Don’t Date A Person That Doesn’t Wag Their Tail At The Sound Of Your Name!

Bruno and his wife Elz....he's a stud, she still has mad love for him. :)  He treats her like a queen, its sweet really....

Bruno and his wife Elz….he’s a stud, she still has mad love for him. 🙂 He treats her like a queen, its really sweet.

 

Valentine’s Day is coming and of course it has me thinking about love.  There are some things I’ve learned about love over the years from dating, but I think the sweetest lessons I’ve learned have sadly come from my dog, Bruno. (I’ve learned a lot from Elz too, more on her later…)

Make sure you wag your tail when you see those you love. My dog always greets me with excitement and a wagging tail.  All I have to do is mutter his name and the wiggling and dog smiling starts.  Bruno fills my heart with joy and shows me how much he loves me with his attentiveness.  His enthusiasm makes me smile!   

Lesson Learned:  Don’t date a person that doesn’t wag and smile when you utter their name.  When you are unappreciated for too long; the consequence of that is inevitably a feeling of worthlessness.  No matter how tough you think you are or how much you think you love that man or woman, nobody should live without a smiling partner that values your existence.  There is a reason Destiny’s Child sang, “Say my name…Say my name…” That’s all it should take to get a tail wagging when you’re with the right person!

 

 Sometimes words aren’t necessary. I communicate with my dog every day without words.  My favorite thing to do is wake him up by rubbing his belly and kissing his fuzzy ears.  He’ll stretch and look up at me with a grateful look, yawn, gently paw the air, and roll around like a puppy, enjoying every minute of it. 

 

Lesson Learned:  The moments you feel the closest to those you love are in the quiet times.  The communicating taking place when talking isn’t necessary seems to be when we’ve conveyed the most.  If you don’t believe me, just watch a husband piss off his wife. We’ve all witnessed the silent look she’ll shoot him in an instant. (Powerful and silent communication at its best.)  Mothers possess the same talent with their children, no words are necessary; all it takes is a glance. Love works silently in the same way.  It’s the wink across the kitchen table or that shirt folded for you in the laundry room.

 

Stick your head out the window when you drive. My dog is excited to be in the car and greet the staff at our local coffee shop drive thru on Sundays! Sometimes, I feel like he is more excited about coffee than I am.  Bruno teaches me to live more fully in the moment!  He’s taught me to be joyful in the small things and to appreciate the scenery while leaning my head out the window. When we go for walks, he doesn’t care where we go, as long as we are together and outside.

Lesson Learned:  Love needs enthusiasm.  You have to be excited to hold hands or go for a drive with your partner; don’t take them for granted.  The first time I took my dog to the lake and removed his leash, he raced toward the water, sailed into the air and jumped in.  When the shock and worry over him hitting a branch or not knowing how to swim wore off, I couldn’t stop laughing.  He was fearless and knew that I would be waiting for him at the shore. He embraced his excitement and didn’t care what anybody thought, he knew he loved water and he went for it!  In love, we need to go for it!  Just run like hell and leap! You’ll learn how to swim and if the water isn’t comfortable, you’ll recognize when it’s time to get out.  You can also leap in repeatedly and confidently do a few flips with the right person lovingly waiting for you on the shoreline.

 

Communicate what you are feeling. When my dog needs to urinate he does a certain bark that I know means, take me out now or your hardwood floors are history!  When he is sad, he does another distinctive low bark that I know means,” Sit with me awhile longer; I’ve missed you all day.”

Lesson Learned: When you are in a relationship you also need to say, “Take me outside now!”  As in, I need a nice dinner and a date night.  Occasionally, we also need to say, “Can you just sit with me awhile longer, I need you today.” But your partner won’t know how you are feeling if you don’t communicate.  What the hell, try barking, wagging your rump, and howling a little at your partner tonight, it could only lead to a good laugh and a fun memory. (I’m smiling just imagining it!)

 

Kiss a lot! Bruno kisses me any chance he gets.  When I feed him he is thankful and always licks me after he finishes his last bite.  When I wake him in the morning, I am kissed. When I leave in the morning, I know what’s coming, kissed again!  My dog knows that I hate licking, this has required him to master a quick one-touch lick. When we are driving down the street sometimes he’s so happy, he leans over the glove box from the backseat just to gently land a quick one on my cheek. 

Lesson Learned: Kiss a lot!  When was the last time you leaned across the glove box just to land a quick kiss on your partner?  Human kisses are amazing they communicate more than words ever could!  They also have a strange way of sincerely implying, “Thank You, I’m sorry, and I want you now!” 

Sometimes you need to say, “To hell with it” and eat the sponge. Being spontaneous has its benefits, like breaking up the daily monotony and making the people you live with laugh out loud.  A few weeks ago, Bruno did something out of the ordinary for him; he snuck out of my bedroom in the middle of the night, went into the bathroom and decided to have a blast chewing up my new bath sponge. He was so proud of himself and guilty all at once, that the only thing I could do was burst out laughing!  He really thought he was going to be in trouble when I woke up, but his wagging tail and the hundreds of tiny bits of sponge covering his face made it impossible to be mad.  He followed his instincts and had a blast living in the moment and I learned to let my anger go! 

Lesson Learned: When is the last time you made your partner laugh and did something completely out of character?   Are you living it up in the moment and shaking up your daily routine for the both of you or are you a boring partner? Are you flipping out over your partner ruining your bath sponge or are you able to laugh, embrace the moment, and accept that weird thing they decided to do today? Sometimes, we need to give a person the freedom they need to express their quirkiness; you might learn something new about the person you love and even like it!

Bruno's guilty "I ate your sponge and its all over this blanket face."

Bruno’s guilty “I ate your sponge and its all over this blanket face.”

 

Be Loyal. My dogs are loyal. They won’t leave my side no matter how many times a person may try to entice them with a well-meaning belly rub.

Lesson Learned: Loyalty allows love to endure long term. It’s the most important part of any relationship.  People call it faithfulness, but loyalty is what carries you to faithfulness in the end. Loyalty is the guard at the door keeping the call of the wild at bay. Loyalty doesn’t go where it isn’t supposed to; it’s the beautiful presence waiting for you when you return home and the one you want with you on wild adventures. Loyalty cuddles you on a cold winter night when your socks don’t match, your eyeliner is smudged and you really should be wearing a bra.  

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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There is still hope for California

There is a cool liquor store by my house.  It’s one of those old fashioned “mom and pop” places that has retained a following because of its rare array of port wine, cigars, candy, liquor, hard-to-find cigarette’s etc.  Going in there is like going back in time!  The dad recently retired and his son is respectful of what his father built and not changing much. They BBQ the best tri-tip on Monday and Friday’s that you can call in for pickup.  I’m a regular on Fridays, 🙂 but I showed up last week and they’d forgotten my order, so I said, “It’s o.k., I’ll still pay and you can fill it next Friday.”  When I went to pick up my order yesterday, I found an envelope with this note inside the bag and my $15.00!  His dad would be proud…..and I’ll always come back!  I sure miss small businesses….

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DO YOU DOUBT YOURSELF TO THE POINT OF IMMOBILITY?

(My November article for HaveHeart Magazine November 2014)

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(What if these successful people had doubted their abilities: Cesar Chavez didn’t make it past 8th grade, Thomas Edison quit school at 12 years old, Matt Mullenweg(the founder of WordPress) dropped out of college, Walt Disney dropped out of high school, and Rush Limbaugh flunked ballroom dancing in addition to dropping out of college.)

Let me be clear in stating that I am not advocating dropping out of school. I believe in education and the doors a college degree opens for a person, but these examples did challenge my thinking. What if these successful people had harped on their shortcomings and allowed themselves to be held back from what they knew they were called to do? Would I want to stay in school if I believed in myself enough to do something great? I began to wonder how much of what we don’t do, is because of our own self-imposed limitations. The failure to think for ourselves just may be the missing link we need to penetrate the surface of those springs of doubt that cause immobility; bringing our dreams into view. Personally, in my own life, I see that I need to find my way back to a version of myself that was braver than I am now. I used to carve my own pathways with zeal, not fear? Where has that part of me gone? When did self-doubt creep into my mind and become an option? Am I wearing rose-colored glasses while comparing myself to more accomplished friends, the women I see on television, and the photo shopped models staged in magazines, only to take off those shades at home and wonder why my
life doesn’t look as rosy?

Maybe, but I’m working on it.

I started to evaluate the messages I’ve absorbed that have created self-doubt in a grown woman and then my thoughts turned toward the young girls growing up in this era. I can see their cause for rebellion, “nothing but mixed messages going on out here” is what I would be thinking. If we look at the examples of womanhood on reality shows, it’s a wonder there are still young women that choose to leave the house without makeup and find reading a worthwhile pastime. What would I be thinking if I were a teenage girl and my mother and the female celebrities I looked up to told me, “I was valuable, pretty, and should confidently accept my imperfections,” only to have botulism religiously injected into their own faces every three months?

Would I really believe them?

Then I addressed my own mixed messages and wondered if I had forgotten to protect myself over the years. How many of us would never let a person skate by that was disrespectful or spoke rudely to us in a social setting? Would you instantly intervene on behalf of your friend or sibling if they were being ignored or mistreated? Would you move to protect a woman on the street that was being verbally abused in front of you? Most of us would say, “Yes, of course,” but when was the last time you truly intervened on your own behalf? When I asked myself that question, I sadly couldn’t remember. I’ve used self-talk that I would never allow a person to direct toward a friend, a stranger, or myself! Are you tolerating negative thoughts in your life that you would never subject somebody you cared for to? Why is it acceptable for you to settle and believe in defeat as an option, but not your daughter, son, friend, co-worker, spouse, etc.? Making the correlation between my own self-defeating thoughts and the consequence of immobilizing fear has been very uncomfortable, but also surprisingly empowering. Sure, there have been some rough moments. I wouldn’t mind subjecting a few deep creases in my psyche to a little Botox in an attempt to smooth things over in my mind, but I believe flaws in our thinking, like wrinkles, can be beautiful on a person that won the war and kept smiling.

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It’s hard to admit that we may be our own verbally abusive bully or responsible for casting the most doubt on what it is we hope to achieve. It would be easier to avoid this conversation and say, “I’m over thinking this,” but I long to be the braver version of myself and the first step is to come out of the dark and face my demons, even if my sword is trembling in the air. I need to stand up to my mind and not allow defeating thoughts to pervade moments of joy. Can you relax without guilt? Often my own self imposed moments of relaxation have sounded like this: I really should have walked my dog and cleaned the garage before I indulged in this book—If I could just get it together and function on less sleep, I could dress better for meetings—I shouldn’t have taken this vacation, I have too much to do and not enough in savings. And my least favorite, that goal is too big Tina— you really think you can accomplish that?
As painful as it is to admit, the past few years I have been my own worst enemy. Talking about change and realizing an area of weakness is one thing, but nothing happens until a person moves toward the desired outcome. How can I tuck myself into a crate for safety like a puppy and expect to ever make my mark on the world? Doubt and self-defeating thoughts keep you protected from challenges and I have to revive the fearlessness I’ve known. That means leaving my comfort zone in order to make things happen. Am I nervous and scared? Hell yes, but stagnancy is the alternative. I don’t want to live a life dreaming and hoping for the things I want and need; it’s up to me to make my “mark” so to speak and push through the fear. Some of my goals are far-fetched and a bit wild, but that’s where fearless abandon comes into play and my animal instincts are still intact! I intend to step out of the puppy kennel of self-doubt, chase some Frisbees, and target as many hydrants as I can along the way.

(If we should meet along my journey—please feel free to throw me a Frisbee!)

When was the last time you really challenged your spirit and felt alive with inspiration? If you answered, “Yesterday, when I logged onto my Pinterest board,” it might be time to try something new! Do you have a dream job? A fitness goal? A destination vacation? Have you pursued job listings, called a gym, booked the vacation spot or only looked them up on Google over a cup of coffee? Let’s ask ourselves how we really want to spend 2015 before New Year’s Eve arrives, silence our inner critic along with any doubtful thoughts and start making things happen! What are you telling yourself every day? I was telling myself that my dreams were next to impossible, that was before I decided to stop limiting myself and circling the building. I intend to treat myself better—I’m walking inside from now on, moving toward the direction of my dreams and I hope you will too! To those of you that can relate to my experience I want to say, “I believe in you, I think you are capable, I’m excited for you, and I know you can do it!” And just like I believe these things for my friends at HaveHeart, after some candid introspection I can also say, “I believe them for myself.”

Glen Campbell Saying Good Bye

This is so touching and brave….it made me really stop and think about things. In the final stages of Alzheimer disease he recorded this song, the lyrics are eerie when you think about it…and he sounds amazing.


Video from: GlenCampbellVevo

This speech is amazing!

sidibe

 This speech by Sidibe Gabourey was freaking amazing!  I am so proud of her!  What an awesome spirit and calling yourself an asshole and fat while necessary sometimes for growth, isn’t ever easy to admit! lol (Fist Up.)

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“I’m so excited to be here. Really, really excited. Okay, I’ll get to it. Hi. One of the first things people usually ask me is, “Gabourey, how are you so confident?” I hate that. I always wonder if that’s the first thing they ask Rihanna when they meet her. “RiRi! How are you so confident?” Nope. No. No. But me? They ask me with that same incredulous disbelief every single time. “You seem so confident! How is that?”

When I was ten years, in the fifth grade, my teacher, Miss Lowe had announced that my class would be having a holiday party right before the Christmas break. She asked if we all could all bring snacks or soda or juice to the class party. She also said we had the option of cooking something, if we like. I was so excited. I immediately decided that I would make gingerbread cookies, and that everyone would love them. I told my mom my plan, and I asked her for money to go buy the ingredients. She thought I should just buy store-bought cookies, but I told her, “Those cookies didn’t have enough love in them!” I had to make the cookies. So I bought the mix, and I bought cookie cutters in the shape of Christmas trees and bells, and I made a practice batch of cookies that went horribly wrong. Good thing they were a practice batch. They were awful. And then the night before the party, I made another batch of cookies. And they were also awful, but they looked a lot better. I carefully put the cookies in a Ziplock bag, so I could take them to school the next day. When I got to school that morning, I could not wait until that party. And I was so proud of those cookies, and all the effort I put into making them, I started to think that maybe I wouldn’t just be the first woman black President — maybe I would also be a celebrity chef! I mean, why limit myself?

The party was set to take place during the last hour of school, and I waited excitedly for it all day long. Finally, it was party time. My teacher asked what everyone brought, and I proudly announced that I had baked cookies for the class. I think I felt prouder knowing that everyone else just bought stuff. I was the only one who made anything, because clearly, I’m a little more clever than anyone else. So as the party starts up, I walk around the class, proudly offering cookies to everyone. No one took a cookie. No one. No one except Nicholas, who was the first person I offered one to. But after a few of our other classmates set him straight, he actually caught up with me as I walked around the class, and gave the cookie back. I walked around the class trying to hand out cookies to my class, until I ended up back at my desk with the same amount of cookies that I started with. I sat at my desk alone, eating those gross gingerbread cookies that took hours to make, all by myself. I put chocolate chips in them, that’s why they were gross. I wasn’t surprised. I just forgot for a moment that my entire class hated me. I had zero friends from the fourth grade to the sixth grade. Who the hell was I baking cookies for? I really got so excited to bake that I had forgotten that everyone hated my guts. Why didn’t they like me? I was fat, yes. I had darker skin and weird hair, yes. But the truth is, this isn’t a story about bulling, or color, or weight. They hated me because… I was an asshole!

Yep. I was a bossy, bossy asshole. See, remember when I said that I thought I was more clever than everyone else? Well, I did! And I told them that — every single day! Those kids couldn’t get a word in edgewise, without me cutting them off to remind them that I was smarter, funnier, and all around wittier than them. I was always sarcastic — I called it my birth defect. And let’s face it, kids don’t get sarcasm. They don’t appreciate it. They never knew what I was talking about. And when they would say, “Wait… huh?” I would say, “My God, Alicia, read a book!” I know. I spoke differently than them, I just did. I sounded more like a Valley Girl than a Brooklyn girl. My classmates always asked me if I was adopted by white people. I’d say, “No. Both my parents went to college.” I know that was rude, but I’m still really proud of that. To be fair, in my neighborhood, not everyone’s parents had the opportunity to go to college. Most of my classmates’ parents were teens when they had them. My parents had me at age 30. My father was born in Senegal. His father was the mayor of the capital city, Dakar, and my dad often took my brother and I back home with him to visit Africa, while most of my classmates had never stepped out of the Lower East Side. My mother was a teacher in high school, that’s why I went there, but my mom also had a voice, so when I was nine, she quit her teaching job to go sing in the subway. She actually made more money as a singer for tips than she made as a teacher! I know! And she was quickly becoming the underground version of Whitney Houston. She was the strongest, smartest, and most talented person I had ever known. Even today, I don’t want to grow up to be anyone as much as I want to grow up to be her. I know!

The point is, I was a snob. I thought I was better than the kids in my class, and I let them know it. That’s why they didn’t like me. I think the reason I thought so highly of myself all the time was because no one else ever did. I figured out I was smart because my mother would yell at my older brother. She’d say, “Your little sister is going to pass you in school. You’re going to get left behind and she’s going to graduate before you.” But she never said to me, “You are smart.” What she did say was, “You are too fat.” I got the message that I wasn’t pretty, and I probably wasn’t normal, but I was smart! Why wouldn’t they just say that? “You’re smart.” It’s actually not that hard. My dad would yell at my brother, “Gabourey does her homework by herself! Why can’t you?” But he never said to me, “Good job.” What he did say was, “You need to lose weight so I can be proud of you.” I know. So I got made fun of at school, I got made fun of at home too, my older brother hated me, my dad just didn’t understand me, and my mom, who had been a fat girl at my age herself, understood me perfectly … but she berated me because she was so afraid of what she knew was to come for me. So I never felt safe when I was at home. And my response was always to eat more, because nothing says, “You hurt my feelings. Fuck you!” like eating a delicious cookie. Cookies never hurt me.

“Gabourey, how are you so confident?” It’s not easy. It’s hard to get dressed up for award shows and red carpets when I know I will be made fun of because of my weight. There’s always a big chance if I wear purple, I will be compared to Barney. If I wear white, a frozen turkey. And if I wear red, that pitcher of Kool-Aid that says, “Oh, yeah!” Twitter will blow up with nasty comments about how the recent earthquake was caused by me running to a hot dog cart or something. And “Diet or Die?” [She gives the finger to that] This is what I deal with every time I put on a dress. This is what I deal with every time someone takes a picture of me. Sometimes when I’m being interviewed by a fashion reporter, I can see it in her eyes, “How is she getting away with this? Why is she so confident? How does she deal with that body? Oh my God, I’m going to catch fat!”

What I would say, is my mom moved my brother and I to my aunt’s house. Her name is Dorothy Pitman Hughes, she is a feminist, an activist, and a lifelong friend of Gloria Steinem. Every day, I had to get up and go to school where everyone made fun of me, and I had to go home to where everyone made fun of me. Every day was hard to get going, no matter which direction I went. And on my way out of the house, I found strength. In the morning on the way out to the world, I passed by a portrait of my aunt and Gloria together. Side by side they stood, one with long beautiful hair and one with the most beautiful, round, Afro hair I had ever seen, both with their fists held high in the air. Powerful. Confident. And every day as I would leave the house… I would give that photo a fist right back. And I’d march off into battle. [She starts crying] I didn’t know that I was being inspired then. On my way home, I’d walk back up those stairs, I’d give that photo the fist again, and continue my march back in for more battle. [She pulls a tissue from her cleavage and dabs her eyes] That’s what boobs are for! I didn’t know I was being inspired then, but I was. If they could feel like that, maybe I could! I just wanted to look that cool. But it made me feel that strong.

So, okay, we’re back in fifth grade, and I just had been rejected by 28 kids in a row. And I was sitting alone at my desk, with an empty Ziplock bag, crumbs in my lap, and I was at this great party that I had waited for all week. I waited all week for this party that I wasn’t invited to. And for some reason I got up, I sat on my desk, and I partied my ass off. I laughed loudly when something funny happened. And when Miss Lowe put on music, I was one of the first ones to get up and dance. I joined the limbo, and ate chips, and drank soda, and I enjoyed myself, even though no one wanted me there. You know why? I told you — I was an asshole! I wanted that party! And what I want trumps what 28 people want me to do, especially when what they want me to do is leave. I had a great time. I did. And if I somehow ruined my classmates’ good time, then that’s on them. “How are you so confident?” “I’m an asshole!” Okay? It’s my good time, and my good life, despite what you think of me. I live my life, because I dare. I dare to show up when everyone else might hide their faces and hide their bodies in shame. I show up because I’m an asshole, and I want to have a good time. And my mother and my father love me. They wanted the best life for me, and they didn’t know how to verbalize it. And I get it. I really do. They were better parents to me than they had themselves. I’m grateful to them, and to my fifth grade class, because if they hadn’t made me cry, I wouldn’t be able to cry on cue now. [Dabs tears] If I hadn’t been told I was garbage, I wouldn’t have learned how to show people I’m talented. And if everyone had always laughed at my jokes, I wouldn’t have figured out how to be so funny. If they hadn’t told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn’t tried to break me down, I wouldn’t know that I’m unbreakable. [Dabs tears] So when you ask me how I’m so confident, I know what you’re really asking me: how could someone like me be confident? Go ask Rihanna, asshole!”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This quote by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the Huffington Post today was awesome, RIP. 

When he accepted the Nobel Prize in 1982, Garcia Marquez described Latin America as a “source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.”

Gabriel García Márquez