Posts Tagged by Gift
|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
|December 13, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
Cue music: “These are a few of my favorite things”….??
Well, sort of. If I catch a whiff of patchouli from a lovely earth-muffiny gal while browsing my local health food store or farmers’ market, I like it. I just wouldn’t wear it. After 20 plus years of working with pets, I’ve learned to go scent-free. Perfume can irritate, scare and even agitate animals. I do love earthy (not floral), realistic scents, though. I adore Thymes’ Frasier Fir candles. They smell uncannily like an evergreen tree, which is lovely year round. If I’m not working with animals, I’ll wear Aveda’s Stress-fix. It’s a calming, soothing blend of lavender & sage – and it works! I certainly can’t get mad @ a non-regifted, artisanal fruitcake. (They DO exist.) Heads up, fruitcake haters: the best uniquely similar, yet way yummier treat I’ve ever had was the house-made Panforte di Mendocino @ Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, CA. (Follow the link to order it online.) So there you have it. Now you really know a few of my favorite things. I feel like Oprah!
Cranberries. We love ’em, right?
How about pecans, oranges & currants? (NOT raisins – icky to me & toxic to pets.) All ok? No rum-soaked, candied green things here – what are those, anyway? Assuming you’re on board, Rusty & I are going with the cranberry theme. His fave treats are Honest Kitchen’s Smooches. They simply contain barley flour, chicken, molasses, water, eggs, coconut oil, cranberries & Parmesan cheese. (Remember: If you are giving your pet processed treats, look for ones made in the USA with the shortest ingredient list. Organic is better, if you can find it. Homemade, of course, is always best.) I like HK’s Smooches because they are only 2.3 calories each. Plus, their larger size and rough texture help clean my little guy’s teeth. Rusty has another cranberry product on deck to taste test: Cranimals Gold. It’s a supplement that contains only cranberries & seaweed. It’s packed with antioxidants & omega 3. I’ll put it in non-fat, plain organic Greek yogurt as a healthy treat for him. Yum!
Prepare for tasty goodness, friends.
I discovered a cranberry quick bread to die for. It’s a seriously simple, one-bowl recipe. The most muss & fuss you’ll do is cutting 1 1/2 cups of cranberries in half. Patience, grasshopper. It’s worth it. Or – delegate to someone who’s not dangerous with a knife. Pop the batter in your oven, & your whole house will smell like the holidays. That’s way better than patchouli, peeps.
Ruth’s Not-a-fruitcake Quick Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed OJ (I prefer satsumas, but naval oranges are fine. Not store bought OJ, please!)
2 Tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cranberries, thawed if frozen, sliced in half
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped, toasted & cooled slightly
Preheat oven to 350. Arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter; set aside.
Place flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, salt & baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk well. Add OJ, melted butter, egg & vanilla. Stir until just combined. Fold in cranberries, currants & nuts until evenly distributed. Don’t over stir.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, pushing it into the corners & smoothing the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, in about 65 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Turn the bread out onto the rack to cool completely — if you can wait that long!
~Adapted from Chow.com~
I hope we helped you finish your holiday shopping & baking!
BTW: The quick bread makes a great gift, as does my cranberry granola. Now, please sit back & let the ugly truth fly: How do YOU really feel about fruitcake and/or patchouli? Do you have favorite holiday treats (for pets or peeps) that you buy or make? How about a fave scent? Please share links & recipes! Funnier yet, we’d love to hear about the tastes & scents you hope Santa forgets this year!
Happy holidays, y’all! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©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