) back into the vet and began to fill out the paperwork. Unfortunately, I had questions. So, I went back up to the counter to my arch nemesis, the woman behind the counter. and said, "I have some questions." She arched her eyebrows and blinked. You know the look I mean? The one that communicates, "you are annoying me to no end woman and yet I cannot say that out loud. So, I will say it with my facial expression. Now, ask your question."
I don't know how old our kitten is. She's a stray and we've decided to adopt her. (I guess I did probably expect that little tidbit to melt the annoyed behavior right out of the woman, but instead it caused h
er to roll her eyes. At this point, I will admit that after the eye roll, my attitude began to reflect hers more and more.)
We can look at her teeth to determine how old she is.
Yes, but, you are asking me if I want her to get the rabies shot, and I don't know if she's old enough. You want me to sign off on whether I want the shot and I just don't know.
We won't give it to her if she's not old enough.
Ok. Thanks.
I finished the paperwork and went up to the front. There was now a line. I waited patiently for my turn (I may have tapped my foot a little....and there wasn't any music playing.... so I wasn't communicating that I could keep time...more like, I have NO time left for this!). I finally make my way to the front of the line.
We don't do cats on Mondays.
We don't do cats on Mondays. I guess I could have told you before.
I don't understand.
We only spay/neuter dogs on Mondays. You'll need to come back tomorrow.
But my appointment is today.
No, it is tomorrow. Come back tomorrow. Next?
Seething might be the appropriate word to describe how I felt inside. I now had to take Blue back home which is in the opposite direction of work AND THEN, I couldn't just drop her off, I had to feed her, as she hadn't eaten in preparation for surgery. I did all of this realizing that all it had been was a dress rehearsal for the next day.
On Tuesday, October 4th, I took Blue back to the vet and I walked in. It wasn't too surprising to me that the lady didn't ask who I was or why I was there. She calmly picked up my paperwork from the day before and asked if I wanted the same shots as yesterday. I said, "yes, as long as she's old enough for the rabies, that's fine."
When I picked Blue up that evening I was given two "make sures"
Make sure that Blue does not lick at the incision. Cats don't normally lick at the incision site like dogs do, but if she does, give us a call. We're here until 7:00. (at that time it was 5:20). You'll be in a world of hurt if she licks away the glue holding her incision together. AND make sure that she goes to the bathroom.
My thoughts were pretty simple. First of all, how do you make a cat go to the bathroom? AND, what happens if Blue starts licking after 7:00???? But, I kept my mouth shut, cheerily said, "have a great evening!" and got Blue and I out of there. I probably should have asked my questions...
Because, at 7:05, Blue started licking at her incision. Nate and I did our best to distract her and entertain her but that can only last so long. We attempted to make a cone for Blue. We made one out of cardstock. It was too small. I had the idea to use the lid of an empty Cool Whip container that was now in the recycle bin at the end of the driveway. At this point, you must know, it was 10:45 pm. We were both exhausted. All I wanted to do was crawl into a corner and start sucking my thumb because I learned very early in life (in utero, to be exact), thumbsucking does make all things better. Nate decided to bring the recycle bin up to the house in the attempt of looking somewhat natural in rummaging through it instead of going through it at the edge of the driveway. He opened the garage door for light and that's when, he realized that Buddy had been out in the garage. Buddy took off like a shot. Nate came running into the house looking for a flashlight because, of course, Buddy is black and there's no way we were going to find him without one. And of course, none of our flashlights were easily accessible nor did any of them have working batteries. So, as the flashlights are being tried and batteries are flying, I'm trying to keep Blue from licking at her incision. Nate caught Buddy and brought in the cool whip container for it to promptly fail about 20 minutes into the wearing of it. I was beyond tired and we just prayed that Blue wouldn't lick away all the glue by morning. I tried to sleep with my hand over Blue's incision.... that worked for all of about 42.5 seconds. The next day, a trip to Petco allowed us some much needed rest because Blue now has a cone. When we first put it on her, we put her in Lucy's crate so that we could see if she was able to remove it. Thankfully, it stayed put!

I have been praying that I would be more like Jesus. I want to honor Him in what I say and do and in my attitude. I think I failed on this day, but I know that there's always tomorrow...and a whole lot of other opportunities await! I don't know whether I feel very thankful for that or not.... right now, I'm exhausted!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Praise God for a New Day!

Yesterday I didn't live in such a way that people would automatically know that I am a Christian. I gossiped, I displayed a negative attitude, I lacked self control, I got angry and then acted on that anger and hurt those closest to me. Yesterday was a bad day.
I'm reading Steven Furtick's book Sun Stand Still. It is about how Joshua, a mighty man of faith in the Old Testament, prayed that the sun would stand still so the Israelites could continue fighting the battle that God had sent them to fight and God answered his prayer and stopped the sun from moving. That's an awesome miracle that God did for Joshua. What a great story from the Bible. But what I forget a lot of times is that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and therefore, if Joshua could pray such an audacious prayer according to God's will and have it happen, so can I. I have been wondering what my "sun stand still" prayer should be and I realized what it is early this morning. I woke up very early and was overcome with guilt over my attitude and actions of yesterday and I know that things need to change. And I know that all the self help books and all the human efforts on my part will be in vain for my battle is not against flesh and blood but it is a spiritual battle.
I prayed before I had my time of Bible reading and I just asked God for forgiveness and clarity and that He would open my mind to what He wanted me to learn. And then I turned to where I am reading right now and started reading these words in 2 Timothy 3:
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
This honestly describes my behavior and thought pattern of yesterday. And I believe and know without any doubt that as a believer in Jesus Christ, that is NOT who I am. With Christ living in me, I am to be committed to "no longer conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind." (Rom. 12:2)
2 Timothy goes on to say this: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
My Sun Stand Still prayer is that God would renew my mind and that I would be open to the Holy Spirit's continued cleaning and purifying of my heart so that with each new day, I am living more and more in line with Who my Master is. And that I would no longer live according to the pattern of this world, but live a life that glorifies my Heavenly Father. That is my sun stand still prayer.
I'm sure there are a lot of people that would never share such a thing because what if it doesn't happen. the thing is, I know it will. My God does not want me to live according to my sinful nature. I will screw up often. But I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)