You Might As Well Love It

Well, having survived the “snowmageddon” of last week, here we are in the midst of yet more snow.  Welcome to February in Canada!  Everywhere I turn, I am greeted by complaints and the sounds of people who are feeling a certain way right about now;  lots of winter behind us, and lots of winter still ahead of us!   One of my friends posted on Facebook this morning, “snow, snow go away, come again another. . . year!”  When I stepped outside the other day and greeted a neighbour with “what a beautiful day!” all she had to say back was, “I hate winter!”  Does everybody feel that way?

Well, Gus doesn’t!  This guy has the right attitude.  He can’t wait to get outside in the snow and run around, even if he’s just been roused from the coziest sleep.  You would think he was let loose in a combined fluffy playground and buffet!  He will run like crazy and dig his face deep into the snow, and then stop and take a great big mouthful of the stuff for a snack.  It’s hilarious to watch.

Sometimes he’ll just sit quietly in the snow on the deck, and it seems like he’s just admiring how beautiful it really is.

I think he’s got the right idea.

Let’s face it, even if the groundhog was right, winter is going to be here for a while.  We might as well find something about it to love.

Like how beautiful the trees look. . .

Or how peaceful it is to walk down the snowy path. . .

Or all the fun things you can do with the snow besides shovelling it. . . (okay, you do need thumbs for this!)

How many times in our lives are we going to be stuck with events or situations that might not be our first choice?  Let’s face it, if I was offered a free trip to some sun-soaked beach destination I’d be out of all this beautiful winter in a flash!  But, here I am for the duration, so I’ve decided to make the best of it.  There is always a way to put a positive spin on wherever you are, and whatever you are dealing with.  Research has proven that people who are optimistic and focus on the positive side of events always fare better, and live longer, healthier lives.  So, pull on those snow pants and lace up those waterproof  boots or skates, and get out there and enjoy this stuff.  You might even find someone out there to play with!

Advertisements

Who needs the gym?

Okay, so it’s the second week of January.  This is the hottest time of year for sales of gym memberships and fitness equipment.  Save your money and get a dog!

If you’re bundled up, the fresh air, sunshine and the crisp snow are more powerful stimulants than anything they’re pumping into the stale air in one of those windowless gyms.  Besides, you don’t have to listen to that droning disco music in the background!

I make a point of running around with Gus – up and down the hills, and across the snowy fields.   I get my leg exercises by kicking up clumps of snow for him to jump for.  To be honest, just tromping through the heavy snow with boots and snowpants often feels like I’m  wearing extra leg weights.

When we’re all done, I feel just as “worked out” as if I’d been at the gym.  The bonus is that it doesn’t cost anything, and I get a wonderful sloppy thank you from my workout buddy!

Up the down staircase

The other day as I was on my way upstairs, I came upon Gus as he was on his way downstairs.  He looked at me, and then he stopped in his tracks.  He paused for a bit, as if to consider his options.  Then he watched me go past him.  After an awkward minute or so, half-sitting on the stairs, he maneuvered himself somehow, turned around, and then proceeded to follow me where I was going.

I captured this shot of him in that moment where he frozen halfway; neither up nor down.  I think you can see the awkward look on his face, as if he isn’t quite sure which way he should be going.

In a funny coincidence, I happened to be speaking to my Mom later that afternoon.  When I asked her how her day was going she said, “to be honest, I feel like I’m going up the down staircase.”  I laughed and told her of my experience with Gus.  I said that she wasn’t alone;  and that he was having the same kind of day.

They happen to all of us.  Those days where we just can’t seem to get it all together.  I’m sure you can relate, and can think of a day, perhaps even recently, when nothing seemed to go according to plan.  On those kind of days you often feel as though you’re spinning your wheels, or, like Gus, sitting halfway up the middle of the stairs trying to figure out if you should be going up or down.  They are often days that leave me feeling as though I haven’t accomplished much of anything, even if I’ve seemed to be busy all day.

The good news is that these days usually pass quite innocently. If we don’t get too stressed about them, we can usually get back into our regular mode pretty quickly.  I’ve learned to accept that sometimes there will just be days like these, for whatever reason.  Maybe we have too much on our minds, or maybe we’re just plain tired out.  Whatever the cause, the best thing to do is to just give in and cut yourself a little slack.

When I find myself feeling this way, I usually try to keep a low profile, and I try not to take on anything too demanding.  These are often great days to just treat yourself to a little indulgence – even if it’s only a cup of tea and a half  hour with a really good book.  With a little TLC, everything ends up going in the right direction!

Smells like home

Sarah and Gus smells like home

I’ve mentioned before how all the members of our family use Gus like a sort of living stuffed animal.  He is so sweet and gentle, and he loves to be cuddled.  He’s so big that he’s like a full-body pillow.  He’s the perfect size to snuggle up to and wrap your arms around, if you’re feeling sad or happy, or simply just in need of a hug.  Of course, we all love to bury our faces deep in his fur while we do this.

The other day, Sarah was snuggling up to Gus, when she suddenly looked up at me and exclaimed, “He smells like home!”    She’s right.

We started talking, trying to find a way to express what we knew to be true, but were struggling with putting into words.  What we agreed on was the feeling that we get when we bury our faces in Gus’s fur.  It is a comforting, settled, familiar feeling that just seems to say “home.”  You might think I’m crazy, but I spent a while trying to analyze it, and the truth is that he really doesn’t smell much at all. (Apparently we are doing something right!).  However, I took a deep sniff and tried to concentrate really hard.   When I did, I was able to detect the fresh scent of the outside air, a hint of the garden, the grass and fall leaves lingering on his fur.  I guess that’s what evokes those calm and settled feelings for us.

What scent says “home” to you?    Is it a pot of aromatic soup simmering on a crisp fall day?  Is it the familiar fragrance of a loved one’s cologne or perfume?  Is it fresh cut flowers?  Perhaps, it is the unforgettable soft sweet smell of a tiny new baby.    I’ve written before about the power of scent to evoke strong memories.  I also believe that we form powerful associations with certain smells, and that these tell a lot about who we are, and what has meaning for us.

Don’t be afraid to harness the power of scent to perk yourself up or to calm yourself down when you need it.  This is what the field of aromatherapy is all about.  We always said that we wanted Gus to be trained as a therapy dog.  I guess we didn’t realize that he already is!

Lean into the wind

Watson in the wind

They’re here.  Those blustery days when we know that summer is most definitely behind us, and fall has truly arrived.  These are the days when you look out the window and see branches bending and swaying, and leaves flying off the trees and blowing wildly down the street.  The howl of the autumn wind can even be heard from inside the house.

For many, this is a time to begin the retreat indoors.  In Canada, a great number of people disappear from October to May, in order to avoid the wind and the cold, and everything else that gets thrown at us during our extended fall and winter.  If you do see these souls outside during this time, you will find them scurrying quickly from house to car, and back. Their faces are hidden under tightly gathered hoods and scarves; their heads ducked down to avoid the fury of the wind. When forced to be outside for any length of time, these folks will usually find a corner, and huddle with their backs to the wind, as if hoping that the forces of nature will somehow blow past them, and leave them alone.

Life with Gus means that behaviour like this is simply not an option.  Out we go every day, no matter how hard the wind is blowing.  It’s not just that he doesn’t seem to mind it; Gus loves to be outside on a cool and windy day.  The picture above was taken out in the field on the day I wrote about “slobbery balls.”  Gus didn’t stand still long enough for a good photo, so this is a great shot of Watson, doing what Gus often does out in the wind.

As you can see, there’s certainly no ducking or huddling going on here.  Like Watson, Gus will sit or stand tall, and actually lean into the wind with his face turned up.  Look how he’s  enjoying the feeling, as it blows through him; ruffling his fur.

Since I’ve noticed Gus and other dogs doing this, I’ve begun to try the same thing myself when I’m out in the middle of the field.  Of course, you have to be dressed properly, and be active enough to be warm on the inside.  If you are, and you try this, you will experience an exhilarating feeling as you lean into the full force of the wind; meeting it head on. You can almost imagine that you are a kite or a sail; feeling the lifting power and the promise of flight.

There’s an interesting analogy here that struck me the other day.  The wind can be compared to our life’s problems and challenges.  There’s no question that there’s always a wind of some sort in the air for us to deal with. When things are going well, we may only feel the gentle breeze of everyday challenges blowing softly by.  We scarcely feel our hair mussed, and we carry on with little concern.  But sometimes, when we are facing major issues and problems, we may find ourselves feeling like we are on the top of a hill, being buffeted by gale force winds.  It’s the wild, unpredictable nature of many challenges we face that leaves us feeling as though we are being tossed about, like a leaf at the mercy of the autumn wind.  Our inclination is to draw our hood around us and huddle; hoping that we can ride out the storm and be spared from its fury.

Research confirms that those who cope best with life’s stresses are the ones who, like Gus and Watson, choose to stand tall and meet the wind head on; leaning into its full force.  Rather than huddling like victims, those who sit up and take control of their situation tend to not only cope more effectively, but they often even emerge in better shape at the end of the ordeal.  When we are handed a challenge, there’s no question that we often feel broadsided, and blown off our feet by the force of events.  However, if we stop and collect ourselves, we find that there is always some element in every situation that we can take control of.

The next time you find yourself in a gale, stand tall and lean head first into that wind.  It will give you an exhilarating feeling of power and control.  If you manage to find a way to fashion a sail, you’ll do even better.  You might even harness the power of that wind and find that you can use it to carry you aloft.