Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Should I Get Another Dog?


I have a conundrum. I want a dog. I already have a dog. I want another dog. A lap dog. A cuddle bug. Something cute and fluffy and loveable. But I have a dog. She’s big, hairy, very smart, and she doesn’t like other dogs…most of the time. She’s also more attached to my husband, Mark, than to me. As the alpha female in our household, she respects me, but her love goes to her Daddy and no one else. So I want a dog. A little dog. One that can sit in my lap and lay next to me on the couch. One that might give me a lick of affection now and then (but not too much). One that’s soft to pet and brush.

I’ve been thinking about dogs for a long time. Mark and I had been wanting a Great Pyrenees long before our beloved Sophie dropped into our life. As I mentioned on the podcast yesterday, we had thoroughly researched the breed and even stalked the Pyr rescue sites looking for the “right” one. We always said we’d know when we found her because “she would find us.” And that’s exactly what Sophie did. She’s been a great dog, and I’d definitely love to have another Pyr – they’re smart, independent, great guard dogs, friendly, and of course, beautiful. But I grew up with small dogs that could lay in bed with you, and whenever I’m around Christen’s three small dogs, I start to daydream about having one of my own.

At first, I wanted a Shih Tzu like Arya. Christen’s oldest dog is the sweetest little lap dog you could ever want. Her long fur is soft and strokable, like human hair, and she loves to cuddle – it’s what she was bred for. Whenever I mention it, Mark tries to dissuade me. He would prefer a Maltese, but then he reminds me that Sophie is nervous around and sometimes aggressive towards other dogs. I think her behavior is directed mostly to big dogs and any kind of black dog, especially since she whines and cries when she sees another Pyr, but the subtext behind his comments is heard loud and clear – he doesn’t want another dog, and especially not a Shih Tzu.

A few years ago, I started following a lovely crafter on YouTube and Patreon who goes by the handle “Dearly Dee”. She had an adorable little dog named Lily or “Lil” for short. Lil was a Maltese mix, an older dog, and so adorable I just couldn’t stand it. So then I started thinking about Maltese dogs. They are quite cute. A bit larger than the Shih Tzus, but they still have that gorgeous long hair rather than fur. That’s a big plus in my book because Sophie sheds so much (literally buckets of hair daily). A Maltese would also be white, so that might negate the “other dog” issue, especially if we brought her in as a puppy. So I’ve been thinking about a Maltese or some kind of Maltese mix, and I’ve mentioned it several times to Mark, but he doesn’t seem that interested.

I’ve even entertained the idea of another Pyr, and part of me thinks Sophie would accept a dog of her own breed, especially (again) if she came to us as a puppy. Mark agrees that a Great Pyrenees would be a good dog to have and we certainly have a yard big enough for two, but a Pyr is not a lap dog by any stretch of the imagination. And then we have all that fur. I mean, Sophie is basically one giant floof. I think it might drive me insane to have to clean up after two of her. But then it happened. Someone showed me a Pyr being fostered at our local rescue group, and I started thinking about her, even though I’m trying not to. Is it crazy to want another big dog and my little lap dog?

I know that if I think about it long enough, the decision will be made for me. Someone will adopt that pretty little girl from the rescue site, and I will quit thinking about the Pyr that got away. As for the Maltese, as long as no one presents me with an actual dog, the idea will remain a mere possibility and nothing more. I can keep thinking about it, imagining what it would be like, and wishing for the day when I could have one, but I don’t actually have to face the reality of making the choice, of actually searching for and adopting the dog, or even facing the decision not to get one at all. Christen asked us in the podcast what choice would we make if there were no consequences at all. I think it would be simple – I would choose both. I’d rescue the Pyr and I’d find my little lap dog and enjoy them both. It’s a possibility. I’m sure both the dogs and I would be very happy. I’m just not sure I’m ready.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Heard it on the Podcast - April 26, 2023


Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we do most Wednesdays to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:

S3E17: Choosing a Family Pet

  • April 30 is National Adopt a Pet Day
  • American Kennel Club (AKC): Information about dog breeds, pet insurance, training, expert advice and more: http://www.akc.org

    Saturday, April 22, 2023

    10 Great Lessons from William Shakespeare

    How does a non-English major write a blog about William Shakespeare? Uhm…you don’t. At least, not about the literary aspects of his work, or even about the bard himself. That’s all been done before by thousands of others who are more knowledgeable than me. But what I can write about is a selection of life lessons I have gleaned from his writings. I’m not talking about the obvious stuff revolving around trust, communication, and rash decisions (although there is quite a bit of that to be learned!), but rather more subtle messages I’ve found in his more notable quotes. Here are ten of my favorites:

    1. "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt."
      Don’t let fear of failure keep you from success! We’ve talked about this a few times on the podcast when it comes to procrastination. Sometimes we don’t start a project because we’re afraid we’ll fail. Afraid we don’t have the skills, or the resources, or the support…. Don’t let that fear stop you from doing something great. If you try and you fail, you can always keep trying, but if you never try, you can never succeed.

    2. "Nothing can come of nothing."
      The context of this line from King Lear alludes to the fact that you can’t get something from nothing. If you want something, go for it. Work for it. Put in the effort. Don’t just wish for the good to come into your life – you have to make it happen. 

    3. "How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world."
      Many of us get discouraged by the state of the world and we feel like we are powerless to make a difference. But the truth is that even a small kindness can
      affect the most powerful change, and even a small act can send ripples across the world. Never let the size of your contribution be the reason you don’t. A dollar may not be much, but one dollar given by 100 people is $100, and one can of food donated by 100 people is 100 cans of food. Do what you can and never doubt that your small part has made a big difference for someone.

    4. "This above all; to thine own self be true."
      Be your own authentic self. Shine your light. Never dim to fit in. And for goodness sake, don’t lie to yourself! 

    5. "Talking isn't doing. It is a kind of good deed to say well; and yet words are not deeds."
      Don’t just talk the talk! Walk the walk! It’s all well and good to talk about the change that needs to happen in this world, but it all means nothing if you aren’t willing to do it yourself. 

    6. "Words without thoughts never to heaven go."
      Don’t just give lip service to people either. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It doesn’t do any good to talk about what’s right or fair if you aren’t willing to practice what you preach.

    7. "If we are true to ourselves, we can not be false to anyone."
      If we can’t be honest with ourselves, then how can we be honest with anyone else? Sometimes we make excuses for our behavior, we make up stories, or we try and pretend things are one way when they are really another. But deep inside we know the truth – and if we are willing to lie to ourselves, then is anything we say or do honest and real?

    8. "Expectation is the root of all heartache."
      Oh, boy, is it ever! All disappointment stems from expectations. This has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn, and I’m still learning it. Learning to accept what is and let go of how I think it should be has helped me learn contentment. I can appreciate the now. The next time your expectations fall flat, try taking a step back and appreciating what is right in front of you. Find the good in every moment. After a while, those expectations don’t really mean all that much.

    9.  "Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting."
      Self-care is another topic we’ve covered quite a bit on the podcast. It’s important. It’s necessary. It is not selfish. Before we can take care of others, we have to first take care of ourselves. And before we can love others, we must first love ourselves.

    10. "Don't waste your love on somebody who doesn't value it."
      I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to friends bemoan their efforts to keep a man who doesn’t appreciate them. Heck, I’ve done it myself. It took me a long, long time to develop the self-respect I needed to realize that I deserve better. You do, too. Don’t sell yourself short. He (or she) is not the only fish in the sea. You can and will find someone who deserves you, but only if you can find your own self-worth. 

    I hope you’ve enjoyed my little take on a few Shakespearean quotes. Can you think of any others? Please share them in the comments below, or start a conversation on our MMC Chat group.

    Monday, April 10, 2023

    What Makes a Garden Grow?

    I do not call myself a gardener. I used to, but that was before I had a travel agency, a podcast, and a house in a part of the country known for 100° days for weeks or even months at a time. I used to love digging in the dirt, planting flowers, training vines to grow up trellises, deadheading flowers to encourage more blooms, and cutting fresh herbs to use in my cooking. I used to take great pride in the corn, pumpkins, and beans I had grown in a small corner of my yard. I spent hours watering, cultivating, and finally harvesting my tiny little crops of goodness. I think about those days longingly, but then I look at the pile of paperwork on my desk, and the multitude of emails in my inbox, and I am sad. Sad that I am no longer a gardener. 

    The change was very gradual.  Right up to the first spring of the pandemic, I had been the person in our household who cleaned out the flower beds and set out new plantings each spring. I was the one who pulled the stray weeds in the yard and in the cracks of the sidewalk. I hadn’t mowed the yard in years; that task had been taken over by my husband when we moved to this house in 2007. He was aided in that task by our teenage son until he eventually gave up that task to a lawn service.  But even then, I still had a few herbs growing here and there: a rosemary bush that I had replanted at least 3 times before it took off; a little basil in a sunny spot, and, of course, several varieties of mint here and there. 

    After the lawn, the herbs were the first to go. I couldn’t keep up with the rosemary. It grew so fast once it took hold that it quickly took over half the flower bed. We’d harvest what we needed, but the plant became a woody shrub that the bunnies loved to hide in. Then we had a big freeze and it died off. I haven’t had the heart to replant it. The basil went much faster, as did the cilantro. It was much too warm here, and the bugs and bunnies got most of it. The mint is still there, in a few places. It doesn’t really get enough sun, and the dog keeps digging in those beds, so there’s only a little sprig of it here and there.

    When COVID started, I had my mother here with me. She took up a lot of my time. And when I wasn’t tending to her, I was trying (mostly in vain) to run my little travel agency and keep up with the work and my taxes amidst the distraction of too many people in the house all day because of lock-down. Hubby, who was bored because he had no work, took it upon himself to clean out the flower beds one day and plant some lovely flowers. I was grateful, because it was one more thing on my list of to-do items that I just didn’t have time for. I didn’t even realize at the time how much I missed it, but then the next year, I didn’t have time, nor then next, and suddenly I realized I hadn’t tended my garden in a very long time. And sadly, I wasn’t even motivated to do it at all. Now, I think about gardening, and it’s like some abstract thought of something I “should” want to do, but I kind of really don’t.

    I see this happen a lot. Heck, it’s happened to me a lot. I have a hobby I love. I love it so much I do it all the time. I just can’t get enough of it. And then something happens and I can’t do it for a while. And then I can’t get back in the groove. Then I don’t want to get back in the groove. Or do I? Most of the time, I can’t bring myself to admit that I don’t like it any more. I just keep promising myself that I’ll start again. Soon. That’s what I tell myself. Soon.

    It happened with crocheting. I crocheted so many afghans, pillows, scarves, sweaters, and pot holders. I was part of an online group that chatted about crocheting every day.  And then I got busy and quit crocheting as much. Suddenly, I realized I hadn’t crocheted anything in years. I picked up a hook and some yarn, and somehow it just wasn’t as satisfying as it had been before, and I really didn’t enjoy it as I used to. But I couldn’t get rid of my yarn and my hooks. Yes, I culled the stash quite a bit, but I haven’t been able to convince myself that my love of crochet is gone. I might still want to do it someday, right? 

    And that’s the way it is with gardening. I want to garden, but really I just want to want to garden. It’s as if I could will myself to have the desire to garden if I think about it long enough. If I keep imagining all the pretty flowers I could grow or the vegetables I could harvest, then I’ll be motivated to get out there and do it. If I keep holding onto those crochet hooks and yarn long enough I might decide to crochet again. But let’s get real – you can’t will yourself to want something if you don’t already want it.

    And that’s the trouble with a lot of goals and intentions. We all tend to choose goals that we think we should choose, and not necessarily the goals that we really already have. You can’t make yourself lose weight by telling yourself that you want to lose weight. You can’t save money for an emergency fund by telling yourself that you should save money. You have to already want those things before you can make it your goal. So stop making things that you “should” do your goals. Make your goals the things that you already want.

    This month, we are entering the second quarter of the year, and if you set goals in January, you’ve had three months to figure out if those goals are working for you. In previous years, we would have called it a “goals refresh”. That’s when we look at our progress, decide if our goals accurately reflect what we truly desire, and whether the steps we are taking are the right steps. How are your goals looking to you? Are your goals the things you really want, or are you like me? Did you choose goals that you thought you “should” choose and now you’re struggling to make them happen? Are you telling yourself that you want a certain goal because it was something you didn’t finish last year? Or has it been on your list of things to do for a long time and you are just now getting to it? As you reassess your goals, ask yourself, “Is this still meaningful to me? Is this something I still want? Do I really want it, or am I just trying to convince myself that I should?”

    I’ve decided my garden can wait. Someday, I may choose to go back to my garden, and when I do, it will be because I want that more than I want anything else. When that happens, I will be in that moment, loving my garden and all the time I spend in it. I won’t have to tell myself that I “should” garden and I won’t have to struggle to find the time for it because it will be the thing that I most want to do. Right now, what I truly want is more time with my family. More time with my art. More time writing, crafting, and creating. So, those are the goals I am setting right now because those are the only goals that make sense. They are the only goals that I will actually follow through on, and they are the only goals that really matter. That’s the garden I’m growing. What about you?

    How’s your garden growing? Do you have old hobbies, tasks, and items on your to-do list that you can never seem to get to but feel like you should? What would happen if you just decided you don’t want to do it anymore? Tell us about it in the comments below, or start a conversation on our MMC Chat group.

    Thursday, April 6, 2023

    It's All About the Name


    Have you ever felt like your computer (or your phone) was spying on you? Capturing bits of information from your in-person conversations and then presenting it to you via some curated advertisement that seems just a bit too coincidental? I don’t want to go off on a whole rampage about that particular invasion of privacy – that’s a whole topic for the podcast someday (I mean, we all know they do it, right?), but it just happened to me on Pinterest, and it gave me a topic for this blog I’m trying to write.

    Our topic for this week is grimoires and why people might use them. I think we covered a lot of material in the podcast yesterday, and I really don’t know that I have a lot to add to that discussion except to say that it is what you make of it. To each, his own, so to speak. But as I was pondering what in the heck I could write about that might be of interest, I flipped through my emails and got a pin recommendation from Pinterest that surprised me because it was not related to the other pins in the email, and because, just last night, I was editing the podcast on this very topic – grimoires. Weird, right? 

    You can see the pin here.

    What intrigued me about this pin was the notion of a “Book of Mirrors”, which is quite interesting to me. It sort of reminds me of several of my projects and journals, but most particularly, it made me think of my One Little Word project because that is exactly what One Little Word is all about: insight, wisdom, awareness, self-growth, self-discovery, experience, inspiration, and growth. And while I normally equate my OLW project with a sort-of self-help psychology, this concept of a book of mirrors puts it squarely into the metaphysical realm. Because, if getting truly in touch with your inner self isn’t metaphysical, then I don’t know what is. And what is a collection of metaphysical studies kept in a book? A “Grimoire” or a “Book of Shadows.” 

    I already mentioned in the podcast that I don’t really care for the name “Book of Shadows” because it conjures up a lot of negative connotations for me. As a fledgling metaphysicist (or would that be a metaphysician?) who happens to also be a Christian, I consider myself to be a “Light Worker” – someone dedicated to bringing light into this world and to help others. Keeping a “Book of Shadows” just doesn’t seem to align with that, does it? But a “Book of Mirrors” ...that’s something I could get behind, even if it’s more about helping myself than helping others.

    Think about it…a light worker’s calling is to shed light on the world, to illuminate the dark places, and to reflect the light they see in others. Like a mirror. Shining a light on the darkness. Helping others see the beauty in themselves. Mirrors are powerful. Mirrors allow telescopes to see the stars that are invisible to the naked eye. Mirrors help lighthouses focus their light out to sea to guide ships passing in the night. Mirrors allow us to see ourselves clearly as we truly are. Sometimes we even use mirrors symbolically when we describe how we project our own feelings onto others (and that’s a bit of shadow work).

    Yes, I think some of my projects like One Little Word are in essence a “Book of Mirrors” because as part of that project, I gain insight and wisdom about myself. I am inspired by the other participants who share their growth and experiences. And in many ways, I hope that sharing that project with others, which I do via my Instagram and Facebook profiles as well as in the One Little Word Facebook group, will help others, too. And in many ways, it’s what this blog and our Modern Musings podcast is all about, too. 

    But then I’m still left with what to call my collection of recipes, herbs, crystals, affirmations, healing, and prayers. I don’t want to reference shadows. “Grimoire” doesn’t fit, either, because it’s far too “witchy” for my taste, and I feel more like a healer than a witch, per se. So as I mentioned in the podcast, using a grimoire always comes down to intention. And since my intention is not tied up in darkness or shadows, and grimoire doesn’t have the right vibe, I need another name for it. So when I think about my intentions and I think about my One Little Word, I have my answer – Light. As a lightworker, my grimoire, my grammarie, the book that holds all my knowledge and expertise, should be called my “Book of Light”. Plain and simple. And that feels right.

    What about you? Do you have a grimoire or Book of Shadows? Do any of the names of these books have a certain vibe for you? Tell us about it in the comments below, or join us on our Facebook Group, MMC Chat.

    Wednesday, April 5, 2023

    Cindy's Favorite Aromatherapy Combos


    Cindy here! As I mentioned on the podcast this week, I like to use aromatherapy to help me focus while I'm working. I also use it to relax and chill out when my day gets a little hectic. I use all pure essential oils and distilled water (usually an appropriate "moon" water) in a diffuser. Here are a few of my favorite scent combos:
    For focus:
    • 2 drops lemon, 2 drops rosemary, 3 drops of peppermint
    • 2 drops peppermint, 1 drop spearmint, 3 drops lemon, 3 drops rosemary
    Other great oils for focus include: lavender, frankincense, basil, lemongrass, and sweet orange
    For relaxing/spa-like vibes:
    • 2 drops eucalyptus, 2 drops spearmint
    Other great oils for relaxing include: lavender, bergamot, lemon, and jasmine

    Heard it on the Podcast - April 5, 2023


    Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we do most Wednesdays to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:

    S3E14: What is a Grimoire?


    In the podcast, Cindy mentioned a "key" at the beginning of her BUJO. What she meant to say was "an index".

    For the record, Amber did say "Astronomy", not "Astrology"

    Saturday, April 1, 2023

    The Comfort in Lies


    I hope you listened to the podcast this week, as Amber, Christen, and I discussed the book “Girl Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be” by Rachel Hollis. I haven’t read the book (yet), but from our discussion, I feel like I should. I’m particularly drawn to the concept of the “lies” (or stories) we tell ourselves, something that has been mentioned by BrenĂ© Brown and has featured prominently in several prompts and lessons by Ali Edwards in her “One Little Word” class.  Having participated in that class for several years now, I’ve been faced with this prompt multiple times, and each time, I come to the realization that I’m still telling myself some of those same lies and stories, even though I’ve clearly identified them and promised myself to stop. Why is that?

    In short, because it’s easy. It’s a cop-out. Change is hard. Learning new habits is hard. Rewriting the script that you tell yourself daily is hard. 

    Think about your name. You’ve lived with your name your whole life. It’s part of who you are. If you hear your name, you respond. You don’t even have to think about it, right? Now imagine that you had to change your name…that no one used the name you’ve grown up with, and suddenly everyone insists on calling you a new name - one you’ve never used before. How long do you think it will take you to instinctively respond to that new name? And how long before you stop thinking of yourself as your old name? I can tell you that if I hear “Mom” in a grocery store, I turn my head to look, even if none of my kids are with me. I react the same when I hear “Cindy”, no matter who says it. I’m pretty sure I always will. They have both become ingrained in my psyche. But it wasn’t always so.

    A new mother doesn’t respond to the name “Mom” right away. It takes time. It takes hearing her children say it over and over again. She has to learn to feel like a mom. She has to become Mom. She has to let go of the name that everyone else calls her by, even if it’s just a little. Eventually, she becomes comfortable with that new name…Mom.

    So how does that relate to these lies and stories we tell ourselves? Well, they’re like our name. They’re a label we’ve tagged ourselves with, and, whether we realize it or not, we repeat it day after day. It’s stuck there. It’s what we identify with. In order to stop identifying with those labels, lies, and stories, we actually have to do something about it. We have to rewrite the script. We have to call ourselves something different – tell ourselves a new story…tell ourselves a truth that we repeat over and over until we believe it. Until we know it in our hearts. Until that new story replaces the old story…the lie we’ve told ourselves for so long.

    Often we are comfortable with the lies we tell ourselves. “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll start tomorrow” make great excuses for our failures. It gives us something to blame when things go wrong. So we try to succeed, and then when things get hard, we can fall back on these lies and stories because it’s easier to give in than to keep pushing forward. It’s like that old pair of shoes that you just can’t throw out because they are so comfortable, even though they’re scuffed and worn. A new pair of shoes would hurt and need to be broken in. A new pair of shoes might leave a blister. The excuses go on and on.

    As I’m looking back through my One Little Word, I see all the lies I’ve told myself. Many of them are the same lies that Rachel Hollis names in her book. I’ve battled with many of these lies for years. We’ve even talked about some of them right here on the blog and on the podcast. For instance, her Lie #1 “Something else will make me happy” was the topic of a blog post I made back in September titled, “Happiness from the Inside,” in which I detailed my lifelong search for happiness. Likewise, many of our Eckhardt Tolle podcasts and my blog “Resistance is Futile” talk about acceptance and gratitude as a source of happiness. 

    Sometimes the lies we tell ourselves are just repeats of the lies other people have told us. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves, and one that I talk about a lot, is Lie # 12 - “I need to make myself smaller”. How many of us have been told “you cry too much”, “you’re too needy”, “you’re too emotional,” or even “you’re too loud?” We believe it because others tell us so. People we trust. People we love. 

    One of the things I’ve come to realize is that you have to ask yourself, “Who told you that?”  Do they have some ulterior motive? What do they have to gain when you make yourself smaller? When you hide who you really are? Have you heard of “toxic positivity?” As if being positive is somehow wrong or too much? Is it real? Are you being authentic? When someone asks you to turn it down, is it because they are not authentic themselves? Are they threatened in some way by your strength? Don’t let other people dictate how you feel, how you act, or what you need.

    If you are sad, be sad. If you are happy, be happy. If you need something, say so. You do not have to disappear into the woodwork to fit in. You should never dim your light to fit in with what other people expect of you. Be yourself. Be authentic. Shine your light big and bold and bright for the whole world to see. 

    It took me a long time to learn this. I spent many years trying to fit in with the “popular” girls and the PTA moms. And I was lonely. Because it wasn’t me. When I finally let my light shine…when I finally allowed myself to be who I really am, then my tribe found me. The people who get me. The people who are the same kind of weird as me. It was hard at first. In fact, if you listen to early episodes of this podcast and read some of those early blogs, you might notice a difference in how all three of us have opened up and become more of ourselves. It was hard, but we are better for it, and I feel like that’s one lie that I’ve definitely put aside. Now I just need to keep working on the rest of them.

    5 Ways to Manifest Your Best Life

    Hi there, and welcome back! Since we have been heavily focusing on goals and planning, I thought we should discuss manifesting. I love this ...