Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Protesting My Niece

Blogging Friends.... Life is very, very, very busy right now, so I sincerely apologize for being absent from commenting on your Web sites!! Thursday was, of course Thanksgiving. I hope everyone enjoyed their family gatherings!! Friday, shopping. I did not score any Christmas presents. However, I almost bought some for myself!! Saturday, we bought our Christmas tree. Earlier than usual!! Sunday, church, plus my oldest brother, sister-in-law and niece came over for lunch, dessert and decorating!! Our Christmas tree looks so lovely!! Then, Monday morning, my Mom was progressively feeling poorly. Dad drove her to our hospital. Following a successful appendectomy, she is home now!! On top of that, I awoke with a head cold Monday. Impeccable timing. But those are my favorite kind of colds, because they seldom ever spread to the lungs!! I have "magic" herbal capsules--which I'm swallowing as directed--"we" shall kick this!! Sooner, rather than later!! Then, I spent over twelve hours Monday working on my "secretive writing project"....

This was supposed to be "published" last night. That was the plan!! However, around 7PM--during a windstorm--we lost electricity!! As I was working on this!! Suddenly, the Christmas CD which was playing stopped with a loud POP, our computer shut itself off, and every light went out!! All at once!! We were without electricity for about two hours and ten minutes until tow truck workers repaired it!! Fun!! I always love it whenever we lose power!! Last night, I sat on the great room carpet, stroking Rose's velvet-soft fur, listening to nothing but wild, uncontrollable winds, and being warmed by our wood stove!! So much for this Blog post being "published"!! Oh well. It was not my plan for the power to be suddenly knocked out. No. It was God's!! I cannot argue with that!!    

Second chances. I am a firm believer in them, and somehow always have been. My entire life. For Heaven knows how many "second" chances I have been granted!! More than I can count!! Because, when you are me, that girl with the "laundry list" of character defects--many of which I am working against!!--second chances are required. Yes, required. That being said, I am also a free giver of second chances. This, as I have experienced, is both a positive, and a negative. On Thanksgiving Day, some relatives entered our home for dinner, dessert, plus fellowship. Due to my Mom's cousin's ex-wife--who is afraid of canines--being absent, I actually allowed Rose a bit more freedom this year. A bit. She was still watched like some hawk by me. The red leash constantly dangled from her collar. However, my good girl did not need to be "abandoned" outside during mealtime!! Nope!! I simply told her to "lay down", away from our table. She did!! Among this small group of people was my nearly 10-month old niece. She absolutely loves dogs!! My niece is now standing assisted. Can she just quit growing? Or can time slow down a bit? My goodness.... She will turn one in February!! That cannot even be possible!! On Thanksgiving, my niece was crawling around, nearby Rose. She, of course, aimed for the tail. Never touch Rose's tail!! She hates that!! Sometimes--when I'm feeling like a pain in the butt--I will grab my mutt's tail. To which she responds with a swift turning of her head, as if thinking: Hey!! Don't touch my tail!! It is quite hilarious, actually!! I lifted my niece up onto my lap. Or at least I tried to!! She has become quite the independent little girl!! Both of us sitting on the carpeted great room floor, my niece decided to hit Rose in the face with her little hand!! Hit!! Responding, Rose fled, escaping injury. To both!! My niece clearly did not mean that. She isn't even one-years old yet!! All she was trying to do was "pet" my "puppy". The nearly 10-month old wanted Rose so badly!! So. I gave my niece a second chance. Same result. Rose took it in stride, seemingly understanding. She gives out second chances, as well!! My niece would not give up. She wanted her fingers to touch Rose's velvet-soft fur. Alright. One more chance. I tried to encourage my niece other body parts to pet. Nope!! Once again, my niece's little hands hit Rose's face!! This time, even Rose had enough of that!! Her mighty vocal chords bayed in protest!! I then pet Rose and comforted her. So, for now we are keeping those too separated!! Should I be concerned? No. Eventually, my niece will grow and mature. She'll learn. She and Rose will be the best of friends. Just give them a second chance!!  



Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Am Grateful

Blogging Friends.... Happy Thanksgiving!! I wanted to take a moment and express my most heartfelt gratitude for each and every one of you. Your comments were all so encouraging!! I have done a great deal of growing ever since last week's mood swing-induced pity party. A great deal of growing. I realized that I'm so abundantly blessed. And I was obviously not feeling grateful. I reminded myself that so many people suffer worse than me. Far worse. As I sat in church Sunday, tired, plus a bit "hung-over" from my pity party, I looked upward at the chapel's beautiful stained-glass steeple. And I felt God whisper that these mood swing-induced pity parties are Him growing and maturing me. But they hurt!! I don't want them!! I protested. To which God whispered back: Of course they hurt. They're growing pains.

In light of today being Thanksgiving, I am going to express some blessings which I am grateful for.

Rose. My Beautifully Unique "Mystery Dog". A Beagle/German Shepherd, according to guesses. My potentially random-bred mutt. Rose was born different--sans any "choices" in the matter--like me. She is such a joy, an amazing friend and my Heart Dog!! I am grateful.

My family. Dad, Mom, sister, and youngest brother. I am the flawed personality-type who needs a ton of support. They deliver. I am also thankful for my oldest brother, sister-in-law, and adorable niece. May our family continue to thrive!! I am grateful. 

Tony Stark/Iron Man. What can I say? I am thankful for a comic book superhero character. A Hollywood movie character. I am thankful for that favorite scene of mine in "The Avengers". So thankful. Because everything in my story leads me back to "It's a... terrible privilege.". Everything. May I never forget. I am grateful. 

An accepting and loving Blogville community. One word: Wow. I could not have asked for a better, more faithful, and accepting "family" of Friends than you, dear Readers!! I am grateful.

My gift of writing. Because it is just that: A gift. I am eternally thankful for my way with words!! It truly is more than just an ability. More than just some talent. I was born to write!! With that, I am also thankful for my Blog. Beautifully Unique. What a, well, unique, outlet for sharing this gift to Friends worldwide!! I am grateful. 

The opportunity to be featured on Coffee With A Canine earlier this year. What an incredible chance that was!! Wow. A huge thank-you to Charlene for making it possible!! Wow. Also, I am thankful for every Blogging Award which has been passed onto me throughout this year alone. It touches my deepest emotions just because I was thought of. I am grateful.   

My ability to walk. One year ago, this was not a possibility. Because I fell on November 14th and nearly fractured my right leg/foot. It was an arduous recovery process. I hobbled around like some old man sans a cane. I could not point my toes or bend my knee, but I am resilient!! I can walk!! I am grateful.

A roof over my head. We have been experiencing some insane rainstorms around here lately. Whenever this happens, I'm thankful for the place which we call "home", plus our burning wood stove!! So many are without both right now. I am grateful.

Cheerful holiday music. As these words are being typed, Martina McBride's version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is playing!! Mmmm.... I heard Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" the other day. Love it!! Nobody performs that song like The Boss!! Nobody. It felt like Christmas the moment I heard his rocking version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"!! Even before Thanksgiving. I am grateful.

And, yes, growing pains. As I mature and evolve into the person who I am meant to be, may I never stop learning. I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, Blogging Friends!!




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Earning Perspective

Blogging Friends.... This post was supposed to be "published" yesterday. But. A combination of busyness, procrastination, and shiftlessness does not write Blog posts!! Who knew? Oh well, here it is now!!   
Sorry about the smaller font in this post. Blogger was being a pain!!
Around here, we have this volcano. Several years ago--before I was ever born--she blew off her top. Today, this very, very distinctive-looking volcano still occasionally spews steam. Which looks like some gaseous-infused "cloud" across the clear-blue skies. This has always been my very favorite mountain!! Always. Emotionally--metaphorically speaking--I am like a mighty volcano. I hold everything within me--thoughts, feelings, emotions--occasionally spewing steam. Then, I explode!! Sort of like a volcano, I can appear strong on the outside for several days and weeks, even. I have a terrible "poker-face", however, so loved ones around me oft ask if I'm okay. And I lie. I put on this brave face. And, hot tears fall as soon as loved ones leave my presence. I rub them away. I'm fine. I'll be okay. I tell myself. I try to move forward, as though I am some tough emotionless Marine. Then, later on--sans any warning--I "erupt" in tears!! And, as to be expected, is it never pleasant. I am an erratic, oft-hormonal, mood-swingy, irrational woman during such "explosions"!! That being said, this has been a loooong week for me. Last Saturday, I began feeling low in spirits. For various reasons. But, I fought every thought, every feeling and every emotion. Holding it all within me like the "volcano" that I am. Then, on Thursday, I fell--hard!!--into an emotional "black hole". Yet another pity party. Care to guess its culprit? The usual. My learning disabilities. A lack of self-acceptance. Oh, how I wish I were "normal"!! Why is this so hard? Between Christmas shopping--which was quite successful!!--I wept my entire day away. And I was not in any "jolly" mood!! Not at all!! I awoke yesterday morning afflicted with an excruciating headache. I logged online, and found this picture of Robert Downey Jr. from my favorite scene in "The Avengers". That scene which I refer to as "A terrible privilege". When Tony Stark says: "You know, I've got a cluster of shrapnel, trying every second to crawl its way into my heart. This stops it. This little circle of light. It's part of me now, not just armor. It's a... terrible privilege.". I smiled upon seeing that picture. Because in my head, I was automatically quoting those lines!! I quietly spoke them aloud. Then, I began work on my secretive writing project. Along the way, I earned a little perspective. Again. Life may be hard sometimes. But. "It's a... terrible privilege.". And I do have a lot to be grateful for this upcoming Thanksgiving. A lot. I also awoke yesterday morning with the lyrics to this song in my head.  

"Song for Those with Disabilities"

Written by Bob Kauflin 

Within the womb I formed you
I fashioned and made each part
I thought of your fingers, your hands and your feet
Your mouth, your lungs, your heart
Though you might think that you’re different
I made you the way that you are
So you could discover the God who made you
And find out all I am

And though you might think you have limitations
There are no limits with Me
When you turn your eyes to My salvation
Finally you will see

In Me, you have all that you need
In Me, you have all that you need
In Me, you have all that you’ll ever need.

And I’ve heard each prayer that you’ve called out
“Why did You make me this way?”
You may not completely understand now
But there will be a day
When I make everything known to you
And what you don’t now understand
You will see that I'm Wise and I’m Mighty and Good
Just like all My plans
And if you trust in the work of My Son
One day you will see
That I’ve made you the way you are
To draw your heart to Me
To draw your heart to Me.

"It's a... terrible privilege".

Now I need to stroke the velvet-soft fur of my sweet Beautifully Unique girl, Rose.... Who hates it when I cry.     



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Crack on!!"

Blogging Friends.... Busy. That one two-syllable word pretty much sums up my life right now!! Busy. What with my still hush-hush secretive writing project slowly making progress. A pair of consecutive late, late nights typing. Insane, I know!! And trying to keep Beautifully Unique updated, yet failing anyway. This computer and I are now one, joined together like twain working partners. Sigh.... I've felt like a robot recently--built by some much more intelligent human being than I--and that is never good. Christmas music is playing as these words are being typed. Yes, Christmas music!! I feel codependent to these cheery holiday songs right now like some infant on breast milk.... They nourish my soul.
It has swiftly become my firm belief that life possesses a sense of humor. An ironic sense of humor!! Which, is refreshing, since life can also be so hard!! Difficult. Yet humorous. Life most certainly evens itself out!! Doesn't it? And, since God Himself is Author of life, then He, too, must possess a strong sense of humor!! An ironic sense of humor, that is!! So, I taught Rose the phrase "crack on". To me, this is "Sherlock Talk", part of a Robert Downey Jr. line. And it forevermore shall be!! But, I knew very little about where "crack on" originated from. What does it mean? I wondered. Did moviemakers invent "crack on"? Maybe it came from one of Robert Downey Jr.'s brilliant contributions? I finally did Google-search "crack on" after saying the phrase several times. But I still knew very little about it. I then learned that "crack on" means: To make good speed. To push on hard. To carry on. Cool!! So, I taught Rose the phrase "crack on". Quite by accident. Honest!! How did I teach Rose "crack on"? That is a rather eventful story.... Last Summer, in July, I was nervously anticipating seemingly never-ending Independence Day fireworks. For those who own noise-phobic canines, that time of year can feel like a helpless hell. And, in 2011, Rose most certainly gave me a "run for my money", as the saying goes!! It was an all-Summer experience, which I expressed throughout not one, but three Blog posts!! This being Rose's first 4th of July with me, I had zero clues as to how badly she would "mishandle" it. Zero clues. Independence Day landed on a Monday, so people launched fireworks plus bottle rockets. All weekend long and then some. When I walked Rose, one would explode. And she'd immediately perform an about-face. Literally. Rose would turn me around and immediately march home. If we were inside, I become a virtual "refrigerator". Rose was the "magnet", attaching her trembling body to mine. She occasionally hid beneath our great room table. If we were in the backyard when one exploded, same deal. An about-face toward our sliding glass door. Really? Does Rose not hear herself bay? Shouldn't that high-pitched howling hurt her ears? Apparently not!! Getting Rose to urinate before bed, proved our greatest challenge of all.... I would feed Rose some pumpkin at 9:50, link my girl's red leash to her collar, and encourage with a "Let's go outside!!", then the battle begun!! Eventually, we even forwent our nighttime walks. Temporarily. Plus, I purchased Rose a red harness for better control. So, I would lead Rose toward our backdoor, then every muscle within her neck tensed up!! What?! Is that the "German Shepherd" in her? I'd gently, yet firmly pull my canine toward outside, and she yanked back, like some stubborn mare. With an even stronger force. Rose simply refused to go outside!! At all. Once finally in the backyard, I repeatedly encouraged: "Go potty." Then our tug-of-war continued!! I would lead Rose to her new favorite location, and she'd yank back!! Midway, my mutt would sit--like some strong-willed three-year old child--certain that a firework could explode at any second!! Poor thing!! Not that I blamed her!! Given the pattern of those things randomly exploding, my little girl's worry was actually quite valid!! Quite valid. If I tried to walk Rose, we would never even leave our front lawn before her mighty muscles tensed up!! My goal was for Rose to urinate before bed. All Summer long, that seldom ever occurred. It felt as though I wandered an endless circle in attempting to solve this problem. Trying to find solutions. And I ran out of ideas!! Now the fireworks were gone. They were no more. The only bottle rockets which still existed were within Rose's head!! It was as though she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I tried being firm. One night I gently pulled my headstrong girl--while she yanked back in return--halfway down our cul-de-sac!! This took thirty minutes of tug and stop, take a breather, begin again!! It was exhausting!! Both physically and emotionally!! Not to mention, it looked terrible!! Me, pulling a poor canine down the street.... Have I no decency? I tried being gentle to the extreme. We slowly took our time. Zero pressure. Rose could sniff bushes. She was allowed to freeze in motion. I'm relaxed and completely patient with her. Yet neither option worked!! I struggled to maintain my sanity and evade frustration. For every night, I "fought with Rose"!! It reached a point to where I no longer excitedly anticipated our walks. They were no longer enjoyable. I now dreaded them!! Eventually, I gained a bit of wisdom. I mentally threw my hands up in surrender. New plan. Feed Rose her pumpkin at 9:50. Fasten the harness. Link her leash. And onward toward our backyard we would head!! But not without a battle!! We would step foot/paw out the sliding glass door. That part was easy. She cooperated fine with leaving the house!! But, my little girl would stop--stock-still--once we were outside!! She'd put on her breaks at the end of our patio!! Why me? I tried pulling Rose everywhere in the privacy of our backyard. No success!! So now what? I stargazed!! Alongside a very reluctant Rose!! It was August now. And Summer skies are sprinkled with tiny sparkling stars!! I arranged this long white plastic lawn chair and positioned it next to "Dougie", our rapidly-growing future Christmas tree. There I sat, staring upward. Rose's red leash connected to my right wrist, I "incarcerated" her for about five minutes. This way, she could learn just how safe the darkened outside world truly was. Or not. It was unconvincing. For Rose's fear--pathological may it be--is, according to some experts, inbred. She was born with Noise Phobia. And I witnessed Rose's fear swiftly graduate from pathological to psychological. I tried every "solution" my mind could imagine up. I even bribed Rose with treats, as though she were a preschool-aged child. Nothing worked!! This was a roller coaster ride of one step forward and two steps back. Temporary success. Long-term defeat. I so desperately wanted a victory!! An ending to this hell!! My perseverance was running on empty. Then, I got smart. At last!! I reached a realization that Rose not only learns best with treats, and bribing is for naught, but my Beagle cross can anticipate one.... So long as she is cooperative!! If my Rose walked flawlessly down our cul-de-sac--the entire way--sans tensing up, she earned a baby carrot!! Plus endless praise!! If not, nothing. No treat. Not even a simple "Good girl". It was "tough love" time!! This newfound plan began one night during a short-lived heat wave. Quite by accident. Rose--like everyone--was drinking more water than usual. That night, she provided me with a pleasant surprise!! I lead her toward our backyard, and Rose walked in the direction of growing blueberries!! Really....? We walked completely across our backyard.... Toward the end of it!! And then.... She urinated!! The following night, same thing!! On both occasions, I praised Rose excessively, and provided her a baby carrot!! Then. Our heat wave ended. We returned to "fighting" each other. I tried walking Rose down our cul-de-sac.... But gently pulled her instead. Alright. We shall return to the backyard next time. Inhale. Exhale. And relax. Plan Z: I lead Rose toward the blueberries!! My message was crystal clear: Cooperate, baby carrot. Be reluctant--even for a second--she loses!! Rose is my bright girl.... Who loves food!! It most certainly did not require much time for a long-awaited "mission accomplished"!! Why didn't I think of that before? So it was a battle of wills. A battle constantly lost. There were tears on my behalf, feelings of defeat, emotion aplenty!! Whenever I heard one and Rose seemed frightened, I sat alongside her. I spoke in an unnaturally meek tone. I stroked her velvet-soft fur. I hummed any tune that entered my brain. Any tune. This was Rose's first Independence Day with me. I wanted her to understand, best as possible, that I'm here, and I always will be. Fast forward. It's July 2012. All I have to draw back from, memory-wise, is that previous arduous Summer. That first experience. And I did not wish to relive any of it!! So. We needed a plan. A mantra. A phrase, or line, to--if possible--evade another "war" against my canine. So, I taught Rose the phrase "crack on". She learned it. The rest is history....  




Monday, November 5, 2012

Radiant Venus

Blogging Friends.... I need to be honest with you. Over these past two weeks, I have been, best as humanly possible, fighting off pity parties regarding my learning disabilities. I cannot even mention how many times I've chanted "It's a terrible privilege.". I have lost count!! But, life happens to have a weird sense of humor, because, on Friday, I wrote these very words for this Blog post: I have found myself mentally preoccupied with a secretive writing project over the course of this past week. Which, I've discovered, is a combative "weapon" against unwanted pity parties for me!! Keeping mentally busy. That was expressed. Then--almost like clockwork--on Sunday morning, I lost it, emotionally!! In church, of all places!! Wow, I must have jinxed myself!! This pity party/mood swing did not persist long, fortunately!! I am recovered as of today!! Life is so weird....   
Sometimes, when we least expect it, God's creation provides us with a pleasant surprise. Such as my Autumn rainbow from two weeks ago. When the heavens display a beautiful picture like art on canvas. Four nights ago, God's creation provided me with such an unexpected surprise. We had just returned home from a dear friend's baby shower. It was late, and people were sound asleep within our house. Oh dear. I slipped through our front door, greeted by Rose's boisterous "Beagle bay"!! Immediately, I lead my little girl--howling uncontrollably--toward the great room. While making "Ssshh-ing" sounds. I quickly closed the French doors. With a slam. I found Rose's red leash. For a few fleeting seconds, my mind wondered: Should I take her outside? Or.... A walk!! Walk we did. It was an impulse decision. And a good one. Because walking Rose while she is performing her instinctive high-pitch bays always calms my hound dog down!! Always. "Let's crack on!!" I said, using "Sherlock Talk" as our routine command for walks. 'Sherlock Talk'? Allow me to explain. See, in the second Sherlock Holmes film, Robert Downey Jr.'s sleuthing character said to Jude Law's: "Now. Do you need me to elaborate. Or can we just crack on?". For reasons beyond my comprehension--most likely because I'm weird--I love that Robert Downey Jr. line!! Love it. So. I taught "Crack on" to Rose!! Accidentally!! Fortunately, if I say "crack on" in an eccentric, yet determined tone similar to that of Sherlock's, Rose understands what it means. Time for a walk!! So, that being said, Rose calmed down--temporarily!!--enough for me to snap on her leash. I reopened the French doors. We hurriedly walked though our living room. "Crack on!! Crack on!! Crack on!!" I said in an urgent tone of voice. I turned our front door's knob, and outside we stepped!! The grounds were wet from Autumn rains, but I ran!! With abandon!! Heedless of any risks that I could slip and fall!! I had just returned from a party, after all. I was high on chocolate and sugar!! High. For I drank one cup of sparkling apple cranberry cider. I ate two "fun sized" packets of M&M's. Plus one Kit Kat bar. Our hostess served single slices of very, very rich vanilla cake. For me, the "pig" with a cosmic sweet tooth? I was actually good that night!! But. I was still high on sugar and chocolate!! So I ran with Rose. Finally, we slowed our pace to a steady walk. But, by then I was out of breath!! Which, oddly, felt so good!! My face flashed this confident cockeyed smirk. Oh, I was a bit hyperactive!! Then, facing onward, I witnessed something. Something beautiful. Venus was seemingly more radiant than usual!! Then, I saw it. Illuminating dark rain clouds, like some bright flashlight, was the moon!! As its beams rose upward, they reflected on Venus!! I stood there, stock-still, and stared, utterly mesmerized by this unexpected gift of nature. Rose and I were just about to turn back toward home, when the moon peeked through those grey clouds, slowly arising. It was breathtaking!! Now, we could turn back toward home. Okay, Rose. "Crack on!!" I love "Sherlock Talk"!!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Blogville Lost Another Friend

One of the most beautiful things about being a part of an online community which revolves around animals, is also the most heartbreaking. Death. If you're anything like me, and most pet-lovers are, we become attached to these beautiful creatures on a deeply sentimental level. Deeply sentimental. We love these animals as though they belong to us. Every canine "met" instantaneously becomes like ours. So when one passes on, we, too, have just lost a Friend. We, too, are heartbroken.

This is a bit late, but I learned just this morning that my dear, sweet Blogging Friend, Suka, from  died. On October 29th, 2012. He slipped quietly away--as naturally as possible--in the privacy of his own home, following a battle with heart disease.

I have not "known" Suka for very long. However. Within such a brief period, he and his owner, K, have written such sweet and encouraging comments on Beautifully Unique. Sweet and encouraging. Among their last was after I revealed my birth defect, craniosynostosis, plus an ongoing struggle with learning disabilities. They wrote: "I am sorry that you sometimes suffer emotionally due to your condition. I think we all have our cross to bear and you seem to be doing your best to live a happy, healthy life. You have a lot of love to share and Rose is very fortunate that you share it with her. :-> And we in Blogville are very fortunate that you share your wisdom and struggles and knowledge with us.".

Suka will be dearly missed.