Woman’s Best Friend

In last week’s writer’s group, we read a poem about a dog.  Everyone re-acted, even those who didn’t have dogs.  What is it about man’s (woman’s) best friend that brings out something in all of us?  Everyone had a story to tell and the mood of the meeting was upbeat as we swapped stories about our furry friends.

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Our dog, affectionately known as Louie the lips, is an elderly terrier half-breed.  Half-bred with what, we can only guess.  There have been times, when he took to chasing our car up the road, that we considered him part greyhound, other times when he climbed in through partially opened windows, we reckoned he was interbred with a cat.  He was certainly an escape artist and we lost track of the number of times he managed to get over fences, under gates and at times, we had no idea at all how he had escaped.  He never went far.  Well, maybe a good 2 miles, down a country road to a housing estate in the nearest town and always to a particular house.  It was as if he went on a little holiday, a town break, so to speak!  We used to think that maybe, in his little canine mind, he was thinking to himself, ‘I need a break from the routine.  I will visit my other family.  They will talk to me, pet me, allow me on the furniture,’ and off he would go.  He would stand at their door until he was let in, or sometimes climb in a partially open window uninvited but sure of his welcome.  They would ring us to let us know he was there, and we would collect him, and he would trot out to the car without a backward glance, hop in the back as if to say, ‘what kept ye?’

louie under blanket

As a young terrier, he spent most of his day racing around the garden, barking at the wind and everyone that came within ten yards of the front gate.  Now that he is older, he still tears around barking if he feels he must, but he prefers curling up in front of the fire or in his favourite place, my husband’s knee with a blanket covering him.  He knows the hand that feeds him, but he still knows his place.  He is not allowed in the bedrooms, although he also knows that my sons flaunt that rule and sneak him in when I’m not looking.  He is not allowed on the furniture, hence the blanket hiding him when he is on my husband’s knee on his armchair in front of the window.  Like most dogs and small children, he thinks if he can’t see me then I can’t see him.  We are all openly affectionate with him, he is part of the family after all and what better feeling is there than relaxing in front of the TV with your pet at your feet.  I mean, directly on your feet, asleep, so you can’t move for fear of disturbing him.

Having said that I am always amazed at the number of people, mainly women I should add, who treat their dogs like small babies.  Women who shower more affection on their dogs than they ever did on their own children.  Cuddling a child and showering a child with kisses I can understand, but a dog is a dog, do you realise where their snouts have been?

louie me and gerry

No matter what your viewpoint, or your taste in our canine friends, every home should have a dog.  They hold your heart and soothe the soul.  They teach responsibility to your children and the joy of unconditional love to the entire household.

Dogs have a reputation for being ‘man’s best friend’ for a very good reason!

Happy Mother’s Day

tulips

Tulips from my garden for all the Mothers the whole world over.

From first time Moms to old hand Moms

To Moms no longer with us but whose wisdom lives on through us.

From would-be Moms to could be Moms

From those who wish they were Moms to those who will be Moms

Have a lovely Mother’s Day.

 

Social, to be or not to be

To me, the biggest advantage of social media, and Facebook, in particular, is the contact with old friends and far-flung family.  Thanks to Facebook I am in contact with people from my childhood, from my school days, friends, acquaintances and family from around the globe.

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While now and again people rant on Facebook and Instagram, most of the posts are happy and uplifting, imparting good news and holiday snaps and photos from birthday parties and weddings.  We post our best photos and share our joy in the world around us on Facebook.  We want our Facebook friends to share in our uplifting moments, our happy days.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Anyway, it is good to keep in touch, even if it is only through social media.  It reminds you that life goes on around you with or without your participation.  It reinforces the indisputable fact that your life impinges on others, and their lives impinge on yours,  ever-widening circles of human interaction.

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But social media also reminds you that we humans are sociable creatures.  We need interaction, we need to talk to each other, we crave human contact.  It is when we become isolated that we encounter problems.  It is very easy to isolate yourself without planning to.  To take a back seat, and not contribute.  We have to try not to fall into that trap.  We have to interact with our fellow human beings and in a positive way.

Use social media as a force for good.  Join groups that educate, that entertain, that encourage you to engage with others.  Use social media to keep in touch with friends and family in far-flung places.   Enjoy those ‘likes,’ those comments on your posts, and the interaction with your Facebook friends.

Photo by Nobo Xious on Unsplash

But don’t depend on social media for your only human interaction.  Lift your phone and instead of scrolling through your newsfeed, call that friend you promised to meet for coffee.  Walk down your street and smile at the first person you meet and see that smile returned.  As Spike Milligan once wrote in a poem, ‘smiling is infectious.  You catch it like the flu.’  Google it!  It’s a great poem.  There is nothing more uplifting than a smile, or a poem about a smile.

 

 

Hug your oldie.

I was at the supermarket with my Dad yesterday.  Our usual Friday routine.  He collects his pension, then we stroll around the supermarket so he can pick up his groceries for the week.  I push the trolley, he pushes his mobility aid, sometimes into random people who get in his way while I follow, apologising for his behaviour.  In fairness they usually laugh, ‘sure it’s only Ernie,’ or on one occasion, ‘He’s old, it’s allowed.’

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When we got to the checkout, my Dad immediately struck up a conversation with the checkout operator, a pleasant young man, who responded to him, despite Dad’s deafness making any conversation quite difficult.  Dad walked off happy and smiling while I packed his bags.  Like I said, the usual Friday routine.

The young man then remarked on how lucky I was to have my Dad.  How great it was that he retained his sense of humour and was so pleasant and full of joy.  He repeated it several times, how lucky I was him to have him.

And it made me think.

Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have.  I enjoy that hour on a Friday, enjoy the time spent with Dad but I hadn’t really thought about it in that way.  I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate how lucky we are to have him in our lives.  He is old, and sometimes he can be cantankerous, and his deafness makes conversation with him really difficult, but he is also funny and kind and appreciative.  He loves his family and enjoys spending time with us all.  We have much to be thankful for.  Sometimes it just takes a stranger to point out the obvious.

So today, spend time with your older person.  Tell them you love them and make them feel important and appreciated.  Be grateful that they are still in your life.  Remember how lucky you are and treasure any time spent with them.  Hug your oldie today and every day.

 

Make it a good one

One of my resolutions for 2018 was a simple one, to be positive, to start every day with a positive affirmation.  I had intended printing out that affirmation and placing it on my bedside locker so that it would be the first thing I saw every morning.  That didn’t happen.  They all seemed so twee somehow!  Then one morning I woke, groaned as a wave of negativity hit me and then gave myself the proverbial kick in the ass.  That morning I picked a positive affirmation out of thin air.

today is the first day

 

Most mornings I remember to tell myself that.  I even say it out loud much to the amusement of those around me.  Making the effort to be upbeat does help you focus on the positives.  Maybe that is the secret of happy people.  They don’t ignore the problems in their lives, they just don’t allow those problems to colour every aspect.  For happy people, the glass is always half full.

 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and admired their upbeat and can-do attitude and discover that in their background they have issues that would drag the rest of us mere mortals into a downward spiral.  They are the people I admire and aspire to emulate.

We should all try and be aware that everyone has their own backstory that we know nothing about.  Everyone has their own set of worries and everyone deals with those worries differently.  What seems like an insurmountable problem for you could be a walk in the park for the next person and vice versa.  People struggle with relationships, money problems, debts, health, the list is endless.  Some people appear to handle whatever life throws at them while maintaining a ready smile and an acceptance of their fate.  Others rant and rail and complain to anyone who will listen.  Life is hard enough without making it harder on yourself and everyone around you.

So today I have reinforced my resolution.  Today I have told myself that today is the first day of the rest of my life and I intend to make it a good one.

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Have a wonderful weekend.  Get out and enjoy this fabulous weather.

Ireland is a foreign country

Blue skies, bright sunshine and heat, glorious heat.  Ireland truly is a foreign country at the moment.  Close your eyes and smell the hard-baked earth and the scorched grass, feel the dust tickle the back of your throat.  It feels and smells like Spain or Portugal, but no, it’s Ireland in a glorious heatwave and we are just loving it.  We deserve it after the long, hard winter we have just been through.  The sun is out and the country is basking in its glory.

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Last Wednesday we drove to Seapoint beach after work.  It was packed with families and couples and individuals, all taking a dip to cool off after the heat of the day.  There was a mother with three children splashing about in the water with toy fins and lots of laughter.  A group of bikini-clad young women wearing designer shades and polished smiles were taking selfies as they posed thigh high in the water.  As I waded back through the shallow waves onto the beach I saw a toddler running into the sea laughing at the joy of the water on his sturdy little legs, as his mother ran after him, arms outstretched poised to grab him if he fell but ready to give him the freedom to enjoy this simple pleasure.  It was busy and joyous and certainly very different from our usual Wednesday nights.

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The last time we had temperatures like these was in 1976.  I remember it vividly.  I remember the smell of the heat and the picnics on the beach and the rounders on the Curragh.  Picnics with mushy banana sandwiches, jammy dodgers and red lemonade warmed by the sun.  On the way home we got ice lollies, an Orange Split or Loop the Loop.  Bliss!

 

So, enjoy the heatwave, despite the warnings on the radio and TV about water shortages and the dangers of dehydration.  We survived 1976 and back then we hadn’t heard of dehydration and we thought you only needed sunscreen if you were ‘going out foreign’.  We know better now.

Have fun in the sun!

Be Happy

Have you seen the Yarn Bomb?  If your spirits need a little lift, or even if they don’t, take a walk down through the Liffey Linear Park and marvel at the Yarn Bomb.  The park is always a beautiful place, an oasis of calm in the midst of our town and lovingly maintained by the volunteers of Newbridge Tidy Towns.  But this month as part of the June Fest 2018 the park has been transformed.  Each tree holds a surprise, from the bumble bees to the snakes, the bird cages and the world cup tree.  Every year the display gets better.  A special word of thanks to the Kildare Yarn Bombers.  It is a unique exhibition and I would urge everyone to visit the park before June Fest 2018 ends.

Sometimes all we need is the simple things to trigger happy emotions.  The yarn bomb is joyous and colourful and automatically makes you smile.  Songs can have that effect on your emotions too, the first ones that spring to mind are, ‘Be Happy’ Bob Marley, ‘Pencil full of lead’ Paulo Nutini, or ‘Because I’m happy’ Pharrell Williams.  Does anyone remember the rendition of ‘Because I’m happy’ by the girls from the Holy Family School?  Do those songs lift your spirits and set your feet tapping?

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I think I might make myself a playlist on my phone and set it to play every morning immediately after my alarm so that the first few minutes of every day are full of uplifting, happy music.  That would have to be better for my mood than listening to Morning Ireland on the radio.

Sometimes we get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of everyday life.  Work, school, relationships all take their toll.  Problems with family, problems with health, problems with making ends meet, all fight for space in our thoughts and we can get overwhelmed.   We overthink our problems and forget to count our blessings.  We forget to just breathe and take time out for ourselves, to just take pleasure in the simple things.

So today and every day, take a walk in the park, read that book, listen to happy music and overall be kind to yourself.