Category: Guest bloggers
|September 21, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Guest bloggers, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Seasonal|
When your soul calls, do you listen? That’s exactly what guest blogger Kelly Gast did this summer.
Welcome to The Soulful Pet, Kelly. I’m honored & thrilled to vicariously join your heart’s journey as an armchair traveler!
We’re cousins by marriage. We haven’t met yet, but I feel like we could be sisters. We agree that we’ll share belly laughs, margaritas & animal stories when we finally do meet. I’m quite sure that our sweet, patient hubbies will be out of words long before we are. What makes Kelly special? As office manager for four physicians in reproductive medicine, she helps couples achieve their dreams of having a family. When Kelly’s off the clock, her passions turn to nature & animals. In her own words:
“I am an avid nature enthusiast & hobby photographer.
Animals have been my passion from before I learned to talk – and never stopped.
I have owned and shown Morgan & Norwegian Fjord horses for 40 years.
I enjoy all the work involved with keeping horses fit and healthy, and reaping the rewards for all that work – the trust of a thousand pound animal.
My husband and I are also avid saltwater aquarium enthusiasts.
I enjoy my Moray Eels, while he enjoys the more serene Tangs and Invertebrates. Our largest tank has been a 110 gallon reef tank that was nearly big enough to go snorkeling in!
I also have owned and shown Papillon dogs.
My husband and I currently have two: International Champion, Magnolise Avec Bravissimo (aka “Bravo”), and his new little “brother”, Magnolise Naturally Gifted (aka “Presto”). We believe a well balanced dog has a title at both ends, so, to that end, both are (will be) shown in conformation and agility.
Throughout the years of loving my animals, I always heard and felt the rhythms of Africa.
No matter what I was doing, at no matter what age, I would drop what I was doing to watch any program that featured Africa….including Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom – when nature documentaries were in their infancy. I read every page of every National Geographic issue that covered any aspect of Africa. I read every book I could get my hand on – from biographies about the native people, to volumes about the great migration, to the unbelievable, intricate dance of life and death that is the daily life of Africa.
I dreamed of Africa when I closed my eyes at night. And one morning in July of this year, I opened my eyes – and I was in Africa.“
Kelly documented her summer trip to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania via her beautiful photos & soulful words.
You can tell that this girl was meant to be in Africa; it sings to her soul.
One day there, she wrote this reflective piece on Facebook. She mesmerized everyone who read it, myself included. We somehow felt like we were right there with her. So I asked her to share her bliss with you, too:
“There are things in my life that are as necessary to me almost as much as my husband and my family. Two of these things are music and animals.
Africa seems to have a rhythm that beats like your heart.
Sometimes it’s calm and relaxed – moving steady and contentedly without any real imperative – like the giraffe that walks across the plains. There is a sway and a swing, and it has the same grandness of the slow movement in Beethoven’s 5th.
Sometimes the rhythm is full of energy and movement.
The gazelles come to mind in their quest to find the balance for being watchful and joyful. They have so much energy that they seem to want to let off some steam – pronging and jumping around like staccato notes on a musical score ….but always aware they are tasty to many.
The big cats….
They say silence has a power all on its own. They survey all that is around them and have been charged with being the judge, jury, and executioner. They sit there quietly, like a rest with a fermata….until they don’t.
Lions are said to be the “king of beasts”.
This is not true. The crown belongs to elephants. Every being here yields to them without question. The wise give them a respectable berth, as an offending tree (lacking in respect and ability to move) can be cast to the side with the same effort we use to dismiss insignificant details. Their rhythm is an ever-present sforzando, punctuating the plains with their performance.
Even the annoying mosquitoes and tsetse flies contribute their part to this symphony.
They are annoying, persistent, and the bane of every being’s existence….they personify “The Flight of the Bumblebee”. I don’t like these pesky bugs – or this piece of music, but nonetheless, they exist.
All of the above to say that Africa has its own rhythm and feel – unlike anything else I have ever experienced.
And the people have captured it in their music. It somehow captures all that is Africa, and the music feels alive. Tonight at dinner we were privileged to enjoy a “heritage choir” that performed for us. Their sounds filled the night – voices, drums, clapping – all of it capturing the essence and spirit of this continent. I could hardly move…I didn’t want to miss even one note. I will remember these sounds forever.
This trip is enough to move even the most well-traveled or stoic person to tears. It is a remarkable place…. we must go back. There is just something about Africa – and it gets into your soul.”
Kelly & her hubby will soon return to Africa, with a group of lucky folks who wish to be “students of the Serengeti”. Thank you, Kelly, for taking us with you on your beautiful journey. I certainly hope I did it justice here. I look forward to one day hearing more of your stories over an ice cold pitcher of margaritas. Cheers, girl!
So, did you chase any dreams this summer? Do you feel your soul pulling you to do something new? Did Kelly’s post inspire you to heed that calling?
Kelly & I would love to hear from you, in the comments! xxoo ~Ruth~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|August 9, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Guest bloggers, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
MJ is having a great summer with her 2-year-old American bulldog buddy, Ronin.
As much as she loves Ronin, it’s visiting pittie, Harley, who stole her heart. Of Harley, MJ says, “I haven’t felt love like that since Maggie was alive.” Sweet!
Mike hits Hawaii’s beaches regularly with Cooper. (Lucky boys!)
They make quite a team. Recently, Mike wrote about good times with Cooper, who regularly reminds him to let go of negatives and savor life’s gifts. That’s a precious lesson that we can all learn from our pets, our teachers.
“My saving grace, this loving, joyful creature. He dissolves any anguish, fear, self-doubt and reminds me that its time to swim, go to the park, create frozen yoghurt treats or play with 100 tennis balls or the best, ride with the top down, the ocean breeze flapping through jowls and floppy ears.”
Lovely. And since you can’t keep an artisan baker out of the kitchen, Mike got busy making Bouchon Dog Biscuits for his buddy, Cooper. (The recipe is from Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon Bakery“, and the tasty treats are served @ the Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.) Mike adapted the recipe as follows:
“Get the good bacon, chicken livers, cornmeal, flour – a pound of each – and chicken broth to wet. I added a large handful of (non-instant) oats. Saute & puree. Add cornmeal, chicken broth and flour into a workable dough. Roll out, use a doggie bone cookie cutter, and bake at 250 until hard. Mix egg white and 3 Tbl ketchup [for a] wash and brush on. Finish in a 200 [degree] oven for half hour. Done!”
Mike joked that these goodies go well “with afternoon tea or champagne”. I don’t doubt that @ all. I suspect Cooper’s humans sampled these right along with him. Since Rusty’s tummy doesn’t do pork, I’ll trust that the biscuits passed human & canine taste tests with flying colors. Bone appetit!
So how’s the summer going for you & your pets?
Please share in the comments….
There’s still plenty of summertime left for us all to live vicariously through your adventures – or – to give them a go ourselves!
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|June 11, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Guest bloggers, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Training/Behavior, Videos|
Ahh, life’s ingrates. We all know folks who don’t say or send thank-you’s, don’t we?
How do they make you feel? I suspect that a self-actualized soul would be at peace with the mere act of giving. I’m getting there, though I do love to see smiles @ the other end of a present. But to many of us, including my mom, the seemingly ungrateful are confounding. After all, in an online retail world, a nagging question about long-distance giving is bound to surface: Did they even get my gift?
I admire my mom’s creative attempts to persuade people that thank-you’s are the polite thing to do.
Recently, she asked a friend of hers, Bob Scala, if she could share his piece on manners with her “ungrateful” crew (and me). I was charmed by it, so I asked Bob if I could share it with you, and he generously agreed. This is one in a series of self-published essays that he wrote for his grandchildren:
“BopPop’s Thoughts” by Robert Scala, PhD
“Grammy and I were talking the other day about the importance of three very short phrases, “Please, Thank You and Good Job”. In this short note, I want to emphasize “thank you”. It seems that many folks think that good manners are optional. You use them if you have time or if it’s convenient or if it might give you some kind of “edge” over another person. But, good manners are the lubricant that makes every day contacts with people go that much smoother and easier and avoids unnecessary friction and resulting heat. “Thank you” is especially important because it recognizes the worth and value of the other person – the one who gave you something or performed a service or otherwise aided you. It also says to that person that you are not such a big shot that you can look down on that person and ignore his or her presence once they’ve completed their task. In the last several months, Grammy and I have sent wedding presents to three couples – a neighbor child and two couples from our church. No acknowledgement. How does that make us feel? Like we’ve been used; like all we are good for is a gift and once that’s given we disappear? It takes very little time to write a “thank you” note; even less time to say the words to someone who waits on you or otherwise helps you. Keep “Please”, “Thank you” and “Good Job” in your active vocabulary.”
So how do you feel when you aren’t appreciated? Confused? Frustrated? Angry? Sad?
At the very least, will you repeat the gesture? Not likely? Exactly. Now carry this lesson over to training your pets, who feel similarly without fair feedback. Well-timed rewards are a major cornerstone of successful, positive training. Notice & reward desired behaviors the instant that your pet offers them, either on her own, or at your request. Go about your day with treat-filled pockets & a keen eye, and you’ll see that in truth your pet behaves more than not. Suddenly, praise-worthy moments appear everywhere. Presto! Your pet will repeat rewarded behaviors so often that they soon replace undesired behaviors (with some preventative measures). Think of your praise (“Yes!” or “Good!” or click!) followed by a treat as a “Thank you” to your pet. It is the polite thing to do!
Praise is a magic wand & ruby slippers all wrapped up in a simple phrase. Cast your spells wisely.
What’s my mom to do? She’s free to keep giving – or not. The trick is that it’s her choice. She’ll do what feels right & natural for her, as would an unrewarded dog. (So sorry for the canine comparison, Mom. It’s for a good cause.) My loving advice to my mother: Praise the thank-you’s you do get, and release the ones you don’t. Now, how about you? Practice gratefulness & well-placed praise to bring out the best in others, 2 or 4-legged. It’s an instant mood boost for you, a true self-gift. The recipients of your thank-you spells will happily repeat their gestures. In my crystal ball, I see you charming well-trained spouses, partners, children and pets. Abracadabra!
Jimmy Fallon is a praise wizard.
In his weekly practice of writing Thank You Notes, he’s mastered the art of praising anyone for anything. Thank you, Jimmy, for making thank-you’s “classy”, “sophisticated” and, yes, even a little “sexy”. You give us “something to aspire to”.
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|June 4, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Guest bloggers, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle|
I’m honored to welcome Mike Lee as a guest blogger for The Soulful Pet!
A bit of bio on Mike, in his own words: “In my professional roles as executive director/nonprofit consultant; my avocation as artisan baker and slow food gourmand; and my vocational roles as friend, kindred spirit, lover and family, Cooper is my constant companion.” I first met Mike when I coached his family during handsome Cooper’s puppyhood. Cooper was a 50th birthday gift for Mike, and his first dog. Of Cooper, Mike says, “He inspired my second childhood.” Now that’s a great gift! Mike’s devotion to Cooper, friends, family and artisan baking inspires me, so I invited him to share his thoughts on life-as-Cooper’s-dad with you. When he wrote this, Mike had just spent 10 nights in the intensive care unit with his father, who had suffered a heart attack, and he was missing Cooper’s companionship. Very thankfully, Mike’s dad is well now, and Cooper’s been reunited with his dad.
“A Message to Cooper” by Mike Lee:
“You beautiful creature, I miss you so being an ocean apart. Yet when I close my eyes, listen and hold still, I feel our foreheads touch, our calm breaths meet, our hearts beat-thump-thump, beat-thump-thump, together. I feel you near me, Cooper, and we’re communicating through the cosmos, crystal clear. You beautiful creature, I see the joy and mercy of God in your loving eyes.”
Mike & Cooper, thank you for reminding us to savor the sweet things in life.
Friends and family (2 & 4-legged) are cherished gifts, not to be taken for granted. Warm hugs and baked goods made with love nurture the soul; they’re downright therapeutic. Wishing you, your father and Cooper continued health & joy, Mike.
Readers: If you’d like to honor your pet (past or present) with a story, note and/or pics, just let me know. If you’d like to respond to Mike’s post, please do in the comments. I’m sure he & Cooper would love to hear from you!
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|April 25, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Guest bloggers, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle|
I’m happy to warmly welcome Madi (“MJ”) P.W. as The Soulful Pet’s first guest blogger.
Recently, MJ had to say good-bye to her beloved BFF boxer girl, Maggie, aka Maggie Roo. (Maggie had suffered from idiopathic epilepsy.) With grace, wit & humor, 10-year-old MJ wrote her thoughts on this experience in a letter to her sweet Maggie. I’m honored to share that letter with you all, as written by MJ. You’ll cry, laugh & learn…..
“Maggie Roo” by MJ:
“My pet Maggie was not only my pet, she’s my Best Friend. The moment I will cherish forever is when we put her down she layed in my lap, I always told her, “It’s fine, I’ll be ok.” When ever I see a rainbow from a reflection, I will know she is with us. Every night when I go to bed, I always hold her collar up to my heart saying a little pray. Maggie was the only one who could make me smile when my parents got divorced. I will never forget the moment when she took her last fart in the doctors face! I would like to thank Derek for helping us through the times with her. We’ll meet again someday Roo 🙂 I never will forget you, I love you too the moon and back Roo! RIP Maggie Roo!!
Love, Mj <3″
Thank you for sharing your Maggie memories, MJ. They are precious. I know that you will help folks remember to cherish time with the pets & people they love. Loss is hard, but memories that make you laugh (boxer farts 🙂 ) are priceless.
Readers: If you’d like to honor your pet (past or present) with a story, note and/or pics, just let me know.
If you’d like to respond to MJ’s letter-from-the-heart, please do in the comments. I’m sure she’d love to hear from you. Let’s pay it forward: Share MJ’s lovely story to help others heal from loss & grief. xxoo ~Ruth~
©2013 The Soulful Pet