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Sophie on Stress

Hi, Sophie here,

It’s been a while since my last blog. Sorry, I was on drugs for the first week after my operation. I spent my days looking at all the pretty colors and sleeping like a puppy. Now, I am 5 weeks post-surgery. In dogs years it seems like FOREVER. I have had my fill of rest and recovery. I’m ready to run, play and wrestle with my sister, Lucy.

It is stressful waiting for my leg to heal. I have to stay in my crate while my humans are at work, because I’m not so good at impulse control. This is so boring that I chewed up my bed and man-oh-man was my human mad when she saw that. I want to please every-one, especially my humans, so this stressed me out even more.

My lady human was listening to an audible book on stress, The Upside of Stress, by Kelly McGonigal. I figured I might as well listen along while I was healing. Here is what I learned:

Stress isn’t bad for you but believing stress is bad you is bad for you
Stress is a signal that you care about what you are stressing about
Stress can give you energy to rise to the challenge
Stress can help you make new friends and keep the friends you have made

This makes good sense both to and for me. I want my humans to love me, so after the bed-chewing incident, I was an extra good, loving dog. I have had to rise to the challenge of taking the time to heal. This is hard, but so are the two walks I take daily. I know I’ve got to walk even when [...]

By |July 26th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

The Wisdom of Sophia: Part 3

We go to the building with all the animal smells this Friday. The doctor tells us if my leg has started to mend itself.   I’m afraid to go. Even though I’ve been a really good girl at my human’s office, I can’t resist running and playing with Lucy when I get home. It’s so much fun, even when my leg hurts. Impulse control has never been my strength.

I think I will need surgery to fix my leg. This scares me a lot. My human’s voice changes and gets quiet and slow when she says the word surgery. She looks like she feels sorry for me. I remember this look from my puppy days in the animal shelter. People would look at me with sad eyes and would pet me but never wanted me to be their forever friend.

I don’t like the afraid feeling, but I want to feel whole and happy again. I don’t like to take the icky pills my humans try to camouflage with peanut butter. I don’t like to let Lucy always win at rough housing. I want to play tug with my humans. I want people to look at me with happy eyes and talk to me in the excited voice.

My human said, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s feeling the fear and saddling up anyway. “ When I think about it, I do courage pretty well. When the annoying neighborhood dog pack comes to MY backyard and scares Lucy, I puff up my chest and growl to encourage them to back off.   When the mean man came to my human’s office, I growled and gave him my best Buddha stare until he left. Sometimes I even growl and [...]

By |May 26th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

The Wisdom of Sophia: Part 2

I go to the office 3 days a week now. My human says I am there so my leg will heal, but I have an ulterior motive. I am pursuing my CMSW (canine master’s of social work.) My human loves her work, loves the people she sees, she loves me (a LOT) AND I love her, so why not give it a try? Hey, a gal needs a purpose while she heals right?

The most important thing I’ve discovered while at the office is how to love and appreciate humans by LISTENING. I’m a natural listener. I pay close attention to almost everything people say, until I fall asleep. I’ve learned that I should listen to understand, not to judge or defend my turf. I do this with other dogs too. I can tell a lot about a dog by listening to their bark, yip or growl. My motto is “why bite when a growl will do.”

Part of listening is also about hearing the way humans talk. My human calls it “listening beyond the words”. When people are upset their voices sound different. If they are stressed they talk really fast. If they are sad they make the runny nose sounds. If they are mad, their voice gets loud. My ears go really high when they laugh. Laughter is my favorite human sound! It tells me people are embracing their true “doggie nature” (which means more love, fun and less stress.)

A listening advantage that I have over my human is my great sense of smell. My human NEVER sniffs anyone. Smell is my doggie super power. Not to brag, but I can sniff a single blade of grass for a long time and figure out [...]

By |May 18th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

The Wisdom of Sophia: Part 1

I’m learning about the balance of rest and play.  I played too hard, for too long with my sister, Lucy AND my friends at doggie daycare.  I hurt my leg.  It’s been sore for a while, but I’m pretty tough and can act brave even when I am afraid and hurt.

My mom took me to the doggie doctor and after he poked and prodded me everywhere, he said I had a torn ligament and I need to take it easy.   When I think really hard about this, it makes sense.  If all I do is play, my body misses out on rest.  It’s fun to hang with all the dogs but I need to remember, I’m not a puppy anymore.  Heck in dog years I’m almost 30!

It’s not so bad at the office.  My mom calls me her co-therapist and has sworn me to confidentiality (what ever that means.)  I greet and sniff all the great people who come to see her.  I try to listen to everything they say, but eventually I get tired and fall asleep. I ’m pretty sure I snore and fart in my sleep but no one complains.     Even though it’s not the same as playing with my dog buddies, chasing cats or playing tug with my mom, it’s probably what I need right now.

I’ll post more next week, I promise.

Peace Out and Pitts Rule,

Sophie

I still fall on my face sometimes and I can’t color inside the lines

“I still fall on my face sometimes and I can’t color inside the lines. I’m perfectly incomplete. I’m still workin’ on my masterpiece.” Jesse J.

As the story goes, Thomas Edison failed over 10,000 times before he invented the light bulb. During this process, a well-intended colleague said, “Tom, give it up. This will never work.” Gritty Tom replied, “Dude, I’ve discovered 9.999 ways NOT to make a light bulb. Why stop now?”

Grit is a fundamental component of success in all areas of life. Grit involves staying the course despite failure, adversity and progress plateaus. Too often when a goal or task feels challenging or uncomfortable, we back away and/or give up. Life limiting, what-if thinking reinforces our fear of failure.

“What-if I look stupid? What-if people laugh at me? What-if it never works? What-if I fall on my face?”

Thomas Edison’s light bulb illuminated the world. His grit helped him kindle a flicker of hope despite numerous failures. I imagine his what-if thinking embraced a light at the end of the tunnel.

“What-if I learn from my failures? What- if I take myself less seriously? What if I am more than the sum of my failures? What-if I feel afraid and do it anyway?”

In the spirit of honoring Tom and improving my grit, I proudly present my Beautiful Failure Resume. It is complete with typos, incorrect dates and subjective experiences of reality. Ironically, reflecting on and writing my failure resume gives me the feeling I have finally turned on the lights.

 
Beautiful Failures Resume
Laurie Boussom, LISW-CP, FVHB
Early Formative Failures: 1968-1980

Believed Guerrilla warfare was being fought with actual gorillas (It was around the time Planet of the Apes was released.)
Asked my parents why [...]

Self Talk for an 8 Year Old

This blog is based on a letter I wrote to my sweet grand niece after visiting her in Michigan. It was a challenge to try to explain self-talk to an 8 year old!

 

Dear Stella Bella,

It was so good to see you. It was fun looking at the pictures of you and your family when you were little. I also liked hearing about Ethan and Dallas!!! I have the yellow duck you gave me on my bedside table, so I can see her and think of you. <3
Congratulations on finishing your GOTR challenge.. I know you had to practice a lot.   Remember you showed me your “Girls on the Run” log? You had written self-talk as one way to reach your goal. I’ve learned a lot about self-talk from school and life. I love you and want you to live a joyful life, so I’d like to share some of my secrets about this with you.Do you remember a time when someone said something that made you feel really, really great? It may have been how hard you worked in school, how skilled you are at basketball or that you are a beautiful person. Don’t these compliments make your heart shine from the inside out?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had people say mean stuff about me, like “you talk too much and you’re not nice.” Even when you KNOW these things are not true they really hurt. It feels like you got punched in the stomach, right?Self-talk is the stuff YOU tell yourself, ABOUT yourself. It’s totally normal to do this in your head, everyone does. When you say positive things like “Wow, I sounded out that big word, I’m getting to [...]

Everyday Grateful

“I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life.” Dido
On the morning commute to my office I am greeted by the ever-changing panorama of the mountains. I silently breathe “Thank You” to the universe for creating such majesty. I often use the remainder of my drive to count my blessings. I am grateful for the breath that keeps my body and mind alive and engaged, grateful for the music that has validated my pain and joy, grateful to own a car, engineered by experts to enhance my driving experience, grateful to have attracted a diverse, genuine, fascinating mix of people into my life.

Gratitude is defined as a thankful appreciation for what we receive, whether tangible or intangible. When we are grateful, we acknowledge what’s right and good in our lives and the world. Often we recognize that the source of goodness lies, in part, outside of us. This element of gratitude helps us to connect to something larger than ourselves. These connections can be a connection with other people, nature, or a higher power.

The research from positive psychology shows there is a consistently strong link between gratitude and well being/happiness. Gratitude helps us experience more positive emotions, savor good experiences, improve our health, cope better with adversity, and develop stronger relationships. Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman (the father of Positive Psychology) had students write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who hadn’t been fully thanked for their kindness. After writing, delivering and reading the letter, these students showed a huge increase in happiness scores with benefits lasting a month.

Below are my top five ways to lean into everyday gratefulness:

Write a thank you letter to someone [...]

Little Green: Becoming Mindful in a Mind Full World

“Just a little green, like the color when the spring is born.
There’ll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow.”
— Joni Mitchel
When did you notice, REALLY notice, the magnificent transformation into spring? Did you smile when you saw the happy daffodils that popped up overnight? Maybe your skin delighted in the first kiss of a warm breeze? Perhaps the earthy aroma of freshly spread mulch ignited a memory? Possibly you haven’t paid intentional attention to these everyday, magnificent phenomena at all?

We tend to run on the high-octane fuel of MORE, BETTER, FASTER. Our minds become “full” of to-do lists, plans for the future and worries about the past. Over time “MIND FULL “ can cause stress, anxiety, burnout and depression. We unknowingly disconnect from the present moment and overlook the everyday magic and beauty around and in us.

Mindfulness is a practice of paying attention, in the moment, on purpose. When we choose to intentionally become mindful it improves our physical and mental health as well as our subjective feelings of well-being. Starting a routine of everyday mindfulness is as straightforward as an increased awareness of the metamorphosis of spring:

Challenge yourself to notice one or two new things each day. Look for trees starting to develop buds or bloom. Notice changes in others as the weather warms. Observe a subtle sense of renewal in yourself.
Take a moment to examine (as if you were a scientist) the intricacy of a flower, the magic of a smile, the joyful chorus of birds.
Savor the first bite of your favorite spring food. Deeply inhale the scent, notice its texture and color. Describe the taste and note the sensation as you chew. Attempt to use descriptive [...]

Calling Card

“My heroes had the heart, to live their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it’s no coincidence I’ve come and I can die when I’m done 
But maybe I’m crazy, Maybe you’re crazy, Maybe we’re crazy 
Probably”
                                                                                      —  Gnarls Barkley

I see crazy people. The crazy beauty of vulnerability buried beneath the aggressive challenge of bad-ass, hidden behind eyes cast downward in defeat, shrouded by the illusion of perfectionist control…thinking….I’ll finally be ok when…. The pull…attraction …desire to be known, really known, inside out known, good, bad, ugly known, overshadowed by the risk, pain, uncertainty, rawness of being known.

I feel the crazy grip of terror when spoken through a waterfall of tears as deeply mired beliefs of unlovable, not enough, irrevocably damaged bubble to the surface. The crazy hopelessness that EVERYONE ELSE has been given the Tiffany key… the golden ticket….the secret decoder ring with the answers to this thing…..called… life.

I honor the crazy courage to admit “I fucking don’t know, I fucking don’t care, I fucking don’t want to live……….another day, with the shame, the pain, knowing, hating, battling the thought “nothing….. will……. ever……. change.“ Destined, doomed, fate, karma, bad luck, life sucks and then you die.

I kindle the small, crazy spark of hope, the shaky voice that whispers “maybe,” the Little Engine That Could……of [...]

Mac and Cheese for 33 (with a side of nasty “b”)

“Am I wrong for thinking out the box from where I stay? Am I wrong for saying that I choose another way? I ain’t tryna do what everybody else doing, just cause everybody doing what they all do. If one thing I know, I’ll fall but I’ll grow. I’m walking down this road of mine, this road that I call home.”
– Nico and Vince
We have four options when faced with any challenge or painful situation

Solve the problem
Change your perspective
Radically Accept the situation
Stay stuck

The following is an example of my 11-hour journey through all four (and back again.)

A few weeks ago I agreed to host the entrée portion of our neighborhood progressive dinner. When I made the commitment, 7 people had registered to attend. I would prepare gourmet Mac and Cheese and Tomato Soup. I’m a casual, laid back hostess. Food and adult beverages are self-serve. I use only the best paper plates, bowls and plastic ware for easy, no fuss cleanup. What a simple, easy, fun meal to make and great way to meet new people. I’ve got this.

Countdown Mac and Cheese: the weekend before the dinner: The head count of attendees had grown to 33. A dear friend and neighbor offered to host ½ of the entrée crowd at her home. I’d supply Mac and cheese and soup. She would provide a salad (yay!) A frenzy of progressive dinner emails began midweek. Talk of linen napkins, floral arrangements, serving pieces, moving furniture and renting tables to accommodate the growing group ignited my “not good enough” belief. I acknowledged this well-worn, limiting bully in my mind and shoo her away with a rolling pin. I mentally shifted back to “I’ve got this” [...]