Life Will Be Different Without Buzz

 

IMG_5779I came down the stairs this morning and his blond head and shiny eyes did not acknowledge me. His tail did not wag in the excitement of his first pat of the day.

I looked at the mound of stuffed toys that were so lovingly played with one by one, with each new one receiving its own inaugural sole attention before it joined the growing crew.

I rattled the paper bread bag and I did not hear the “tap tap tap” of his too long nails echo in rhythm across the tile floor in anticipation of a bread nub.

I stood there eating, alone, with no big brown eyes glowing with anticipation and a chorus of “drop it, drop it, drop it” being chanted in his doggie mind.

I dropped a piece of my toast on the floor and it just stayed there as I stared at it in disbelief. Our furry vacuum was not there to inhale it.

I crumpled the empty treat bag into a ball before I put it in the bin yet today it did not act as a magnet to draw our blond boy, ears perked, to my side hoping for not one, but two treats as he always got.

I picked up his blue lead and collar and its chain rattled, but I was not greeted by the puppy-like enthusiasm of going for a walk to discover new smells, new things and new people around the old neigbourhood.

I looked at the empty water bowl and I knew that the distinctly familiar, “lap, lap, lap” “lap, lap, lap” was now just a signature sound that was already fading into my future.

I went outside and saw the empty plastic crate that would not take another road trip to visit his favourite people or doggy friends.

Then I looked in the mirror and I saw the sadness that I knew was going to be here for a while. I saw the face of love and loss and the distinct pain that comes from a final goodbye. I saw a woman who was lucky enough to be honoured by the presence of a gentle soul.

I will forever cherish the time with my gorgeous golden boy. And, I will be forever thankful for the incredible people who added joy to his life and to the incredible people at Golden Retriever Rescue for rescuing us by introducing us to the perfect dog who quite literally picked us.

Our first days with Buzz – July 31, 2011

With all our love Buzz, thank you for the paw prints you’ve carved into our hearts. Our lives are better for having loved you.

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A Long Overdue Update

Today is the 10th of December and the last time I posted here was July 26. It’s been four months since I’ve posted here. I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to last the year and that my quest for doing it different had to end so abruptly.

But, sometimes, that’s what happens in life. Sometimes something so big, reaches up and smacks you right between the eyes and has a way of cutting through to the core, forcing an urgent evaluation of priorities and the discarding of things that are not absolute imperatives.

As much as I enjoy it, this blog is a non-imperative. And, as such, the writing of it has suffered. It’s not like things haven’t changed – it’s not like things aren’t different. Many things are. My life today is very different than when I arrived home full of sheer joy from my month in Canada with loved ones.

What’s different?  I’m a year older for one. Our Buzzie is having good and not so good days and I’m concerned about the boy and how long he has left with us.  I landed an ongoing contract/job with a great company and have been with them now for over three months. And, I hope it continues long into the future. And, I finally got up to visit with Amy and James in their lovely new home in Queensland where I met their new addition – Harley. I celebrated 10 years of living here in Australia, have applied for citizenship and I repainted and updated my home office. One friend from here has moved back to Canada and that makes me sad. But, another from Canada is coming to Australia for an extended stay, so that makes me happy. There have been some positive changes for sure.

Overall, I’ve experienced a very challenging few months and I don’t suspect the challenge is completely over yet. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it has been an incredibly difficult time – for Chris and I.  I’m not sure how things will end up – even now.  I just know it has taken a great deal of time, effort, emotion and communication to get to where we are. So hopefully, the worst is behind us.

Regardless, I didn’t want any more time to pass without updating this blog. It has been a great initiative for me. And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the past few months it’s that we need to cling dearly to those things, activities, behaviours, and people that support and serve us well.

This blog has been one of those things for me.

I hope things in your life are going exceeding well. And, if they are, don’t forget to stop, even if just for a moment, and be thankful, for all too soon, things can change.

 

30 Days of Socialising in Canada

So, this doing things differently initiative can be the precursor to creating lasting change AND it can also be a lot of fun.

For the past 30 days, I’ve been “actively socialising”. I’ve seen at least one friend per day and done something enjoyable with them – road trips, dinners, drinks, adventures, shopping, bus tours, boat tours, visiting tourist attractions, and so much more!

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No, this is not something I am able to do very often. And, yes. It helps that I’ve been on vacation. I’ve spent the better part of the past month in Canada.

I love my trips back to the homeland mainly because they give me an opportunity to visit, reconnect, share, and make new memories with those dear friends of mine that I don’t see very often because they live there and I live in Australia.

I arrived in Canada on June 26th and left there on July 24th, losing a day across the international date line and arriving home on July 26th. In between, I had a fabulous time socialising with a wide variety of awesome folks who I have been lucky enough to form friendships with over the years.

I always try to learn from my “do it different” projects, so, what are the take-aways from 30 consecutive days of socialising?

Mine are these:

  • I am blessed to be friends with such an amazing group of people and am truly humbled that they have chosen to befriend me.
  • You think I’d be tired from so much activity, but the reality is that it is actually envigorating and I am pleased by the energy these interactions have provided. (I guess that means I am truly an extrovert)
  • I miss these people dearly. Living so far away – too far to grab an occasional coffee, drink, or visit, puts different demands on a friendship – some survive. Some don’t. I’m happy to report that I’ve had few casualties in the decade I’ve lived here in Australia.
  • Being on vacation is fun and necessary for ongoing sanity, especially when it shared with people you love.
  • It’s easy to forget the influence these people have on my life when I’m back home in Australia. Seeing myself through their eyes does great things for my confidence, my outlook, and my sense of purpose and overall wellbeing.
  • I am blessed to be able to afford in both time and money to do a trip like I just have. Much of that thanks goes to my wonderful husband who supports me in realising how important this is to me.
  • I am now no longer just these people’s friend as I have now earned the title, “My friend from Australia”.
  • To accomplish a lot and cram as much into 30 days of socialising as I did, takes lots of planning, a bit of flexibility to ensure that I maximise my time away,
  • It’s fun to share little pieces of Australia with those back in Canada and vice versa. I feel like a true ambassador for both countries.
  • At this age, I am still learning about my country, it’s towns, cities, history, changes… and it continues to fascinate me as I become prouder and prouder of my Canadian roots.
  • I need to create a business that takes me back and forth either more often or for longer periods of time so that I can continue to reap the benefits of this dual citizenship. (Love to hear any ideas you have for this.)
  • There is no feeling like the feeling of being home. Whether it’s being with the people who care about you, sleeping in your own bed or just the security of the familiar. Seeing the world is great (and I highly recommend it), but the comforting feeling of being home is one that goes straight through to the heart.

heart is

Now that I’m back, what should I do for the next 30 days?

 

 

 

 

Doing It Different 30 Days At A Time

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So this doing a different thing every day is hard to maintain. But, I’ve done it almost every day for six months, so I am pleased with my progress.

I’ve given some thought to how I will embrace the DIDs for the second half of the year and the approach I think I’ll take is that I may well embrace the “doing something different” for 30 days at a time, rather than one little thing each day.

This timeframe gives me enough time to dive deeper into a change rather than just skim its surface. It may well be instrumental in building new habits and behaviours. And, to be honest, I this will most likely challenge me more than the daily DIDs did.

I won’t abandon the dailies. But, I won’t commit to doing them every day. I will, however, periodically, do daily ones to punctuate these 30-day stints.

As I write this, I am on day 31 of my very first 30-day do it different initiative.

For the past 30 days, I have not had one sip of alcohol. None.

I had a night a while back where I drank too much, too fast, on too empty a stomach and got right smashed – embarrassingly so and it made me stop and take stock. I was ashamed of my behaviour and decided that I’d just be an adult and own it. And, take it that step further and do something about it.

So, I decided I’d stop drinking for however long I thought it made sense. Then I had the idea for the 30-day change thing so I combined the two and made the not drinking my first 30-day project.

There were a number of lunches, dinners, evenings out and social occasions where it was tough to order a glass of water or a lemon lime and bitters, but I was committed to it.

What I learned is that I don’t drink that often, and rarely at home unless we’re entertaining. But when I do, I drink far too much and too fast. I am just not able to process the alcohol or its sugars fast enough.

So after 30 days of not drinking, ordering a soft drink or a glass of water comes much more easily and is now more of a habit than ordering a beer or a wine.

I also think that I’ve gained a better appreciation for a quality drop too.

Unfortunately, my first drink after 30 days was airline wine. Yep, definitely not the best quality. So, instead of having a second one (they are free) I chose to have a soft drink.

As I write this, I’m on the cross-Pacific flight to Canada and I am looking forward to enjoying some fine Canadian beer when I get there and having a few wines with my besties.

But before I do, I’ll make a few observations.

My main learning from this experiment is that I much prefer being in control of my alcohol consumption than I am just drinking by habit or by a less conscious approach.

I hope to continue along a path of a more aware and conscious alcoholic consumption and hope not to repeat my behaviours from a few weeks back.

No one is at their best when they’re under the severe influence.

And, part of what this year of DID’s has taught me is that I want to act my way into being the best me I can be now and into the future.

 

 

Our Rationale For A Day Of Rations

Alex is doing the Act for Peace Ration Challenge again this year during Refugee Week.

In his words

I am taking the Act for Peace Ration Challenge during Refugee Week and opening my eyes to what it’s like for refugees to survive on rations. From 18-25 June I will be eating the same rations as a Syrian refugee – just a small amount of rice, lentils, chick peas, sardines, oil and kidney beans. That’s it. No meat, coffee or alcohol. Please sponsor me to take this challenge, and donate whatever you can. The money you give will help provide urgently needed food rations, healthcare, and education to help give Syrian refugees the strength they need to cope. It will also help many other refugees around the world to build safe, just and dignified lives, now and in the future. Thank you in advance for being so generous. It means so much to us, and you’ll be making a big difference to refugees in desperate need.

So, of course, both Chris and I supported him financially in his fundraising but today we are also going to limit ourselves to ration portions for the day. So, both Chris and I will eat only what you see here – and, yes, this is for both of us, for the entire day.

food

This is it. Rice, a tiny tin of tuna, kidney beans, lentils, a little bit of oil, and two black tea bags. No meat, no fruit, no vegetables, no juice, no alcohol. NO COFFEE!

We’re doing this today to help us to understand the plight of refugees, but also as a show of support for Alex. We are both so proud of the principled, aware, and generous man he has become. And, we wish him good luck on his challenge – not sure we can do this for a day so I am sure an entire week would be tough.

Living on this for an indeterminable amount of time would be tougher still.

If you can help donate to his cause just click on the first link above.

Filling In The Blanks

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It’s been over a week since I posted here and yes, I have fallen off the “do it different”  wagon. My last post was June 11 and it’s already the 20th. Before any more time passes, I thought it was time to play catch up and fill in the blanks.

Why the absence?

A number of reasons really.

First off, I’ve been sick. I had a vicious chesty cough that made me sound like a 90-year-old man with emphysema. It came on quickly and knocked me around for a few days so I had little energy for anything!

But, acknowledging that I too often go straight to the Dr asking for drugs, I decided to fight it naturally – I guess you could say that was doing something different. Okay,  there’s one day accounted for!

I also started focusing on my upcoming trip to Canada and generating some additional spending money for it. When work came in I did it and did it quickly and when it didn’t, I used the time to prepare for my trip, so that right up until the day I leave, should any work come in, I can leap onto it and get it done quickly. I guess that could also count as a do it different as I’ve been packed and ready to go for a few days now, more than a week in advance.

During my DID absence, I also attended a job interview with a fabulous company whose vision and mission I was captivated by. I met the CEO and the 2IC and just loved them – they seemed like professional, focused, upfront, stand-up guys who would be fabulous to work with. One was even Canadian!

I was one of four finalists being considered for the role and was holding my breath to learn my fate. I did a few days later. It was not what I had hoped. I had been beaten out by a candidate who had 20 years of experience in the industry. So, I had my cry, sent everyone who interviewed me a note that restated how much I’d love to work with them and left the door open for the future – as I suspect they will grow fast and furious, so who knows – there may be a shared future for us yet.  I guess this could be another DID as I don’t usually get emotionally connected to these opportunities as I know how they often go. I usually guard myself against this as I don’t deal well with disappointment. But I did let myself entertain the vision of me working with them and even envisioned myself quite comfortable in their offices and started entertaining ways I would tackle their challenges, but alas, it was not meant to be. At least not for now.

And, finally, another thing I’ve done rather differently was that I pitched a project to an existing client where my remuneration would be based solely on results. If they did well as a result, so did I. So, rather than them pay me an hourly fee or a project fee for these tools I’m developing for them, we have set up a commission structure based on the sales that will hopefully ensue as a result. It’s creative and I suspect it sets up a win-win for us both. Time will tell.

So, while I have not officially been doing things differently on a daily basis, I may have missed only a couple of days and I can deal with that.

This time has also given me pause to consider the depth of change I’m creating by skimming the surface of change.  As Chris had predicted at the beginning that the change I am affecting is rather superficial rather than going deep enough to enact dramatic change.

Given I am almost at the halfway point of this experiment, I may well reformat my change efforts for the balance of the year.  I’m definitely toying with a weekly or monthly DID instead of a daily one.

Do you have any thoughts on this? If you were me, would you continue with the daily commitment, do something different for 7 days, or for a whole month? I’d love to get some feedback from you!

Cabbage Roll Casserole

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There were lots of family favourite dishes in our house growing up and one of those was cabbage rolls.

My mother made the absolute best one. Then, later, after she died, my father tried his hand and got pretty darned good too.

I love the taste, but I’ve never been one to be too fussy about things that require too much “preparation” – all that rolling… who has the patience for that? Ne pas moi!

If you know me, you also know that this is not the sort of food I’d normally make. But, it’s all about the doing things differently so, that’s what I’m doing.

Today I decided that I’d do cabbage rolls differently. First of all, I used purple cabbage instead of green.  I found a fabulous one at the market last weekend so this is what put me on this path in the first place.

Then instead of making the filling and softening the full leaves (which always tear) I made a casserole.

It consisted of a layer of grated purple cabbage softened, then a layer of tomato rice (precooked), then a layer of cooked beef mince and onions, then more tomato sauce,  then another layer of purple cabbage followed by a layer of bacon on top and some additional tomato sauce near the end.

(Okay, it’s not pretty. I can see that.)

But, if the smell wafting throughout the house is anything to go by, it should be pretty tasty.

I’m off for a taste!