Monthly Archives: January 2016

Many Happy Returns of the Day

For many years now, I have been susceptible to the GoBackToBed Magnet. I always seem to buy beds with really strong ones. On days when I don’t have to be out the door, sometimes rather often I can fall prey to the Preying Magnet. As recently as yesterday, the GBTB Magnet drew me as easily as the iron filings to Wooly Willy.


Knowing today that I didn’t need to be anywhere at any particular time, and also knowing full well how cozy the old grand lit is, I thought maybe I better approach the problem from a new angle.

While Kepler and I danced around at the bus stop (to the music from Shrek; always Shrek), a thought popped into my head.  “I shall pretend like I am someone who never goes back to bed after I get my kids off to school.”  I was thinking about actors and how they embody personas that are very different from their natural personality, and I thought well darn it if Leo diCaprio can do it, then so can I. On my way back to the house, I just engaged in a little game of pretend and imagined all the things that kind of person might think about their day and their time and their bed.

I find that things that work for me tend to arise organically, but almost always confirm something I have read or heard in the past. In college, THE thing that stuck with me out of all the psych classes I took was the idea that attitude follows action. That my attitude will very often change based on me taking action. When I start something, even if I only intend to keep it up for two minutes (like a cleaning task), keeping on going is almost always the outcome. Overcoming that initial inertia gets the momentum going.

I made colorful signs for myself and posted them around the house, affirmations about the kind of person that I am, even though I can find evidence against each of them! I placed “I am the kind of person who stays up after my kids go to school” on my already made bed. I placed others throughout the house, and each of them made me smile throughout the day.

And I got hella done, man. Not only for myself, but I helped my mother by taking nearly 100 books out of her house for her — books she was ready to part with. (Although I was once accused of shoplifting, I don’t actually steal things.)

One of the books leaving was A Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Joke Book. I decided I needed that one more than the donation box, and so I will leave you with a Pretty Good Joke: Why did the mushroom go to the party? Cuz he was a fungi! Why did the fungi leave the party? Cuz there wasn’t mushroom.



Jumping into the Arena


I had an idea today. Driving home after being with someone I was helping with decluttering, I realized that I really love being with this person and it occurred to me that I would like to spend more time with her.

Seth Godin’s blog is well-worth reading. He is tremendously creative and always encouraging his readers to try things, to ship their art, to think outside the box. His writings have been inspirational to me.

Other resources such as The One You Feed podcast and the writings and teachings of Tony Robbins have been valuable sources of jump-starting my creative thinking.

Although I cannot point to a specific post or podcast at this moment, I can tell you that the accumulation of this good input, the feeding of my “good wolf,” (as they talk about on The One You Feed), has been percolating and simmering. Today those good ingredients came together to create something new and exciting for me.

I have created a proposal for the possibility of becoming a Personal or Executive Assistant to the friend I helped today. I noticed that the ideas flowed easily and clearly. My energy level around the idea is high. After I finished the first draft, a cautious voice piped up shakily, “Better think about this; make sure it is perfect before you send it; who do you think you are.”


I recognized that voice as the voice of the fear of making a mistake, and I thanked the voice and let it know I did not need its input at this time. So, the proposal is complete. It is colorful and fun. Although I recognize that my friend appreciates my company, I don’t know if she will be interested in this idea. BUT I AM TRYING IT ANYWAY.

Can’t wait to see what happens next!




Breaking News: I Volunteered Today


At the beginning of each school year, the volunteer opps flood in. Volunteer in the classroom, volunteer for the PTA, volunteer in the media center, volunteer for picture day,  volunteer for classroom parties. This year I didn’t sign up for anything. Because frog.


Apparently I’m not the only person who gets into situations and then goes along without realizing all the ramifications.

Allowing Toast to spend time at his Nana and FauxPa’s has really opened my eyes to several forests I couldn’t see for the trees.

First of all, every move I make in our home, when the dog is here, must be evaluated in the moment to consider what it will mean for the dog. Will he eat these shoes if I leave them out? Will he jump on that person who comes in the door? Will he chew this up? Of course I realize puppies chew on things, and that it’s normal. But for me, it has been stressful to always wonder what the dog is going to do next when I am trying to focus on Kepler, or on some task.

Secondly, it wasn’t until today, the first school day I have had since the beginning of the year where I could focus exclusively on Kepler, that I realized how the combination of Kepler + Toast is actually pretty amazingly something else. I think part of what has been going on is that Toast never quite knows what Kepler is going to do next. And he responds to Kepler, so if Kepler is highly energetic, or inadvertently whips Toast into a frenzy, I find it challenging to handle both the needs of the dog, and the needs of the child, not to mention any little piddly needs I might have in the situation.

Third, while I was out this morning at my normal Monday meeting, I had the realization that I have been feeling like I have to rush home from wherever I am in order to let the dog out. Like, the crate is ok and very acceptable as it is plenty big, and Toast is crate-trained, but I have been feeling bad about leaving him in the crate more than absolutely necessary. I realized that if I wanted to I could stop by Kepler’s school and volunteer for awhile, or take my time at the library, or even go an extra place I hadn’t been planning on. That little Visitor tag from Kepler’s school is the first one I have worn this entire school year.

Fourth, when I drove into the driveway today, I realized that I have been stressing out over knowing that when I opened the garage door, or the front door, I would immediately need to take care of the dog. I’ve always found it stressful to come into the house and have to immediately begin to respond to needs. I need just a little time to ease into the house, set my stuff down, and just be for a second before I have to get back “on duty.”

Oh, you dog lovers out there, I see you shaking your heads at my naivete, and nodding your heads at these most obvious things about having a dog. Thankfully, Toast is very much enjoying Grandparents Camp, and the grandparents are very much enjoying having Toast visit. (Overheard at Grandparents Camp: “I really don’t know how Susan has been doing this with Toast and Kepler.”)

When Kepler got home from school this afternoon, he and I talked and walked together into the house. When we got in, we got to sit down and read a book together. And I could give him my full attention. And he could give me his. He is pretty distractible, and I have noticed that Toast distracts him tremendously.

So today has been about letting myself off the hook for not being able to manage a high energetic puppy, and an energetic child, without feeling drained and exhausted.

Dear husband left town last Wednesday and returns tonight. So all of this has happened while he has been out of town, and much of the time, he was not available by phone. Of course any decisions that are to be made will include him fully. At least I have finally figured out what has been making me so tired. And that is a very good thing.



You’re Welcome. From The Dog


This is the heel of my favorite Rocket Dog platform flip-flops. You’ll notice that someone has gnawed on the heel and ruined it.

You probably don’t want to read this post. It’s just full of my dismay about the problems of having a dog.

Toast is on a little vacation to his grandparents house. They live only about a mile away and are happy to have their grand-dog over now and again. After I dropped him off today, when I walked into my house, I was struck by the most powerful sense of relief I have experienced lately.

And since I have been home, no one has tried to chew up my water bottle that I sat on the floor next to me. No one has interfered with me taking out the trash or the recycling. No one has sniffed any part of me as I get ready to shower or change. No one has eaten my shoes, Kepler’s shoes, Greg’s shoes, or any one of a hundred other things. I haven’t had to make sure every door is closed. No one has followed me down the stairs, up the stairs, into the bathroom, or to the door. I haven’t had to finesse getting in or out of a door. I haven’t had to be on full alert all the time to spy what is on the floor and then making sure it gets picked up by me before it gets eaten up by him.

To wit, a number of stressors have been minimized or completely gone, since he has been on vacation at grandparents home.

You may recall we got the dog for Kepler. Yet, even more than a typical situation, the dog is completely under the care of me (and Greg, when he is here). Kepler is not big enough to help train the dog. And the dog is still too unpredictable to trust him with Kepler without constant supervision.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out a way for this to work better. But I don’t know how to change the experience I have of needing a break from being in charge of someone 24/7. I think it’s just that I don’t really have the brain space or perhaps it’s energy to deal with first thing in the morning getting the dog squared away, working on controlling and/or training him while I get Kepler out to the bus, in the house from the bus, into bed, and then all the minutes in between.

Toast probably needs closer supervision. Toast probably needs more toys to play with. Toast probably needs a lot more exercise. Toast probably needs a lot more training time during the day. That all makes me think that Toast probably needs someone else to be taking care of him all the time. I already have a full plate.

It’s hard to even write these things down, knowing others will read them. I have this idea that for many people, owning a dog is a joy. Even my mom said it this morning, how wonderful it is to have someone be so happy to see you.

I don’t want the stress. Although we are working on helping Kepler to know how to behave, he will still throw Toast’s toys outside, even though they are inside toys. So, when I am looking for something that belongs to Toast, I never know where it might be. I do not see it as possible or desirable to keep track of all of Toast’s stuff, let alone keep track of Toast.

Even though we put things where we think they are out of Toast’s grasp, he still is able to find things and get them into his mouth. This morning, it was the DirecTv remote. I got it before he chewed it up. And, daughter had left her door open, so he snuck in there and grabbed some papers. Kepler loves to have a snack and drink while he uses the iPad. Whenever he gets up, the snack and drink are accessible to Toast, and I need to be alert as to whether or not Toast is trying to get the snack. He has ruined several cups.

Now, after several hours of Toast off at his overnight, I am aware of the many complications he has brought to my life. No wonder I have been dragging through my days. No wonder.

Certainly, the puppy months/years are challenging for anyone. But I didn’t realize until today how the dog that we got FOR Kepler is actually making things more challenging FOR and WITH Kepler.

Conventional wisdom says it’s a great thing for a child to have a pet. The sunk cost fallacy has me loathing the idea of finding him a new home. But if today is any indication, and I think it is, our most excellent dog is being a serious energy drain for me.

No conclusions here, yet. Just some of siouxsie’s musings.




Parents Beware the Red Robin Ziosk!

oI had lunch today with a friend. I had Kepler with me because doctor visit for him. Friend had already ordered when we arrived. The above picture is what Kepler saw when we sat down. Yes, I saw the words “Premium Apps” but there was no option to sign in somehow to use them. Under the circumstances, I thought maybe they had changed some policy or something and made the premium available for free. After all, there was no opt-in or other way to signify my desire to use the apps.

When the bill came, there was a $1.99 charge for “unlimited games.” Turns out, when you order drinks the lock comes off the games and if you use them at all, it’s $1.99. This seems QUITE unfriendly to parents and families. $1.99 may not be that much money, but I should definitely have the option to opt-in to the games.

With kids, as you know, you’re getting everyone seated, taking care of coats, mittens, hats, and a plethora of kid paraphernalia. Then comes figuring out what each kid wants, etc. Without warning, the games are unlocked and any kid who is curious, which would be any kid, will investigate.

So, parents, be forewarned. When you go to Red Robin, you now have ONE MORE THING to keep track of. If you don’t care, then it’s no big deal. If you want the option to opt-in to your child playing the games, remember that they are unlocked immediately after drinks are ordered. No one will tell you about the charges until the bill arrives. I will be letting Red Robin know my opinion of this practice.


Movie Review of The Big Short

imageor, Why I Hated That Movie So Bad

Greg and I snuck away for a couple hours the other day. We have always enjoyed seeing movies together and we still do. We just don’t get to the theater quite as often. And between Amazon Prime, Netflix, Directv, and the public library, there are thousands more options than we could ever have time for.

At first, we thought maybe we wouldn’t enjoy that movie, but after we talked about who was in it, we thought it might be worth seeing. I mean, Christian Bale amiright.

Reason 1 that I hated this movie so bad: handheld camera. Hate. That. Makes me carsick. Plus it was handheld camera closeup with pounding metal rock in the foreground.

Reason 2 that I hated this movie SO BAD: blah blah blah subprime million billion blah blah tranche mortgage blah blah blah. It’s BAD ENOUGH that the whole thing happened in 2008. Why would I want to see how it all went down in living color.

Reason 3 that I HATED this movie SO bad: After suffering through not nearly enough Christian Bale, entirely too much of a seriously enraged Steve Carrell, weird white lips on Ryan Gosling, and so so much noise, I didn’t even understand it. Yep, that’s right. I don’t understand how they could bet against the mortgage bonds and make money.

Reason 4 that I hated this movie so bad: corruption pisses me off. Just no thanks. I didn’t see one smidgen of redemption in that movie. None. Nada.

Did I like anything? Yes, the part of the story Brad Pitt was in. THAT’S IT.

So, there you have it. One of the few voices who is saying NO THANK YOU. By the way, Greg really enjoyed it and thought it was well-made. So, your mileage may vary.

That Wise Dalai Lama

May I become at all times,
Both now and for ever,
A protector for the helpless,
A guide for the lost ones,
A ship for those to cross oceans,
And a bridge to cross rivers,
A sanctuary for those in danger,
A lamp for those in darkness,
A refuge for those who need shelter,
A servant to all in need.

I saw a wallhanging with this quote by the Dalai Lama. It hangs in the small dining room of the home where I stayed in Alaska. I looked all over the internet for the banner, as I really loved the quote. But found it not, did I.

I wonder if it can actually be both a positive thing as well as a negative thing to want to be a servant to all in need.

I love the images that this quotation brings to mind.

Have you ever been lost? These days, it seems like most of us have GPS capability at our fingertips so if we do get lost, we can pretty easily find our way to our destination with just a few keystrokes.


When our big kids were little, we visited Red River Gorge (spoiler alert: a truly PANIC-inducing venue to take small children). Only the three eldest were born, so they were probably 4, 3, and 2. Greg and I have always loved to hike. Loved it. Figured it’s about the same thing to hike with three small children in hand/on our backs.

For some reason, we got to a fork in the path and didn’t see the next signpost. For SOME reason very mysterious to me now, we parents decided to go two different directions; Greg with the boys, and me with Valerie. We knew the trail started and ended at the parking lot. But just like every trip TO somewhere, the path seemed to never end.

Valerie and I kept walking and walking and walking. We didn’t see anyone. After awhile, I began to fear that we had gotten off the trail and so I had us stop and wait so I could think about what to do. I don’t even know if Valerie remembers this, but she probably does — it may have gone done in her memory as a traumatic event. I know for me it was scary. I mean, I knew SOMEONE would find us. We weren’t that far away from the parking lot, but this was pre-cellphones, so I was either going to have to find the way or be found.

We waited for quite some time and so I decided we should retrace our steps. We hiked for awhile, with me still not knowing whether we were on the path or not. When we finally saw a couple of hikers who became guides for these lost ones, they were the most welcome faces I had ever seen. We had been on the right path all along; I just hadn’t realized how much further we had to go.

Although the guide for this lost one did appear, much of the resolution that day was left up to me to figure out. When we were in the woods, I was the one who had to figure out what to do. I knew Greg was not far away, but I knew it would be very difficult for him to carry two small boys back up the trail to find us. He would have done it, and indeed was just about to set out when we finally appeared. Had it been him in the forest, he

THAT image of a guide for the lost ones, I love. But I think the key is that I KNEW we were lost. I KNEW we needed some outside information in order to be sure where we were. The most frequent “lost” ones I come into contact with are those who are in drug court, and many of them do not feel lost, and therefore are not looking for a guide.

Even when responding to a felt need from someone who is looking for a ship to cross the ocean or a lamp for the darkness, I must be careful to respect their journey, and really think about what it means to offer someone a lamp for the darkness. I suppose one of the major aspects of it is to be willing to offer the lamp and then be unattached to the outcome of what the searcher does in the light.

I’m not sure I’m really up to asking to be all of those things “both now and forever.” I would guess that the primary way I become all of those things is to practice being them for myself first. Otherwise, it can be a distraction to go around thinking I can be a bridge for someone to cross a river or a sanctuary for someone in danger. I do want to let my light shine, so being a lamp in the darkness seems like the most doable of the list.

I’m a work in progress. Seems I have been giving myself away in ways that have depleted me greatly. I choose to embrace now learning to give of myself in ways that share out of my fullness, rather than eking a few more drops out of my emptiness. And along the way, it is very interesting to observe how those I think need help actually do things for themselves when they are allowed to.

So, I will walk forward lightly, listening, listening.


Who’s a Good Boy, Then?

Today was class one of eight in the beginner training class at the dog training center near our home. 

Now, I haven’t written a lot about Toast on my blog. I know there are millions of people who LOVE dogs. And I may be one of those people, but it’s a PROCESS. 

Taking Toast to class gave me a chance to observe him in a group of dogs. He really is an excellent dog and I felt proud of him. He didn’t bark (like Rascal did); he didn’t jump around like a hyperactive beetle, like that Australian shepherd did. He didn’t run circles around me while we walked, like the goldendoodle did to her owner. 

So, I am slooooowly coming to appreciate him. He and Kepler seem to be getting along very well, and, after all, that is the reason we adopted Toast in the first place. 


Someone Had a Birthday

As Kepler’s 10th birthday approached, he reveled at every text we received from moms of kids who were going to come to his party, a “destination” party, his very first. I loved watching his delight and anticipation of getting to share his special day with the kids from his class.

The night before his actual birthday, I realized I didn’t have any actual presents for him to open on his birthday. I’ve written before about how difficult I find it to get birthday things handled in good time, which is to say, before the day of.

So I came up with a plan. I made a visual schedule for him.


Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 6.46.46 PM

Kepler LOVES visual schedules. I wondered how he would do with this one, but it worked beautifully. The only thing was that he was NOT interested in skating. When they had skate days at school, they did not provide the pvc movable fences that help keep kids upright, so Kepler has decided that he does not want to skate. He had me write “Kepler says no thank you to skating.” next to the picture. 🙂

At each location, I asked people there to write happy birthday to Kepler on the page we were using as a reference, which was very fun for him. People loved signing his paper.

After our trip to Kroger, we came home and made his cake together, a yummy lemon cake with whipped cream lemon frosting, which we served with rainbow sherbet. Kepler is not big on cake at all, so I chose something colorful, just in case that might entice him to try it.

The day was capped off with a family party and the promise of an exciting day tomorrow, the day of the friend party at the pool.

Days Go By

It has been several days since I have blogged. I have been doing a lot of resting and sleeping. I miss writing, but haven’t had a lot to say. 

I did get to an Alanon meeting today. This was the second of a series of four beginner meetings. I did get somethimg out of the meeting today — just a glimpse of how I might disengage with the circumstances of addiction and recovery and that one thing was helpful.

Aside from that, pretty quiet around here.