|November 11, 2017||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Intuition, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Science and soul, Seasonal, Training/Behavior|
I’m up way too early writing this this morning. But I’m inspired and cozy as I work.
It’s 330 am, and I’m curled up on the couch by the now-comforting fireplace’s glow. I’m flanked by dogs on both sides, their soft, warm bodies pressed against me, as I sip coffee, reflecting on recent events. I am overwhelmed with what matters most in life: gratitude, love, community, trust & kindness.
I have my house; it didn’t burn down.
Rusty, my miniature poodle friend, is curled up on my left, comfy & safe. Finn, a mini goldendoodle, sighs as he presses in even closer against my right side. Finn is visiting Rusty & I for a day – his humans have their house; it didn’t burn down. Finn is dog-tired from being “Uncle Finn” yesterday to a lovely & sweet but perpetual-motion goldendoodle puppy guest, little Bella. Bella’s family doesn’t have their house; it burned down.
It seems distant but realistically, tragically recent that the worst fire in CA history ravaged northern CA counties.
Just 10 days ago, it was announced that all the fires are 100% contained. Our community is eternally grateful to the heroic first responders’ bravery & resilience in the face of an epically terrifying conflagration. We watched in horror & amazement as fire devoured entire neighborhoods, and friends & family ran for their lives. Startled awake in the middle of the night, often by angelic first responders pounding on their doors, people scrambled to evacuate hell on Earth: a blood-red glowing sky, flames lapping darkened landscape nearby, blowing embers & choking-thick black smoke. Families fled for refuge, finding safety in relief centers, friends’ homes and hotels. We were all in deep fear & shock.
Those of us who didn’t need to flee for our lives with just the shirts on our backs & our pets in our arms, quickly packed in case we were next to be evacuated.
The fire was incredibly intense & merciless. It was a searing challenge beyond measure, often driving firefighters to flee its unrelenting advances. The evacuations rolled out as it spread. So many of us were so scared; so many of us left our homes, not knowing if we’d find them standing when we returned. Rusty & I were lucky; friends in safe towns to the west & south of us kindly offered their homes to us. I can’t tell you how comforting that was.
Personally, my bag was packed for a week.
The evacuation zones grew increasingly closer to my home, just a handful of miles to the north and east of me. The closest advisory evacuation line bordered the end of my street, just a quarter mile away. Three times I thought I needed to flee; three times I thought I’d lose my home. It was a week before I could breathe and begin to believe that Rusty & I were safe.
Now our community rebuilds – resiliently.
It’s who were are: Sonoma County strong. Only a few weeks ago, evacuees were allowed to return to their devastated neighborhoods to sift thru ashes. Most of us haven’t yet personally witnessed the complete annihilation of these neighborhoods – aside from images from drones, helicopters, & press photographers. When we do see the singed ghosts of once vibrant communities & beloved, historical landmarks in person, collective shock & sadness will roll through us, renewed. The charred bits I’ve seen so far caused me to gasp & sob in horror yet disbelief. But I know we will prevail; we must.
We are collectively still processing this ever unfolding trauma.
We might tell ourselves that life is back to “normal” as we get groceries, pay bills, take the kids to school, celebrate holidays, and make plans to rebuild. Indeed, we are not in fear for our lives now. But this experience lives in vivid memory in our minds & bodies – as trauma. It is important that we continue to lean on each other to heal, to mentally process events & move the trauma out of our bodies.
So, Sonoma County, how are you – really?
How are your pets – really?
No doubt, we’ve all been traumatized. Science shows that fear and stress are group-think & energetically contagious. We can all feel it in the air, humans & animals, alike. Trauma unfolds its symptoms slowly; it’s not felt completely initially. So this will be a long-haul healing process. Personally, I’m very concerned about our collective well being. Our immune systems are stressed; our psyches are stressed. But I’m optimistic for our community and our group consciousness’ healing capacities.
We are all now much more awake and raw.
And most of us aren’t used to that experience, to those feelings. Self-aware empaths and intutives like myself keenly feel this energetic shift, the community’s angst and fear thick in the air; we are uniquely called to help heal. I believe it is our purpose to help those affected by tragedy to cope, survive & thrive.
Pets, natural empaths & intuitives, feel the shift, too.
So that rawness & openness that feels new to you is familiar to your pets. Animals are experts in being present in the now, so they are better equipped to release trauma. Your pets can help you heal because it comes naturally to them. Now is the time to consciously, collectively heal, while trauma is most potentially transient if given a loving incentive to move on, before stress events take up more permanent residence in your mind & body.
Begin your healing; plug-in to community.
I mean really plug-in: Get personal. Skip the extra-excessive hours on social media. Rather, help and ask for help – in person. Traumas teach us to rely on each other because we don’t have the choice not to. Stoically isolating doesn’t heal; we’re not islands. (Why is it so darn hard for us – myself included – to get comfy with asking for help?) So build a team to lean on. Use the resources available to you, be they medical, psychological, financial, strategic, social or spiritual. They are there, ready when you are. And you are ready. Be there for yourself – now.
Our pets plug-in, without hesitation.
If they want a cookie, they unabashedly ask for one – without shame. Bonus: In giving Fluffy that treat, we gain a positively warm & fuzzy feeling. The healing connection’s a two-way flow: Fido knows when you need a cuddle. We cry; pets instinctively comfort, and we let them comfort.
Learn from your pets. Use their love lessons in your life, privately & in community.
Give and accept giving. Giving & receiving, giving & receiving – and so the cycle is meant to go. And so we are bonded as family and community, humans & animals, alike – by love. In the face of adversity, remember: Love is expanding not contracting, softening not hardening.
♥ I have an idea – a uniquely healing one! ♥
Together, let’s harness the healing power of the bonds we share with our pets. I’m offering “Mutual Healing Sessions“. They are designed to reduce your stress, as well as your pets’. (Stressed pets often exhibit behavioral changes, including aggression; destruction; and depression/anxiety-based behaviors.) If you’re stressed, so are they. Relax yourself, relax them. And vice versa. I combine my 25+ years of experience as a science-based, positive trainer/behaviorist with my empathic and intuitive abilities to help pets and people heal via the power of the bonds they share.
So let’s get together; let the healing begin.
If you & your pets feel just a bit off nowadays, it’s more than understandable. Life stressors are many & cumulative: current culture, politics, tragedy, holiday hustle-bustle, life transitions, etc. Reach out, ask for help. I’m here for you. Our time together will feel like time spent with a friend. Together, we’ll come up with doable, personalized behavioral/wellness plans, drawing on a variety of healing modalities (training, mirroring, mindfulness, meditation, grounding, breathing, intuition) – whatever resonates with you and your pets the most.
Stay open and awake to the healing possibilities, my friends. Let’s do this together!
Sending you all woofs, wags & tons of love!
xo ~Ruth & Rusty
- “In the face of adversity, remember: Love is expanding not contracting, softening not hardening.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Pets are great love conduits; with their guidance we reconnect with each other with ease, without judgement.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” ~Sun Tzu
- “In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.” ~Marianne Williamson
©2017 The Soulful Pet
|January 18, 2017||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Science and soul, Training/Behavior|
2016 was a relentlessly hardcore teacher launching mammoth lessons at us.
Were you paying attention in last year’s class? I was.
Buckle up; this is gonna get personal.
And real. And uncomfy in parts. But that means last year’s lessons hit home – deeply. I accept 2016 as my teacher.
I often joke that since my post-divorce awakening as a writer and an intuitive, I somehow hooked myself to a comet that’s plummeting thru life lessons at a ridiculously head-spinning rate.
Or I’ve caught an epic wave that must be surfed to its fullest. Or both – waves by day, comets by night. Regardless, it’s a master class and I relish it.
I could be ongoingly outraged. We all could.
Hell, we’ve all been politically outraged, haven’t we? But that outrage means the lessons aren’t getting through to us. If we’re right-fighting, we’re not listening, not growing, not learning. So deep breath, and repeat after me: “Puppies & kittens, puppies & kittens, puppies & kittens.” Picture that fluffy cuteness, keep repeating & breathing. Better? Good. Time to chill out and absorb the past year’s lessons.
Here are 6 of my biggest takeaways from 2016 –
about humans, affirmed by animals (my life teachers):
- If a loving relative yells at me, it’s because she’s scared & stressed nearly to death.
She needs my compassion, understanding & stability. It does neither one of us any good if I match her aggression with aggression. Similarly, a fearfully aggressive animal needs you to kindly provide time & space for them to calm. Ultimately, they need your patient guidance through their fears later, when they’ve calmed to a non-defensive learning mode. A fierce response to humans or pets does lasting relationship damage. Don’t go there.
- If a loving friend is occasionally critical or negative, it’s because he’s stressed by his day’s events.
Again, calm compassion. And boundaries. And space and time. (He gifts me these if I’m scared or sad.) He unspokenly needs me to hold a mirror up to him, inspiring self-reflection, returning him to presence. A simple question then silence succeeds: Why are you irritated with me? (I know he’s not, really.) I do the same with irritable cats & dogs: What is not ok for you right now? How can I make you comfy? Growls from otherwise sweet animals require the question: What lies beneath the behavior? Are you sick/scared/painful/stressed? Be safe, but be there to be aware when they answer you. They will answer you. Then get to your vet.
- When life presents challenges – and it always does – they are surmountable.
Rather than obstacles, they are lessons in disguise. I see two perspectives. For legit problems, by definition, if the problem exists then so must its solution. For questionable problems, I apply the “5 by 5” rule: If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t waste 5 minutes of your energy on it today. Just let that shit go. Back to pets: I counsel my clients that obstacles are opportunities. For example: that barking dog behind the fence that your pup can’t pass without transforming into a leashed Tasmanian devil? Be grateful for this conveniently located & safely contained distraction, perfect for positive focus training for Fido. With all challenges, if it seems insurmountable, find a teacher-helper. Just do it.
- Something today might feel like a very bad thing you survived in your past, but it’s not the same.
Step back and evaluate. Is it really the same? Of course not. An example, please? I know a lot of women, myself included, who were badly affected by Trump’s rise to power because it felt too familiar. But he’s not that guy. Remind yourself of that, ladies. He’s just not. He can’t hurt you. You’re fine; you are. An animal example, please? Your new pet is not your last pet. If you were traumatized by the aggression, behavior, illness, etc. of your last pet, please know that this new animal-soul is not that trauma. If your last pet was your soul mate or behavioral perfection, your new furry family member will rise to her own unique potential if you don’t hold her back with unfair comparisons.
- Recognize mismatches and souls whose paths no longer overlap with yours. Let them go.
There is no need to keep someone in your life, even if you could, to the detriment of you both. I now know that a love that was never there to begin with can’t be lost and needn’t be mourned. While I give my heart fully, it is not fodder for others’ toxic whims. That’s where my path must diverge from theirs. It is meant to be that way. I see this play out with pets – as mismatches. A dog who needs time and space to evaluate or escape chaos likely won’t be his best with a hectic, uber-social, on-the-go family. A person who craves & insists on a cuddle-buddy cat is not best paired with a fleetingly affectionate, independent feline. Don’t insist on square peg-round holing it through life. It’s not good for anyone involved. Admit it doesn’t fit and move on. It’s a mismatch, not a failure. Letting a soul’s path diverge from yours gives them the gift to find their better fit. There are perfect matches to be found for all of us. And, it’s likely that your mismatched encounter was necessary to put you both on separate paths to better-suited, destined companions.
With that, I enthusiastically ride the waves & comets into 2017.
I am grateful for 2016’s cosmic lessons. While teachers are often cleverly, even cruelly, disguised, they are placed in our paths because our souls need their lessons. Don’t be outraged; be a life student. Always ask: What can I learn from this? How can I grow from this? Then listen. Really listen. As you studiously wait, apply compassion, kindness & empathy. Then your truest answers will come….
If 2016 was The Teacher, I believe we should put our hard-learned skills to work this year.
In 2017, let’s become The Listeners. (To be continued in my next post…..)
So what did you learn last year about yourself, fellow humans or your pets?
Who was a powerful teacher-helper for you last year? How will your lessons help you this new year? Please share; there’s strength in learning together. Go ahead, get political if you want. But be kind, constructive & inspirational while you’re at it. Remember, you’re somebody’s teacher, too. xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
Words with wisdom:
- “Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” ~Buddha
- “Remember, you’re somebody’s teacher, too.” ~Ruth Hagen
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” ~Anthony J. D’Angelo
“Change is the end result of all true learning.” ~Leo Buscaglia
“I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences… I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else.” ~Queen Latifah
- “Today, I find calm clarity. I am inspired despite the election. I choose happiness (not naivety, not helplessness). I choose a path of love & light.” ~Ruth Hagen, on her FB writer’s page
- “A fierce response to humans or pets does lasting relationship damage.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Don’t be outraged; be a life student.” ~Ruth Hagen
“I take all of my life lessons, which some people might call ‘mistakes’, and apply them to my future so that I keep growing.” ~Kimberly Caldwell
- “When you get older, you learn certain life lessons. You apply that wisdom, and suddenly you say, “Hey, I’ve got a new lease on this thing. So let’s go!” ~Robert Redford
©2017 The Soulful Pet
|August 24, 2016||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Seasonal, Training/Behavior, Videos|
I’m impatient…. with myself… bigtime.
I have infinite patience with people and animals. Well, almost infinite – as long as my empathic-introverted need for solitude & stillness is regularly refilled.
Today, I wrestled with the potential horror that the quicksandy feeling of writer’s block would never end.
My mind’s impatient insistence that the-now-is-forever is a slippery slope. The ride down that slide careens through glass-half-empty territory. And within minutes, my writer’s block is a concrete amalgamation filled with angsty issues….
Currently, my yard is an active volcanic system of mole holes.
It’s my first foyer into battle with these critters. Initially, I wanted to be humane: shoo them along in a live-and-let-live NIMBY kinda way. I even had a sense of humor about it: As I savored a glass of wine under my redwoods one night, both back legs of my chair sank completely into mole tunnels. I calmly poured another glass & laughingly said, “Call me Alice.” But now, I’m mole-iciously murderous. Done. Outta here. So the Mole-y War (will I win it? can I end it yesterday?) swirls together with my writer’s block. There’s more in the mix….
I spent spring in PA helping my mom as best I could with my dad, who’s critically ill.
I put my life (my business, my sweet S.O., Rusty, etc.) on hold – because it’s the right thing to do. I love my parents & I wouldn’t have it any other way. Today, it’s hard to be across the country from them as I pick up my life again. So add that to the thickening mix, as well….
And, I’m bravely-not-so-bravely rolling out a new business – which includes brand new services & new approaches to existing services.
Plus, I have books to write! Great, right? Yes, to be sure, it’s exciting! But my methods have changed, and change is unnerving. (I’m confident in my well-honed process, but how will it be perceived?) I’m following my calling to combine science & soul to enhance the lives of both humans and animals via the bonds they share. It’s groundbreaking, it’s new and it’s bound to ruffle some feathers in the training community. In order to do it, I have to write about it. (How am I doing so far? Gulp…) For that, I have to fly my freak flag just enough to not care about naysayers & gremlins. And that is the glue in this quicksandy conglomerate that occasionally paralyzes me.
But tick-tock, right?
Life is way too short to be anything less than kindly patient with yourself. We are all, human & non-human animals, beautiful souls who must share our gifts with the world. Artists, caretakers, counselors, lightworkers, teachers, scientists – we must shine our unique lights into the dark corners of this world – especially now. I learn this lesson repeatedly from animals & their people.
So, let me tell you the tale of Molly & me:
I met Miss Molly when her mom called me for help.
As her human told me their story, I sat on the floor with lovely Molly. Molly’s mom had recently lost her husband to cancer. She knew she wanted a dog to keep her company and had searched several shelters & rescues for just the right pup. Finally, Molly. As I listened, I had both hands on Molly, who calmly leaned into me. Suddenly, through my mind & out my mouth came, “You had help finding her.” It was a natural knowing that had to be stated out loud (claircognizance, I now know). It was a message that Molly’s mom needed to hear. She said, “Well, yes, my friends looked for a dog with me.” I said, “No, that’s not the help I mean.” Molly’s mum blinked and lit up. She told me, with a sparkle in her eye, that before her husband passed, they had talked about her getting a dog. Her hubby teased her that she’d probably get a little, white, fluffy dog. Molly’s mom insisted absolutely not – she didn’t want to be cleaning a white dog’s bottom all the time. It was then that I noticed Molly’s rear end: an adorable white fluffy swishy tail, white fluffy-furry haunches & legs, and a decidedly dark grey bottom where cleanup counts. We laughed….hard. Message received & sent (or vice-versa). Molly, her mom & I are friends for life. Rusty & Molly are on mole patrol as I write this.
Whew! I feel like with the telling of Molly’s story, I’m breaking out of that cementy-sandy stuff.
I must remember that the now is transient, including its feelings, its drama & and its perceived obstacles. I will not make mountains out of mole hills. I now see life’s muddy little hills as opportunities & lessons placed along my life journey’s path. I embrace my unconventional intuitive gifts, my writing, and my time with clients and pets – it’s all so precious.
Moles & gremlins, be damned.
Why? ‘Cuz, patience, dear – every little thing’s gonna be alright!
Coming soon: New pages on this site describing those new services and my new role as a positive, science-based Intuitive Pet-life Guide (IPLG). Open-minded humans and their teaching-healing pets make up our growing soul-tribe family…. for that, we are so grateful! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
Quips for patience with your creative truth:
- “Patience, dear – every little thing’s gonna be alright.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “If you’re creating anything at all, it’s really dangerous to care about what people think.” ~Kristen Wiig
- “When words are both true and kind, they can change the world.” ~Buddha
- “These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.” ~Najwa Zebian
- “It is the function of art to to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” ~Anaïs Nin
- “The most important aspect of being on a spiritual path may be to just keep moving.” ~Pema Chodron
- “Life is way too short to be anything less than kindly patient with yourself.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “If a problem exists then, by definition, so must its solution.” ~Ruth Hagen
©2016 The Soulful Pet
|March 22, 2016||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Mindfulness, Seasonal, Training/Behavior, Videos|
I peed on the sand dune. And I’d do it again.
There I squatted, sea breeze gracing my bottom, between clumps of too-transparent sea grass.
Had it come to this? In the sweet relief of bladder desperation, I had to answer: yes. As I looked up (to be sure I was alone), I realized I had let go under the synchronized glows of the rising moon, the setting sun, and the rainbow flares of a sundog.
Bathroom deprivation threatened to soil my perfectly beachy b-day picnic.
Pink champagne is extra bubbly-sweet when poured by a charming man, sipped by soothing waves, and paired with sea salt chocolate chip cookies. But my burgeoning bladder was winning out. Something had to be done – now.
And that’s how I found myself thanking the Universe for every cursed squat I’d endured in the gym.
No wobbly legs on this girl. I scaled those dunes & released without shame or shakes. I am woman, hear me roar. (Just don’t peek behind the dune.)
Was it necessary? I could have hiked out & driven to a porta potty.
Was it legal? Probably not. Was it ethical? Who decides that? Was it pretty? Lord help me, nope.
But was it memorable? Absolutely!
I will never forget that birthday, the magic colors marking the sky or the champagne’s blush. I had unwittingly peed my way to marking a moment in time that I’ll forever cherish without regret.
The grand sand pee happened on the heels of hunkering down with my folks in Blizzardy, PA.
What to do when you’re snowed into a retirement facility by a sparkly-white historical weather event? First, you play “find the fireplace” wherever you are. Everything’s yummier by a fire’s golden warm glow: food, wine & convo. But at around 3-feet deep, I felt compelled to mark the moment myself:
Why does marking a moment with childlike wonder & abandon seem rare?
My pup, Rusty, blissfully potties on the beach without hesitation. (Now I get it, little guy!)
As a trainer, I guide clients to counter their human nature.
We are hardwired to focus on negatives: the wrongs in our world. We do this so well, we wear awareness blinders that block the sweet, magical-markable stuff from sight. So, for example, folks notice & react to a jumping puppy. Instead, we should see Pup’s more frequent 4-on-the-floor successes. But past just seeing, mindfully reward those successes with praise and/or a cookie. (No chocolate chips for Pup!) Make that moment matter. Suddenly, you see a non-jumping puppy, and Pup feels seen when calm. You get each other, and you get more of what you see.
See & seize life’s magical moments.
Make your mark on them. Watch them appear more often, in memorable technicolor.
Cake by the ocean, anyone? Perhaps, she writes with a wink.
Definitely chocolate chip cookies. And big belly laughs. Life’s sweeter when lived in full color.
Share your no-regrets stories with us. It’s at once liberating & inspiring! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
- “See and seize life’s magical moments.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “We teach each other how to live.” ~Anne Michaels, poet
- “Life’s sweeter when lived in full color.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “If everyone would look for that uniqueness then we would have a very colorful world.” ~Michael Schenker
- “You get more of what you see.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “What makes things memorable is that they are meaningful, significant, colorful.” ~Joshua Foer
- “I’m a get-a-dress-at-a-thrift-shop-but-open-a-bottle-of-champagne kind of person.” ~Helen Mirren, actress
©2016 The Soulful Pet
|December 18, 2015||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Music, Seasonal, Training/Behavior, Videos|
I’m worried about you. Where’s your head, human?
I swear that’s the thought my Rusty’s side-eyed look just conveyed. He knows Mom’s not herself this week. In his infinite poodle wisdom, I’m certain he feels the inevitable seasonal shift. But what exactly lies beneath Rusty’s worries?
Below the appealing, concealing din-frosting of holiday music & lights, there lies a darkness.
It’s an insidious, chaotic undercurrent that sweeps us along, oblivious to the ugly likelihood that we’ve distanced ourselves a bit (or a bunch) from our loving natures.
Let me illustrate with a true tale.
Gather ’round & hug your pets. It’s a humans-behaving-badly story that inexplicably occurred after Paris & San Bernardino, in this holiday season. (If you follow my FB writer’s page, you know this one.)
I stood in line at the bank. (Retro, I know.)
Behind me, a woman stood in line, calmly writing on the counter the line forms along. As the line moved, she moved along the counter, holding up no one. Behind her, an abrasive woman crankily & accusingly asked Writing Woman, “Are you in line?”. Upon answering yes, Cranky Gal pursued her, declaring, “You’re not acting like you’re in line.” (I know 5-year olds who would never do this.) Exasperated by the response to her only crime of facing the counter rather than the direction of the line, Ms. Writing finally snipped, “That’s right, I’m IN LINE.” By now, Ms. Cranky had a fan in line behind her. I’ll call him Mr Pile-on. Mr. P. didn’t like Ms. W’s defensive tone & fanned Ms. C’s flames by spewing, “Nice.” (Not cool, people.) Cranky G., a bully now feeling buoyed & justified in her “outrage”, loudly declared, “Well, you should have done that at home.” (“That” would be the innocent writing on the counter that the line formed along – the counter designated for that sole purpose.) Writing retorted, “Nope, nope, I’m doing it RIGHT here.”
It escalated exponentially.
They were “at war” for no reason. I could feel their icky-thick, bickering energy rolling over my back. The woman in front of me palpably eyerolled-sighed. I whispered, “Right?” She said, “Breathe.” I said, “Exactly.” With that, we cleansed our little oasis in line. I hoped our vibe would displace the toxins in the space behind us, as well.
I left the bank knowing that we CAN be civil.
Nastiness divides; compassion unites. I chose to compassionately wonder what happened in Cranky’s life to ooze out so illogically in an inertly short bank line. I chose to wish her well, not let her actions color my day, and continue to put positivity into my world. I believe in kindness’ ripple effect. We are, after all, all connected.
So what happened?
You’ve surely experienced your own version of that tale. Exactly when & how do we disconnect?
Have you sat in silence to hear your soul lately? If not, that’s the crux of the discord.
Without stillness & inner focus, peace’s light dims. Nature abhors a vacuum. A void of peaceful stability will be filled by chaos. Peaceful thoughts, peace of mind, a peaceable kingdom – diminished, but always within reach.
What’s the fix?
Get back to your true self so you can give the best you to others. Check our how-to-be-present list; check it twice:
- Get still. This season, I’m fond of pj’s, a room lit only by candles or the Christmas tree, a cozy-fluffy blanket & my favorite tea, while cuddled with my cozy-fluffy poodle. No TV. No phone. No computer. God knows, no news. Tune out to tune into the silence within yourself. Get still; get clarity.
- Just be; just breathe. Ditch the rat race. Shun the shoulds. To hell with the haftas. Is that societally imposed materialistic thing you had planned a must-do? No. Not really. Martha Stewart, who? Deep breath. Let go….
- See yourself in the mirror your pet shows you. Pets can only be present. That’s what we love about them. Follow their leads. Rusty’s calm when I am. I notice his restlessness before I tune into my own. For him, I become present again. Recently, I counseled a client to resuming her meditation practice because her dog wants a peaceful pack. If she’s rattled, he chews. What’s your pet teaching you about presence?
- Be fully present in each moment. Create moments worthy of your presence. Now that you’ve taken the time to reconnect with yourself, connect in person with those you cherish. Mindfully slow down… Feel the warmth of your partner’s hand in yours. Hear the happy music of your friend’s laughter. Take in walks with Pup with all of your senses. Actively listen to those who need to be heard. Really notice. Be a student of the moment.
- Trust that these moments last a lifetime. Things don’t. Connections, feelings & experiences shared with loved ones are priceless. The gifts, errands, places-to-be and places-to-be-seen that you’re racing to reach? No one will care or remember them in just a few months. Including you. Put your heart, soul & essence into what’s real: loving presence.
This season and always, give yourself & others the gift of presence.
Truly, intentionally be in the moment. Reconnect with your essence. Presence is better than any present under the tree, we guarantee. xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
- “When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there? ~Thich Nhat Hanh
- “Get still; get clarity.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” ~Wayne Dyer
- “Put your heart, soul and essence into what’s real: loving presence.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “We are, after all, all connected.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Just be; just breathe.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.” ~Shonda Rhimes
©2016 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
|April 7, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Music, Pup culture, Training/Behavior, Videos|
Rusty and I just had a long talk. We’re owning two words: “crazy” & “bitch”.
Personally, my poodle buddy loves a bitch who thinks outside the box. That’s his play style: outgoing; smartly switching up his game, including your style, too; with tons of give & take. I’m happy to fill that role for him as best as my 2-legged human self can. We aren’t interested in a “normal” game of border-line obsessive, robotic fetch. He’s met labs like that. I’ve met teachers like that. Don’t color outside those lines; don’t stray from my game; and don’t speak your mind. That’s quite insane, actually. Bonus: If you’re a human chic swimming up that stream, you’re sadly labeled a bitch.
“Crazy” is in the eye of the beholder.
Usually, that beholder is ignorant, insecure and/or envious of originality & spontaneity. They’re eager to label others as abnormal to soothe themselves. So then who’s wacko? No one. (Unless you’re just card-carrying, certifiably cra cra.) We’re all individuals doing our thing. March to the beat of your own drummer. After all, that’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Shine a spotlight on your crazy & share it. It’s charming, creative & downright adorable – and it’s all uniquely yours. The world’s a better place for it. Normal’s way scarier than a big box of crazy. Normal strikes me as Stepford-y creepy.
Let’s take a break to watch what most of my clients would call “crazy” canine behavior:
That pup’s not nuts; he’s very, very happy. (And gifted; he should be doing parkour!) He’s livin’ large, being himself because that’s all he knows how to be. He’s completely unencumbered by the fact that his human is about to put him up on YouTube. While you probably wouldn’t want that pittie party happening on your upholstery, you found yourself smiling, didn’t you? You’re not alone. This vid went viral for a reason. His “crazy” is charismatically contagious. I want in on that couch game!
Rusty disagrees with me on this one, but we can’t forget our feline friends.
Watch Simon perfectly depict a scenario played out in every cat-blessed house @ around dark-o’clock each night. This chaos causes my bleary-eyed, sleep deprived clients to wonder if Kitty needs Prozac:
Kitty’s not psycho. Cats are crepuscular (more active @ dusk & dawn). And they’re master human trainers. They quickly learn that normal nocturnal behavior pays off big: you get up & feed them just to calm them down. Mission sanely & smartly accomplished!
Back to “bitch”, please. Gals, the sooner we own this one, the better. I’m uber comfy with it, and so is Rusty.
If you want to get your crazy on, you have to be bold. You have to believe in yourself. You have to live, laugh & love like no one’s watching. And so what if they are? It’s your life. Guys, you might want to try this decidedly feminine definition of “bitch” on for size, too:
“Being a “bitch” means….
I stand up for myself & my belief. I stand up for those I love. I speak my mind, think my own thoughts or do things my way. I won’t compromise what’s in my heart. I live my life MY way. I won’t allow anyone to step on me. I refuse to tolerate injustice. It means I have the courage & strength to allow myself to be me. So try to stomp on me, douse my inner flame. Squash every ounce of beauty I hold within. You won’t succeed. If that makes me a bitch, so be it. I embrace the title. I’m proud to be a bitch.” ~author unknown~
So, a “crazy bitch”? Sign me up for life. As long as I’m being true to myself, it’s all good.
Rusty reigns me in if I get off track. In fact, just the other night, after I… um… let’s say had to be someone I’m not, Rusty put his paw down. As I tried to calm down to sleep that night, Rusty chose an awkwardly unusual sleeping position. He curled up as far away from me as he could get, with his back to me. I reached out to him, selfishly hoping that making contact with him would relax me. But when I touched him, he growled softly. (Don’t jump off the ridiculously erroneous dominance theory deep end here.) He didn’t growl because he thinks he owns the bed, or me, for that matter. He growled because I had unnerved him with my earlier rare & unpleasant personality change. Touching him while I was still upset was indeed selfish because he had already distanced himself from me. Message sent & received, Rusty. Sent & received.
What’s next for Rusty & his human sidekick?
We’re working hard on a project that will bring this blog to life. If we were normal, coloring in the lines & playing someone else’s game, our project would fail before it flew. The hell with normal. What is that anyway?!
Cheers to crazy, bitches! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|March 1, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Music, Pup culture, Rusty's place, Training/Behavior, Videos|
Yo, dawgs. My mom’s singin’ a Lorde song, & I’m waitin’ for the postal carrier.
It’s uber fido fun to bark @ ’em, but I’m not hatin’ on ’em. Not like these pooches:
Obsess much, dawgs? This ain’t healthy.
If I don’t talk to you about your nasty little habit, who will? Go cold turkey & have your humans get rid of the mail slot. Go chew on a bone or a stuffed Kong instead. Outasight, outamind.
Sometimes ya gotta watch a spooky movie to stop a bad habit.
Gather round, hounds. Dig my puplic service announcement: When cats do it, it’ll scare ya straight!
Ya feel me? xo ~Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|January 19, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Training/Behavior, Worthy reads|
Deep breath. Not a wimpy, shallow stress breath. Deep belly breath. And again…
This is zen stuff. So as I tell my tale, don’t cry-for-me-Argentina. I’m fine. Rusty’s fine. Another breath, in…..out. Now – we’re ready to begin.
My life has been mixed up & thrown up in the air like
a tossed salad Miley Cyrus rode a wrecking ball thru it, naked.
Divorce isn’t pretty. In the midst of lawyers, counselors, therapists, paperwork and all the emotional garbage – I’ve been reinventing myself. Some days that goes very well. Others are a hot mess, like Miley twerking, tongue out. On my Miley days, I remember to breathe……
My anti-resolution was to simply be me.
That’s carrying me through all of this. How? Because, as it turns out, I’m a bit like Dorothy. I always had the power to pull through this, ruby slippers or not. I’m just realizing it now. Still, I can’t hate the slippers. They’re cute, right?
Being me includes being intuitive & empathic.
I recently learned how to hone both of those gifts a bit more – just in the nick of time, as it turns out. More on that later. We are all intuitive. Some of us are just better listeners when our intuition (or soul or heart or inner voice) speaks up. If you haven’t started listening, start. Your intuition could save your life. So tonight, before you go to sleep, try this simple intuition-enhancing exercise: Ask your intuition for guidance on a specific question or concern. Afterwards, pay attention to dreams, words, images or even a calm “knowing”. Don’t dismiss them or shrug them off. It takes practice & trust. Listen.
Empaths listen, too.
I recently discovered that I’m an empath. What’s that? Some hocus pocus? Not at all. Subconsciously, we sponge up the energies & emotions of others (pets & people, for me) in our environment. I believe that animals are empaths because they are naturally & keenly connected to their environment. As with intuition, we all can (& should) enhance our capacity for empathy. I started “The Soulful Pet” to help humans empathize with their pets (without anthropomorphizing) to realize that we share common life experiences & emotions. We can learn from our pets by experiencing the world via their points of view. To quote Buddha: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Your pets are always ready to teach. Are you listening & learning?
So here’s where it gets eerily real for Rusty & I.
I practiced asking my intuition for guidance last night, for the first time. Then I had a whopper of a nightmare for which I’m giddily grateful. In it, I received 3 solid answers to pressing life questions I had just posed. Wow! Still considering the implications of intuition, I went about my morning. I prepped the house for an appraisal, staying calm for the sake of my little empath, Rusty. Then Rusty waited in the car, all snuggled up under blankets, as the appraiser did his thing. It was quick & painless. I sprung Rusty from the cozy car, and let him outside to potty as I made coffee. It would be nice to spend the rest of the morning writing with my poodle buddy curled up by my side….
Within 5 minutes, I realized something was horribly wrong.
Had the appraiser closed the gate? I was sure that he hadn’t. Normally, I would NEVER let Rusty out without checking. But it was a Miley day, for sure. I ran out back, calling Rusty. No poodle & the gate was wide open. My heart leapt to my throat. I ran barefoot into the street, calling. Still no Rusty. Then, the calmness came. I heard my freshly prepped intuition speak: “Don’t waste time. Put your shoes on & get in the car. He went for his walk. He’s sniffing, so he hasn’t gone far.” Literally, I heard that word-for-word in my head. Shoes on, car moving, deep breath…..
Sure enough, Rusty was nose-to-the-ground a block away, walking our usual route.
I got out of the car & happily (I’m an adequate actress.) asked him, “Where are you going, little man?”. He looked up @ me, wagging his tail, clearly saying, “What took you so long? We’re going for a walk, mom!” I scooped him up, tucked him in the car, and, as we drove home, I promised him that we’d do that walk together. Whew.
Here’s what I know.
I will continue to hone my intuition. It’s life-savingly imperative. I will work on Rusty’s recall. We all need a little brush-up on our skills in the new year, yes? And, through my life’s upheaval, I will remember to breathe. If I forget, Rusty will remind me. We’re going for a walk now, because Rusty knew it would be good for us both. (I think that’s why he started without me but waited for me to catch up.) It’s the best kind of walk, where Rusty sniffs & I meditate. I breathe in as Rusty takes several steps, and out as he takes a few more. (I just learned that lovely trick from Michael Chase’s book, “The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone“.) Rusty receives relaxation from me and I from him. We are simply two intuitive empaths out for a stroll. I know that we will be ok, with every step, sniff and breath we take.
Do you and your pet have a special connection?
An unspoken language of your own, perhaps? Has your intuition saved you and/or your pets? We’d love to know about it. Heck, we know you’re not crazy… xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|January 6, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Seasonal, Training/Behavior, Videos|
Right, I refuse to say it. Let’s just call it a pesky little lie that we tell ourselves each year. Agreed?
The truth is that only 8% of us keep our R-words after just one hot week. So why lie to yourself? Why set yourself up to fail & then kick yourself for having (shockingly) failed? Would you treat a friend that way? I think not. So this is the year that you will be kinder to you. Rusty & I will help…
Don’t get caught up in today’s wave of R-words.
Just because everyone’s doing it, doesn’t mean you have to join their circus. If you already blurted out a bubbly-inspired R-word on New Year’s eve, it’s not carved in stone. Your hangover outlasted your R-blurt, didn’t it? So what? Shake it off. Listen (or don’t – it’s best) to the TV talking heads & lame headlines this time of year; they’ve all gone mad! How to make the best R-words, how to keep them, blahblahblah…. I find it sooo annoying, I couldn’t even write the-word-that-shall-not-be-mentioned in this post. Resist the urge; purge the R-word. Feels better already, doesn’t it?
In a previous tangent rant, I mentioned washcloth weirdness. ICYMI: When I request washcloths from hosts, they stare as though I just sprouted horns & spoke in tongues. One gal replied, “Why? Are you afraid to touch yourself?” Huh? Maybe I’m an oddball, I don’t know. Another bizarrely answered guest-request: “Can I watch a show on TV?” (This was pre-DVR days. Otherwise I wouldn’t have asked.) The response: “Yes, if it gives you a sense of comfort.” What?! Did I miss something here? Why not a simple “Yes, of course”? Why are my basic niceties, which might differ from the personal preferences of others, cause for such lunacy? The answer is the key to kicking your R-words to the curb….
What really gives you a sense of comfort?
Yes, the little things like a favorite show, a washcloth, & comfort food are nice, but they’re not pivotally comforting. Dig a little deeper. What truly makes you feel all warm & fuzzy inside? How about the brief, shining moments when you allow you to simply be you? I am convinced that there is great power in being bravely, unabashedly you. People who aren’t comfy with themselves will belittle, dismiss & patronize your genuineness. Trust me: That says everything about them and nothing about you. Stay true to yourself. Stand your ground. Be ridiculously happy being you.
So that’s it? That’s the big R-word cure?
Yes, it is, friend. Trust that you are good enough, worthy & loveable – as you are. Fly your freak flag and let your light shine. The world will notice, and you’ll be happier. If you believe in you, you’ll be kinder to you, and you’ll attract no-drama souls who believe in you. That covers all the R-words under the sun. How do I know this? I survived last year because of it. I believe it in my soul.
Bonus: The more you do you, the more you’ll appreciate the uniqueness of others.
That’s when you’ll see that the truest beauty really lies within our differences. It’s the basis of the best relationships in our lives, with humans & pets. My Rusty reminds me of this every day. He can only be himself; he’s a happy, charismatic little guy. His joy is contagious to me. I strive to follow his lead in this because it’s better for both of us. An aside: Did you know that your pets mirror you? If you’re out of balance, not being genuine, your pet will reflect your insincerity/instability – often via undesirable behaviors. You can’t fake it with animals, & they don’t fake it with us. Back to Rusty. He lets me know when I’m not @ peace with myself. He brings me back to me, and we both benefit. At the same time, I adore our differences. He’s an amazing dog, not a human. As a dog, he accepts me as I am: oddly human. No weird, conditional responses from my little guy. Just joyful acceptance. I am grateful for him daily. Best of all: Neither of us ever utter R-words.
Rusty & I relish being ourselves. In that way, we’re very much alike, perhaps embarrassingly so:
For maximum fun, play both videos @ once. See? Delightfully similar & different!
Did you make and/or break any R-words yet? What do you think about our cozy, comfy cure?
How will you do you this year? How will you & your pets benefit? We’d love to hear from you.
Happy New Year! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet