It doesn’t happen very often. Take a second to enjoy a puppy kiss and you’ll miss it. But once a holiday season, maybe once every other, I will get swept up in the egg nog and the Charlie Brown and the glitter and attempt to re-write a favourite seasonal tune with a canine twist. Now, to say my skills at the parody are limited would be a giant understatement. The declared Queen of Caroldies will always be I Still Want More Puppies. Have you seen her latest? So cute, so appropriate. Anything I attempt looks amateurish in comparison to the master.
But I can’t resist the lure. Every year one song in particular gets lodged in my brain. It isn’t a good song. It isn’t even a good Christmas song. But it is played on the radio ad infinitum and I find myself involuntarily singing it in the shower every morning. It drives everyone around me insane. I have come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with this spectre of a song is to re-work it doggy style.
So here it is, “Last Christmas”, originally recorded by Wham! – the only true version – and written by George Michael. May my shower belting be less mind-numbing from here on in:
(If it’s too painful for you, I understand if you need to click away.)
I gave you a toy
But the very next minute, you tore out its guts
To save me a dime
I’ll give you a broken shoe box
I gave you a blanket
But I turned around and it was peed on
To save me a dime
I’ll give you a chewed up tree branch
Bankrupt and out of joy
I try to find
Something you won’t destroy
Tell me dog
Must you wreck everything?
If it’s been a year
My wallet still feels the sting
I wrapped your gift and placed it
Cautiously under the tree
It was hard
Now I know what a fool I’ve been
But if you give me those eyes
I know you’ll trick me again
I gave you a bully stick
But within three seconds you’d swallowed it whole
To save me a dime
I’ll give you some stale dog food
I gave you a ball
But all you played was keep away
To save me a dime
I’ll give you a dirty sock
What do you think? Should I make my own music video? It’s bound to go viral, I am sure.
Before anyone is offended by the title of this post I want to make it clear that I do not believe Border Collies any any smellier than any other breed. If anything, their OCD nature probably makes them less odorous. No, the reference has less to do with stinkiness and more to do with the fact that the more time I spent in dog sports the more former mutt-lovers I saw switching over to the dark side.
Before anyone is offended by that I want to make it clear that I do not abide breed discrimination and I think Border Collies are brilliant dogs. Some of Shiva’s best friends are Border Collies! Er…That may not quite be accurate. Shiva’s antics tend to bring out the worst in other dogs and Border Collies especially seem to prefer eating her face off to joining her in a game of running around like a maniac. Nonetheless! I love Border Collies and before the wackadoodle I used to think I wanted one. Now I know I prefer certifiable to genius in a dog.
The reason I call it “the dark side” is because there was a period where it seemed everybody I knew was getting a Border Collie. Let’s face it, they are over-represented in dog sports enough. Just look at this Canadian World Agility Team photo:
There seems to be this belief that if one wishes to move to the upper echelons of canine athletics, one requires either a Border Collie or a Sheltie. People I knew would get their start with a mutty rescue and then once they kind of knew what they were doing, they would purchase a Border Collie puppy. It was just a shame, is all. It gives newcomers and audience members the wrong impression. Other dogs are just as capable and love the thrill of competition just as much. One of the things I love the most is watching dogs of non-traditional breeds get out on the course and do just as well. Proving that, well, one doesn’t need a Border Collie to succeed.
Anyway, apparently it isn’t just dog sports in which Border Collies are unnecessarily the dominant breed. Or should I say species?
Champis is a hero to rabbits everywhere. Maybe a more appropriate title of this post should have been “Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Dog to Do a Bunny’s Job.”
At the start of the month my brilliant web designer friend, AJ Emm (I hope I can consider her my friend), came up with a fun blog challenge that attracted me instantly: 31 Lists in 31 Days. I love lists and I love challenges so I signed up on day one. And then promptly forgot about it. Not atypical behaviour.
I’ve never been a rule follower when it comes to these things. I think it is because in my real life I have to obey every single rule I come across, even the one about eating asparagus with one’s fingers, that being a rebel online is my only outlet. Repression. It works in mysterious ways.
Regardless, today’s list was actually supposed to be about 5 Halloween costumes. Since I am not a Halloween fan and the only costume I’ve ever enjoyed was the year I dressed up as Charlie-Brown-dressed-up-as-a-ghost I decided to rewind a bit and check in with the list from day three.
5 Things I Wish I Were More Knowledgeable About
1. Cat behaviour. There are dozens of seminars offered in every city on understanding one’s dog and interpreting canine body language, but why are there never similar lectures on figuring out what the heck your cat is trying to tell you when he is climbing the curtains at three in the morning? Even the books are fairly limited. It’s an area in which I feel like a complete dunce.
2. Quilting. I’ve always wanted to learn a craft and learning to quilt has always had an almost romantic appeal. There are so many hidden symbols and traditions and as a historian I am fascinated by the centuries old practice. Unfortunately, I barely have the patience to learn how to sew on buttons.
3. The French Language. I feel as a Canadian I should be able to speak at least rudimentary French. Much to my humiliation I forgot most of it after high school and even my reading has degraded to nothing. My lack of ability was noticeable when I lived on the East Coast, next door to Canada’s only true bilingual province. Je m’appelle Unilingual Moron.
4. Writing. I would really like to take a writing class, even just an online one for fun. There is so much I have to learn about mechanics and story building. I never even took a single English class in university and I regret that now.
5. How to Play a Musical Instrument. Music has always been important to me but other than fiddling around with my electric keyboard as a child and one six week session of guitar lessons I’ve never been able to play much worth mentioning. I’d like one day to be able to sit down at a piano and hammer out something other than “Oh Susanna.”
All of this navel gazing has gotten me thinking about how much my desires have changed over the years. Ten years ago I was terrified of cats and certainly never envisioned living with one. I wish I could say my dog at the time took precedence – featured in the photo above – but poor Nikita was even barely on my radar. Nope, instead here is what this same list may have looked like a decade ago. Ah, 2003…
5 Things I Wished I Were More Knowledgeable About at Age 21
1. Driving. I still don’t know much about it, honestly, other than the fact I am terrified every time I step on the accelerator. But back then I was naive enough to think I would get over my fears one day.
2. Moving to Ireland. Yeah, I am not even going to touch that one. Man, did I live in lala-land back then.
3. Sex. Because I hadn’t had any yet a the time. At this point, I have nothing to hide.
4. The Political System of Belarus. I remember being in a panic over my Comparative Politics class December of that year. I had one semester left and was determined to keep my 3.9 GPA. I have no idea why now.
5. How to Dance. Yep, never really learned that skill either but back then it seemed important.
What about you? What 5 things do you wish you knew more about?
I don’t want to keep being such a whingey baby about this. Winter hasn’t even begun and I know the moratorium on complaining about the weather must have been up weeks ago but it is so freaking cold! Like stupid cold. Eyelashes frozen together boots sticking to the pavement cold. Not that there is any pavement. It’s all covered in ice and snow. Just look at the forecast!
That’s Celsius, yo
It doesn’t help that my best friend, whom has been living in Edmonton so long she has lost all semblance of perspective, tells me this is nothing. That it’s going to get colder. This barely registers on the coldness scale of Edmontonian deep freeze.
There is no question. I am going to be lucky if I make it till spring. Which, by the way? Doesn’t usually arrive till June.
Not even the sight of Shiva in a reindeer sweater can warm me up
At least, this is what I thought until after I walked the dog tonight. Pretty sure the end was nigh, I figured I may as well suck it up and toss away all attempts to look cool. After tugging on my itchy purple hat that makes my hair stand on end and donning my overly-large winter coat, I reasoned I may as well dig out the ol’ fleece-lined pants too. Why not? It’s not like I was going to live much longer. May as well go out looking like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story.
Well. About ten minutes into the walk I realized something strange. I wasn’t frozen. Sure, I couldn’t feel my face but the rest of my body was downright toasty. It made no sense. The temperatures were lower than they were this morning. I shouldn’t feel warmer. The only thing that had changed was the addition of the bulky, tattered fleece-lined pants. Could they really be a game-changer?
I decided to conduct an utterly un-scientific experiment. Fifteen minutes after Shiva and I returned home, just enough time to get cozy, I decided to test my theory by going back outside for another walk.* This time, I didn’t wear my hat or my gigantic coat. That way I would be able to discern whether or not the pants really did have supernatural powers.**
As I trudged to the store two blocks away I noticed several things. 1. Hats really do have a purpose. 2. It’s impossible to look cool with a runny nose. 3. My body, and therefore by extension my limbs, remained reasonably warm. It was a Canadian Winter miracle! My life is saved! I might make it to the thaw after all!
So my Christmas wish list this year is simple. All I want is ten more pairs of fleece-lined pants. in multiple colours. If they come in work-appropriate styles, even better. Size eight, please. You know, just in case you had any extra on hand…
For those who are also dreading the deep freeze, are there any items you swear by to make it through?
*Okay, that’s a lie. I actually went back out because we were out of cat food*** and apparently letting TC starve is worse than facing the frigid wind-chill.
**This is another lie. The real reason is because I didn’t want the people in the store to judge me for my fly-away hair or ill-fitting parka. I’d rather be cold and “stylish” because evidently I am thirty-one going on twelve.
***Of course, I didn’t just get cat food. I didn’t want to look like some sort of crazy cat lady who risks hypothermia to make sure Mr. Whiskers has an emergency supply of crunchies. So I also bought jalapeno cheddar bread and a box of frozen egg rolls. I would have bought candy canes as well (because that would have looked less weird??) but they only had french vanilla flavoured ones and I find that appalling. Why is it so hard to find candy cane flavoured candy canes these days? No wonder the world is falling apart. But I digress.
I like to think of Shiva as a dog’s dog. As she walks with ears bouncing and tail bumping, I imagine a one-line song running through her head. Her own version of the Black Eyed Peas’ “Imma Be” with only one slight substitution.
Imma dog, imma dog – imma imma imma dog
Imma dog, imma dog – imma imma imma dog
Imma dog, imma dog – imma imma imma dog
Imma dog dog dog dog imma imma dog
Imma dog dog dog dog imma imma dog
Imma dog dog dog dog imma imma dog
Just as rhythmic because she’s cool like that. Though perhaps without the drug dealing and the semen.
Everything she does is done with enthusiasm. At least, that is the word I have grown to use. It sounds so much better than “bat-shit insanity” when talking to others at the dog park. If she is given thirty seconds to complete something, she will do it in one. If she is asked to jump up one stair, she’ll throw herself up all ten. It’s just who she is. It used to give me daily heart attacks but eventually one gains perspective. Sometimes I forget that the things she does aren’t normal until I see the look on another dog owner’s face when she randomly vaults off a tree and then performs several cartwheels across the field for no reason whatsoever.
“Oh, you mean dogs aren’t supposed to bounce off the furniture every time they enter the house after a walk? Huh.”
The problem is, this gusto is applied to everything in her life and as entertaining as it is, it also becomes problematic when the vet starts to notice things. And by things I mean, the fact that Shiva’s back teeth are showing a little more wear than they should be. At our last appointment before the move, our wonderful vet raised her eyebrows when she took a look at the tornado’s choppers. I had a feeling I knew what she was going to say. The verdict was predictable, if majorly depressing.
“No more antlers,” she declared. “No more Nylabones, no more bones, period.”
Let me clarify. What she said was no more of these:
And absolutely no more of these:
What she meant was death, destruction, and an end to all semblance of peace for as long as we all shall live.
Our vet was obviously not aware that a Shiva’s gotta chew. It’s just a certain fact. Engraved in stone. I am almost positive that when the Rosetta Stone was re-discovered by that French soldier there was a small Shiva Stone next to it in the Nile Delta stating “all Shivas must chew.”
Oh sure, she said it would be fine if Shiva continued to chew these:
Yet, that’s not really fitting Shiva’s definition of the verb, now is it? Kongs are awesome, they are meant for sucking out yummy peanut butter treats. They do not satisfy Shiva’s anxiety gods, or whomever the spirits are who compel her to destroy. It isn’t her fault. I believe that. Chomping hard on a good antler just makes her feel better. Who am I to begrudge her that?
Besides, after several months of stern no-bone restrictions, a former friend has joined our family, one we had thought was gone for good. But today’s, er, “episode” confirms it.
This happened no more than thirty minutes after the toy was purchased. This includes travel and taking the dog out to pee time.
In case you can’t tell, the above photo features a decapitated duck. One of many in our future. That’s right, the world better be ready, as Shiva the Destroyer is back and in prime form. No duck, no elephant, no bear, no fish, no stuffed animal will ever feel safe again.
Sleep with one eye open, Mr. Snake. Your days are numbered.
So what is a responsible pet owner to do? Put her dog before all of the innocent little stuffies, just waiting to have their guts ripped out?
I am not said responsible pet owner. As the title suggests, I am instead the worst dog owner in the world. Rather than adhere to the kind, well-meaning vet’s advice, I’ve decided to give the world a bit of a break. Even though I know it’s wrong, even though I know we may have to pay for canine dentures one day, every once in a while, for a maximum of five minutes at a time, I will give Shiva a bone to chew.
I know. I am going to Canine Hell. But it makes her so happy! How can I deny my puppy one of the few tools that keeps her sanity in check? For all I know, she decapitates stuffed animals for the sheer joy of it. Allowing her to wear down her teeth on a solid bone every once in a while ensures we’ll all live to see another day. It may make me a terrible dog owner but it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.
Shiva’s last agility class took place on July 6, 2013. Five months ago. The dog sport was a part of our lives for so long, three and a half years, I was wistful about giving it up. Our coach and trainer had become a good friend; we certainly wouldn’t be the team we are today without her guidance. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. Not to mention, all of the compassionate friends we met along our journey. They were people and dogs who had experienced similar troubles and anxieties. A more supportive lot I have never met outside of blogland. I will forever be grateful for each and every one of them for the cheers, the commiserations, and the camaraderie. They were special people and I doubt I will see the likes of them again.
Alas, things changed, our lives changed, and we had to say goodbye to all of it. That final day of class was difficult, to say the least. As I watched our trainer and friend say her farewells to Shiva, it was all I could do to rein in my emotions. I was determined not to cry in public. I don’t think I did a very good job. We owe them so much and it is hard to comprehend that we may not ever see them or their adorably skilled dogs ever again. Of course, they are all just a Facebook message away but it’s not the same is it? Another dog and handler have taken our place in the class, competitions have come and gone, titles have been won and lost, and we were not there to witness any of it. Videos after the fact do not compare to shouts of encouragement on the sidelines.
Agility has not been an easy practice for Shiva and I. We’ve had many more failures than we’ve had successes. Countless times I have vowed to give it up, that the stress is not worth the lackluster results. And yet, I miss it. Maybe not the frustration or the tears but the moments when we really connected. They were few, admittedly, but the rush was enough to keep me going.
Honestly, I don’t know that I will ever trial with Shiva again. It’s not something that was ever fun for us. What I miss, though, are the classes, the little bursts of connection and fun once a week in an environment where it didn’t really matter if we performed the sequence perfectly or not. Especially during this last year when I officially gave up the sport. It took all of the pressure off. Ironically, when I stopped caring how well Shiva performed, she did better than ever.
Isn’t that always the way?
Our last class was amazing. I don’t remember the obstacles or sequences – that is all a blur now. What I remember is how we were both on our game. Laughing and playing, Shiva and I were a true partnership. We enjoyed that final hour as much as we possibly could. She made me so proud. It was a fitting end to her agility career.
And yet… Perhaps it doesn’t have to be the end. Maybe we can find another class here. It won’t be the same – it couldn’t. Magic like that isn’t created, it just appears. I don’t even know how to look. We kind of just fell into our last class on a referral from our trainer. Is it possible we could be that lucky again?
This is where I ask for your advice. If you currently take training classes, either in agility, or nosework, or any other dog related skill, how did you find your coach? Did you receive recommendations from friends? Did you randomly Google and select the first place that sounded decent? Do you feel a connection with your fellow classmates? If so, how did you find your training group?
Of love and dreams to share!
Ahem. I apologize. The instant the calendar turns to December I feel like I have free reign to belt out as many holiday tunes as possible. The iconic song from the best Christmas special ever is always one of the first on my playlist. It is this time of year when I miss choir membership the most. Christmas, for me, will always be able the music. I don’t care how much my PH teases or how many times the radio plays “Silver Bells”, there is such a small window of opportunity for rocking around the tree that I am compelled to take advantage.
Of course, the start of December marks more than just the ability to annoy people with my out of practice singing voice. It is also the beginning of some pretty big blogging events and I would be remiss if I did not provide the full details.
And the lights. Can’t forget those.
Number 1 Today was the very first day of the brilliant Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers. Each day leading up to the 25th all host bloggers will be offering a different dog-themed giveaway. Every. Day. That is a lot of chances to win! Last year I was too distracted over things that did not matter nearly as much as winning doggy prizes and did not put forth my full effort. But this year, this year I have a feeling I am going to win big.
Since I am going to win it all, I guess there is no point in me sharing this with you. Still, I wouldn’t mind a little competition.
Today is also the start of Something Wagging This Way Comes’ Pet Blogger Gift Exchange. The best thing about this event is that everyone is a winner! I can’t think of a better way to get to know my fellow online pet lovers. In fact, I found out who I have been paired with today – shhhh – and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Don’t worry, it won’t be a secret for long!
In case you missed the sign up for this exciting holiday tradition, never fear! Submissions will be accepted until December 20th so as many people can join in the celebration as possible. What are you waiting for?
This one I am much less anxious to share as I am much less confident of my chances. However, I have such a good time preparing my audition videos that I want to encourage all of you to do the same, whether you decrease Shiva’s likelihood of being selected or not.
Remember the wicked Andrew Grantham of Talking Animals fame? The one who donates 100% of the proceeds from his merchandise sales to the Nova Scotia SPCA? Of course you do. Every year, the talented video editor puts out a special holiday montage based on videos submitted by pet-loving fans. That’s right. Your pet might just end up an Internet star!
Last year Shiva and I auditioned but clearly I did not work hard enough to enable her entertaining qualities to shine through. Maybe this year is her big chance at glory?
I’ve decided it doesn’t matter. Win or lose, we still have a blast trying. I encourage you to try out with your cat, dog, parakeet, or guinea pig as well. If you win, your video will be featured in a special holiday video. If you lose? You’ll have had a lot of laughs! Besides, it’d be awesome to see a few more Petosphere animals in the mix! Special thanks to Bringing Up Bella for the reminder of this opportunity!
Do you know of any other fun pet blogging events during the holiday season? Please share the details in the comments!
A dog who was known for her eagerness, though some may have called it plain meddlesomeness, spent a great deal of time in search of fresh smells and adventure. Intrusive she may have been but she was also a friendly sort. While sniffing and traveling she came across many fellow wanderers and meeting others was one of her greatest pleasures. No matter how startling the appearance of a fellow wanderer she always approached like an old friend. In other words, the dog had little use for manners and never understood when others were not so keen to converse.
On one of such journeys, the dog found herself trotting down a narrow path. She closed her eyes, touched her nose to the ground, and picked up an unfamiliar smell. Delighted by the prospect of a new encounter, the dog kept her nose in the dirt and allowed the scent trail to guide her. It wasn’t long before she found herself eye to an eye and nose to nose with a strange looking creature indeed.
The dog had never seen such an odd little face in her life. It had two eyes and what looked like a nose but the stubby legs and the wide body were covered in a mysterious sort of fur. The astonishing mammal blinked once and the dog blinked back. Ever curious, the dog continued to sniff, putting her face right into the neck of the other animal.
“What are you doing?” squeaked the smaller being. “Don’t you know I could hurt you?”
This made the dog giggle. “How could you hurt me? I am a dog with big teeth and you are a rodent-smelling thing. Do you want to play?”
The odd creature, being a quill-covered porcupine, had no desire to interact further with such a silly beast. He had twigs to eat and clover to find and had no time for leisure. Besides, he was a slow-moving animal and knew the dog’s kind of games were not games he liked to play.
“Certainly not,” said the porcupine and with that last he circled around to furrow back in the bush. As he turned his tail swished and hit the dog in her interfering black nose.
“Ouch!” cried the dog and she sprung back. She would have jumped forward again to give chase to the spiny animal but she was stopped by the leash attached to her collar. The dog did not understand why the porcupine had been so rude as to cause her pain. Rubbing her nose with a paw, she wandered away.
It wasn’t too long before the dog met the porcupine again. This time there was no leash to restrain her. When she spotted a pointy tail wagging out of a thicket, she bounced over to say hello, wagging her tail in response.
“Hello, you odd creature!” The dog shoved her nose under the belly of the smaller animal. “Would you like to play today?”
The porcupine was quite startled. He had been enjoying an early breakfast of bark and willow leaves and did not appreciate the nosey dog interrupting his meal.
“Eep!” the porcupine shouted. Abandoning his food, he shuffled as quick as he could over to a nearby tree. Much to his dismay, the dog followed right behind.
“But why?” asked the dog, leaning forward to sniff his neck. As she leaned with her tonque flicking out a quill caught her just below her eye. “Eieeeeeee!” The dog cried out, shaking her head in pain.
“I warned you!” squeaked the porcupine. He seized the moment of the dog’s surprise to shimmy up the tree. “Leave me alone!”
“But why?” The dog persisted. Even though her eye watered from the spiney jab, she placed her front paws on the trunk of the tree. Her tail wagged vigorously behind her. “I just want to taste you!”
“Don’t you learn?” asked the porcupine from his spot on a branch above the dog’s head. “I have already hurt you twice. I will hurt you again.”
The dog started up at the strange-looking animal, tilting her head. She couldn’t understand why she had been hurt but didn’t think it had anything to do with the creature in the tree. He was so small and so slow. She was so big and so fast. It must have been a mistake.
Eventually the dog was called away from the tree with the promise of dinner and the porcupine was left to his own devices. He hoped it was the last he would see of the ignorant beast. But it was not to be so.
A few days later, just as the porcupine was meandering off to bed, the dog appeared at the rise of a hill in the meadow. The sun had yet to rise and the porcupine hoped he would not be seen. Alas, the dog took a big sniff of the air and then started to wag her tail in his direction. With nowhere to hide, the porcupine crouched his stubby legs and curled up into as much of a ball as he could.
“Hello again!” The dog bounded over. “Would you like to play?”
The porcupine did not answer. Instead, he curled up tighter. The dog jumped in a circle around him, barking and laughing. When he didn’t respond, she shoved her face underneath him to get a good whiff.
“Ow!” cried the dog. “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!”
The porcupine lifted his head, expecting to see the dog running away. He was surprised when she continued to stand in front of him, tail still high in the hair. The porcupine immediately lost his patience.
“I don’t understand you,” he declared. “Three times we have met and three times I have hurt you. How many times will it take you to learn? What kind of animal are you?”
The dog puzzled over this question, thinking the spikey fellow even stranger than ever. What kind of animal did she look like? After much deep thought the dog answered as honestly as she could.
“I am a Shiva.”
The porcupine’s shoulders hunched and he let out a sigh. All of a sudden he understand. If a Shiva had infiltrated the forest, there was no hope for solitary creatures like him. It was time to find a new home.
Fool you once, shame on me. Fool you twice, shame on you. Fool you three times… You must be a Shiva.
Before anyone worries, no Shivas were seriously injured in the telling of this story. Shiva has encountered several porcupines and has once chased one into a tree, but any wounds were strictly to her pride.
Things Making Me Feel Needlessly Guilty
The three times I used Shiva’s surgery as an excuse for asking another dog owner to re-leash his or her dog.
The fact I wish I had thought of this sooner.
I spent the extra bit of money I had for this month on symphony tickets instead of savings.
The fact that I almost wish our Christmas this year would be as quiet as previous years. As lovely as it will be to spend the holidays with family, the coordination makes my head ache.
The Nanaimo bar I ate for lunch.
My cat. I haven’t seen him since I startled him off my chair. No wonder he hates me.
Things Making Me Feel Needlessly Happy
Our wee little tree and twinkle lights on the staircase. if I could, I would cover the house in them.
The fact that there are so many programs celebrating the beauty of dogs. Like this one:
Re-reading one of my favourite books from a wiser perspective.
December is just one day away.
Shiva’s purple polka-dotted coat made by my kind and generous practically mother-in-law. We are so lucky.
The yummy roasted potatoes I just had for dinner.
Things Making Me Feel Needlessly Nostalgic
This photo of Shiva with our old lilac bush.
Mint chocolate Girl Guide cookies.
The thought of giving up my Blackberry.
The wish I had blogged more last year so I would have a record of all we experienced. The knowledge that even if I attempt to tell the stories now, they won’t be the same as they would have been.
Things Making Me Feel Relieved
Tomorrow is the last day of Movember.
Things Making Me Feel Less Relieved Than I Expected
Tomorrow is the last day of NaBloPoMo. I kind of wish it wasn’t.
Today didn’t have the greatest beginnings. The pants I planned on wearing had a rip in them but I had to wear them anyway and hope nobody noticed because no other pairs were clean. Also, I haven’t purchased a new item of clothing in over two years and I am running low on options. Shiva spent forty-two minutes of our forty-five minute walk sniffing a single clump of snow so I didn’t get the exercise that usually helps me face the day. I was worried about a friend who had to face a pretty scary job interview and my leftover spaghetti lunch spilled out of the container and into my tote bag.
Gripe, gripe, gripe, gripe.
As it is the American Thanksgiving and as I missed out on writing my annual Canadian Thanksgiving post due to indolence, I wanted to take some time today to share my overdue gratitude. Apparently, though, all I can think of right now are the ways things didn’t go right, instead of the countless ways they did.
I mean, my cat and my dog actually shared the same chair! This should thrill me for at least a month!
Which, really, is a general problem of the human brain and the purpose of this day in the first place. Why do we seem to ignore the millions of things that go well, in favour of fixating on the few things that go less well? If there is anyone out there who knows the answer to this, please provide me with the link to your blog yesterday.
Each year I tell myself I am going to cultivate a daily practice of gratitude. Each year I do nothing. I get stuck in the medium, pondering the best way to go about expressing my thankfulness as opposed to just expressing it. Missing the point seems to be a habit with me.
Last January I found this great idea on Pinterest – as one does – that suggested creating a gratitude jar. The image iself was beautiful. A lovely glass vessel decorated with gleaming ribbon and filled with little white notes neatly clipped. It seemed so simple and yet so special. The initial concept was that at the end of year, or in the midst of a particularly rough day, I would pull out the hand-written thoughts and remember how much good there is in the world. It was a brilliant idea, a genuis idea! I instantly fell in love.
But I didn’t budge an inch. Instead I obsessed with finding the right jar and then determined I would never create anything as pretty as what I saw online, deciding to just give up completely. It was too much work. I’ll do it next year. Maybe.
Who can compete with this?
So here I am. December is a sleep or two away and I have done nothing but bitch for eleven months. Again.
It’s ridiculous because the thing is, I have a million things for which I am grateful. The point of the jar isn’t to make something that looks appealing in a photograph. The point is to dedicate a bit of time to feeling positive about my life. It doesn’t matter if it goes in a glass decanter covered in unicorns and sparkles, it only matters if I sit down to acknowledge how lucky I am. There doesn’t even need to be a jar! I can use a shoebox or an old pot or a grocery bag!
Because as much as I complain I am grateful. I am grateful I even have all three of the aforementioned things around to use! The box means I have something to protect my feet, the pot means I have a way to cook dinner, and the bag means I have enough money to purchase food. I am grateful I have a computer that still works enough for me to type this. I am grateful I have a blanket on my lap and a healthy dog beside me and a furnace that supplies heat. These are all amazing things! Stupendous things! Things that should make me dance every morning on my way to the shower!
Well, maybe not dance. With my lack of coordination that early in the morning I am likely to fall down the stairs and throw my whole gratitude thing down with me.
So even though it is only November 28th and not January 1st, even though I don’t have a special jar, or special shiny paper or even a pen that doesn’t leak, I am going to start this thing today. I may have to write my notes on tissues or the back of old pay stubs but hey, I should be grateful I even have a pay stub on which to write! I may not remember to do it every day or even every week but it’s not about ticking off a box on my to-do list. It isn’t even about perfection. It’s about doing something for myself that may one day change my perspective and may even lead to doing some nice things for others.
It begins now.