Just a quick note…

I have found a natural deodorant that I LOVE! I keep hearing how traditional deodorant/antiperspirants have aluminum and other chemicals that are being linked to breast cancer. In the past I tried Tom’s of Maine but found I was less than pleased with it. While it prevented BO it left it’s own unique (and not entirely pleasant) scent. Disappointed I went back to good ole Secret.

Thanks to a recommendation I have tried Crystal Body Deodorant Stick. It is awesome! It’s main ingredient is natural mineral salts. The only odd thing is you have to apply right out of the shower while you’re still wet. It kills the bacteria that would make you stink when you sweat. It’s inexpensive and effective. Just thought I would share in case anyone else out there is looking for a natural deodorant option (that actually works).

crystal-stickClick here to visit website for product.

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Animals Are Not Disposable

IMG_0087Lately I have spent a lot of time thinking about my dogs, how much they annoy the crap out of me, how much I love them anyway, and how there are people out there that view pets as something disposable. It seriously irks me. I have three dogs and I think at this point they can all fall under special needs. At least my family is constantly reminding me how ‘special’ they are, with a smirk on their faces. I don’t disagree.

First off there is Dane, my 13 year old chihuahua who has slowed down significantly this past year. He is hesitant to jump on or off the furniture. Instead he will pace on the floor, crying to be lifted up. Or he will lay at the edge of my bed or the couch, crying to be lifted down. He wakes me up several times a night to go outside and when he gets out there, he tries to meander around sniffing but I make him come inside because I’m a jerk who wants sleep. He’ll get me up again in an hour (or three) with his sad, plaintive whine. He is so happy though when I lift him down, his tail wagging as he looks at me with love.

Frank. Oh Frank. That’s how conversations usually start and end about him. He is 5 lbs without a tooth in his mouth. His tongue hangs out the side of mouth constantly. He is full of piss (literally) and vigor. I adopted him when he was 7 years old. Frankie came from a hoarding situation and lived most of his life in a cage. When I adopted him Gram was alive and they bonded very quickly. In fact there were a few times that Gram got sick and the thing that pushed her to get better was to get home to her Frankie. It was the sweetest thing.

After having him for several years now, I’m frustrated to report that Frank STILL pees in my house if not watched constantly. It’s annoying and I’m so tired of cleaning up pee. In nice weather he will come and let me know he has to go out but even then there is a chance he will pee only a little and hold a reserve to come in and douse my couch. I’ve never had a dog that will go somewhat outside and then come in and finish in the house. Thankfully my aunt bought me a Bissell Little Green Machine for furniture and I have hard wood floors which makes clean up easier. A rescue that I adore recently posted about ‘bellybands,’ and so I ordered one for Mr. Frank. I’m hoping that will keep him from peeing in my house. I’ve tried everything, else, including a $200 Porch Potty to give him as an alternative to the great outdoors. Not one of the dogs will use it. Granted, if I didn’t get lazy at times, and kept a watchful eye on Frank 100% of the time, perhaps his potty issues could be broken. Sometimes though it is exhausting. I have two other dogs and after a busy day at work, I don’t want to chase his every move. It’s easier to yell to my sister, “Frank’s coming your way,’and hope that the time it took him to leave me and reach her didn’t allow for an accident.

Then there is the Milo Monster as I affectionately call him. He is my energetic Boston Terrier that was an owner surrender, partially due to his high energy. Milo is excited about EVERYTHING! Life, a person coming home, seeing one of the other pups if he hasn’t seen them for a few hours, people walking down the street, dogs being walked down the street, a paper towel roll to destroy, a toy to wrestle with. He is happy go lucky and go go go all the time. He is silly and loving and very sweet.

However, if I’m under the weather, the last thing I want to deal with is a dog bouncing off the walls, wanting to play. He’ll come up to me on the couch, and hit me with his front paws trying to coax me into a game of chase, or fetch or wresting, or whatever. He is so exuberant when I first get home that he will fly on the couch and put his paws on my chest and want to drown me with kisses. He pushes the other two dogs out of the way as he wants all of the attention for himself. “Milo, easy,” or “Milo gentle!” are phrases repeated a lot in my house.

Why did I write about all the ways that my dogs drive me insane? Because I know people who will give them up, turn them loose, or put them to sleep for much less and it breaks my heart. I cannot stand people who abuse animals, or turn their backs on them, or give them away for the silliest of reasons: like the dog doesn’t match the new furniture, or it grew larger than they thought it would, or they don’t like dog hair, etc.

My dogs drive me up a wall at times. I want to cry when I’m not getting a good night’s sleep, I do mutter to them that I want to strangle them when it’s up/down all night long BUT it is part of my commitment to them, when I CHOSE to bring them into my life and my home to take care of them, and be there for them, until it is their time to leave this world. So I do, and I will. I know that there are people who would have given Frankie away a long time ago or put him to sleep for his peeing in the house. Or people who would say Dane is old and put him to down so they could get a good night’s sleep and not be bothered. Milo has been given away several times, originally found left behind in an apartment by someone who didn’t want to deal with him.

I just don’t get it. Pets are living, breathing, loving creatures that deserve the best from people. Why do some people think they can chain them outside of a shelter and just leave? Or push them out of a car in some strange city and drive away? Or beat them?  As much as my dogs can annoy me, they bring me way more joy and happiness and love than I could ever measure. Seeing Milo play so gently with Frank and the two wrestling, or seeing their joy on a walk and being allowed to sniff all the scents on the fire hydrant. Snuggling up with them after a long day. Just watching them live and be. Honestly, the forgiving nature and unconditional love of a dog make me feel closer to God than sitting in a church does.

I know this time of year pets are a popular choice for Christmas gifts. I beg of you, please do not get a pet unless you are willing to be there for him or her 100% until their time on this earth comes to an end, which could be 20+ years depending on the animal. Animals are not disposable.

Identity Crisis

Labels, identity, sense of self. We all have them, we a5407255785_5362a34d7d_qll use them, sometimes I suspect we all hate them. Wouldn’t it be great to live life undefined? No limits? Every day a blank slate and no preconceived notions of what a person is or can achieve?

Growing up, I was “the happy one,” as I chatted easily with everyone I met. I was bubbly and silly and terribly bossy (oldest child here). I knew my place in the family: the happy, chatty (bossy) one. I also wrote stories as a child and by second or third grade was considering a career in journalism. In my mind, those traits defined me, not only holding my place in the family but also my self-worth.

So… When anxiety and then depression hit around age 17 I didn’t know who I was anymore. I would expend a lot of energy to still be ‘the happy one,’ but it had become a challenge. I was busy fighting a war inside of me that I didn’t understand. The extra effort it took to appear normal was exhausting. I didn’t dare speak of what I was feeling because I thought I was crazy and broken. Talking about it wouldn’t help.

The battle to still try to be who I was when I was no longer that person was a messy one. Sometimes I did a great job at it. Other times, my struggles were taken out on those around me. I was cruel and angry. I’d snap a lot. I’d have mood swings. My mother tried to persuade me to see a therapist or go on medication but I felt nothing could help me so I resisted. I suffered, somewhat in silence, minus the angry outbursts directed at those I loved most.

Inside, I was out of control. I no longer knew where I fit. Family members have roles, people have roles. If I lost my spot then who was I? It was terrifying to me and depressing. What would my new label be? The bitchy one? That didn’t sit well with me.

Fast forward a year or two. I come across a document on my computer, a book report written by my sister. I read it and it was really good. While I took in her beautiful words I felt threatened. Writing was MY thing. My sister had always been great with math and science, in ways that I would never be. She had a natural ability for it while I had to work at it and struggle to make sense out of it. It didn’t seem fair for her to be good at my thing because I certainly wasn’t good at her thing. It felt like something had been stolen from me. I know that sounds completely irrational and dramatic. It was, it is, but that is how I felt at the time. I wasn’t angry at my sister I was deflated.

Where is all of this leading to? Recently my dad quit smoking and his journey reminded me of my own. It turns out that my dad identifies as a smoker. He is not a person who smokes, HE, as a person, is a smoker. So to quit, to let that go, means giving up his identity or at least part of it. I never in a million years considered that perspective. It gives me a new appreciation to the struggle that is quitting smoking. I’m sure not all smokers feel that way but I am also sure that he is not alone in that sentiment.

His recent experience and learning how that unnerved him made me ponder how much labels,identity, and sense of self affect us on a daily basis. I’ve read in parenting articles online how critical it is for parents not to label their children- none of that ‘smart one,’ or ‘pretty one,’ etc. I’m appreciating the why behind it. I can definitely say that I’m trying to remove labels from my daily life. I don’t want to ever use language that could leave someone feeling pigeonholed. Most importantly, I am trying to make sure I don’t limit myself by some notion of who or what I am.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Krisis Magazine