Grateful for Dog Poop in the Kennel and other weird things

I am grateful for many things. Some of them might seem small and hardly worth noticing, let alone giving thanks, but I beg to differ. It is the “little” things that carry the most weight. So often we take the little things for granted. How often are we grateful for the simple act of breathing? How about the sound of the kids playing in the backyard? Or even that there are kids in the backyard? When was the last time we noticed that we can smell coffee or walk on our own from room to room? When was the last time we expressed gratitude for the roof over our heads or the food in our belly?

Here are a few of the things for which I am grateful.

The sound of my husband snoring. Yes, I am grateful for his snoring because his snoring reminds me he is alive and well. As does the mess he leaves in the bathroom sink, the newspapers strewn about the house and his greasy handprints on the hood of my car.

My grandsons fighting. Five years ago there weren’t any grandsons. Now there are three healthy, happy little tornados that have stormed into our lives. I’m very grateful even when they are fighting, crying and generally causing trouble. As a matter of fact, I actually find myself smiling when they are at their worst. They add spice to our lives.

The arthritis in my hands. Oy vey! Yes, I am grateful for the pain. You see, the pain means I still have my hands. Don’t get me wrong, I would not mind if the pain went away. However, it is a reminder that things could be worse, to be grateful for what I have.

Chocolate. I am definitely grateful for chocolate. Do I really need to say more about this one???

The people in my life that drive me nuts. There is no doubt I am grateful for their presence! You see, they are teaching me patience, acceptance, and compassion. Without them, I seriously doubt I would grow and improve myself.

Dog poop in the kennel. I know this sounds weird. However, from my perspective, no dog poop would mean there was no dog. I have tried going without a dog before. Not willing to try it again! Hence, I am grateful for dog poop. And, no I don’t want any of yours, so please don’t bring it over here!

My business partner, Kacy. Where do I start? This woman exemplifies patience, kindness, integrity and a whole host of other attributes I am grateful for every day. I am extremely lucky to have her in my life. When I grow up I want to be just like her!

I could go on and on, however I would rather hear about the things you are grateful for today and every day.

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Celebrate Wins

Celebrate Wins (written for a veterinary clinic, but applies to all)

When someone you work with experiences a success, what do you do? Do you notice? Do you give a brief “good job” and quickly move on? Do you even acknowledge the win or do you treat it as nothing less than what is required of them?

In your busy, busy day, it is very easy to be so focused on the tasks at hand you fail to notice or acknowledge what has been accomplished. But, if you ignore the successes of your coworkers, you miss a critical opportunity to inspire them onto further successes. And you miss the opportunity to strengthen the team.

Celebrate wins. When a coworker places an IV catheter in a difficult vein, sincerely acknowledge the person. When the boss manages to get the additional space or equipment you requested, celebrate his efforts and success. When the receptionist who has difficulty working with challenging clients successfully defuses an irate client, celebrate his efforts. When a coworker completes her night courses and achieves her degree, celebrate.

Celebrating wins does several important things for you and your team:

Celebrating wins reminds your team to keep striving even when things are at the most challenging. Those crazy days where the work never stops, the clients are all crazy, and the clinic is short-handed.

Celebrating wins reminds your team they are working for a winning organization. People want to work for a winning team.

Celebrating wins forces you and your team to focus on the positive rather than the negative.

Celebrating wins must be done in a timely fashion. The annual Employee Appreciation BBQ isn’t enough if it is the only recognition given. Celebrate events at the time they happen. Acknowledge the successes of others within 24 hours of the event.

Celebrating wins promotes a healthy team atmosphere and this results in a great working environment! Who will you celebrate today?

Living Life Intentionally

yellow Labrador ready to pounce on a ball

One day I stopped to ask myself just exactly where all the busyness was going to get me. In a year, 5 years or 20 years, was I going to be any less frantically busy? Was I going to be any closer to my goals? Oh, wait a minute! What are my goals? Aaah…when dealing with a flooded kitchen, turn the faucet off first!

Remember, the best thing about advice is that we can keep what we want and throw the rest away. With that said, I am going to offer advice on how to manage the busyness of life. Remember, if we want different results in life, we have to change something. We have to change how we think.

First, buy a pad of paper and a weekly appointment day planner. The weekly calendar should include appointment slots from early morning to late evening 7 days a week.

Next, sit down somewhere quiet. Make sure you aren’t going to be disturbed by anyone. Hide from the kids, the spouse and the chores screaming your name. Maybe in the bathroom? Now, just think about what you want your life to look like this coming week. This is tougher to do than it sounds because our mind has been taught to constantly multi-task. When your mind drifts to the dirty kitchen, the next day’s work, and the shopping list, don’t beat yourself up. Just gently bring your mind back to the task at hand. Do you want more chaos or more control over your week?

Make a list of everything you know you need to accomplish this week. Just jot everything down without judging or stressing out. The work, shopping, making dinner, DMV, car repair, doctor appointment, kids soccer practice, etc. Now, add to the list everything you really WANT to accomplish this week for yourself. Is there a lunch date with a friend that would be a treat for the two of you? How about the great book you have been meaning to start? Is there an online course on VetMedTeam you want to participate in? How about working out three times this week? This part of the list is for those things you really, really want for yourself.

Read the entire list top to bottom. Place a star next to your top 12 most important items on the list. Of those top 12, place an asterisk next to those you can delegate to someone else. Uh oh, I just heard some of you say there aren’t any you can delegate. Really? Do you want more chaos or control in your life? Could you rotate responsibility with another parent for getting the kids to their activities? Do you really need to shop for that wedding gift by running all over town or could you shop online in a fraction of the time? Here is a thought, if you were in a hospital recuperating from surgery, who would take care of all those things you think you can’t delegate? So, start delegating!

Using your day planner, write in your schedule for your job. Take a look at the list of your remaining top 12 without an asterisk. Schedule each one of them into the week. These are firm appointments you are going to keep. Include driving time in the schedule. Now you have a little bit better handle on how the week will progress!

What do you do about all the items that didn’t make it onto your top 12 list? If they didn’t make it to the top 12 list, but you still feel compelled to get them done, reassess them and decide which ones would make you feel good about yourself. Add them to your schedule without bumping any of your top picks.

Below is an example of one of my typical work days. Definitely one of my simpler ones!

  • 0500-0530Get up and get ready for work
  • 0530-0600Breakfast, feed the dogs
  • 0600-0630Listen to books or lectures on CD during commute to work
  • 0700-1100Work
  • 1100-1200Lunch break: read!
  • 1200-1600Work
  • 1600-1700Listen to books or lectures on CD during commute home
  • 1700-1800Feed the dogs, make dinner
  • 1800-1830Eat dinner, chat with husband
  • 1830-2000Work in yard and play with dogs, husband does the dishes
  • 2000-2100Read and get ready for bed
  • 2100-0500Sleep

Please notice that nowhere on my schedule is there time for surfing the net. This is a time thief! Have you ever told yourself that you would only spend 5 minutes looking at a video clip someone sent you only to discover that you have just spent 2 hours! For some reason, the Internet is addictive. I am sure there is a psychology student out there somewhere doing a PhD thesis on this very topic. In the meantime, just remember that you chose a list of important accomplishments for your week, time is very valuable, and not to waste it where value is not added to your life.

What do Red Box and credit card companies have in common?

What do Red Box and credit card companies have in common? Red Box rents DVDs for $1 per day. They provide an inexpensive way for you and me to watch new releases in the comfort of our own home. Great deal for us! But, how do they make much money off such a low rental fee? Sure, they could do it on volume. However, why would they take the risk that all of us would follow sound financial principles by returning our DVDs the very next day?

Credit card companies loan us money for anything and everything our heart desires. For those of us who follow sound financial principles and pay off our monthly credit card bill each month, this is a great deal. Why would the credit card companies take the risk that all of us might follow sound financial principles?

Both Red Box and the credit card companies know their risk is almost non-existent. They count on human nature to kick in. Human nature will not follow principles. Human nature follows convenience and comfort.

Red Box makes their money off those of us who do not return the DVDs the next day. They know human nature is to procrastinate, forget, get busy, etc. That $1 rental quickly turns into a $5-30 rental! There is nothing wrong with Red Box’s model.

Credit card companies know human nature is to overspend and fail to pay off the bill in full each month. They can count on it! They make their money off human nature. And, they make tons of it. There is nothing wrong with their business model.

What other companies have businesses based on human nature? How about that gym membership? The Massage Envy subscription? How about the Groupon coupons that are purchased but never redeemed?

How much money are we piddling away by letting human nature rather than discipline lead our lives? Companies bank on human nature and get their monies worth. Do you?

Build a Monument Out of Your Life

Build a Monument Out of Your Life

All over the world, there are monuments commemorating people, events, philosophies, faiths, etc. Each is a work of art serving as a reminder or an inspiration.

People build a “monument” out of their own lives.

Some people build small monuments. Small doesn’t mean useless or without value. Maybe the range of influence is limited to within a family or a relationship. Or, maybe the range is within one clinic or corporation. Of course, the impact might actually be huge to that family or corporation and the monument is only small in range of influence. Small could be positive or negative in influence. There are small precious monuments to love within a family, vitriolic monuments of hate toward a neighbor, and cherished monuments of joy shared within a community.

Others build massive monuments, massive in range of influence impacting millions of lives directly or indirectly. Examples would be the development of cancer treatments, technological advancements in communication, and eradication of polio.

Some personal monuments are large impacting an entire Nation. Mother Theresa created one in India that will influence generations to come. Hitler certainly created a monument of hate that will never be forgotten. Indira Ghandi’s monument influenced several generations of an entire Nation with a ripple effect still felt today.

Some monuments influence generations. Benjamin Franklin created a monument spanning generations in several Nations influencing government, science, art and critical thinking. Zig Ziglar and Dale Carnegie certainly created monuments that have influenced several generations to think more kindly, act with more respect and look on the bright side. So far, Orrin and Laurie Woodward with Chris and Terri Brady have influenced two generations encouraging the development of personal leadership. The Beatles monument has influenced multiple generations and is still impacting the music industry and personal lives.

Intentionally or not, everyone creates a monument. What monument are you building? What does it represent?

Fellar: A Most Unusual Family Member

Fellar: A Most Unusual Family Member

My husband, Sterling and I live out in the country, surrounded by beautiful mountains, a creek, and tons of wildlife. Having been a veterinary technician for over 30 years, I have had my fair share of wildlife patients. I really enjoy working with them, but I have developed some hard and fast rules about wildlife at home. I refuse to hand raise baby wild animals. No 2 a.m. bottle feedings, for me, no way, no how. I always turn the babies over to a qualified rescue organization. My husband knows this rule and has been very good about letting baby birds and such leave our farm with the rescue team – until our world was invaded by a funny little monster named Fellar.

Sterling was out mowing the weeds around an outbuilding when he saw what looked like a mouse. As he prepared to kill it (ok, we are farmers!), he stopped because the little critter didn’t look quite right. Reaching down, he picked up the strange, ugly, little bald creature and headed straight to the house to ask me what it was he found. In the palm of his hand was a 3” long, hairless creature with its eyes still closed. It was about a one week old baby ground squirrel. I could not think of any good reason for it to be above ground as the mother would never have allowed it unless she was dead. I suggested to my husband that he put the baby into the closest squirrel hole to where he found the little guy in the hopes that its mother was still around.

Less than an hour later, Sterling found the baby had crawled back out of the hole and had made it another 8 feet to the door of the shop. Obviously, the little bugger wanted someone to take care of him and had chosen my husband as his new momma. Definitely against my rules! I politely informed Sterling that I would not raise a bottle baby and that the little guy would have to go to a rescue group. Sterling quietly said he was going to take care of him himself. This from a man who never raised a bottle baby before!

Well, he patiently and successfully raised “Feller”. The squirrel became his constant companion, often hiding in the sleeve of Sterling’s jacket, peeking out at the world from his safe haven high above the ground.

Sterling is quite handy at constructing stuff. He built an elaborate habitat for Feller including a section up in a tree, a section inside the workshop and another underground. All of it connected by a raceway of pipe. Feller could travel from one area to another without ever leaving the safety of his habitat.

One of Feller’s favorite treats was watermelon. His tiny paws were perfect little hands able to grasp the bits of watermelon offered by Sterling, only he hated to get wet. So he would hold the watermelon with one hand, shake the other, switch hands and repeat while taking quick bites. So funny to watch! He also loved nuts of all kinds. Some he would eat right away, but most he would stash somewhere inside his bedding.

I have to admit Feller and I never got along. As a matter of fact, he hated me. I think he knew I wasn’t exactly supportive when Sterling had decided to bottle raise him. At every opportunity, Feller would try to attack me through the wire of his cage, growling and throwing his tiny 1 lb body against the cage as he charged at me. Did you even know that squirrels could growl? The little monster would leap at the wire of his cage, teeth bared, just to watch me jump. He also tried to charge my dogs. Brave little monster!

As it was my role to keep Feller healthy, I occasionally had to handle him to apply parasiticides, vaccinate, etc. Oh joy. I was helping to keep this vicious beast alive and healthy, despite the fact that there was no love lost between us.

I came up with a technique to avoid getting bitten, but it also happened to really tick Feller off (always an entertaining bonus, if you ask me…) From inside the shop, Sterling had run one of Feller’s pipes directly into a tiny cage in the living room. This pipe had a sliding door in it so that Feller could be confined indoors or outdoors, depending on our preference. I used to close the door so that he couldn’t get in and then tap on the pipe thereby getting him good and angry. I would then put a sock over the indoor opening of the pipe and quickly open the door. He would rush in thinking he could attack me. His headlong rush would leave him trapped in the sock! I would giggle fiendishly as I twisted the sock shut. I had him trapped where I could do his medical treatments, but he couldn’t bite me. Definitely did not endear me to him.

Feller lived to the ripe old age of 7 years. He hated me until the very end, but still trusted and respected his 6’3” tall momma, Sterling.

A Life of No Regrets

Looking back fifteen years from now, I wonder what I will wish I had accomplished. This is a serious question. Life has no rewind button. There are no do-overs. It really is now or never! Will I wish I had spent more time with family? Will I wish I had gone after that degree or specialty certification? How about that big idea I came up with? Will I wish I had taken up rafting or made that big move out of state? Will I wish I had resolved issues with my father or friend?

Can you imagine living a life of no regrets? Recently, I realized today is the time to start working on this. Once a day is gone, I can never get it back. A missed opportunity is sometimes my only opportunity. Time is short.

I knew a woman once. She was tall and beautiful, creative, witty, and intelligent. She gave awesome hugs. Accomplished pianist. She was warm-hearted, generous and loved to read. Beautiful singing voice. Had a wonderful, but definitely not perfect husband. Four awesome daughters – two still living at home. For two years, I kept meaning to spend some time getting to know her better. Maybe special lunches together or even a weekend trip. I was so caught up in the busyness of my life, I kept putting off contacting her. I was also arrogant. Arrogant enough to believe that time was on my side and would wait for me. What a shame! Her husband called me one day to say she had cancer and had only a few weeks left. I dropped everything to go see her. I even helped take care of her during her last few days. She was in so much pain by then, she was kept pretty close to unconscious on morphine. One night, in her drugged state, I heard her mumble “I am not done yet. There is so much to do.” She passed away early the next morning at the age of 44.

I will forever regret never having taken the time to get to know her better. I lost forever the opportunity to hear about her hopes and dreams. I will never know why she made the life choices she had. Nor will I ever know what she was passionate about or what frightened or angered her. I don’t know what her favorite color was or what growing up in Indiana was like. I will never know how she felt about being a mother and a wife. I will always regret that I let the opportunity to get to know my mother slip by without a second thought.

After losing my mother so young, I swore I would never let something like this happen again. The pain of regret was so strong I believed it was enough to motivate me to keep that promise. Guess what? It isn’t! I have done it again many times over the last 25 years. I have let my nephew go from birth to 25 without spending time with him. Oh, I see him now and then at family events but have not spent any time with him. I’ve done the same thing with my three sisters. 25 years is gone in a flash. My husband’s grandchildren are 7, 6, 4 and 15 months. Am I going to do the same with them?

No rewind button. No do-overs. If I want a life of no regrets, I’d better get busy identifying my priorities and then sticking to them! Here is the game plan. I made a list of all the things I want to accomplish before I die. The silly and the serious. I set a date by each one. This list isn’t static. I am always adding to it. I keep the list where I can read it every day so I don’t forget what I am running towards.

Courage is needed to live a life of no regrets. I hope I have that courage! Be courageous! You will not regret it!