|July 31, 2015||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Pup culture, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Videos|
On a blue moon eve, we’re relishing life’s sweetness.
In the midst of rapid-fire, life-altering, all-good changes for Rusty & I, one thing remains a constant: change itself. Perhaps counterintuitively, that is what makes life oh-so-sweet.
Because only change is certain, mindfulness is essential.
Gazing at the moon, I know the now is everything. In the now, be present, be grateful, and let go. Let go of what’s past, what’s not yours to control. Don’t cling to what’s bound to change. Ultimately, mindfulness creates happiness in the face of chaos.
Last month I briefly tuned into
news chaos after a self-imposed grey-out.
I had enjoyed a creatively productive morning, solving problems in my head (writing ideas, organizational solutions, meal planning & laying out my week’s agenda). Then, seeking a break, I plugged in & immediately became less positively productive. I made the mistake of perusing media, which I’d intentionally avoided for the past week. Suddenly: prison-break killers loose in NY; another Bush political ad (the drumbeat begins); a raccoon apocalyptically rides an alligator (because Florida); shark attacks; escaped Georgian zoo animals; & a flooding-likely tropical storm in the Gulf. Now, I questioned: I care, BUT, do I need any of this noisy info? Simply, no.
In a blink, none of that din matters in my life. But this moment did:
Last week, a tall friend rescued a distressed hummingbird from my patio skylight. It was an exercise in gratitude. I was thankful for his help, as was, I believe, the hummingbird. Later in the day, my friend randomly & sincerely said, as though he was a boy describing magic, “I got to hold a hummingbird this morning.” I hadn’t even thought about it that way. What a gift to us all.
Shift gears to get to the sweet stuff, which sustains & surrounds us more than chaos.
It’s in the hummingbird’s beauty & flight to freedom. It’s in the rewardable moment when a jumping puppy fleetingly has four paws on the floor. And it’s in life’s happy accidents. (Accidents? I don’t believe in them. They are our teachers: serendipities the Universe wants us to see.)
Rusty & I had a sweet, serendipitous kitchen moment.
As I inhaled a garlic bagel smothered in cream cheese, topped with dill, capers & smoked salmon – I noticed Rusty’s stare. Say what you will, I was under poodle mind control. I covered some cantaloupe with smoked salmon (just a bit ‘cuz it’s salty, but safely cooked) and shared the bounty with my foodie fido. On a rushed morning, together, we created a blissful, in-the moment, savory summery-snack.
Rusty’s always been a canine cantaloupe connoisseur:
So, silently reflect on tonight’s moon.
There’s wisdom in that silence. A blue moon is about setting clear intentions. My suggestion: Take 10 minutes to aim for mindfulness. Marvel at the moon as you howl with Pup. Last full moon, Rusty & I tipped our heads back & let it rip. Soon, the neighborhood’s pooches joined our chorus. It was magical.
Intentions are powerful.
Set them thoughtfully, positively. Send them sweetly, heartfeltly. Choose an intention of daily mindfulness. With practice, your mindset will shift to one blessed with spontaneity, creativity, appreciation, self-knowledge & happiness. What a lovely, wondrous starting point in a blue moon – a savor-worthy summer event.
What are you waiting for? Get your howl on! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
- “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” ~Oscar Wilde
- “If you’re trying to find out what comes next, turn off everything you own that has an OFF switch and listen.” ~Ann Patchett
- “When you wait, you get very clear on what you desire and how much you want it. And when you get clear on what you really want, you can manifest anything.” ~Lissa Rankin
- “An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.” ~Goi Nasu
- “Intentions are powerful. Set them thoughtfully, positively. Send them sweetly, heartfeltly.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Because only change is certain, mindfulness is essential.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “There’s wisdom in the silence.” ~Ruth Hagen
©2015 The Soulful Pet
|May 30, 2015||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Music, Pup culture, Rusty's place, Seasonal, Videos|
Ahhroo! We’re back!
Mom & I are havin’ a howlin’-good time.
It’s our favorite season, filled with sun, song, fun & friends.
My buddies, Molly & Elliott, are hangin’ with me while Mom preps for her big news.
(More to come on that soon; I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Shhh! But seriously, how long can a poodle chill with news like this?)
In the meantime, I highly recommend that you grab your howl-worthy friends, dawgs or bipeds, and sing in the season with me, pooches!
Don’t tell Mom, but I caught her howlin’ to this one. BOL.
“Louder! Sing!” C’mon…… join us! ~Rusty~
A note from Ruth:
I’m a confessed, shameless car dancer & singer.
Rusty knows he can’t bust me for doing my thing. So, how do you do you? How are you & your pets celebrating the season & soaking up the sun? What’s your fave song to howl to? (You have howled with your pup, right?) We recommend the chorus of No Doubt’s “Sweet Escape”.
Go ahead. We won’t judge. xo ~Ruth (& Rusty)~
“Just do your thing and sing!” ~Ruth Hagen
“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” ~Ella Fitzgerald
©2015 The Soulful Pet
|February 16, 2015||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle|
Today’s not just any day. Today’s my birthday.
While I’m not opposed to telling you the number, I won’t for an unlikely reason. I don’t see age anymore. I see souls. It’s a gift – a lovely thing, really. It’s a bit like looking at Rusty and seeing his whole being, rather than just a dog or just a poodle. Moving forward in my life and my career, I know I will share this soul-seeing gift with others.
When my husband of 25 years left me last year, it shook me awake.
My intuition stepped up and spoke up. She guided me, cared for me & saved me. In my awakening, I chose happiness, released my inner writer, and realized my empathic & intuitive gifts. I am finally embracing these gifts for what they are. They’re not “skills” (as I was once told by someone who didn’t get me) or “curses” (as if I’m somehow lesser for them). I’m so happy to share them now, the keys to my soul’s calling. Knowing that is the best present a girl can get!
This week, Helen, a dear friend of my mother’s, died.
Helen was amazing. She marched to her own drumbeat, not caring who thought what of her. The world needs more chicks like that. She was a fiercely independent spirit. She shrugged off her pain, but spoke from her heart. And she expected you to speak from your heart if she let you into her world. That was the gift she gave me; she let me in. She insisted that if I visited my parents I should visit her. The gritty girl talk between Helen, my mom & I was memorably priceless. When Helen found out about my divorce, she did not pity me. Instead, she spoke to my soul: “Get out there. Don’t close yourself in. You’re too special to not share with the world.” I had my marching orders…..
So today I celebrate. I am ageless. I am reborn.
I will love fearlessly, I will write fearlessly and I will live fearlessly.
And my life will be unapologetically beautiful for it. This is not selfish; this is necessary, like breathing. This life celebration is what Helen was talking about.
My true celebration began the day my divorce became final.
That is not spiteful; it’s joyful. On that day, this “poem” flowed out of me:
“Today, I celebrate.” ~Ruth Hagen
Today, I celebrate freedom. Freedom to be myself, freedom to evolve into my best self. My soul’s freedom.
Today, I celebrate love. Love for myself and others, human & animal.
Today, I celebrate my truth. Truth that I speak, truth that I write, truth in my work, truth in my heart.
Today I celebrate kindness. Kindness extended to me by others & kindness I live to return.
Today I celebrate my essence. My essence is not broken or flawed; she is lovely. My essence is empathic, intuitive, honest, spiritual, peaceful, grateful, playful, irreverent, quirky-geeky, joyful, uncensored & loving.
Today, I celebrate. Today, I am single. Today, I am reborn.
So, dear Helen, this I know is what you wished me. This is what I wish me, too.
Together, I hope we inspire others to see souls, heart speak and find life’s drumbeat. xo ~Ruth~
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~Buddha
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” ~Mary Oliver
©2015 The Soulful Pet
|January 20, 2015||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
So. Let’s take the pulse of your year thus far, shall we?
Resolutions not-so-much? Whining & we’re only weeks into 2015? Right, that’s because you ran that rat race straight into the resolution mousetrap. Have no fear, overwhelmed whiskered-one. There’s a way out – if you’re open to it.
I have a devilishly long 2015 to-do list.
Believe me, I’m the type of gal who would/should, to my mind, accomplish everything by 1/2. Notice I didn’t say “could”. ‘Cuz I can’t…. and neither can you.
Here’s what we can do: Rewrite the rules.
Yep, new rules for the new year. They’re not complicated, they’re cheap & they payoff in spades. Best part: Break ’em & shake ’em if ya wanna!
I’m not a dictator, not even a benevolent one.
I won’t write rules for you. But I will tell you what Rusty & I came up with so far. It’s an evolving list, as it should be. We all evolve (Darwin!): body, mind & soul. To quote Mary Matalin: “Inflexible minds are boring minds.” Boring is not on this list, so flexible we shall be!
Ruth & Rusty’s “Happy Now & Here” Rules:
- No resolutions – ever. See? Easy.
- Always do a twofer. Whenever you can, double up. Buy 2 tickets to a show instead of one. Match a friend to the entertainment & take them. Buy 2 bags of pet food. Donate one to a shelter or give it to a neighbor in need. Make 2 batches of yummies & give one away. (See below for a very shareable recipe!) Buy a sandwich @ the deli, & treat the person behind you to one, too. Bring your trashcan in, and heck, drag the neighbor’s in, too. Got it?
- Take a vacation in your hometown. And talk to people. Learn their names. Take your dog; you’re guaranteed to see things through his nose/eyes you hadn’t noticed before. Convos are randomly uber-easy with Pup nearby, as you know. I find it fascinating how delightfully open folks are around animals. No Fido, & Fluffy just won’t play that? Be a solo tourist; ask people where they like to eat, drink, hike, or hang with art & books. Really listen to their tips and actually go do what they recommend. It’s the best. (Trust me, introverts. You can do it.)
- Purge with purpose. Right, I did it today. I filled & delivered 3 purpose-filled bags: donation, consignment & reuse. In the past, Rusty’s purged unused toys. He doesn’t miss them, but his pals love them. I wholeheartedly believe that less clutter in your space is less clutter in your mind & soul. Besides, Rusty just has too many toys. (Shhh….)
- Choose happiness. If you follow TSP, you know this choice is big. It changed my life. My first week of 2015 was a downer. But I brought it back to happy asap. How? I connect with friends & family I love, who truly love me back. I ask for help. I create beauty. I play with Rusty. (Get on the floor & play with your pet; it’s a whole other world down there!) I exercise, eat well, love with all my heart, sing, dance, bake, sip wine, hug, laugh, & smile with my eyes. I’m curious by nature. I consult Reiki masters, shamans, energy healers, Buddhists & yogis. I read everything. If it lights my soul up, sign me up. What lights your soul up?
Five easy things. Do them simply & sweetly, as often as you like.
Be kind to yourself & others in the process. Do not judge your progress or count how many you’ve done. Do not judge others by their response or count what you receive in return. Just be. Just do. Find yourself & your bliss in the being, doing, giving & receiving of each moment.
Speaking of giveable yummies, try this ridiculously easy recipe.
Each batch is an individual serving that’s frozen. When you’re ready, pop as many servings as you like into the oven and roast away! You can share it with your pets (no garlic or onions, please). Or deliver packaged portions to a friend who’s going through a tough time. Or invite a friend over for an impromptu home-cooked meal.
Ruth’s Rosemary-Mustard Roasted Chicken & Veggies
Ingredients (use organic when you can)
1 lb new potatoes, quartered
2 carrots, peeled & cut into 2-inch sticks
2 medium zucchini, cut into 2-inch sticks
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
course sea salt & pepper
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 1-quart resealable plastic freezer bags
In a large bowl, combine prepped veggies. Stir in 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 1/2 Tbs mustard, 1/2 tsp sea salt & 1/4 tsp pepper. Separately, season the chicken with ground sea salt & pepper, to taste. Divide veggie mix and chicken among the 4 bags. Add 1/2 rosemary sprig to each bag & seal. Freeze, until ready to cook, for up to 3 months. Each bag is one serving. (This cooks best from frozen, so get your chill on!)
To cook: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Empty bag(s) into a baking dish. Roast for 25 minutes. Stir veggies & flip chicken. Roast 20-25 minutes more, occasionally stirring veggies, until chicken is cooked through. Remove the rosemary sprigs & plate up the goodness!
(Rusty chowed on bits of veg & chicken from this dish. If I were making him his own bag, however, I’d leave out the salt & pepper. I’d replace the 1/2 rosemary sprig with 1 Tbs chopped, fresh parsley, mixed into the veggies.)
~Lovingly lifted & tweaked from Real Simple~
Wait…. this just in: Rusty said, “That’s a twofer you can drool fer!” You were expecting Shakespeare? He’s a poodle, peeps. He’s a poodle.
Happy Now & Here! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2015 The Soulful Pet
|November 5, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Soul food, Uncategorized|
Where have we been?
Traveling; spiritual journeying (me – I don’t know about Rusty); spending time with family, friends & nature; and eating well. We’ve collected wonderful memories & stories along the way. Here’s a taste….
I hate airports & planes.
It’s not a fear of flying. It’s the impersonal, cattle-herding, soul-sucking nature of the airport that wears me out like the flu. Once boarded, I find myself praying not for the plane to remain intact for the duration, but for my seatmate to not be an escaped lunatic. Truly, being trapped with insanity or Chatty Kathy is my nightmare in the air. Folks ask me why I don’t take Rusty. I wonder why on Earth he’d enjoy it anymore than I do? I think he prefers to stay on terra firma, curled up in a biped’s bed. I get that.
I confess, I used my miles to fly first class on my last trip.
I’m a solo-flying newbie, so comfort eases my stress. A good friend urged me not to use my miles to fly domestically. She wants me to see the world; I want that, too. But a girl has got to get comfy flying alone first; the world will wait.
Fast forward to boarding.
I finished a text while praying to the plane gods that the seat next to me would stay empty. Suddenly, a cheery voice said, “Well, hello there!” I looked up and saw an open, genuine, happy soul smiling with his eyes. Immediately, I was relieved. This would be a terrific flight. We toasted, laughed & chatted the entire trip. We anti-smalltalked about life’s twists & turns, family, work, dreams, goals – it was effortless & meaningful. If I dozed off, he greeted my awakenings with, “So, d’ya have a good nap? Want anything?” I thanked the plane gods several times that flight. Lovely, lovely guy.
The return flight was completely different.
I sat beside Mr. Gadget. Despite my polite efforts to catch his eye to @ least greet him, he plugged in & tuned out from the start. I’m not judging; who’s to say that he wasn’t using his own social/emotional crutches? Clearly, the rule was no talking. Faced with a bad movie, not being tired enough to sleep & cracking a new book open – I chose none. Instead, I opted to spend 6 hours on a plane with no tech, no books, no movies, no talking. A few naps. Lots of internal chatter about where my life is going, why some I loved have left it, if I can make a go of my dreams, & if others will hop on board with my visions. Daunting stuff, that. As I watched clouds, lightning & snow covered peaks go by, I finally heard my intuition speak. (That girl needs silence, no way around it.) She said, “Continue to find inner peace & happiness.” Sigh. So simple, yet it’s everything. This writer & awakening healer needs to listen in the silence. We all do.
Rusty & I celebrated our reunion with a kitchen concoction. It’s basic, ‘cuz after a trip I usually only have pantry basics. And, I’m usually too dog-tired to slog to the grocery store. So this happened:
Ruth & Rusty’s Simple Smoothie
Ingredients (use organic when you can)
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1 frozen banana, sliced
1/2 cup non-fat milk
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla
Puree in a blender until smooth & serve asap. I drink mine from a glass. Rusty prefers his served on a saucer, topped with some oats & a dash of cinnamon. Really, he does. He refused it otherwise.
~Tweaked a tad from Martha Stewart~
Here’s the thing: finding inner peace & happiness is an inside job.
You can’t rely on someone or some place or some time to make you happy. Period. Look inward. Yes, it’s scary. Who cares? Just do it. Those negative thoughts & voices you hear in the silence? They’re not you. Not the real you. The real you is love & gratitude. So any voices who talk smack about you like you couldn’t imagine talking to a loved one…let them go. That’s your gremliny brain prattling on with hurtful nonsense. Notice those thoughts, and watch them pass by like the scenery from a plane’s window. Don’t push them away; that strengthens them. Notice & release. Come back to your grateful heart & breath. This takes daily practice because you’re retraining your brain that’s naturally hardwired for negativity. Think of it as working out your happiness muscle.
Ditch your expectations.
Expectations are created by perceptions. What? Yeah, they’re not real, either. Like the gremlins in your dome, what you think should happen isn’t necessarily best for you. (Gasp! Your ego could be wrong!) If you don’t attach to an outcome, you won’t be hurt if it doesn’t unfold. And, you’ll be able to see the fork in the road offering your better path. You’ll also see the wonders around you for not clinging to a mythical outcome. Clinging causes suffering. Self-imposed suffering stifles happiness. Back to my plane ride: While I thought I didn’t want a seatmate, in each case, the men who sat next to me gifted me. One with connection with another soul, one with connection with my own soul. Be present; be mindful; be happy.
Yep. Big, juicy, nasty shit-storms. Stay strong; weather the turbulence. Take shelter by leaning hard on people who truly love you. Let them help you because they want to help you. Asking for help is strong, not weak. Slog through the gooey, mucky mud puddles with your pals. You must go through it, and you can get through it. But you’re not alone in it. My mama’s fond of saying, “This too shall pass.” And, like a storm, it does. It does, friend. (Oopsie, sorry for the swear words, mum.)
So that’s what happens when I fly solo. Deep freakin’ thoughts – or welcome distractions from delightful peeps. Either way, I’m cool. But I am glad to be back on terra firma with my pal, Rusty.
Convince your mind to follow your heart, and enjoy the ride! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|September 10, 2014||Posted by Ruth under "Wordless" Wednesdays, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Videos|
A quick-witted member of our little FB pack-tribe with a wicked sense of humor
replied with this pic. Mystery solved, girl. I like your style!
Has anyone bothered to ask elephants exactly why they swim? Very philosophical, yes?
For that, I give you Ricky Gervais: philosopher & elephant whisperer extraordinaire!
Hop on over & join our FB pack-tribe. We’ll see you there! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
|September 8, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Rusty's place, Videos|
No dogma here. Fun’s fun. If you’re playin’ I want in!
I want what they’re having! Ahroooo! ~Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|August 4, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Pup culture, Training/Behavior|
It took me two days to realize what was wrong.
My now usually happy self was in a ferocious fog. I couldn’t write, sleep or even motivate myself to meditate or walk Rusty. (Right? That’s a poodle problem of epic proportions.) What had come over me?
This morning I thought back: what happened 2 days ago?
Not much, really. I wrote, puttered in the garden, organized the office, paid some bills, went to dinner with a friend, & cheered her hubby on as he pitched his softball game. Wait a minute…..
I also soaked up some emotional toxins.
I’m still getting the hang of this empath thing. That means that I can still be bombarded by others’ negative emotions if I’m not consciously preventing them from entering my body. It can happen if my guard is down or if I’m distracted. Think of it as catching a cold & showing symptoms upon contact with the cold’s carrier – but with bad vibes instead of sneezes. Sometimes you can pinpoint where you picked up the nasty state of mind (& actually feel it enter your body). Sometimes, when you’re in a crowd, it’s hard to pinpoint its source. In this case, my simple empath-meets-epidemiological assessment is that I was infected two days ago at the game. And I’m sure of the source.
I have a thing for boxers. I always will.
So when the woman appeared by the bleachers with her gorgeous adolescent brindle boxer, I lost track of the game. He was full of boxer spirit & bouncy enthusiasm. Despite that, he was doing very well amongst the cheers, flying balls & dog-taunting kids. His human, however, was blind to his accomplishments. The game went on, and now she & her boxer boy stood directly in front of me, providing me with a front row bleacher view of what was to come.
A man walked past the boxer.
The pup, who had held his adolescent energy together quite admirably for over an hour now, jumped toward the passing man. No aggression, just enthusiasm. The woman became pure ego: she yanked her pup back with 2 hands on the leash & all of her might, yelling @ the top of her lungs, “No!! BAD DOG!!”. I was immediately sickened….and angry….and sad. The game was over for me. “Bad” human.
A green trainer would have busted her butt to get in this woman’s face – asap.
Judging her, threatening her, accusing her of boxer abuse, giving unsolicited training advice, or even handing her a business card for future training – all are possibilities if trainer is Ego, too. While I was a green-around-the-gills witness, I know better. A human saving face, running on adrenaline & ego, is not a training moment. It’s a hot mess waiting to happen. Approaching her was out of the question. (Don’t get me wrong: if you see abuse, say something. This was merely bad training, in the public’s eye.) I was grateful that her dog was on a flat collar, but forceful leash corrections on any collar can cause irreversible damage to trachea, thyroid, nervous system & skeletal structure. I watched as her excruciatingly successful negative conditioning caused her sweet boxer to later go hackles up & lip lick as the same man passed by. But hey, he didn’t jump – so she looked good, right? So wrong. Someday, she’ll wonder why her dog snaps at passing men “without warning” while on leash with her.
So I traced my funk back to this fido fiasco.
Now what? I’m left with questions about my integrity, the dog’s well being & her ignorance. What should I do if I encounter her or a version of her again? What’s kind & compassionate? What will her dog benefit from? It’s simple: positive reinforcement. Just as she should have noticed & rewarded her pup’s 95%-stellar teenage behavior to reduce rambunctiousness, I will notice & complement brilliant pet guardians. Perhaps if I had approached this woman as her dog peacefully sat by her, connecting with them via complements, this incident wouldn’t have happened. At least not @ that game directly in front of me. Perhaps. It’s worth a try.
Now, what if the “bad”-human aggression is directed @ you?
That’s harder, isn’t it? For an empath, it’s brutal – especially if it blindsides you. My recent experience with it felt like a knife going into my ribs. It took me 3 days to get over the flu-like symptoms its toxins caused me. That was 3 too many. I turned to a Buddhist tale for this funk fix:
One day Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up to him and began insulting him. “You have no right to be teaching others!!!”, he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake.” Buddha was not upset by these insults. He just smiled. The man insulted him again and again, but the only reaction he could get back from the Buddha was a smile and silence. Finally, he stomped his feet and left cursing.
The disciples were feeling angry, and one of them couldn’t keep quiet and asked the Buddha, “Why didn’t you reply to the rude man?” The Buddha replied, “If someone offers you a gift and you refuse to accept it, to whom does the gift belong?” “Of course to the person who brought the gift,” replied the disciple. “That is correct,” smiled the Buddha.
You certainly don’t have to be an empath to be negatively affected by funky “bad”-human toxins.
Keep a few fixes in mind to keep inner & outer peace. First, realize that just as the boxer was not a “bad” dog, most people are not “bad” humans. Second, be compassionate. “Bad” human drama usually has an underlying cause, just as dog aggression is usually fear-based. What is going on in that person’s life that caused their behavior? By asking that question, you are not condoning or accepting their toxic “gift”. You are merely understanding. Understanding & compassion are the best anti-toxins going.
I feel much better now. How about you? xo ~Ruth…. & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|July 11, 2014||Posted by Ruth under "Wordless" Wednesdays, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Rusty's place|