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South Africa: Helena Olwage’s Story and a Book Review + Podcast

Photo of author Helena Olwage.
Helena Olwage loves writing about…!

COVID Hair n Writing Life + Pamela S. Wight on Flash Memoirs Happiness Between Tails

#COVID19 #Authors #Memoire #Writing #Books #Gardening #Hair Writing life, gardening, and COVID-19 hair. Pamela S. Wight discusses her flash memoire and getting published. How long did your hair grow during the quarantine? Share your thoughts and questions by recording them here — or comment at — or email me. And Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:05 Pamela S. Wight on her flash memoir and publishing 3:35 My windup with a question for you 9:10 HBT outro Photos available at the blog version of this show: Photo of K-D doggie, and me with post-quarantine long turquoise-ish hair. Me before long hair. USMC revolving clicker pen my friend gifted me. Fruits from our garden: kumquats, tomatoes, figs. Pamela S. Wight, author, with her two beautiful dogs. Cover of her book, “Flashes of Life.” Links referred to in this episode: About the novels I’m writing Another blog post about my gardening. What figeater beetles are. Books I like at my Goodreads page. Another guest blog post by Pamela S. Wight. Pamela's site with all her links and books. — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:

Click H-E-R-E for the Spotify for Podcasters Happiness Between Tails page, where you’ll find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Breaker, to Pocket Casts and RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher, plus many more and an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is H-E-R-E.

Books, neighbors, authors from South Africa (or anywhere else) — we all need to look closer before we judge (and that includes the novels I’m seeking representation for.)

South Africa is the backdrop for The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso, a thoughtful novel about trying to get along with difficult neighbors that I just finished reading in good ole fashioned hard copy. Here’s my review for Goodreads and Amazon:Cover of the novel, The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso.

“Goddesses help you if you’re two old grumpy neighbor ladies in South Africa, one black and one white, who’ve started off on the wrong foot. With intelligence, humor, and tenderness, Omotoso does an amazing job navigating the complexities of long-term friendship between women.”

On the subject of South Africa as well as appearances, doesn’t today’s guest, Helena Olwage who blogs from there, smile as sweetly as a cupcake? Hehe, by her picture, I would never have tagged her as an author of… fantasy, horror, and psychological thriller!

A self-described writer/poet/housewife, her father, who was an avid writer, nurtured her writing since she was in fourth grade. She says, “I’m a bit on the eccentric side — I love some dark humor from time to time. I was born in a small town called Klerksdorp, North-west. We moved to a different town, Bothaville, Free State, when I was five. Currently, I’m living in the eastern part of Pretoria. I’m a Jack of all trades who loves animals, nature, people and, of course, writing about ghosts and anything paranormal but also psychological and poetry.”

Here she shares a short tail — erm —  tale — of love, loss and forgiveness, from a horse’s mouth, or rather eyes….

Through Madonna’s Eyes by Helena Olwage

The sun cast splashes of light before Madonna. The currier had already groomed and tacked her long before dawn. Now she was waiting for her beloved owner, Madeleine. 

The American Quarter nickered.

Madeleine was on her way, fully dressed for their usual morning excursion, the sun gleaming against her helmet. Madonna heard Madeleine and her husband fight last night. Hence her relief now that her owner was finally on her way.

The sound of sobbing filled the air. It was a familiar pattern after each fight. She would usually threaten to leave Harry for good, her beautiful blue eyes full of tears – all because of what happened that night.

Madonna remembered it all so vividly as if it happened yesterday – groups of people gathering at the house, mourning the loss of little Annie. At the time she didn’t understand what it meant when Madeleine and Harry talked about mourning their daughter’s loss, but as days went by without the vibrant little girl, Madonna became the owner of a grieving heart too – although she couldn’t express her emotions in the same way humans did. She could listen, however.

And then one night, it happened.

At first she thought it was a dream, but then she realized it was all real. She was in her stable when she heard the beautiful voice. Oh, it was sweeter than the voice of an angel, she imagined. Little Annie sung a lullaby, one she often sang to Madonna when they were alone in the stables. That was the first time she saw little Annie after the accident – the one that took that young life; the one Harry held his wife accountable for. 

Madeleine caressed Madonna’s nose, bringing her back to the present. “Do you have any idea how much I love you,” she asked softly. She opened the stable door and led Madonna out by her reins. Outside, the early morning sun threw red, orange and yellow splashes. Madonna waited patiently while the tiny woman brushed her mane. She never did that. It was as if she was stalling time.

“This time, it’s over,” Madeleine whispered. “I can’t take his accusations anymore. Maybe if we didn’t go to that resort that weekend…” She paused and glanced over her shoulder as if she could sense an unseen presence. “If only I could have that night over.”

Madeleine’s voice broke down. Then she continued brushing. “I told him I wanted to ride you one last time before I go.” She laughed sardonically. “It’s funny, you know. I think it was the first time I lied to him. He thinks I’ll pack my bags when I return, but what would my life be like without you?” 

Madonna nickered as little Annie appeared behind Madeleine. Madeleine glanced over her shoulder.

“She’s here, isn’t she?” she said, returning her sight to Madonna.

The animal wished she could answer. All she could do was stare at the little girl behind Madeleine. 

Madonna missed Annie. Since the accident, everything changed – especially Harry. 

Harry was a good man, always laughing and loving. After Annie was gone, he withdrew from the world. Cheerful Harry was gone; they were all broken.

Annie didn’t look cheerful behind her mother now, either. A tear ran down her cheek as she reached out for Madeleine. Madeleine glanced over her shoulder again and back at Madonna.

“I can feel her all the time, you know?” She massaged Madonna’s nose. “You can see her, can’t you? Yeah, I knew I wasn’t crazy.”

A Door slammed in the distance. Madeleine looked back at the house. “He’s coming,” she said before she jumped on Madonna’s back. “We have to hurry.”

Madeleine kicked her gently in the sides. This time Madonna did not obey. She didn’t want to trot and she didn’t want to leave Harry. Madeleine tried again. 

“Madeleine, wait!” 

“Come on, Madonna, trot,” she whispered against the mount’s ear. Again, Madonna didn’t obey. “Please, listen to me,” Madeleine pleaded. 

Harry had caught up with them. “Please, don’t leave,” he said in a broken voice. “I – I can’t live without you.”

Madeleine tried one more gentle kick. Madonna didn’t give in. She loved her owners too much to see them split up. Little Annie was still standing in the same position, her face awe-struck. 

Harry pulled on her leg. It was something he used to do even before they were married when he wanted her attention and she was already on the back of a horse. Madeleine didn’t look down this time; she didn’t want to. He smiled a desperate smile through all the tears running down his face. His red hair glimmered in the sunshine. 

“Please look at me.” He tried to swallow the lump in his throat down, but he couldn’t. “I still love you, Madeleine. If you leave-what will I be?”

Madeleine didn’t answer; she couldn’t. She knew it was the truth – both of them needed each other. 

He let go of her leg. “I’m so sorry, I was wrong. I wanted to sell the farm because-“

“You wanted to run away because you couldn’t face the memories anymore,” Madeleine finished the sentence. She bent down to him. “I know. But what if we can support each other and make some new memories? What if-“

“Do you want to try?”

Madonna saw something in both of them, she hadn’t seen for more than a year now, something humans called hope.

“I do. I don’t want us to fight anymore, Harry. I don’t want us to accuse each other. I want us to work through this together.”

Madonna didn’t know what all of this meant, but by the look on Harry’s face, she knew it must be good. She nickered. Even little Annie smiled quietly. Harry held out his hand to help Madeleine down. They hugged each other.

“Promise me you won’t leave,” Madonna heard Harry say as he walked with his wife while she led her horse back to the stables. 

One of the curriers hurried to them to take Madonna to the grooming room. Before she went back into the stables, she glanced at the two humans. They held hands, something they also didn’t do in a very long time, she saw. In her heart, Madonna rejoiced. Also smiling at the two of them, was little Annie. 

Long after she was groomed and had her usual trip to the field and, once again, groomed, Madonna pondered upon what happened. She was happy. It won’t be easy and she knew her owners would never forget, but they would heal in time. 

Have you been surprised by animals being more perceptive than they look?


My Book + Pueblos Magico Vid + G. Gautier on Lit Fiction + Pod

Graphic for episode one of my novel that I added to my Youtube channel, for private access only, as it's just a sample for showing to potential literary agents.
Graphic for episode one of my novel that I added to my Youtube channel. For private access only at the moment, just a sample for showing to potential literary agents. If you’d like to check it out, email me at ContactdaAL at gmail dot com for your special link.

Teaser: Happiness Between Tails Happiness Between Tails

The Happiness Between Tails podcast speaks to and from the heart. Like its corresponding blog, HBT also connects book lovers and writers who'll enjoy the novels I’m drafting, which will soon become podcasts I will totally narrate. “Flamenco + the Sitting Cat" and “Tango + the Sitting Cat” are my love letters to all who fear they're too old, too damaged, too whatever to find love and happiness with or without a partner. • Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee at — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:

Click H-E-R-E for the Spotify for Podcasters Happiness Between Tails page, where you’ll find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Breaker, to Pocket Casts and RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher, plus many more and an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is H-E-R-E.

Yay! Finally, the first video/audio chapter to my novel, Flamenco & the Sitting Cat, is on Youtube. You can’t see it, though, because it’s set to ‘private.’ Rather than public consumption, it’s meant to entice potential agents. If you’re dying to see it, however, email me and I’ll send you a special link.

You might already know that countless drafts earlier, I pitched it to 70 — or was it 90? — literary agents and publishers. The few who bothered to answer declined, so I resolved to build a following of blog readers who would be interested when I would self publish. The longer I experiment though, the clearer it appears that self publishing best suits factual books, narrow-genre fiction, and celebrity authors.

So for the moment, I’m searching for great agent representation. Writers don’t need videos, but I produced one to help show how easily Flamenco & the Sitting Can be serialized, podcast, filmed, and whatever else. My synopsis is finished. Next is finessing the pitch letter. Then I’ll set a deadline for how long I’ll pitch in earnest. If no one bites this time around, I’ll self publish while continuing to send out letters.

Agent  guidelines for submissions often ask for what genre one’s novel falls into. My book involves a love story, but calling it romance used to make me cringe. Forgive me if you love romance, but the old style of it just isn’t my thing. Fortunately, lately I’ve discovered so-called romance books like these, which is great because my agent search has widened.

As you’ll read in Gary Gautier’s guest blog post below, he’s given much thought to book genres. These days he’s a blogger/novelist/poet/professor/radio-interviewee who has won great notices about his many books. That’s after he quit corporate life to hitchhike (teaching and blogging along the way) through 17 countries and 35 US states.

Currently, he’s in Guanajuato City, around Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos. If you, like me, never heard of them, check this out…

What does literary fiction mean to you? To me, it’s storytelling free of formulaic outlines and that takes words seriously. It’s also such a broad category that, alas, it’s difficult to market. Here’s what Gary makes of it…

Multi-talented author Gary Gautier wears a suit now and then.
Multi-talented author Gary Gautier wears a suit now and then.

Why Call My Books Literary Fiction by Gary Gautier

“Literary fiction” conjures up images of “higher quality” for some people and “pretentious crap” for others. And my novels may indeed be one or both of those things. But that’s not what makes them “literary fiction” for me. Any genre tag creates expectations, as it should, since the purpose of the tag is to give readers an advance clue about whether they’d like it. But those expectations are descriptive, not evaluative. By that I mean they don’t tell you if it’s a good book; they just tell you what kind of book it is. In the case of literary fiction, you’re looking at a book that probably meets one or more of these criteria:

  1. It doesn’t give you the conventions of a fixed genre (romance, historical, etc.);
  2. It focuses less on following the plot points to see what happens at the end and more on circling down deeper and deeper into the subjective spaces within and between characters;
  3. It plays with language and structure in some more or less experimental way (it is conscious of itself as not just a story but as a sculpture made of language).

It may do these things well or it may do them poorly, but at least the tag gives the reader some advance notice of what they are getting into. 

I realize this definition is loose. Organizing literature, like organizing life, is messy. A particular work of literary fiction may not focus on criterion #2 or criterion #3 above. A particular work of genre fiction, on the other hand, may meet criterion #2 or #3. In fact, there are many genre hybrids, with literary fiction as one piece of the hybrid.

Cover of Hippies, by Gary Gautier.

For example, I’d say that my novel, Hippies, cross-categorizes as historical fiction…

Cover of Goodbye, Maggie, by Gary Gautier.

…and that my novel, Goodbye, Maggie, cross-categorizes as regional.

Cover of Love's Ragged Claws, by Gary Gautier.

My novella, Love’s Ragged Claws, doesn’t cross-categorize but is purely literary fiction.

My newest novel, Alice, is an even weirder hybrid. I’d call it a post-apocalyptic adult hippie fairy tale. But all of them meet the three criteria above.

So in claiming the mantle of literary fiction, do I suggest that my novels are richer in meaning and value than genre fiction? Not at all. I am very aware of many chips and threads of meaning running through my books, but it’s not primarily about meaning. In fact, I think having a fixed meaning works against literary fiction. Two metaphors might help here. Umberto Eco, in commenting on his novel, The Name of the Rose, said that a good novel should not give you a fixed meaning but should give you a toolbox for generating multiple meanings. His novel easily cross-categorizes as historical fiction and literary fiction, but I think that orientation toward meaning captures the spirit of literary fiction. This is why literary fiction calls you back for multiple readings. It is not a riddle. With a riddle, once you get the fixed answer, the value of reading is exhausted. You don’t have to read the riddle again. Literary fiction, on the other hand, if it meets its own ideal, is not exhausted in a single reading. It’s more like a fantastic sculpture in language that you want to walk around and view from multiple angles, finding new layers of significance with each turning.

The second metaphor I like to use is a garden. When wandering a garden, you enjoy the beauty and the smells and the surprising juxtapositions, but you don’t ask what the flowers mean. When people look for the “meaning” in a novel or poem, they are often looking for the “moral of the story.” Novels and poems do sometimes have a moral, but the search for meaning is sometimes perverse. With literary fiction in particular, I’d say it’s better to look for the beauty as you would a sculpture, or to enjoy the immersive experience as you would a garden, without getting too bogged down in meaning.

As literary fiction sails on from here, there is one little bit of turbulence ahead that has been in the news: ChatGPT and other developments in artificial intelligence. Many people wonder whether their jobs will be taken over by AI. It’s hard to tell how much this will impact novelists, but it seems at first glance that literary fiction is less vulnerable than genre fiction. AI is basically a compilation device, gathering up pre-existing information very rapidly and configuring results. Insofar as literary fiction is about writing outside the scope of inherited conventions, it may be harder for the AI to assimilate the pre-existing inputs necessary for the output. As an example, my friend Jeffrey Burgdorf, a neuroscience professor at Northwestern, put my novel, Alice, into his AI and had it write a new ending. The new ending, I would say, was visibly more conventional, though not bad for an entity with no feelings or imagination. (My friend also said his AI, nicknamed HAL, also gave Alice “the first 5-star Amazon review done entirely by artificial intelligence,” which means, I suppose, that if sales wane, I may have a good target audience in the robot community.)

For now, I will cautiously conclude that AI will largely become a brainstorming ally for the next generation of writers, much as the Internet has become a brainstorming ally for us. Once the novelty of reading AI-produced fiction wears off, people will still want to read books by humans. The experience of reading is not, after all, just pulling words off of a page (as an AI might do). The words on the page are just a reference point in a larger fluid dynamic that connects the reader and writer and all the human experience they bring into the process, and the tendrils of connection are mainly human feeling and human imagination. I would like to think that the AI can simulate this but not replace it, just as the AI can simulate feelings and acts of imagination but only as a simulation. Human beings may have developed peculiar neuroses in this age of the jittery electronic universe, but I don’t see the need and value of real human connection going away any time soon.

Here I leave you with two images: the current cover of Alice…

Cover of Alice, by Gary Gautier.

…and the cover generated by AI based on inputs from that neuroscience professor friend…

AI cover for Alice, novel by Gary Gautier.

If you have a preference, let me know 😊

What’s literary fiction to you?

World Building by Chris Hall + Podcast Audio Version

Photo of a pier during sunset.
‘Sunset over the Berg River ©River Tides Guesthouse’ – where author Chris Hall stayed when she began writing her book, “Song of the Sea Goddess.” Owner Mike Harvey is a good friend of hers and the photo is from his website.

Imagining a New Place by novelist Chris Hall Happiness Between Tails

#Authors #Writing #WorldBuilding #SouthAfrica Ever created a new world? Author/blogger Chris Hall describes herself as “a compulsive story-teller, cat slave and hen keeper.” Record your thoughts, experiences, and questions on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee: TIME STAMPS – HBT introduction – Today’s topics and about today’s guest 1:05 – “Imagining a New Place” by novelist Chris Hall – My question for you 5:28 – HBT outro — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:

Click H-E-R-E to listen to today’s blog post below. The audio version is on Spotify for Podcasters Happiness Between Tails page, where you’ll find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Breaker, to Pocket Casts and RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher, plus many more and an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is H-E-R-E.

Writers get to build whatever world they please — sometimes our novels bend the truth only somewhat — other times they invent entire new galaxies.

My works in progress, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat,” and “Tango & the Sitting Cat,” are set in fictitious towns within Los Angeles during 2002. Back then, COVID-19 wasn’t an epidemic…

Deciding on settings, histories, and all the rest that goes into storytelling is chancy no matter what an author chooses to create. There will always be fans and foes. To be a novelist requires enough passion to outrun the discouraging thoughts that can torment us.

Chris Hall has been wonderfully prolific over the last few years. She’s published three novels and a short story collection! Originally from the UK, she describes herself as “a compulsive story-teller, cat slave and hen keeper.” To sample her short fiction, fan fiction, mini-series, and poetry, as well as to follow her on her various social media, check out her website.

“Song of the Sea Goddess,” her most recent novel, is set where she lives now, the Western Cape of South Africa. Here she describes why she decided to depict a South Africa different from how it is in real life…

Author Chris Hall.
Author Chris Hall.

From the Writer’s desk: Chris Hall

Writing a novel is not just about telling the story. There are other considerations that come into play. I’d like to share with you why I was motivated to write a book set in South Africa. In particular, why I chose to paint an idealised portrait of the place and why I drew on the overarching theme of environmental destruction, rather than dealing with the gritty issues of race and poverty in my latest novel, Song of the Sea Goddess.

The Setting

When it came to writing this, my fourth novel, I was determined to set it in my adopted country, South Africa. I’d been living near Cape Town for almost ten years and the time had come to give voice to the people around me. I’d also decided it was time to transition from historical fiction. It was time to write in the moment, but at the same time include elements borrowed from the ancient lore of the African continent, which are written on cave walls and embedded in the landscape.

I knew I needed a setting to match the story I was about to tell, although the story hadn’t really even begun. Then, at the beginning of 2019, while staying in a small town on our very beautiful west coast, while I sat by the banks of the Berg River and watched the little boats going past on their way out to sea, I was moved to write a story about a fisherman with a little boat.

Every writer needs a helper as inspiring as Chris Hall's kitty, Luna.
Every writer needs a helper as inspiring as Chris Hall’s kitty, Luna.

The Characters

I’m a lazy novelist. I let my characters emerge and develop and play around in my mind. Even before they are fully formed, they are always desperate to run to centre stage and act out their parts.

But there has to be a starting point.

A few of my key characters are based on people I met when I first came to live in South Africa. People whose backgrounds were unfamiliar to me; people who come from what are euphemistically called ‘formerly disadvantaged communities’ (as if their communities are not still disadvantaged in this country, which has the most polarized society on the planet).

I could have written about some of their struggles, about the conditions in which they live, about the poverty and lack of opportunity that characterizes their communities, of how they’d suffered under apartheid, but as I got to them better, I realised that none of them wants to dwell on any of that.

So I decided I could give them better lives, locate them in a much more pleasant place and put a positive spin on this beautiful country.

I mixed them up a bit, taking a little bit of one and blending it with another, but their voices are true and their characteristics mirror real life in many respects. There’s a nod to some of the darker side of people’s lives with Sam’s flight from the Cape Flats’ gangland and in the history behind Jannie’s tattoos from the notorious ‘28s’ gang.

On the lighter side, several of the comical incidents, like when Auntie Rose loses her false teeth down her pants’ leg, are little events that actually happened. The food that the Aunties make and sell in the novel is based on recipes that I tasted and talked about with people. The love of food and the common ground we found over cookery has cemented several friendships in my new town.

The Theme

Concern for the environment is a theme I continue to return to in the short fiction and poetry, which I write on my blogsite, and while watching a TV documentary about water pollution, an idea began to form in my mind for the backdrop to my novel’s narrative. Water is in short supply in our country anyway, but what if the rivers were threatened? And what would happen if the forces of nature were moved to fight back? Soon my emerging novel would take a new and interesting turn.

My love of the landscape and ancient lore of the country that I now call home will continue to feature in my work. I’m already embroiled in a sequel to Song of the Sea Goddess, where myth and magic will once again be awakened in the little coastal town where the great river flows from the purple mountains into the southern ocean.

Visit Chris’ site to order her books and to find out more about her and the rest of her writings.

Visit Chris' site to order her books, and to find out more about her and the rest of her writings.

What new worlds do you dream of?

Expand Your Hobby into a Career by Julie Morris + Podcast

Title over photo of hands planting a small plant. Pixabay: rawpixel
Pixabay: rawpixel

Expand Your Hobby into a Career by Julie Morris Happiness Between Tails

#Careers #Passion #Hobbies #Business Do you have a hobby you wish was your career? Career and life coach Julie Morris switched from a career that was hell to one that’s now heaven for her. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:

For a podcast/audio version of today’s post, check out AnchorFM! There you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share episodes of Happiness Between Tails by da-AL via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

The first step toward a dream can be the hardest. Blogger Julie Morris is also a career and life coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, she decided to bust out of the corner office that had become her prison. Today she helps busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts.

Here’s her advice for turning a passion into profit…

3 Tips on How to Expand Your Hobby into a Career by Julie Morris

Whether you want to start a side gig to earn extra money or want to start a full-fledged business, you need to know that not everyone is cut out to be their own boss. While it sounds like a great idea to set your hours, work for yourself and not answer to anyone else, starting a business is quite an undertaking. You need to be sure that you have the right characteristics for owning a business and that your products or services are marketable and can turn a profit. 

1. Ensure You Have What It Takes to Start a Business

Running your own business is anything but easy. You’ll face financial and professional challenges, make decisions at a moment’s notice, handle customer complaints and poor reviews and manage your taxes and expenses. To determine whether you’re cut out to start a business, Plexus has identified the several signs that you were born to be the boss. If you don’t have all those qualities, never fear. You just need to know where there may be gaps in what you’re capable of so that you can hire others to help fill them.

3. Understand Your Tax Responsibilities

It can be so exhilarating to start your own business that you can forget your tax responsibilities. Plus, the government needs to see that your hobby counts as a legitimate business in order for it to be classified as such. The difference between a hobby and a business affects your taxes quite significantly, so make sure when you leap into business ownership that you have solid records and are doing all you can to fit the business mold.

It’s take a lot to turn your hobby into a livelihood, but with the right planning and strategy it really is possible. With a little extra elbow grease and tenacity, you could change your life.

Do you have a hobby you wish was your career?

Love and Boundaries: Dog Lessons + Podcast

Close up of a dog's nose and teeth
This picture by Sofia Oratowski of her golden retriever always makes me smile.

Love and Boundaries: Dog Lessons Happiness Between Tails

#Dogs #Pets #Love #Boundaries #Joy Have your pets made you a better human? Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Spotify for Podcasters page — or comment and email at Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:

For a podcast/audio version of today’s post, click the podcast player above or click here for my Spotify for Podcasters page where you’ll find links to subscribe, hear, and share episodes of Happiness Between Tails by da-AL via most any platform; from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

Think my doggies are my surrogate kids? Think again. Great as humans are, dogs let me experience me a different level of  joy, love, care, and wisdom.

How I wish I’d  begun to become a student of dogs way earlier. Growing up, I learned to be too nice, too accommodating, and accepting of bad treatment. If only I’d had dogs as a child!

Since caring for them, I’ve learned how what’s good for them is good for myself, too. Daily, training them teaches me about happiness and healthy relationships. One overarching lesson is that we teach others how to treat us.

My dogs patiently show me about boundaries…

  1. What boundaries I need and want. It’s okay to need and want them.
  2. What makes a harmony family.
  3. What dogs are capable of and what’s reasonable to expect from them, in terms of trusting them to learn, remember, and do.
  4. That boundaries are best communicated clearly and nonjudgmentally. If they go unheeded, I can try other ways.
  5. Patience and consistency are essential.

Keeping them physically and emotionally healthy benefits both of us…

  1. Walking my dogs daily means I walk too. It’s a time to bond. For dog and human alike, walking and playing heals mind, body, and soul.
  2. Together, we meet our neighbors.
  3. It’s easy to think I’m too busy for play and walks. They’ve taught me I shouldn’t overextend myself.
  4. They’re always happy to see me! When I’m not thrilled to come home to loved ones and myself, I need to work harder to nurture social and personal havens.
  5. Angels exist, and they’re not just dogs. For all the times I worried that I wouldn’t have the resources to keep pets, people have stepped forward. Striving for independence is great, yet my dogs remind me that everyone and everything in the world are interdependent.
  6. Cesar Milan, a.k.a., The Dog Whisperer, often talks about the importance of choosing pets who match our energy levels. Appreciating compatibility affords me insights into myself and others.
  7. Trust requires time. Every day is another chance at building and rebuilding trust.

Few things can match how, when I leave my home for only a short while, my dogs’ eyes shine with pure joy when I return. We don’t have to be dogs to show appreciation.

Have your pets made you a better human?