🐾It’s National Dog Day🐾

I am definitely a dog person. I’ve lived my entire life with dogs. I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have a dog in my life somewhere. I have had a couple of cats join the mix, and a few birds spent some time with my family as well. Yet, my connection to the dogs in my life was far more profound. 

Psychology Today posted an interesting article detailing the differences between Dog People and Cat People that I wanted to share. According to their studies:

🐕 74% of their test group preferred dogs to cats

🐕Dog people were generally about 15 percent more extroverted and 13 percent more agreeable than cat people

🐕Dog people were 11 percent more conscientious than cat people

🐕Being married, living in a house, and having children living in the home, are all factors that are more likely for dog owners than cat owners.

🐕Of the people who grew up in a house with cats as pets, 47 percent were likely to have cats today, while only 11 percent of people whose childhood years were spent in a house with a dog have only a cat as a pet.

🐕People who own only cats tend to be relatively introverted (low on extroversion) and also reasonably cool (low in warmth or agreeableness)

🐕The general pattern that comes out of both studies is that dog owners are more social, interactive and accepting and cat owners (who own cats exclusively) are more introverted, self-contained and less sociable

Now, as a lifelong dog person, I can’t say the findings of this study are shocking. I fall into just about every dog person trait. However, I am certain that there are exceptions to the general mold formed in this study. I guess in my case, the dog person label applies.

I love how a dog seeks me out for company…though being stared at in the bathroom is a bit of overkill. Having dogs with me during my childhood gave me companionship, and comfort during some very dark times. Taking care of their needs taught me great lessons in responsibility. And cleaning up dog poop taught me that there will always be unexpected and unpleasant events in our lives. In fact, my dogs taught me a great deal:

My Cocker Spaniel Misty taught me that sometimes you have to go to great lengths in order to get your point across. How? We lived in Michigan when we added Misty to our family. At his time, my mother decided that she was too hairy to be an indoor dog, so she was relegated to the outdoors most of the time. It was her refusal to go into her doghouse to escape the cold that finally convinced my mom to bring her in. (And she never left.)

My Boston Terrier Huey taught me that holding on to my childhood was important. He developed a habit of sucking a stuffed animal in the same manner that he nursed as a puppy. When he was upset, tired, or bored he would find his toy, and settle onto the floor and nurse. This was the same dog that got into violent dog fights with the other male dog in the house. One fight was so bad that my brother lost a piece of his finger trying to separate them. Huey was my gentle giant. He was large for a Boston Terrier, but a lover to the core. He was my comfort during breakups, my friend when I was lonely and in some ways my first child. He developed lymphoma in his late life, and eventually lost his battle. His passing devastated me, and taught me how to deal with grief in a whole new way. Around that same time I had adopted another Boston Terrier, Chloe, who was just a puppy when Huey passed. She is one of the reasons that I made it through his emotional passing. A puppy requires a whole different set of skills and non stop attention. Whether it was getting into a box of rat poison that my landlord left out, or breaking free from her leash and running through a busy intersection to get some chicken wings from the park, she kept my life full of adventure. She communicated her needs more clearly than any animal I have ever encountered. During her days with Huey, he would occasionally look at me as if to question my sanity in adding her to the mix, given her panache for dramatic events. Most notably when he had his stomach pumped and it was determined that he had not partaken in the rat poison tomfoolery. His look of irritation and annoyance was priceless when the vet brought him back to me after that trip.

Chloe has since passed, as have her two puppies. In fact, I’ve said hello and good bye to 4 other dogs since Huey passed. Each one taught me something, and each one will forever be treasured in my heart. In every one of my dogs lives we had joy, and pain. We have far more happy memories than unhappy, which is the way it should be. My dogs taught me how to enjoy life by celebrating the small triumphs as much as I do the big ones. 

I now have a beautiful two year old boy who calls me mommy. He lights up my life and teaches me more about myself than I ever thought possible. I show him pictures of all the dogs that have passed through our home, as well as teach him how to love and care for our newest edition Sugar. My dog and my son fill our home with life and entertainment. I celebrate Dog Day everyday. So today, on National Dog Day I appreciate all of our canine friends who enrich our homes. Today is definitely one for the dogs – and that’s fine with me. 

Choosing Forgiveness Can Change Everything 

It’s National Kiss and Makeup Day!

What a great day. In fact, I personally suggest celebrating this holiday every day, but we will start with today.

Why should you celebrate? 

According to John Hopkins University: Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age

The Mayo Clinic writes:

Forgiveness can lead to:

❤️ Healthier relationships
❤️ Greater spiritual and psychological well-being

❤️ Less anxiety, stress and hostility

❤️ Lower blood pressure

❤️ Fewer symptoms of depression

❤️ Stronger immune system

❤️ Improved heart health

❤️ Higher self-esteem

I would say the health based evidence is an obvious reason to celebrate today’s holiday. When we choose to hold on to our anger, hurt, and resentment; we choose to harm ourselves. Being hurt by someone is not a choice. We cannot anticipate the actions of others with great success. Allowing ourselves to remain hurt is our choice.
We choose every day how we are going to proceed. We are not spinning tops on a table aimlessly twirling. We are souls filled with choices. Every choice requires an action. Every action produces a reaction. We have the ability to change the direction of our lives at any moment. Yet, for many, we remain stagnant and immobilized in our fear of decision making.

We would rather blindly follow. We prefer the decision made for us. We enjoy the comfort of not being the one to blame. However, that is all a lie we tell ourselves. We pretend that the decision was made for us, but neglect to realize we chose to comply. Our actions were decided by us, even if the suggestion was made by another.

Let me give an example of this. Once, my husband and I were out with friends (the newlyweds). We were traveling to another town, and opted to carpool. Moments in to the journey we both knew we should have driven separately. From the initial exit of the driveway the couple we would spend the day with began to argue. He commented on her lack of navigational skills, she pointed out his inability to obey the speed limits…it was an amazing time. At the end of our long journey, we came to the destination. I was never so happy to see a parking lot in all my life. I knew that we were moments away from escape. Then it happened. Our fearless driver turned to her verbal sparring partner and said “Where should I park?” Keep in mind; we are in a parking lot with thousands of available spots. The building we were arriving at had one entrance. This was not a decision that needed a vote. My husband and I glanced at one another with confusion. Her husband merely shrugged and said “Anywhere”. I will never forget the next moment. Her fingers tightened on the steering wheel, and her glance became furious. From deep within her thirty year old throat, I swear I heard a growl. She again asked “Where should I park?” At this point I was contemplating leaping from the car and running for my life. Her husband again, though slightly more irritated, said “Anywhere.” Then the most curious phrase crossed her lips. She stopped the car, fully turned her body and shouted “WHY CAN’T YOU MAKE A DECISION?!?” I felt the tune of the Twilight Zone creeping into my mind. Was she serious? Were they joking? Wouldn’t the parking decision fall on the driver. What was I missing? At this point one of the most passive aggressive arguments ever witnessed peaked and the two began pointing fingers, shouting, and lacerating one another with their words. At some point, she parked and we exited the vehicle. We spent the day in an awkward segregation. My husband and I would talk to her, then him, but never both. The animosity was tangible. To this day, when my husband and I pull into a large parking lot we smile and say “Where should I park?” For the record, my friends are still married, and still have the same arguments. We never carpool anymore though (partly because we live in different cities now)

I share this example to illustrate what we all do in one way or another. We make it a habit to give our decision making away. We like to say we had no choice. But just as my friend was in control of the vehicle, we are in control of our choices. We decide to allow things to fester, and burrow in our lives. We decide to let our emotions dictate our days. We decide that the words and deeds of another supersede our own desires. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can use today’s holiday to free ourselves from the bitterness of withholding forgiveness. We can walk out of the prison we locked ourselves in. We can choose to forgive those who deserve it least. In the end, it is you who benefits from forgiveness the most.

So my request of you today is this: Decide today that you value yourself. Decide that no matter what the wrong was, you are big enough to forgive it. The beauty of forgiveness is this. It requires no effort on the part of the guilty. We simply make a decision and follow through with action. Forgive someone today. Make up with someone you love. Let go of the resentment and hurt. Kiss and Make Up.

Opening Up is Powerful 

Today’s national holiday is…

What was once one of the most popular ways of shopping is remembered each year on August 18th as it is National Mail Order Catalog Day.

Why? Because today marks the anniversary of when, in August of 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward, of Chicago, produced the very first Montgomery Ward’s mail order catalog. It was by buying the goods and then reselling them directly to the customers that Aaron Montgomery Ward removed the middlemen at the general store and to the benefit of the customers drastically lowered prices.
The very first catalog consisted of an eight by 12 inch single sheet of paper which included the merchandise for sale, the price list, and the ordering instructions. Montgomery Ward’s single page list of products grew into a 540 page illustrated book selling over 20,000 items. 
It was soon after that the Montgomery Wards catalog was copied by other resourceful merchants, like Richard Warren Sears. The first general Sears catalog was mailed in 1896. Many others entered the field, and catalog sales grew. By 1971, catalog sales of major United States firms exceeded more than $250 million in postal revenue.
Ah catalogs. At one time these beloved treasures were a highly anticipated mail item. We would get excited to take a peek and see what they had this month. At some point however, catalogs became a little overwhelming. Your name was put on a list, and now when you open the mail box, 10 lbs. of glossy booklets fall at your feet, all filled with junk you wouldn’t give as a joke. I routinely receive a catalog for elderly sleepwear. I know at the ripe old age of 39, I should start thinking of my future more, but slip and fall resistant pajamas are not on the top of my list.
This made me think about how we come across to others. When we meet others are we a catalog of usefulness, or a dreadful mashup of clutter? 
We all hope to be the useful kind. We expect people to be excited when they meet us. We want them to realize the treasures we have within. Yet, for many, the initial introduction isn’t a clear indicator of that. What usually happens is we keep all of our uniqueness under wraps. We only open the pages to those we know and trust. Otherwise we feel exposed, and vulnerable; feelings that most humans find excruciating. Being open allows others to see us. It allows them to make judgments about us. It takes away the power we assigned ourselves. Or does it?
If I remain closed off to the world, how am I in a power position? Howard Hughes is one of the most well known examples of what I call a confusion of power. I won’t go into the deep history of this man, or dismiss the mental crisis he was facing. I will simply state this: A man with wealth and fame at his fingertips was hiding himself away from the world in a literal manner. He stayed behind locked doors and didn’t allow anyone to enter it without just cause. Behind those doors he felt he was in control. He couldn’t be touched, or hurt. To him it was a logical choice.
From the outside however it was crazy. People told stories, some true, some made up completely. They talked about him, judged him, and ridiculed him on the other side of the door. The control was never in the locked room. The control was locked outside in the hallway where everyone could manipulate it. The same thing happens when we become so closed off and afraid of being hurt by the world that we lock ourselves away. We convince ourselves that we are safer alone. After all, we can’t be hurt if they cannot touch us. The truth is we can be hurt even more when we isolate ourselves. When we keep ourselves hidden away, we leave our story to the imaginations of others. We lose the power of telling our own story. 
When I look at one of those catalogs, they tell me everything I need to know. I know if there is food, tools, bathing suits or cars inside. I make a determination based on that fist impression as to whether I go any further. Some I keep, some I toss. The catalog doesn’t care. The catalog has not failed in life if I don’t open its pages. And neither do we. 
Opening up to the world and showing who we are is the true power move. Allowing yourself to remain vulnerable and open to possibilities is empowering. If someone isn’t looking for what you have to offer, life goes on. Those who are attracted to our gifts and talents will be drawn to us like metal to a magnet. Those who need something else, will not. The key here is to open up. Let others see you. Engage with people you don’t know yet. Be open to making a new friend, acquaintance, or more. Be proud of what you have to offer…even if it is elderly sleepwear. Someone will be better for finding you in their life.

Celebrate what makes you different

August 13th is “Left-Hander’s Day.” Launched in 1996, this yearly event celebrates left-handedness and raises awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience every day in a world designed for right-handers
Today we celebrate the 10% (ish) of the population who use their left hand primarily. While socially acceptable now, there was a time when being left handed was forbidden. Here are a few left handed facts:
✍Between 10-12% of people on earth are “lefties.” Women are more likely to be right-handed than men by about 4 percentage points.
✍At various times in history, left-handedness has been seen as many things: a nasty habit, a mark of the devil, a sign of neurosis, rebellion, etc. It has also been seen as a trait indicating creativity and musical abilities.

✍Some scholars note that left-handers may be one of the last unorganized minorities in society because they have no collective power and no real sense of common identity. Additionally, left-handers are often discriminated against by social, educational, and religious institutions. Social customs and even language set the left-hander apart as “different” and even “bad.”

✍Many sources claim that left-handers may die as many as nine years earlier than right-handers.

✍The word left in English comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, which means weak or broken. The Oxford English Dictionary defines left-handed as meaning crippled, defective, awkward, clumsy, inapt, characterized by underhanded dealings, ambiguous, doubtful, questionable, ill-omened, inauspicious, and illegitimate.

✍Phrases in English suggest a negative view of left-handedness. For example, a “left-handed complement” is actually an insult. A “left-handed marriage” is not a marriage but an adulterous sexual liaison, as in a “left-handed honeymoon with someone else’s husband.” A “left-handed wife” is actually a mistress.

✍Research has shown a link between trauma during gestation or during birth with an increased chance of being left-handed.

✍Tests conducted by St. Lawrence University in New York found that there were more left-handed people with IQs over 140 than right-handed people. Famous left-handed intellectuals include Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Franklin.

✍Mothers who are over 40 at the time of a child’s birth are 128% more likely to have a left-handed baby than a woman in her 20s.

✍The German for “left-handed’ is linkisch, which means awkward, clumsy, and maladroit. In Italian, the word is mancino, which is derived from “crooked” or “maimed” (mancus) and is also used to mean deceitful or dishonest. In Russian, to be called a left-hander (levja) is a term of insult.c

✍In Latin, the word for left is sinister, related to the noun sinistrum. Ambisinister means “clumsy on both sides.”

In my circle of friends there are several southpaws. It hasn’t affected the dynamics of our friendships one bit. I often think about archaic or outdated thought patterns and wonder how the thoughts became commonplace. For instance, I always wonder why someone decided that covering one’s mouth when yawning would protect us all from evil spirits? Why not just tell people the truth? We don’t want to see that much of your mouth. But alas, where would our fun stories be if honesty prevailed?
I do enjoy some of the traditions of old, that are now understood to be completely made up. I enjoy them simply for their whimsy or entertainment. Being left handed came with a hefty price socially, and in some cultures it still does. But today, we celebrate the left handers, and recognize their importance in history and our everyday life.

On left handers day, aside from celebrating, I wonder if we could use this day to accept something about ourself that we have always felt wasn’t “normal”? Maybe it’s the way you speak, or walk. Maybe it’s a physical difference. Maybe it’s your humor, or seriousness. That thing you keep trying to change.
My hope is that we will be able to look at what makes us different as an interesting attribute rather than a disadvantage.  

The world is full of people whose differences have made them who they are. If we embrace what makes us different rather than hide it in an effort to be seen as normal, we allow ourselves the opportunity to thrive. Our differences unite us, whether we acknowledge them or not. My strengths are showcased by my weaknesses. The things I want to ignore and hide usually end up helping me in another area of my life. In the same way, my gifts are strengthened by your gifts. Imagine I am a great musician, but have no instrument. Imagine you have instruments but don’t know how to play them. Separately we both long for something we don’t have. We merely exist. I don’t brag about my talents because no one can hear me play. You don’t talk about the instruments because no one understands why you have them. But what if we met? That’s when the music would happen. Using what we both had, we would be able to create greatness. The same applies to life. Using our talents together will achieve greatness. It will unlock places within us. It will free our souls. 
Go out and showcase who you are. Be bold. Be proud of your individuality, and see who you attract to you. They may be the key to finding your music. And if you can…do it left handed!

Are you more than a label?

Today we celebrate the Jan Bradys of the world. It’s Middle Child Day!
I come from a family of three kids. Our family dynamic pretty much cemented my thoughts regarding birth order. Each of us play our part well. In every story, there is a stand out character. For my family story, it has to be my brother – the middle child. Every story that involves a crazy twist at the end usually involves him. He was (and is) the risk taker, the story teller, the rebel, and in some situations the notorious one.
I remember walking into a history class and being greeted with a scowl by the teacher due to our relation.  

If there was a dramatic event, he was usually suspect number one, which usually made me either informant or accessory…depending on the day.  

He has made my life more adventurous just by his existence. Have there been times his behaviors caused a ripple in the family dynamics? Absolutely. Is that because he is the middle child? Nope. I know that because the first born has also caused a ripple or two. I’m the baby, so obviously I haven’t caused any problems. 😜

What makes my middle child brother the man he is, isn’t his birth order. Although that may have played a part in how he evolved as a person. His character traits and personality came from his own experiences in life. Just like mine and just like yours. In my family, though each of us grew up in the same house, we are 3 completely different characters.  And none of us are merely a result of birth order.

So, what do they say about middle children?  
Here is a list of popular traits attributed to middle children:




🎈May be an excellent mediator or negotiator

🎈May feel that life is unfair

🎈May feel unloved or squeezed out by siblings

🎈Can be highly adaptable

🎈Often generous and sociable

🎈May try to differentiate themselves from the eldest sibling through behaviors and interests

🎈May perceive that the oldest or youngest child are the parents’ “favorites”

🎈May be rebellious

🎈Engage in attention seeking behaviors

🎈May be extremely competitive

Looking at that list, I can easily see my brother. But I can apply many of those same characteristics to my husband (a first born) as well. The same can be said about temperaments attributed to ethnicity, immortality attributed to being a natural ginger, and other gems we all repeat. We love a label. Some good, some bad, but all applicable for various scenarios.
My question is this: Have you assumed a label for yourself rather than create an identity?

How many times have you heard (or said)? 

“I can’t do that because I’m ________.” 

The _______ varies from Irish to left handed. Now, we can all appreciate absolutes.  

I absolutely can not levitate myself, because – gravity.

I absolutely can not keep down seafood, because -allergy.

There are restrictions for everyone. We have limitations due to absolutes. However, many of us have decided that a label that we, or society, have assigned ourself is an absolute.  
“I can’t dance because I have two left feet”

🤔 Um…No, I’m pretty sure you don’t.

Using a label to avoid life is common. We have all done it at some point. (Usually to avoid something we perceive as hard or difficult)

When that label (excuse) keeps you from living with purpose, however, it is time to make a change.

Middle child syndrome is a fun way to blame behaviors and habits on something deemed uncontrollable. The truth is, no matter where we line up in birth order, we are responsible for our actions and reactions. We decide our path with each step we take. We determine our successes and failures with every choice we make.  

So, today I ask you to celebrate the middle children in your life. Tell them how wonderful they are. Let them know they make the world a little more special, not because of their birth order, but because of their presence in your life.

Then, I ask that you reevaluate the labels you are operating under. Don’t allow yourself to be limited by a label or diagnosis. There is greatness within each of us. Don’t restrict yourself with a label.

Lazy Days Can Change Everything

It’s Lazy Day.  Ahhhh! 

Doesn’t that just make you want to climb into a hammock and nap?

What a fun day to celebrate.


Sometimes we can over celebrate this holiday. Oh I know what your thinking…Not Me! I’m too busy to be lazy.

Most people can explain how busy they are to anyone who is listening. I hear it all the time from people I am working with. They don’t have the time to do this or that. They haven’t had a vacation is x amount of years. They have kids, pets, etc. They are too busy.

The question isn’t : are you busy?

The question is : what are you busy doing?

Are you spending every waking hour working hard just to make money?

Are you spending all of your time on the chores of life? 

Are you missing out on your own dreams because you have filled your calendar with obligations that don’t match your goals?

 My guess would be- yes.

How do I know this? Because I see it everyday. I see people who fill their days with everything except what is important. 

I see people overly focused on making money. People chasing bonuses and promotions with all their time. And in the end, they have their money, but no life has been lived. 

I see people obsessed with material things.  Closets packed with clothes, shoes, purses, belts, and other trinkets that are stored but not used. Garages filled with boxes of odds and ends, forgotten and tucked away.  A house full of things, but a life empty of purpose.

I see people who spiral deeper and deeper into debt.  Using credit, borrowing from their future, spending checks that haven’t been sent; all in an effort to keep up with a lifestyle that perpetuates spending.  The end result: a bank account so strained that the unexpected expense will cripple them.  

So what does this have to do with Lazy Day?

Sometimes we fill our days with so much stuff that we cannot attend to what is important.  We cannot enjoy a true day of nothing, but instead call hiding from our obligations our escape. 

We overfill our calender in order to Avoid responsibility.  We make more work for ourselves than necessary;then berate ourselves for failure.  Then we continue the cycle.

But what if we decided to use Lazy Day as an inspiration.  We could declare that our lives from this point forward will be lived.  We will investigate ways to make our days productive, rather than redundant.  We’ll face our mounting debt and come up with a plan of escape.  

We’ll tackle the unused boxes clogging our garages, attics, and sheds.  Cathartically purging the excess.  

We will make our lives a product of our design rather than hold the scraps in our hands with no purpose.

Once we learn how to live a life that is full of purpose, and direction; we can learn the art of embracing the right kinds of Lazy Days.  We can practice relaxation and self care in its true form rather than settle for a day lounging in our PJs, avoiding our own life. That’s not being lazy; it’s being irresponsible.  

Let’s take responsibility for our lives, our dreams, and our goals.  Once we begin living our lives completely, we can enjoy a Lazy Day the way it is intended to be enjoyed…Fully. 

Control Your Story

Are you a reader? (Books not blogs)
Are you a book lover? (Bibliophile if you want the fancy name) 

I am. I love to read. My favorite type of book is a murder mystery. 

 I read-  I guess – I get it wrong –  I get it right – but I love every twist and turn. 

 I have been known to get so engrossed in a book, that I lose track of time. I’ve often stayed up later than I should have to finish a chapter. Books provide an easy escape from life and can transport us to any place and any time imaginable. Books are kind of perfect in my option. Yet, I have a wide circle of friends that hate to read. They find it dull, and time consuming. They prefer movies, television, or other forms of entertainment to reading books.  We all love a good story though.

As a book lover, I am fond of today’s holiday for many reasons. One of which is the ability to write about it in my own blog.  (My own story, if you will)

I think the lure of a book for many is the knowledge within. We all like to learn something, or experience something in our own way, and a book is the perfect vehicle for that. In fact, a book really mirrors a life when you break it down.

In both life and books, we have an introduction, a series of chapters that define the story, and an ending. In a book it is condensed to what fits on the page, and can be handled by millions of people. In our own life, it is condensed into the impact we make while we are alive, and the memories shared by others when we are gone.

So, how can we make sure our life is a story worth sharing? 

 I would say the first step is to become aware of the narrative. Are you filling your pages with a story of triumph and bliss, or are you sharing a horror story or tales of woe and worthlessness to be remembered for ages. Not to say that horrible events and times will not be a factor in our lives. Of course they are. 

 Dark moments, periods of grief and anguish; these are some of the thickest chapters in our lives. I know in my own life, there are tales of misery and depression. I have chapters of loss, and pain; chapters of heartache and heartbreak. But the narrative of my life is not found in those chapters or moments alone. The narrative, is the life I strive for. Though my life has periods of darkness and solitude, you will find a massive collection of tales of overcoming odds, forgiveness, and triumph. When others hear my story, they will hear the inspiration found in the darkest moments. They will hear the dreams and the pursuit of those dreams.  They will be able to understand me through how I share my struggles and hopes.

So what if you find the narrative you have been sharing isn’t lining up with the story you want remembered? Are you helpless?If you are still breathing – the answer is no. 

You control your story. What you chose to do, day in and day out, is your narrative.  

You decide each morning how the story is told.  

When bad news arrives, you control your reaction.

When good news comes, you control your reaction,  

Whether you choose to accept your own power in life or not is up to you. You must take that step. You must become aware of your thoughts, your actions, your reactions (your overreactions) and make the necessary adjustments. You are solely responsible for your story’s narrative. The events and how they come to you are out of your control, but your reactions are all yours. Choose them wisely.

So, my challenge to each of you is this:

Train yourself to be aware of the words, and stories you use. You may find that you are acting as critic instead of author. Look at your life and your stories with objectivity. As you would when reading someone’s book. If your narrative is off course, take the steps necessary to recalculate the route.  Be clear.

Remember, your story is still being written; make sure you tell the world how amazing you are.

What we can learn from an oyster.

National Oyster Day! Who knew.

 A most interesting bivalve indeed. Many a tale has been told about the oyster. Some true, some hopeful, and some made up by romance novelist. From a culinary standpoint oysters fall into the category of love ’em or hate ’em. People’s reactions to these curious delights vary. I for one have never eaten an oyster. But only due to an allergy. So I cannot weigh in on the edibility of the oyster. However, as a June baby my birthstone is the iridescent pearl, which makes me pro-oyster (for jewelry purposes at least). So on that note, let’s discuss what makes the oyster today’s topic
Here are some other interesting oyster facts:
🌊  The largest oyster-producing body of water in the world is located in Chesapeake Bay on the east coast of the U.S.
🌊. Almost two billion pounds of oysters are eaten each year.

🌊. In the U.S., east coast oysters tend to be smaller, milder and saltier. West coast oysters are creamy and sweet.

🌊. Oyster shells high calcium content make them ideal garden soil fertilizer 

🌊. Only one out of every 10,000 oysters will produce a pearl.

Now, as I usually do, I will apply a life application from our liquid-y friend the oyster. Let’s start with the easy and obvious one. Pearl Production
As noted in the facts above, only one out of every 10,000 oysters will actually produce a pearl. Somehow the cartoons of my youth mislead me on this little nugget. It turns out pearl oysters, or pinctada, are part of the pteriidae family (neither of which am I confident in my pronunciation). These oysters are actually found deep in the ocean, and are not harvested for their meat. The pearls they make are what draw us to them. As most of us learned in elementary school the pearl is created due to some irritant being lodged in the pearl. In an effort to get the irritating speck out, the oyster covers it by secreting nacre, or mother-of-pearl, the substance that forms the inside lining of the shell. After several years a pearl is formed, and many a jewelry store is happy. Now the parallel here is pretty easy to see. Like the oyster, we are bound to have irritants and difficulties and we are promised that there will be pearls as a reward.  

Bad hair cuts and mustard stains come into our lives and cause irritation and minor setbacks. Irritating yes, but pearl material…I’m not sure. However, divorce and disease may come in and cause major havoc and life altering moments in time. Pearl worthy? Definitely, but to tell you that a pearl of wisdom can be gleaned from any situation is (in my opinion) a bit ludicrous.  

For someone fighting to hang on to their sanity while the winds of life whip violently around their head, the pearl doesn’t matter. A starving man wouldn’t search the ocean for a pearl oyster. He needs food. The same applies to us. While it is absolutely true that life’s difficulties can form some truly amazing outcomes, we are generally not searching for it. We are trying to survive.  

When a pearl is being created within an oyster, the oyster must still go on with life. The oyster doesn’t stop living in celebration of a future pearl. The oyster simply works around it. The same way we must. Life can hand us some truly awful moments. In those dark moments, it’s more important for us to know that we are going to get through than it is to know we will have a pearl. That’s where the oysters other gift comes into play.

Oysters have one more superpower that I think we can apply to our lives. Adaptability.

Oysters are named for the specific region they are harvested from. Each region’s oyster is identifiable to that region by size, and taste. The reason for this is the oysters adaptability to its surroundings. Oysters literally take on the characteristics of the body of water they are living in. Along with being great pearl producers, oysters are super filters. One oyster can filer about 50 gallons of water daily. (Let’s all take a moment to thank the oyster reefs worldwide) It is through that filtration that the oyster takes in the unique characteristics of the water they are in. The oyster’s primary job is filtration, whether it is forming a pearl or not. Oysters take in all that is around them, and filter out what isn’t good for them.  

What if we did a little more filtering?

What if instead of allowing the pressures of life, the opinions of others, and the memories of our own shortcomings to overtake us; we only allowed the things that built us up to remain. What if when we receive crippling news, that rocks our foundation, we filter out the unnecessary static of life?  

Can you see the strength in filtration? Actively choosing to only accept what we need is the key to overcoming anything. While some events may come into our life that steals the show, we will always have a million other things whirling about vying for our attention simultaneously. Usually we try to handle it all. Multi taskers until the end. What I’m suggesting here, is a new way to approach your day. Filter out the unnecessary. The unimportant stuff that adds stress or takes you away from what you love. No apologies, no excuses to be given. Just as the ocean gets no explanation for what the oyster decided is junk, your life’s junk simply gets filtered out. I can’t tell you what to filter. You’ll know. I can only hope that like me, you will learn how to let your life’s waters flow through you rather than overtake you. That you will filter out more junk, and focus on the things that matter. And in the end, we may both be surprised by the pearl we have created all while we focused on living our life in spite of our troubles and finding healthy ways to adapt to our surroundings.

How Chocolate Chip Cookies Can Teach You How to be Authentic 

I’d like to take full credit for this holiday. After all, I am an advocate of all Chocolate Chip cookies, all the times. I have even been known to deflate when fooled by Oatmeal Raisin cookies unexpectedly. (For the record, those need a label)So as always let’s review the facts:

• Chocolate chips are a required ingredient in chocolate chip cookies, which were invented in 1937 when Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in the town of Whitman, Massachusetts added cut-up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestlé chocolate bar to a cookie recipe.

• The chips melt best at temperatures between 104 and 113 °F (40 and 45 °C). The melting process starts at around 90 °F when the cocoa butter in the chips starts to heat. The cooking temperature must never exceed 115 °F (for milk and white) or 120 °F (for dark) or the chocolate will burn.

• Today, chocolate chips are very popular as a baking ingredient in the United States and the chocolate chip cookie is regarded as a quintessential American dessert.

• Chocolate chips are also available in Europe, Australia, and other parts of the world. Nestlé and The Hershey Company are among the top producers of chocolate chips.

• In 1987 Chester Soling sponsored a contest to find the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies and got over 2.600 responses for various recipes.

• Did you know you eat about 35,000 cookies in a lifetime?

• Chocolate chip cookies were originally called Chocolate Crunch Cookies.

• Massachusetts’s official state cookie is the chocolate chip cookie, and in 2001 the common wealth of Pennsylvania declared it their official cookie as well

So how can Chocolate Chip cookies relate to your personal development?  

As you read above… there is a common myth surrounding the invention of these delightful deserts. An urban legend if you will. Many pass of their invention as an accidental discovery. However, Ruth Graves Wakefield herself explains that she had thought out the dessert before she created it: “We had been serving a thin butterscotch nut cookie with ice cream. Everybody seemed to love it, but I was trying to give them something different. So I came up with Toll House cookie”

Can you relate? 

 Many times in our lives, a carefully made decision can me misinterpreted by others as nothing more than a happy accident. You made it through that traffic jam because you were lucky, not because you knew which roads to take after commuting like a boss for over a decade. You’re hard work gets lumped in with the same success of a Magic 8 Ball.

The scary part is we can believe that too; even though we should know better. “Maybe I am just lucky…” “I must have hit the roads at just the right time…”

Society is a cruel friend sometimes. How often does your social circle celebrate the positivity of the world? If you are like me, it’s less than the times I read a story of failure, outrage, or embarrassment. We love dirty laundry, and sharing it has become even easier. It’s rare that we give full credit to someone who did the right thing, or made the right decision. We would rather share how someone messed up than how they overcame.  

And part of that is our own insecurity.

Seeing someone just like you being successful, or doing great things shines a nice light on what we have done. Then the comparison sets in, followed by the jealousy, and ending with the indifference. We come up with a long list of reasons why the other person could do it but we cannot. After all, they must be better than us, or luckier, or privileged, etc. When the truth is more likely, they worked for it. They prepared for it. They earned it. The good news is, you can do the same thing.

I offer you this alternative to accepting a life of perceived luck (be it good or bad). 

🍪 What if you regarded your life the way Ruth regarded her invention? She was not shy about claiming her title as inventor. She wrote cookbooks, spoke about it regularly, and made a business deal with Andrew Nestlé that made her cookie the household name it is now. Toll House cookies are the gold standard, and we all know it.  

That same gold standard title applies to your life. You can continue to accept the notion that your life is a result of some dumb luck, and haphazard planning, or you can correct the narrative.

🍪 I am in this position because I am a hard worker, and my company recognizes that

🍪 I am in great shape because I make exercise a priority every day

🍪 I have a clean house because I pay my maid well (a girl can dream)

Author your own biography. Don’t allow others to negate your accomplishments or downplay your gifts and talents. You are the only you, the masterpiece, the work of art. There is no need to pretend that you are an Oatmeal Raisin cookie. Be the Tollhouse that you were created to be.

Why the Watermelon is an Inspiration.

🍉🍉🍉It’s Watermelon Day🍉🍉🍉

No one confuses watermelons for other fruits. They stand (or sit) alone. Let’s look at some watermelon facts:

• The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.

• Watermelon is 92% water.

• Watermelon’s official name is Citrullus Lanatus of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae. It is cousins to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.

• By weight, watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.

• Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.

• The first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.

• The United States currently ranks 5th in worldwide production of watermelon. Forty-four states grow watermelons with Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona consistently leading the country in production.

🍉 And maybe most importantly, there are festivals dedicated to celebrating all things watermelon (Festivals)🍉

 Are you curious to know what I think makes watermelon a great example of confidence? Read on…

 So, first we need to address the elephant in the room. Watermelons are huge. No other fruit takes up space on the picnic table like a watermelon. And that is what makes the watermelon so wonderful.

 Watermelon makes no apology for its shape, look, texture, or general existence. It doesn’t care that you crave it’s sweetness in December but you only eat locally grown foods. Watermelon is what it is: a big, delicious icon for summer.

 I remember attending a summer party where the host neglected to provide a watermelon for the guests. The shock and horror of the attendants was audible and visible. It was so bad, the host sent another guest to a local supermarket to buy one mid festivities. As I sat at that party I witnessed the popularity of this unique melon, and today that popularity has me thinking:

How does the watermelon relate to living a life of purpose and greatness?

 Firstly, watermelons are celebrated for the very things we shame ourselves for.

• They are the biggest fruit on the block. Put one next to a kiwi and regard the magnitude of the watermelon. No one (to my knowledge) has created a program to grow smaller watermelons. In fact, thousands of people attempt to grow the biggest one each and every year.

• They are celebrated for their sweetness. No one says they need to toughen up in order to be taken seriously or change their flavor so more people will like them. Nope, everyone just raves.

• They are messy. Really messy. No one makes it through a watermelon without a substantial amount of juice smattered about their chin. And yet, no one rolls their eyes at the watermelon and demands they clean their act up. Instead, we just grab the napkins and continue to enjoy the delectable goodness of the watermelon

• They are hard to handle. Two hands, steady feet, and a sturdy surface are required when transporting this juicy wonder, and none of us complain. We just know it’s worth it.

 So what can we learn from this confident summer fruit? We can learn how to accept ourselves, wholly and completely, just as we are.  

🍉 What if we realized that our body size is not a reason to feel insecure?  

No, really…it’s not.

The body I have right now has served me amazing well over the past 39 years, and I love it. Does that mean we shouldn’t try to be healthy and go after our fitness goals? Absolutely not. A healthy body is one of the best assets you will ever have. Your size, however, is not the only indicator of your body’s health. Whatever amount of space you take up is merely a representation that you are here, and I am personally glad you are. If and when your body does change, the body’s representation is still the same – you are here. What you are here to do is the exciting part. You are not here to wear smaller clothes. You are not here to fill out your jeans in a particular way. You are here to contribute, so be big, be small, be mid-sized; just be sure you are active in your own life.

🍉 What if we stopped trying to be a different version of ourselves than is possible?  

I am, by nature, an easy going, slightly sarcastic girl who loves a good mystery book. So why, oh why, would I try to be an aggressive, overachieving, football coach? That’s not me. Acting, even slightly, in that capacity would be unauthentic. No one would believe me anyways. I am the way I am, and that alone will both attract and repel certain people. I can spend my time trying to attract the ones that need a different version, or I can celebrate the ones who like me just the way I am, and coexist with everyone else here on planet earth.

 🍉What if we allowed ourselves to be messy?  

I mean fall apart on the therapist’s couch messy. Would that be the end of the world? Obviously this wouldn’t work long term. I mean, no one wants to be sobbing on the subway every day with no resolution. But if we allow ourselves to fall apart when necessary, we will reap the benefits of the after effects of a breakdown; the breakthrough. The moment the therapist gives you a pat on the back and tells you how far you have come. We spend too much time hiding our emotions, and pretending to be perfect. We are not perfect, and we never will be – so let’s just stop and accept that. We can however, always be better. (That’s the joy of not being perfect, we can still grow)  

***On a side note – therapy is an amazing addition to anyone’s mental state. No shame or stigma should ever be applied to seeking the council of a trained expert. If you use a personal trainer for your abs, why would a therapist’s assistance navigating your mind be considered taboo***

🍉 Lastly, what if we allowed ourselves to be treated with care?  

We expect two sturdy hands to carry a watermelon, but we allow ourselves to be treated with disregard and disrespect on a daily basis. We allow ourselves to call over-eating an indulgence rather than an abuse. We listen to music with lyrics that tear down genders, ethnicities, and our own confidence with constant comparison. We watch television programs and movies that parade thoughts and judgments that don’t coincide with our own views. We allow people to speak nonsense into our ears and demand our mind to filter it into sweet philosophy. Instead, what if we took a stand? What if we said no to things that don’t match our goals? What if we required dignity and proper consideration from others, as well as ourselves, as we deserve?  

 So today, as you hunt for the watermelon you are now craving…remember who you are. 

 Be the fanciest watermelon on the picnic table in all you do, and enjoy the celebration of your own existence in the universe by all who meet you.