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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Key to Starting Over-- Build a Nest in the Eye of the Storm

No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again. The Buddha

What's happening in your life right now?
  • Do you feel like you've dodged a bullet when you see what other people are dealing with ~ yet you're still fearful about the future?
  • Or have you faced so many hardships and challenges you're left feeling hopeless and discouraged about ever finding your way back to a normal life?
  • Are you tired of thinking about your current situation and just wish someone would do something about it?
How to Start Over

When things get really tough it can be difficult to see your way out. Here are 3 keys to starting over and getting unstuck after having your life disrupted by economic hardship, natural disaster, or personal crises.

Key #1: Take the First Step

Not much has changed in the thousands of years humans have been facing and recovering from the hardships of life. As Lao Tzu stated so long ago, 'a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step'.

We fuel our inner strength and sense of resiliency by taking action. But sometimes when faced with 'a journey of a thousand miles' we can be overwhelmed with the daunting task of where to begin.  What is the first step?

The good news is any first step will do. Your hope, resiliency, and personal strength will grow stronger with every step you take.  It doesn't matter what the first step is. As you experience yourself being pro-active and physically taking action, your ability to cope and hope will improve. So start with a single step--any step-- and then another.

Key #2: Take Small Steps

As an old Chinese Proverb says, 'The man who moved a mountain is the one who started taking away the small stones'. When you're in total overwhelm mode, start 'taking away the small stones'--one small step, then another.

Key # 3: Build a Nest in the Eye of the Storm

As Anthropologist, Margaret Mead, traveled on her life adventure, change and uncertainty were a way of life. Her grandmother--a major influence in Margaret's life-- sent her on her journey with the sage advice to 'Always build a nest in the eye of the storm'.

This grandmotherly wisdom has had a strong influence in my own life. Whenever major life events cause upheaval in my life, my mind returns to this saying, and I think how important it is to apply to my own life.

One thing I know--when you're in the middle of a crisis, the hardest thing is to think of taking care of yourself. You can forget to nourish your body, push your body to the limits with lack of sleep, and remain in a constant state of emotional overload. If you can allow yourself to focus on building a nest in the eye of the storm, you can begin to create a cushion to rest and space for thinking.

But what does it mean to build a nest in the eye of the storm?  When life is swirling around you like a hurricane--you find a way to create a home-base of comfort-- or nest-- from which you can rebuild your daily existence.

Start with the basics to nourish your body and rest your nerves. Your body likes a regular rhythm that includes regular heart beats, breaths, sleep patterns, eating times, moving times, and rest time.

Start by getting your natural rhythms back in place. Eat regular, well-balanced meals that nourish you. Pace yourself--put a time limit on dealing with your difficulties--and take regular rest breaks. Go to bed early. If you're caring for others, take care of yourself first, so you have the strength and endurance to continue to help others.

We all do our best thinking and acting when we do it in a place of safety and security. The key is to find a way to create your nest---no matter what storm is brewing. It may not be easy, but it is essential.

Life is a cycle, always in motion; if good times have moved on, so will times of trouble!
Indian Proverb

Saturday, August 6, 2011

That'll Do Dog, That'll Do.

Kipper Cowden Murray, 1995-2011

'To err is human, to forgive, canine.' Anon

That'll Do Dog, That'll Do

When I heard Kipper, the well-loved companion and keeper of the Cowden family died, years of childhood memories washed over me.

Debbie Cowden has been a family friend for 50 years. Growing up, we lived on the same street surrounded by pastures, apricot orchards and animals. My sister, Nancy, and Debbie spent long hours romping through those fields with Bumble and Yuko. In more recent years their dogs Honey and Kipper romped through the fields above the bluffs of Half Moon Bay, California.

When our black lab, Bumble, died, someone gave us a copy of the following 'Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Loved Dog' by Eugene O'Neill. To a dog lover, who knows the tender care, love, and laughter our dogs bring to us, this last will and testament brings comfort.

Over the years our copy disappeared, but I thought about it every time one of our beloved pals passed on. Thanks to the internet, I found it and offer it as a tribute to Kipper and to all great and beloved dogs that have graced our lives with their presence and quietly passed on.

The Last Will & Testament of an Extremely Loved Dog
by Eugene O'Neill
I, Silverdene Emblem O'Neill (familiarly known to my family, friends & acquaintances as Blemie), because the burden of my years and infirmities is heavy upon me, and I realize the end of my life is near, do hereby bury my last will and testament in the mind of my Master. He will not know it is there until after I am dead. Then, remembering me in his loneliness, he will suddenly know of this testament, and I ask him to inscribe it as a memorial to me.
I have little in the way of material things to leave. Dogs are wiser than men. They do not set great store upon things. They do not waste their days hoarding property. They do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain objects they have not.
There is nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and my loyalty. These I leave to all those who have loved me, especially to my Master and Mistress, who I know will mourn me the most.
I ask my Master and my Mistress to remember me always, but not to grieve for me too long. In my life, I have tried to be a comfort to them in time of sorrow, and a reason for added joy in their happiness. It is painful for me to think that even in death I should cause them pain.
Let them remember that while no dog has ever had a happier life (and this I owe to their love and care for me), now that I have grown blind and deaf and lame, and even my sense of smell fails me so that a rabbit could be right under my nose and I might not know, my pride has sunk to a sick, bewildered humiliation.
I feel life is taunting me with having over lingered my welcome. It is time I said good-bye, before I become too sick a burden on myself and on those who love me.
It will be a sorrow to leave them, but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as men do. We accept it as part of life, not as something alien and terrible which destroys life. What may come after death, who knows?
I would like to believe that there is a Paradise. Where one is always young and full-bladdered. Where all the day one dillies and dallies. Where each blissful hour is mealtime. Where in the long evenings there are a million fireplaces with logs forever burning, and one curls oneself up and blinks into the flames and nods and dreams, remembering the old brave days on earth and the love of one's Master and Mistress.
I am afraid that this is too much for even such a dog as I am to expect. But peace, at least, is certain. Peace and a long rest for my weary old heart and head and limbs, and eternal sleep in the earth I have loved so well.
Perhaps, after all, this is best.
One last request, I earnestly make. I have heard my Mistress say, "When Blemie dies we must never have another dog. I love him so much I could never love another one". Now I would ask her, for love of me, to have another. It would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again.
What I would like to feel is that, having once had me in the family, she cannot live without a dog!
I have never had a narrow, jealous spirit. I have always held that most dogs are good. My successor can hardly be as well-loved or as well-mannered or as distinguished and handsome as I was in my prime. My Master and Mistress must not ask the impossible. But he will do his best, I am sure, and even his inevitable defects will help by comparison to keep my memory green.
To him I bequeath my collar and leash and my overcoat and raincoat He can never wear them with the distinction I did, all eyes fixed on me in admiration; but again I am sure he will do his utmost not to appear a mere gauche provincial dog.
I hereby wish him the happiness I know will be his in my old home.
One last word of farewell, dear Master and Mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long, happy life with you:
"Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved". No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.
I will always love you as only a dog can.

A Tribute to Kipper Cowden Murray, 1995-2011 (16+ years young)
By Debbie Cowden

Our wonderful, miracle, surf dog and nanny was laid to rest today in Half Moon Bay. He swam and surfed the Pacific ocean waves, but he shivered to take a hosed bath afterward. He helped raise four active kids, chickens, ducks, cats, birds, and even fish. He loved and ran towards band practice, lied down between the bass player and the bass drum and then sat up to provide vocals with the sax. He ran interference for the hockey players and he played tea-party with the young girls. He spent many late nights with whoever needed to stay up late to support whatever needed supporting. He could clear the fence in a single bound, but never did. And, it wasn't his fault when the mail lady dropped her bundle, either. He was always, always, always a good dog. He will be remembered as the dog who picked us. We will miss you Kipper. We love you.