TO LOUNGE OR NOT TO LOUNGE-THAT IS THE QUESTION.

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So, I've been the caretaker for my ninety-three year old mother with Alzheimer's for the last seven years or so. Until recently, I also worked a forty hour a week job. In between, I was writing my books, taking me and my dog for walks, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, making three meals a day, cutting the lawn, shoveling the driveway, trimming the bushes, fixing whatever has broken in or outside the house, running errands, taking mom to doctor's appointments, getting on the roof to blow off every type of tree dropping there is, raking leaves...well you get the picture.

Then one day, I walk in the house and see my rescue dog, Ela. In the chair. In her favorite position. She too had a very busy life before I adopted her. She was in the Puerto Rican hurricanes. Unfortunately, she can't tell me how she suffered-but she definitely has PTSD. She hates to walk over bridges, especially if she can see the water below. She hates rain. She hates wind. (no brainer) She scares easily. But seeing her there lounging on her back, I realized she had found a way to deal with it, and it's not stop and smell the roses. It's stop and take a break--lounge in the chair in her favorite position.

It's relaxing to her--it makes her feel good. I have learned over the four years I've had Ela in my life, that lying on her back makes her feel good. She does it a lot. And looking at her, I realized she's a happy girl because of it. She's not so stressed.

It's easy to say, a lot harder to do. But it is very important to take a break from your busy day and do something that makes you feel good--that relaxes you. To be honest, walking while listening to audio books is one of my favorite pastimes. But I also love to watch movies. However, when I was working forty hours, I felt pressed to get my walks in and didn't enjoy them as much. I couldn't watch any movies until it was time to go to bed because I was too busy with everything else. So, maybe I needed to try something else. Like lying on my back in the chair with my feet up. Ela swears by it.

A DOG'S LOVE

At thirteen years and two weeks, my beloved Boxer, Charlie succumbed to cancer. Eight months later, I lost my Min Pin. Zeus was 17 years old and just too tired and old to go on. It was devastating and heart wrenching as I’m sure many of you know. These dogs were my sounding board, my friends who loved me unconditionally.

Charlie waited for me every day looking out between the blind slats on the window that overlooked the driveway. When I pulled in, he was sitting there staring out at me. Zeus was a lion in a tiny body. He had attitude and stuck to me like glue. There really is no better feeling.

So many of you know what I’m talking about. We love our dogs with all your heart and can’t imagine our life without them. Then one day, that’s the way it is—sometimes when you least expect it. So, as I have before, I turned to writing/journaling. I write about how cute he was when I first brought him home—the runt of the litter and in fact, the last puppy to be sold. He turned out to be a blessing. That dog saw me through a lot of things—change in jobs, messy relationship and then divorce, moving, and moving again.

 

Along the way, he enchanted neighbors as he stuffed his ball under the fence and stared at them until they picked it up and threw it back. Most of my neighbors adored him for that. A few didn’t like the hole that resulted from his continual pushing with his feet to get the ball under the fence to the other side. What’s that old saying? Why did the dog push the ball under the fence? So the neighbors would play with him, of course!

Every day, no matter what, he had joy in his heart and play on the brain in the name of a ball. Charlie loved playing with a ball. However, ten years of catching a tennis ball and then sucking on it did a number on his teeth. When he was ten, he had eight pulled and wore the rest of them down to a quarter of an inch—including his fangs which he had no more. So I switched to a plastic/rubber kind of ball that was about the same size, but didn’t hold the germs like the fuzz on a tennis ball..

Charlie didn’t like water—at all, whether it be a lake, pond, the bath tub or a puddle. He always sidestepped a puddle and whined when his ball went into some body of water at which point, he cried until someone retrieved it for him.

He continued to harass me daily to throw it so he could chase it even up to the day he stopped eating.

I have lots of cute pictures and memories that fill up my sad heart making it smile once again. But I miss the boy who wanted to be near me where ever I was—including the bathroom! The one who was relentless in trying to get me outside to throw his ball, who wouldn’t drop it until we went inside. One of my favorite memories is I had trained him to drop his ball before we went inside. It never failed that he would stand at the door, drop it and then look back longingly and lovingly at his ball. That I wish I had on video.

I do have videos of both Charlie and Zeus’s howling with two other dogs during my years of marriage. We called it our choir. Zeus would always start it, and then the other three would join in(Charlie, a Golden Retriever and a Havapoo). Charlie was definitely the bass and he often added a woo, woo to his repertoire.

Fifty-five pounds of a lap dog, he was a pretty good cuddler and maybe that’s why it hurt so bad the last week of his life when he didn’t want to be near me. I knew it wasn’t because he didn’t want to; he was just in pain and was ready to go. Months later, it still makes me cry.

But, Charlie will join my other Boxers, Babs and Kelsey up in heaven at the Rainbow Bridge where they will chase balls together. I know he’s in good hands and his memory might fade some, but it will always be with me.

Zeus was a rescue who needed a new home at the age of five. He was a character. He loved to be chased and he was pretty fast. I remember the excitement on his face as he eluded me taking quick turns and jumping on and off of furniture.

I had always had large dogs and Zeus was my first attempt at a small dog. I learned a lot-like don’t leave the recycles on the floor where a small dog can find them and get their head stuck in a peanut butter jar. Thank God, nothing happened to him other than enjoying a lot of good licks of peanut butter. He was definitely food focused.

Zeus also preferred to sleep under the blankets on my bed. For many years, he found his way under and his way out, but the last year of his life, he was losing his sight and his hearing and he had trouble. So, he would stand by my head until I lifted the blanket. Then he would go under to my feet and lie down. Sometime in the night I would hear heavy, desperate breathing. He was too hot. So, I lifted the covers and he climbed out. Wherever I sat, knelt, or lay down, Zeus was next to me—most of the time in between my legs.

 

I now have Ela, a rescue from the Puerto Rico Hurricanes. She is larger than Zeus was, but smaller than Charlie. Long hair and another food lover! When I got her, I tried several commands-sit, down, come. She would just stare at me. It wasn’t until a co-worker jokingly asked if she barked in Spanish that I realized she probably didn’t understand me. I looked up the words in Spanish for those commands and as soon as I said it, she performed the task. So Ela has taught me some Spanish and I have taught her English.

 

We love our walks everyday just like I have with every other dog that has been in my life. Like Charlie and Zeus, she too loves to cuddle with me and be with me. But really, what dog doesn’t love to cuddle and be with their owner? That’s one of the many reasons I will always have a dog. Their love is always there…even when they are crossing the rainbow bridge.

A Blog for All New Authors + Entrepreneurs

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At this age, perseverance HAS to be your strong suit. How else can us middle-ager’s figure out the complexities of the technological world that we have to navigate? Because if you, like me, are trying to get your work out in the world for people to see it, you don’t have a choice.

It’s not just the computer and the Internet and email anymore. It’s smart phones and tablets and websites and domains and landing pages and email marketing services and publishing services and Facebook and…get the picture?

The amount of marketing tools is just as overwhelming as the number of people using them to market themselves. You have to sift through them to find the viable ones, ones that work and are either free or for a nominal fee because after preparing your product, or book, money is tight.

Then you have to learn how to navigate through them, learn how to use them and integrate them. And hope they will work.

But through all the preparation to market your work, you’re wondering if your work is good enough. It’s not just about getting it out there to the public, but it has to be something that is good. Something the public will want to read or use. And even though you know in your heart, your work is good enough, that thought still nags at you because you weren’t able to get someone to publish or produce your product. But you need to keep in mind that it’s not because your book or product isn’t good enough, it’s because with the technological tools that are out there today, there are so many people that are competing for the same thing you are: for people to read your book or use your product. So the literary agents, the Shark Tank people, and businesses that might produce your products are so inundated with people like us, we don’t always get the chance.

So we turn to the consumer world that we can access through the internet. It’s a jungle, but you can learn to navigate it…with perseverance. Because it will take you many trials and tribulations to get it right.

What makes it worse is now that we got past the flip phone phase and have been pushed into the smart phone phase, we have to be able to do it all on the smart phone.

I don’t know about you, but it’s still too small and I prefer to use my computer or laptop—or just get larger magnification for my reading glasses.

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WHO'S COLDER?

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After reading several postings on facebook about how cold it's been, I had to join in. I remember a couple stretches of winters that had us northerners all talking. The first was when I was a child in the 1960's. The snow banks were higher than my smaller self. I've seen black and white pictures of our house surrounded by snow and when the roads, sidewalks and driveways were shoveled there was enough snow on the snow banks to make awesome forts and some good sledding without going to a park.

 

Then there was another stretch of winters in the late 70's and early 80's that had us northerners talking about the weather once again. It made the snow banks of the 60's look more like March melted piles. One such storm left enough snow that covered the cars in the road left by their drivers because they couldn't see past their windshield to drive any further. I was one of those drivers. I spent the night with thirty other people in a stranger's house and in the morning I watched snow mobiles go down the road, over the tops of the cars that we left in the road because the riders were totally unaware the cars were underneath them. It took payloaders to yank our cars out.

 

As an upstate New Yorker, I have learned a valuable lesson about winter. If you can't beat it, join it. Some move south to warmer weather and no snow. I went sledding, and ice skating, and cross country and down hill skiing, and snow shoeing and even some snow mobiling. I did it all and I came to enjoy the winters (as much as you can enjoy them!)

 

Then came the last stretch of winters where we had green Christmases. As a northerner, I hated them. Outdoor Christmas lights just don't look the same without a fresh coating of the white fluff. And my skis and ice skates and snow shoes started to gather dust, not snow. For me, the winters became a little depressing. There was lots of talk amongst us northerners that maybe Global Warming was the cause for the warmer winters and lack of snow which in turn caused some pretty dry, hot summers (I won't even talk about how much I dislike the heat).

 

Boy were we wrong! This winter has brought a whole new meaning to cold. The talk has become who is colder. We;ve watched the temperatures dive to the single digits with wind chills forcing them even further into the depths of below zero. We've watched the southern states deal with the kind of winters we used to have. We talk to friends and co-workers and it becomes a contest as to whose town is colder. At one point, even Alaska was warmer than New York and my friends in the true upstate New York (you know those mountains) had forty below weather-without a wind chill. They won the contest!

Winter is back with a vengence and we worry that we'll have another stretch of winters where the freezing cold temperatures will be the issue. I'm tired of watching videos and newscasts where water turns immediately to ice as it comes out of a spray bottle when sprayed outside, or a hamburger left outside becomes frozen after minutes, or expressways turned into ice skating rinks for cars in states where we usually go during winter recess to get warm. But, I'm in New York to stay- I'll just have to join winter once again. So, I guess I'll get my snow shoes out and go snow shoeing, or down hill and cross country skiing, or ice skating or even some mild sledding (don't want to break any bones). Snowmobiling would be fun.

On the other hand, it's just too cold to go outside.

Oh To Be A TEN YEAR OLD

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I have always wanted to learn-advance my education, learn new technology, but at the age of 58, there is so much technology to learn, I can't keep up. I don't have the time with still working a full time job and sometimes I don't think I have the mind anymore (not that 58 is all that old). Not like a ten year old. They talk about technology like we talk about VHS players and Vinyl records.

I went to a mini conference on self publishing yesterday and they were talking about marketing. It's all technology. After alot of conversations on websites, blogs and other technological stuff that I'm just beginning to learn about, a gentleman spoke up and said exactly what most of us were feeling in the room. Not only don't some of us have the time to learn and use all of this technology, but learning and putting it into action can be the most frustrating thing.

Sometimes, like today, I spend hours on the computer trying to get a part of my web site to work and I might get lucky. Other times I feel like I wasted all those hours because I didn't save it in time, the internet crashes and I lose it all, or I did it all wrong when I thought I had it right. Major 'Do-over'.

So, this gentleman suggested hiring a young person to do it for you. Not a bad idea since a younger person's mind grew up with all this technology. The instructor offered up a website where you can hire people from $3-4 an hour and as high as $25 to do all the techie stuff for you. Now comes the dilemma of coming up with the money to pay someone. It took me days to figure it all out so even at $3 an hour, it can add up.

But, I'm thinking it wouldn't take them as long as it does me.

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