That Time I Got a Dog

SpaceDoge2Unless you’ve been living under a rock, if you even barely know me you know that I’ve wanted a dog for forever. I’ve been asking Sean for thousands of years (it feels like that long) if we could adopt a dog, and because he’s the sensible one and also a lover of all things money-saving, he’s always passed on the idea of a dog. That’s putting it gently. In his favor, 2 of our 3 cats have had major surgery costing upwards of $1,000 each (removal of all the teeth in Lyra and bladder stone removal surgery for Pudge). So, all signs point to “We have spent too much on animals already.”

But, in a moment of weakness, Sean told me last year that once I paid off a certain bill, I could get a dog. In Sean’s mind, that meant, “We’ll at least have a year or so before we get a dog.” In Carolyn terms, that means, “How soon can I pay off this bill?” The answer was *very soon.* I, obviously, wanted to adopt an older dog who was homeless. Sean was less into that option. So, the compromise was to adopt a retired racer–a greyhound.

SpaceDoge4Now, let’s rewind a bit. I follow a lot of animal rescue groups on Facebook, including SEGA (Southeastern Greyhound Adoption). I followed their social media stuff and read almost every article on their website over the past year. I did A LOT of research on getting a dog because I know that an animal is a lifetime commitment. I even made Sean take me to a greyhound adoption event last year (maybe in like March) where we met some adopted greys and their owners, asked a whole bunch of questions, and just hung out with the dogs (until Sean was like, “The event is over, and they’re trying to leave but they can’t because of you…”)

SpaceDoge5Fast forward, I saw a dog on the SEGA website that seemed like the perfect for for our household. We’re pretty busy, so we’d need a dog that didn’t mind just chilling during the day, but also didn’t mind a good walk or even a short jog. We’d need a dog that was good with cats, especially because Lyra thinks she runs the world. With Sean’s permission (not like he owns me, but this is a mutual decision), I filled out an application, and we set up a time to meet the dog.

I spoke on the phone with the adoption coordinator, and asked a million questions while she told me about the dog’s personality. His foster mom and I talked on the phone and I asked a million questions. And then we were set to meet him.

We met le doge and his foster mom at Kennesaw Mountain on a Saturday afternoon. It was a chilly, windy day, but we managed. And… we walked away with a dog!

SpaceDoge3His racing name was Slatex Mancos, and his foster called him Manny. Sean had decided on Space Ghost before we got him. So he’s Space Ghost now.

He’s a pretty interesting character, so far. Being a racing dog meant that he hasn’t grown up like other dogs have. He was not really used to humans–except for the people who came to feed him and take him out to potty. This means that he doesn’t really understand what petting and love is all about, though he has gradually warmed up to accepting our affection if he’s in the mood. Being a retired racer also means he doesn’t get the concept of toys, stairs, or other “regular dog” things.

SpaceDoge1Space Ghost, or Ghostface Killah as I sometimes call him, is adjusting fairly well. We’ve had only a few mishaps–like him chewing through a bunch of cords for funsies or pooping in Sean’s car onthe way to the vet. We definitely have a LOT of work ahead of us, but we’re already seeing progress, and that’s promising (we finally got him to WANT to go for walks just this past weekend).

So here’s the part where you give me all your dog advice. Thanks in advance.

She’s a Goal Digger

I read an article somewhere (BuzzFeed? Mashable? FastCo?) about all these apps that will help you organize your life in 2015. There were the typical scheduling apps, diet apps, fitness apps, and whatever else apps. But one that I actually downloaded was called Coach.me. (I’m not paid to support these people; I just wanted to tell you about it.)

Coach.me is an app where you set goals, how frequently you’d like to achieve them (daily, weekly), and reminders. You choose from a huge set of pre-entered goals, but pretty much everything has been thought of for you to add to your list. You choose how often you want to achieve that goal, and then you set a reminder from the app. Then, you go out and achieve the goalz.

Goal Digger

It’s hard to write, “Launch my start-up” on an app like this. But, if you know the steps it takes to get to your bigger goal (launching a business, a better marriage, losing weight, writing a book), then you can make incremental, regular mini-goals to help achieve those bigger ones (put in 2 hours toward start-up every day, say “I love you” and mean it every morning, pack my lunch 5 times a week, write 2 pages every day).

My current goals on the app include the following:

  • Read before bed: Sean and I have been reading “Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up” by Harriet Lerner little by little every night before bed. It’s broken up into 1-2 page snippets of thoughtful commentary on how to listen, how to speak to one another (or not speak, if the situation doesn’t call for it), what serves as effective criticism, etc.
  • Homework for 1 hour: I set this one to be achieved every day. Small steps toward larger goals. Last semester, I spent too much time worrying during the week, and then flooding my weekends with homework. I didn’t want this semester to be the same stress mess. By making myself do at least 1 hour of homework every day (sometimes at work at lunch, sometimes when I get home from work on nights when I don’t have class), I feel less stressed even if I know there’s still the bulk to do on the weekends.
  • Eat a vegetable: I am usually ok about this (except maybe on a weekend when I binge on Gushers and waffles), but I feel accomplished marking off a health goal every day. It’s a sort of self-confirmation thing, an e-high five for doing something I know I should do. The check on the app when I mark it off is the mini-reward for treating my body the way I should.
  • Tell Sean I love him: Sean and I are actually really good at saying “I love you,” but I wanted to remind myself to take the time to STOP. Look him in the eyes. And say “I love you.” And really mean it. Not just the habitual “Iloveyou” in passing and at the end of phone calls.
  • Write 3 positive things about today: In essence, to practice purposeful gratitude.

Grateful

There have been many studies that prove that actually writing down positive thoughts or things you’re thankful for perpetuates more thankfulness.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Thankfulness begets thankfulness. And, also, I’ve reasoned that when I have a bad day or just have a bad attitude, I can look through all the positive things I’ve written to remind myself that things really aren’t as bad as they may feel in that moment.

I admit, that by the end of the day, it’s sometimes a little hard for me to think back on the positive things that happened (especially if I’m just out of traffic). Other times, I feel like writing the same thing over and over. But I try to find positivity in both the big (Having a job with a great company and working with funny, laid back people who also like me and my work) and the small things (mac and cheese when you’re starving).

So, I encourage you to take the extra 5 minutes it takes to sit and think about the GOOD that happened in your day. You can write it in a notebook, or even on the notes app of your phone for a time when things don’t seem to go 100% awesome.

Nonfiction Avalanche

More audiobook reviews: here and here.

All the Truth is Out by Matt Bai

All The Truth Is OutI first heard about this book in an interview on Fresh Air one night heading home from class. The concept seemed super interesting, and a few months later I finally looked it up on Audible. The book talks about how media and politics have changed over the past 30ish years. What’s become commonplace in media today (Find the dirt on anyone and everyone! Ask people about their personal lives! Bring up things they did 30 years ago!) wasn’t always the case. It discusses this case with the story of Gary Hart, who ran for president in 1987. Hart was the first case of a politician being “caught” in an affair. Before this, the media knew that politicians weren’t faithful, and didn’t care. But for some reason started caring RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT. The story tells of, essentially, the first public media-gossip-lynching of a politician for transgressions, and how that instance changed the way politics and media work. It’s really eye-opening to know that a lot of people who might be great leaders for our communities, states, and country refuse to go into office because they don’t want to be harangued by media gossip hounds.

 

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

#GIRLBOSSI was willing to suspend my usual personal standards for this book. I really wanted to like it. I want to be the HBIC one day, and the title of this book spoke to me. It’s an autobiography of sorts from Sophia Amoruso, the creator and founder of NastyGal, an online and now brick and mortar retail chain. She started from humble beginnings, high school dropout picking through thrift stores for “vintage” finds and selling them on eBay. Sure, I know nothing (and care nothing) about fashion, but she was a something-from-nothing story that I WANTED really badly to be inspired by. I was following along fine to the annoying vocal-fry narrator, listening to one woman talk about what a special snowflake she was to start a bazillion dollar retail company from her bed, thinking, “I can dig this…” UNTIL. She had a chapter directed toward millennials about how we’re not the special snowflakes we think we are regardless of how much our parents told us we were and how many trophies we got in school. I am so tired of people waxing poetic about how lazy and self-indulgent people my age are, especially in a book they wrote about themselves. Bitch, please. No one makes me bleed my own blood. For reference, The Super Secret Trick to Connecting with Millennials: It’s not actually that complicated. I’m going to write an article about how old people need to learn technology on their own and stop being so resistant to their inevitable takeover by me and my gang of spoiled-ass friends called, “The Snowflake Gang.” /rant (Please note this is sarcasm.)

 

Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton

Hard ChoicesI’m really surprised at the number of people who turned up their noses and scoffed when I said I was reading Clinton’s book. For starters, I really like a lady in power who proves she’s competent, smart, and invested in what she’s doing (see book choice above). Aside from that, I was really interested in learning about what it’s like to be the Secretary of State. In this book, Clinton details her tenure as Secretary of State all the way back from when she was running for the presidential nomination against Obama, her loss of that nomination (a pretty humbling blow for anyone), and him asking her repeatedly to please consider the high profile job. She wrote about personal and professional experiences: a glimpse into what international diplomacy is like (it sounds like a slow and tedious process sometimes), dealing with the deaths of her parents, and even the attacks on Benghazi. I’d definitely recommend it, if you can get over yourself and get past the politics part.

If my nonfiction reading this round has taught me anything, these might be a few takeaways:

  • It’s hard to be in public office. Regardless of your agreement with someone’s politics, they’re still people with lives and families and emotions. Get over yourself and try to imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes. Stop being so mean to everyone.
  • There is no “right time” for things. There’s no right time to start your own business. There’s no right time for the perfect job to pop up. There’s no right time for anything. So make the best of what you have and don’t wait too long to do what you want.
  • Don’t blame people when you don’t know all the facts. Always check for more than one source. Don’t trust sources that cite other news media as their sources. Don’t get sucked into the gossip mill. Not everything the internet/media/TV says is true.
  • Nonfiction can be interesting too. :)