Weather Gear

Rain Gear

The simplest things can be transformational.

It’s grey, cold and drizzling on this Friday morning. My first thought is to burrow deeper into the blankets, to avoid this dreary day and wait for the sun. Instead I put on my walking gear. First, a soft, cozy shirt, fine gloves and leggings that embrace my body like a warm hug. Next, a light insulating layer. Finally, my rain jacket – light and loose enough to fit over everything but built to send the wind and raindrops bouncing back; the way a superhero’s armour repels bullets and lightning bolts.

Off we go, me and my furry pal. Striding out into the grey, the cold and the chill.  Protected. Invincible. Within minutes it happens. Our limbs stretch, muscles warm up and we fall into an easy rhythm together, breathing in the cool air and the fresh smells of spring. Worms, water, mud and the promise of green things sprouting everywhere. Before long the light seems brighter, the fresh, cool air fills our lungs. We turn our faces up as we walk and welcome the splash of the raindrops and the refreshing mist.

We walk for ages and return home damp, smiling, warm and invigorated.

The day is changed.

How Do You Say Goodbye?

Janet kissing Gus on the deck July 2016

You weep.

You hold on for one last deep embrace; breathing in and memorizing the way he smells.

You run your hands gently through his fur; feeling the silky softness one last time.

You whisper everything you want to say, though you have said it to him a thousand times already, in anticipation of this moment.

You let go, knowing that the time is right and that you have done everything possible to make his passing gentle and peaceful; secure in loving arms.

You hold on tight and lean on those you love; shouldering the weight of grief together.

Finally, you breathe.

You begin to move past sadness, to other feelings. First, anger and frustration with cancer, and a loss that came too soon.

And then, gratitude.

For ten and a half wonderful years.

For a life that touched so many.

For unconditional love.

For a sweet face waiting patiently in the front window.

For sloppy kisses and boundless joy. For bouncing body wags.

For long walks on beautiful days.

For a head resting in your lap. For silence and calm, quiet loyalty.

For knowing when you needed a hug.

For hilarious moments of crazy behaviour.  For happy dances, stolen mittens and chewed up socks.

For the thrill of launching balls and frisbees into the air over and over, and the triumph of the perfect catch.

For finding friends in unlikely places.

For showing you how to stop and breathe deeply in the morning air.

For teaching you to live in the moment.

For all of the important lessons, and those still to come.

Gus in the field of grass

It’s Gus’s Big 5.0!!

It’s Gus’s fifth birthday today!  Like any mom, I’m excited, proud and a bit nostalgic all at the same time.

While I can’t believe 5 whole years have passed, I also can’t seem to remember a time when Gus wasn’t part of our lives.  I am also doing my best to not focus on the down side of time marching forward.  I have vowed to keep it positive!

So we will celebrate this birthday as we always do – with some treats, some special members of the family, and with a toast to all the things that make Gus so important to us all.  I thought I would post a few pictures to help tell the story and to bring you some smiles. Happy Birthday Big Guy!

First bath

Best stick ever!

Hangin' out with the gang

Frisbee love

Mom made me wear this hat

With my brother Lucky

Life’s great!

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!

Don’t Be Afraid To Make The First Tracks

So here we are again.  The fields are covered in snow.  The sun is blazing, despite the -15 degree temperature.  It’s a beautiful day to be outside, as long as you’re dressed for the weather.

I love to stand at the top of the hill and look down onto the sparkling expanse of snow below.  I’m always a bit reluctant to take the plunge and begin tramping ahead with Gus.  Somehow it seems a bit sad to puncture the pristine snow with my clompy boots and his prancing paws.  Never mind.  On we go, and before long, the field is a mess of footprints and pawprints; leaving evidence of everywhere we’ve been.   For the past two mornings we have spent ages outside in the fields; running and playing in the snow, and working up a sweat despite the freezing temperatures.  We’ve had the best time.

It’s a bit like life itself, isn’t it?  When we are about to begin something fresh and new, we stand on the brink, contemplating what we are about to dive into.  It’s often a mix of excitement, wonder and trepidation all rolled together that can keep us perched there; immobilized.  As if we’re afraid of ruining that perfect image before us with our footprints and actions, as we forge ahead into new territory.

You’ll think I’m nuts, but I’m reminded of something silly from my childhood.  When we were little, my siblings and I used to argue over who got to “break the rink” on a new jar of peanut butter, by being the first one to dig a knife into it.  (Boy, were we easy to entertain!)  I guess we knew then that it was less important to gaze at the perfectly smooth surface than to get on with taking the plunge, and enjoying what would come next.

Get going!

It’s the journey itself that matters most

This morning at the end of our walk, Gus bounded up the front steps and plopped down as he always does to wait for me to toss him his cookie.  There he is in the picture, sitting and waiting for our little ritual that marks our return home.  It suddenly dawned on me that, in the four years we have spent together, Gus and I have been on more than 1200 walks!  When I think about the mileage we have covered, it is truly mind-boggling.  I have worn through several pairs of walking shoes to prove it.  As I pondered this, I was struck by an even more incredible fact.  Despite the distance we have covered together, we always end up in exactly the same place at the end of our walk:  right on our own front porch where we started!  I suppose you could say that, despite all of our walking, we haven’t really gone anywhere at all.

What a concept.  Walking and walking, yet ultimately ending up right back in the same place.  To some, it might seem crazy.  But not to me.

You see, for Gus and for me it’s the walk itself that is the whole point.

Sure, a daily walk is a great source of exercise and fresh air.  I highly recommend it for all the obvious reasons.  But, if you’ve been reading here for a while, you will know that  there is so much more that happens when we are out walking together.  Every day on our journey we meet people and dogs. We make new friends and share experiences.  We are inspired by magical sights right in our own neighbourhood.  In fact, it is while we have been out walking, ultimately going nowhere, that all the important lessons have occurred.

Today is my 49th birthday.  I’ve had a perfectly lovely day.  I got hugs and good wishes from family and friends near and far.  I had lunch with two incredibly special women. I had dinner with my wonderful family.  And I started it off with a very long walk outside with Gus on a beautiful snowy day.

I was thinking this morning that life itself is like these daily walks.  I don’t want to be morbid, but let’s face it, we are all going to end up in the same place we started out eventually.  Dust to dust, and all that stuff.  Each time we mark the passage of another year, it’s as if we are setting out on another walk – one that will end up at our next birthday.  I truly feel that the years themselves aren’t the point at all.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been hung up about revealing my age.   To me, it’s what we’re doing on that journey between the milestones that really matters in the long run.

As I look back on the past year, I am overwhelmed by all that I have seen, done and learned on my journey.  I have met and developed relationships with so many incredible people.  I have marveled at the wonders of the changing seasons and the magical sights that have been right in front of me all the time.  I have learned valuable lessons about myself and what I believe, and I have a clearer sense of who I am and what I value.  There have been high points and low points, but all in all it has been an incredible ride.

Tomorrow is February 11th once again, and I will lace up my shoes and set out off the front porch as always.  I can’t wait to see what I will discover next, as my journey continues. . .

Listen to your heart

“You’re insane!”  The voice of my dearest and most trusted friend rang across the telephone line.  “You’re 45 years old!  Your kids are old enough that you are finally getting some freedom, and you can walk out the door whenever you want to.  You guys are already working so hard, trying to do everything for your family, and you never have time for yourself as it is. IF YOU GET A DOG NOW, YOU’RE CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There we were, four years ago this month, on the brink of the decision to get a dog.  You already know how the story ended. However, this week I find myself thinking back to that time, and remembering the process we went through in making that life altering decision.  I suppose it was the first lesson that Gus taught me, before he even arrived.

At the wise old age of almost 49, I know for sure that the one constant in life is change.  Just when you think you have settled into your groove, and you have it all figured out, something new will come along and rattle your world.  Perhaps you are deciding to give in to that urge to bring a dog or a child into your family.  Maybe you want to go back to school, to change your life’s direction.  Sometimes a challenging new opportunity presents itself at work.  It’s all part of this fabulous journey called life.

So what do you do?  As humans, our natural instinct is to be thrown off balance by the prospect of change to the status quo.  Even if we have chosen that change ourselves, we are comfortable with things the way they are. Even if it is exciting, the future can look awfully scary.  In weighing all the pros and cons, we tend to focus heavily on all the negatives associated with the change, and how it will impact our lives.

I remember methodically detailing all the ways in which getting a dog would strain our resources:  time, freedom, order and money were all going to be affected as we fit this new creature into our already bustling lives.  We would have to alter our daily routine and schedule to accommodate his needs.  We had to adjust our monthly budget to account for his food, pet insurance, vet bills, and supplies. We had to come to terms with the fact that we would have a whole lot of poop to pick up over the course of his life!

As responsible adults, we tried to create a spreadsheet; weighing both sides of this monumental decision.  We also listed all the positives associated with getting a dog.  From our research, we knew that dog ownership brings more exercise, stress relief, and a chance for the kids to experience the love and responsibility that go along with caring for a living being.  This sounded great, but was it enough to outweigh all the negatives??  As the Mom of the family, the final say in the decision was mine.  After all, it was acknowledged that it was my life that would be affected the most by this change.

What followed, and what I have since distilled as the original Lesson from Gus, was a process that I realize I have gone back to time and time again through my life.  I did my homework, and I thoroughly researched everything I could that would help me with my decision.   I tried to gather as much information as I could to enable me to project what life would be like with a dog in the family.  I visited friends with dogs and asked them about their day-to-day life.  I compared notes about costs and benefits; love and headaches, and I asked everyone I knew what they thought I should do.

I was completely rational and practical as I weighed all this information. I went in circles, and drove everyone around me crazy as I analyzed it all to death, and tried to put it all together.  What if I resented being tied to the house more?  What if we got hit with  a huge vet bill?  What if he chewed up everything in sight?  Would we be able to fit his walks into our daily schedule?  How hard would it be to train him?  It would be good for us all to get outside more.  We would love having a sweet puppy in the house…

In the end, after so much analyzing that my head hurt, I stopped and took a step back from the issue.  I realized what I had to do to make my decision.

I finally understood that the research was critical, and the analysis essential, but that those parts of the process weren’t going to give me everything I needed to reach my conclusion.  I learned that, in making life decisions, there are some elements that you miss if you only look at the data and the balance sheet.  There’s another part of the process that’s just as important.  It hit me then what I had to do.

So, I closed my eyes, and I took a deep breath . . .  and I listened to my heart.

The rest, as they say, is history.

First snow

The first snow

So there we were yesterday.  So excited to finally see snow on the ground when we were out for our morning walk!  Gus kept putting his nose in it and sniffing – as if remembering a long lost friend from last winter.  True, there wasn’t much.  But given how late it is in the season, we were happy just the same to finally see the white stuff on the grass.  We thought it was a really big deal.

Then. . . we woke up this morning, and WOW!!

Now that's really snow!

Gus couldn’t have been happier.  As soon as I opened the door, he took off like a shot into the park.  He was bounding and racing around like crazy; stopping every so often to take a huge mouthful of snow into his mouth.  It’s as though he couldn’t decide if it was for playing in, or eating!  We stayed outside for quite a while, playing frisbee and sloshing around in it.  When it was time to go in, Gus actually jumped up and put his paws on my shoulders, as if pleading with me “Mom! – can’t we stay outside a bit longer!”

There’s something about the first real snowfall of the season that brings out the same excitement in me.  That feeling of winter finally being here; of welcoming back an old friend.  I’m sure you also have wonderful childhood memories of bundling up and running out in the newly fallen snow. Everything looks so beautiful and magical, transformed by a white cloak.  The possibilities seem endless.

As adults, we tend to look at the snow in terms of negatives.  Traffic snarls, driveways to shovel, and boots to locate can dominate our thoughts as we gaze upon the first white blanket of the season.  For just a minute, put all those grown up thoughts aside and remember the childlike (or dog-like) excitement that really should accompany this magical moment.  Now, go outside and play!

It’s beginning to look a lot like. . .

Pretty cool huh!

Well, the weather is mild, and the grass is green, and there are still some hardy flowers peeking about in the gardens.  But never mind, it is November 23 and everywhere we look it is starting to look like . . . Christmas!!

As one who has never had the chance to celebrate Christmas, I have always loved all the festivities that go along with this time of year.  I particularly enjoy all the ways that people decorate their houses for the holiday season.   With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few shots I took of Gus today as we walked around the neighbourhood.  There are some very creative people out there.  Gus thought so too!

(although he wasn’t too sure about this guy in the red suit!)

Sorry, but we didn’t see any elves.

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!

Just move

We always joke that Gus only came with two speed settings:  flat out and flaked out.

Flat out

It’s hard to say which one he actually spends more time in over the course of the day.  If you were to ask him which speed he prefers, I’d put my money on flat out.  Gus is truly happiest when he is in motion.  To see him running full tilt across the field, with his ears flapping wildly, is to witness pure joy.

I think the reason that Gus is so calm when he’s in the house has something to do with the fact that he gets so much exercise outside every day.  We figure that, on an average day, he spends over 2 hours outside; walking, running and playing ball or frisbee.  The interesting thing is that, if he’s outside, so are we!

There is no question that we are more active as a family since Gus came into our lives.  One of the commitments we made when we decided to get a big dog was to ensure that he was properly exercised.  It has certainly paid off, both in terms of his health and ours.

There are volumes of research on the benefits of physical activity at any age.  Just today, I heard a radio announcer discussing a new study in which the evidence seemed to indicate that older people with stronger muscles are at reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  That’s great news, and it can be added to the enormous list of benefits already attributed to being active.  They include: improving your mood; reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis; helping with weight management; boosting your energy level; improving your sleep; and even improving your sex life!  Wow, if someone said they had a pill that could do all that, people would be lining up for it.

A lot of people complain that they don’t have the time to exercise, or that they can’t afford to join a fancy gym.  That’s crazy.  In the end, you don’t need a swanky place or elaborate equipment to get active.  As far as I’m concerned, anything at all that gets you moving is better than sitting on the sofa!  Just put on your shoes and walk around the block – it’s beautiful out there!  As a bonus, you might just see something inspiring while you’re at it.

This point was brought to life beautifully for me this morning.  It was a cool and clear day, and the sun was sparkling as we strode through the neighbourhood.  At one house we passed, a grey-haired couple were out in front on the driveway. The man was wearing roller blades and a helmet, and he was helping his wife pump up the tires of her bicycle.  We passed them, and then I stopped and doubled back to say hello.  I wanted to take their picture, because it was such an inspirational scene, but they were a little camera shy.  Instead, we chatted for a bit, and I told them that I planned to write about seeing them today.  The woman piped up, “make sure to tell them that we’re seniors – 68 and 69!”  So now you know.  A few minutes later, once we were well down the street, they whizzed passed us with a smile and a hearty wave; she pedaling rapidly on the bike and he striding gracefully behind on his rollerblades.  It was a beautiful sight!

It’s great to reconnect with old friends

Gus & the animals

This morning, Gus and I stayed local for our walk.  As we made our way across the familiar fields behind the high school, I heard the distinct hum of machinery in the distance.  Sure enough, it was the giant lawn machine from the Town, doing maintenance work on the soccer fields.   As we came into view, I noticed that the driver actually turned his rig in our direction and began to move closer.  He then lifted his hand in a hearty wave.

I realized then that the driver was a man that we had met when Gus was much younger; probably two years ago.  At that time, we used to see him frequently on our jaunts through the fields.  He would often stop and chat with us, and he really loved Gus.  I’m not sure why our paths haven’t crossed much since then, but here he was again, after so much time.

He pulled up and climbed down from his seat.  He was really happy to see us, and he told me that he had thought that we might have moved, since he hadn’t seen us for quite some time.  Gus greeted him like a long lost friend, and went into full puppy mode; jumping and running around madly in circles.  He finally settled down and dropped his ball at the man’s feet.  Our friend picked it up and played fetch with Gus for a while, as I chatted with him.  After ten minutes or so, we said a warm goodbye, and we each went on our separate ways, with a promise to look out for each other in the months ahead.

There’s something about connecting with an old friend you haven’t seen for a while that just makes you feel good.  One of the positive things that I was able to draw from the tragedy of my father’s death was the chance to reconnect with many special people from my past, as they called or came to visit me.  Marriage, careers, life events, and even simple geography often cause us to drift away from people who were significant in our lives during earlier times.  It’s not that we stop wanting to be friends.  It just happens that our paths start to head in different directions, and before we know it, months and then years have passed since we’ve been in touch.

This might seem silly, but to me, an old friend is like a favourite sweater.  Slipping back into those friendships has made me feel wrapped in a familiar feeling of cozy warmth and comfort.  I’ve had the chance to laugh and remember times from high school and university and beyond, and I’ve got caught up on the recent events in the lives of my friends and their families.  Most importantly, many of my friends and I have made promises to each other that we will make the effort to stay in touch.  We have all agreed that it is well worth it.

I’m reminded of a rhyme that the mother of one of my earliest chilhood friends wrote in my autograph book when I was six or seven years old.  It read:   “Make new friends but keep the old.  The new are silver, but the old are gold”    Good advice!

Bring home the big stick

Bringing home the big stick

You might have seen us one day.  Very often on our walk, Gus will discover a stick lying by the path, and he’ll decide to carry it home.  Now, this probably doesn’t seem unusual.   Most dogs will pick up sticks.  But most dogs don’t go after the kind of sticks that Gus does.  As you can see from the photo above, the sticks that Gus brings home are often bigger than he is.  Sometimes we even have trouble on the sidewalk because his stick takes up so much space!

It’s not uncommon for people walking or driving by us to honk, laugh, and give Gus the thumbs up sign as he proudly marches home with his trophy.  It’s quite a sight to see.

I’ve always said that I would do well to have the kind of confidence that Gus does.  When he comes upon a giant stick lying there, you can just see him considering it, and sizing it up.  Then, without hesitation, he will pick it up and position it in his mouth for the long walk home.  He never seems to even entertain the notion that he won’t be able to manage it.  Occasionally I have even tried to discourage him, saying “no Gus, that one’s too big!”  But he will always forge ahead; often wrestling with the largest sticks until he can get a good grip on them.  His behaviour shows that he doesn’t even consider the possibility that he won’t be successful.

You probably think that I’m crazy for letting him carry all this wood home.  Take a look below, and you’ll see what he accumulated during a couple of weeks last fall.  I guess I just feel that, since he’s so confident and determined, he’s entitled to have the reward of carrying his treasures home.

Gus's collection of sticks

When you are setting goals for yourself, do you reach high and go after the biggest stick?  If you’re like me, you often hesitate and feel limited by all the reasons why the goal will be challenging to achieve.  Can I really do it?  Am I qualified enough?  Will people listen to me?  This would be like Gus looking at a stick, and hesitating while thinking, “Is it too big?  Will it hurt my mouth?  Will I bump into things on the way home  with it?”  When we focus on the obstacles in our path, then we have a tendency to trip over those obstacles, and allow them to get in the way of achieving our goals.  Or perhaps they make us worry too much, and cause us to drop our standards and set our sights on some easier goal.  It’s like settling for a smaller stick because you feel that it will just be easier to manage.

If, like Gus, we refuse to think that way, and we just know that we can carry home that big stick, then we don’t even see any obstacles, and our actions will surely lead us to be successful.  If you don’t believe me, just take a look on my front porch!

The biggest stick

After I finished posting this, I came upon this quote that I think is quite relevant – I think you’ll agree.

“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” — Michaelangelo

What you focus on is what will come to you

Gus tractor beam

We call it the tractor beam.  If you’ve ever seen the old Star Trek series, you’ll know exactly what I mean.  Whenever we are eating, Gus will join us in the kitchen.  He’s very quiet about it, but his strategy is clear and consistent  As you can see from the photos above and below, he will fix his gaze intently on whatever food he is interested in.  His eyes never waver.  They will follow that food from plate to hand or fork, to mouth; without so much as blinking or looking away for a second.  His focus is absolute, and his mission is crystal clear.

Tractor beam 2 with Mom

Okay, I know all you dog people who listened to your trainers are aghast by now, as you’re anticipating what’s coming next.  One of the cardinal rules of dog ownership and good manners is “no table feeding.”  Well, I’m sorry to confess this, but we’re not so good about that one!  Gus’s persistence is usually rewarded with a small bite of whatever he has been staring at.  Hey, as a family, we believe that sharing is a good thing! And don’t worry, we are pretty healthy eaters, so what he gets is mostly fruit and vegetables, or the odd bit of toast with peanut butter or smoked salmon.

Gus has totally figured out that if he concentrates hard enough, whatever he fixes his gaze on will eventually end up right where he wants it – in his mouth.  What a smart guy!

Now, neither Gus nor I can take credit for figuring out the “secret” here.  In fact, some other people have written about this “law of attraction,” and they even made a video that has made millions of dollars.  It all comes down to a very simple rule:  whatever you focus on is what will come to you.

This rule has been given many different names over the years, and it can be applied to everything from table scraps to relationships to finances.  Despite a lot of hype and marketing, it’s really not rocket science.  If there is something you want, focus all of your time and energy on that thing, and eventually you will have it.

I did watch that famous video a few years ago, and, while it has a good message, I feel that it over-dramatized the concept.  It’s not as though things will just magically appear at your door because you conjure them up in your wishes.  What happens is that, by focusing on what you want and making it your priority, you start to act and think differently.

At minimum, by focusing like this, you begin to devote a significant amount of your time and energy towards that goal.  This effort alone tends to go a long way towards helping you reach it.  Just the other day I was saying to Josh that if what he really wants is a high mark in math, then I should see him working on math most of the time, instead of playing the guitar. At the college where I teach, I tell my students all the time that they are actively choosing the mark they want in my course by how much time and effort they are putting into working on it outside of class.

In addition, what I have found is that, when you are really focusing on something, you start to recognize opportunities that are right in front of you; things that you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.  If you are in this goal-oriented mindset, you begin to take advantage of these opportunities, and that’s where things really get rolling!  A while back, when I was chatting in the park about my blog and all the inspiration I get when I am out with Gus, one of my friends commented, “you must have more interesting walks than I do!”  I don’t think that’s the case at all.  I just think that, because I am in this mode where I am focusing on what’s going on around me all the time, these ideas jump out at me from my everyday interactions.

So, what do you make of all this?  Whatever you choose to.  But the next time you are moaning about something you want, stop and remember Gus with his eyes on that bagel.  Ask yourself, “how much of my energy am I really focusing on this goal, and what am I actually doing to make it happen?”  You might be surprised at how much power you have to bring it within reach.