Guest Blog Post: “Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t” by Caz


My inner cynic can loom monstrous enough to be laughable. When it skulks, it can be harder to address. Caz, who lives in England, understands that emotions are part of being human. Without being syrupy, without promoting denial, she offers practical help. Her Invisibly Me site deals with living with invisible chronic pain, including living with an ileostomy (not to be confused with a colostomy). Here’s a sample of her best advice…

Graphic: Focus On What You Can Do. Not What You Can't.

Photo of blogger Caz of InvisiblyMe.com
Caz made her first website when she was 13!

I wrote this with chronic illness in mind, but it also applies to other spheres of life, from living arrangements to your financial situation. 

Focussing on what you can’t do. It can become a vicious cycle, leaving us exhausted and disheartened before we even begin. It can happen for various reasons. Looking at how things used to be in the past, such as before chronic illness took hold. It may be from social pressures concerning what we ‘should’ be doing at this point in our lives. It may be from comparing your life to how you thought it would look, or comparing your situation to that of your peers.

For whatever reason, it’s good to work on acknowledging and accepting the situation and what you can’t necessarily change right now. Then, redefine what’s important to you, not what you feel you ‘should’ value or want. Write your own rules. Find new paths to explore and get creative to find ways to get there. Maybe you can’t do certain things, but there will always be options and alternatives. There are always small changes you can make and actions to take to improve your situation or live your best life. You may just have to look a little harder to find them.

It’s also about readjusting expectations and making them more realistic and manageable. Take note of the things you can be grateful for that often get lost in the midst of pain and illness, or stress and worry. It’s about looking at the things you’re good at and the positives you can eek out of your situation and experiences. You’ve become stronger and more resilient. Perhaps you’ve met new people in person or online, such as through blogging or support groups. Maybe you’re more compassionate, empathic, have found a new skill or have become more appreciative of the small joys in life.

When we focus on the negatives, the limitations or the things we can’t change, we give up our power. By honing in on those things you can’t do or have, or the ways in which you feel constrained, it limits your perspective and experiences even more so.

By focusing on the can’t-dos, you’re reducing yourself & your life. You are more than just the things you can’t do. 

Empower yourself by looking at what you can do, no matter how small. Look at the things you can change, the tasks you can accomplish, the things you can choose to do. 

Instead of ‘I can’t do…’, change it to ‘but I can do…’.

You’re doing the best you can, with the cards you’ve been dealt and the situation you find yourself in. A little jiggle of perspective can make a big difference. Don’t close yourself off from possibilities. Instead, think outside the box and take back some control over your life. You may just find that you’re capable of more than you imagined.

– Caz

Visit Caz at her blog and her facebook page and her Instagram.

Blogger Caz of InvisiblyMe.comInvisiblyMe.com logo graphic

How do you deal with invisible pain?…

 

Guest Post: 10 Harmless Things Said That Hurt by Uncustomary Housewife


Photo from Uncustomary Housewife

I admit it — I suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. Fortunately, Uncustomary Housewife offers help from anyone who shares my predicament…

Uncustomary Housewife

I’m letting my heart spill out through my keyboard… metaphorically, of course, and I’m offering it all to you. Today, I’m going to talk about my mental health. This is something that I’ve worked to conceal for a long time, mostly because of the negative stigma attached to mental illness. I’m sharing for two main reasons; (1) to educate people, and (2) to show people like me that they are not alone.

For the record: I’m living with Bipolar Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder… In this post I’m sharing 10 “harmless things” that people have said to me that actually cause me a great deal of pain. I’m also sharing how they make me feel, and why, while giving you an inside look at my life.

So, these are the things I wish you wouldn’t say to me;

“You don’t look like you have a mental illness.”
More commonly stated as…

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Now We Are 2 (only): Sweet Lola is Sorely Missed by da-AL


Lola our black Labrador mix dog at the beach.
Lola our black Labrador mix dog at the beach.

Our home is too quiet, too empty without our dear Lola. Last Wednesday, she joined her twin brother, Pierre.

Lola our black Labrador mix dog when she was only a few months old.
Lola our black Labrador mix dog when she was only a few months old.

We were privileged to have her. Like Pierre, she was loyal in every way to the end. The two were trusting, kind, obedient, and fun loving.

Lola our black Labrador mix dog, to the right of her brother, Pierre.
Lola our black Labrador mix dog, to the right of her brother, Pierre.

Second in her heart only to her human family was her adored brother who passed away a few months ago. Hopefully, now they’re together, forever safe and happy.

Lola, our black Labrador mix dog, is sorely missed.
Lola, our black Labrador mix dog, is sorely missed.

A kind fellow blogger said that losing a dear pet never gets easier. Indeed it doesn’t…

Guest Blog Post: The Little Guy Who Stole Our Hearts by Debbie Centeno


Live long enough, and we’re bound to encounter challenges. With the help of a friend, Debbie Centeno (who runs this blog and this blog) uses her grief to help others…

Chewy

I never knew how much a person could grow to love their pet. I wasn’t raised with pets, other than fish in a tank. And, there’s no way you can take them out of the tank to play, pet or cuddle. I just loved my aquarium but in a materialistic way. As an adult, I didn’t think about getting a pet since I was quite busy with three children. But, after my oldest son passed away, and my two other children were no longer small kids, my daughter convinced me to get a dog. So we opted for a rescue.

Chewy as a puppy

I made a few calls to see what dogs were available to adopt. We found a place that had a mama dog who had recently given birth to seven puppies – six female and one male. The male was the runt and was rejected by his mama, but I wanted a female. That was until we met the little guy, of course. All puppies were side by side sleeping on their tummies, except the little runt who was sleeping on his back almost on top of his sisters. He was much smaller than the others. When I saw him – well, I don’t know what I felt, but I just had to have him, so the volunteer picked him up and placed him in my arms, and that was it. I was in love. I handed him to my husband, and he felt the same way. So off we were with a 5-week old 2-pound Chihuahua/Dachshund mix. We named him Chewy, and it suits him well.

Chewy buckled up in a car

Chewy is now 6-years old and 20 lbs. I can’t imagine life without him and don’t regret having followed my daughter’s advice. He is the most loving, spoiled brat ever who stole our hearts. I know he’s not human, but for me, he’s my baby.

Debbie Centaro

Debbie Centeno is a wife, a grieving mom, an accountant, and a travel blogger. Learn more about her here and here.

Guest Blog Post: Ignorance by Chuy


Photo of Chuy dog

It took me a long time to learn this. Paz’ dog Chuy taught it to him…

Chow Dog Zen

Road to The Wonder Woods

Just because you 

Don’t Know

You are 

Beautiful,

Perfect,

And Precious to this

Great Cosmos

Doesn’t mean

It isn’t So.

  • Chuy

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5. Ever been told…? by da-AL


Ever been told that the ultimate tragedy (and crime) for a girl or a woman is not to be regarded as physically attractive?
Ever been told that the ultimate tragedy (and crime) for a girl and a woman is not to be regarded as physically attractive?

Now We Are 3 (only) by da-AL


Pierre, da-AL, Lola, K-D
Pierre a few months ago, at about 14 years old.

This morning I stayed in bed till late. I was awake, but I didn’t want to get up to a house without Pierre in it.

Yesterday I had to put my dog down. Such a gentle euphemism for murder. To put one to sleep. My dear, dear dog-man trusted me, yet I tricked him. First by lulling him into thinking it was a normal day by asking my husband to roast a chicken at home that delighted his nose and soothed his belly. But afterward a vet arrived. She knotted a tourniquet at his rear thigh, shaved an area below it, and injected a sedative. His fitful gasping evened, his pain-blinded stare softened. Amid caresses and loving murmurs, the vet administered a second shot to finish him off.

My dear Pierre at 9 months old.

But Pierre lingered within his peaceful half-sleep. So another shave. Then a third shot to a different leg. That one finally killed him.

Nicer ways exist to frame this, but my heart won’t listen to the many fine arguments for how, whether, and when.

No, I don’t know of a better way to have done it. When his kidneys began to fail, and arthritis increasingly ravaged his days and nights, I promised us two things; he’d never take another trembling ride to a vet, and he’d never be wet again (he was a Labrador mix one-of-a-kind who hated water).

Fortunately, we could afford to have a vet to visit our home for those final injections. Fortunately, I could be with Pierre, my sweetest, most uncomplicated of friendships and loves. Fortunately, he’d lived a good long life, as dog lives go.

Pierre at 8 weeks old.

All the same, this was the awfullest decision I hope ever to make.

Life is beautiful, merciless, humbling.

Pierre (right) with his twin sister.

As much as our recent time together — these months of arranging throw rugs, moving furniture, closing doors so he wouldn’t get tangled among legs or be locked into rooms or slip and not be able to get back up, all which upset him to no end — these months of his hobbled struggle to follow me everywhere and to share walks with his sisters even though he’d fall within a few steps from home — this stoic period when, despite his waning appetite, he’d eat all that my family hand fed him while I experimented with healing remedies and weight gaining foods — this era when we set ramps and nudged him up and I learned the trick to gathering his 55 pounds into my arms to navigate down — these weeks of carrying him outside to pee in the middle of the night because the shame of soiling his diapers showed naked in his eyes (debilitated kidneys need volumes more water to compensate)…

Pierre (right) in better times.

and even though yesterday was the worst, today not a whole lot better…

I am thankful for every moment we shared. Hopefully, he knew he was loved…

Guest Blog Post: “Everyday heroes…” in Katherine’s exact words


Photo of cat keeping an injured dog company inside of the dog's big cone sort of collarHelp is all around us, if only we open our eyes. Fellow blogger Katherine reminds us that we must acknowledge such heroes…

A Hansen Chronicle

“Great deeds may make heroes; but it is the small deeds, the everyday acts of caring and attention that make friends. And while heroes may inspire us, it is our friends who make inspiration worth pursuing. And so, in the end, the real acts of heroism are simple acts of friendship. So thank you, for being a hero.”

(Sarah Pulscher)

dog cone kitten friend

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Bah! Humbug! is Perfectly Fine by da-AL


burnt gingermen cookies
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s quite alright to say, “No!” to a holiday. It’s ok to write off an entire season. Sometimes holidays are worthy of looking forward to. Sometimes they’re not.

tray of burnt cookies
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s perfectly fine to ignore the myriad external messages elbowing each other to influence us. People, companies, cultures, they all would love for us to spend, do, and feel exactly as they think we should.

Never mind them. Really. Sometimes some holidays (and/or seasons) are best ignored.

tray of burnt cookies
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Do whatever works for you. Mark time, survive, thrive. Before you know it, it’ll be holiday-free January.

Photo courtesy Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

Whatever any one of us does, we’re never alone. We’re all unique yet all human. Be good to each other. Take good care of yourself!

Photo courtesy Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

What do you do when you want to ignore a holiday?

Guest Blog Post: “Molly the unofficial Therapy dog,” in Darren Sleep’s exact words


Don’t care for dogs? Scared of them? No matter. Give one enough time and they’ll will make you fall in love with them. If you take a look first here, and secondly here, and then lastly here, you’ll understand how I’m my own best example of this!

Darren Sleep of Northern England, who’s blog I recommend everyone visit, tells how Molly dog converted him…

Molly the spaniel
Could you resist Molly?

I was truly honoured to be asked to write this, my first guest post!

I would like to introduce you to Molly, also known as ‘Mollymop’, ‘Fuzzbutt’, or several other less repeatable names depending on her current level of mischievousness. Molly is our little buddy.

Molly sprawled on floor.
Mollymop or Fuzzbutt?

A confession: Molly is not our dog. She belongs to our friends Abi & Tom who run the flower nursery where my wife Susan works. Molly has the run of the site all day and is utterly devoted to Susan, at least partly because Susan often has a pocketful of doggy treats.

Molly loves tummy rubs.
Molly loves tummy rubs.

Molly is a Liver and White English Springer Spaniel, bred from working stock (very different from show stock Springers which almost look like a different breed). She is quite elderly now, at 11, and spends a lot of time snoozing. When awake her age does not seem to slow her down!

Molly dog with a toy
Still playful at 11.

My own relationship with dogs has been a complicated one. Like Susan, we had a black Labrador as a family dog when I was a teenager. I did not really trust dogs then, even our Labrador was a bit grumpy (rare for the breed). I also did a newspaper delivery round and worked as a postman/mailman for a time – these also taught me to be wary of dogs. We have never had our own dog in 30+ years together because of career and other commitments.

Molly among plants
Admiring nature.

Then in 2011 Susan started working for Abi & Tom and regaled me with tales of how lovely they (and their dog, Molly ) were. So she took me to visit one weekend and I met Molly. I was smitten by this friendly, curious but slightly feral and very mischievous looking beastie. When out of sight her favourite hobbies are raiding rubbish bins and eating and/or rolling in carrion, so she is frequently a bit ‘fragrant’ but we love her anyway.

Molly sleeping
Demonstrating how to relax.

My own fondness for dogs has grown a lot since meeting Molly – I frequently go and make a fuss of friendly looking dogs that I see. For several years Molly was joined by a beautiful Golden Retriever pup, Ella, but Ella had to be rehomed with Abi’s sister in late 2016, leaving Molly alone again. Susan and I both adored Ella too!

Earlier this summer (2017), my struggle with depression came to a crisis point and I had a meltdown at work one morning. I was a shaking, weeping mess and went straight to my doctor. When Susan picked me up from the doctor my only request was that we go and visit Molly as I knew some dog therapy was the only way I was going to calm down that day. I spent the afternoon at the nursery with Molly and knew that even if I never have a dog of my own, I was now a devoted fan of dogs.

Molly in bed
Now Molly has beds at two homes!

A few weeks later, when I was back on an even keel, a family emergency meant that Abi & Tom had to go away and were faced with the possibility of putting Molly in boarding kennels alone for the first time in years, and they knew she hated being in kennels. It was a no-brainer for us and we offered to have her for a few days. We loved having her and have since had Molly for two more weekends, with another planned this month. She now settles instantly and is completely at home.

We have attached a bolt to the food cupboard and bought a set of bowls, a leash and a dog bed to keep at our house. Basically all the paraphernalia except the actual dog!

I fully acknowledge my place in the pecking order is several rungs below my wife in Molly’s eyes. She really is devoted to Susan but that is OK. I obviously kind of like Susan myself – so fully understand. But it doesn’t matter. When Molly sees me she gives me the kind of enthusiastic greeting I have never experienced from a human being and makes me feel that there is a corner of my world where everything is OK.

Visit Darren at his wonderful blog!

Has a dog helped you?