A Perfect Distraction

The title of this post, as you can visibly see, contains the word “perfect,” a word I often shy away from using, due to feeling as though nothing is ever truly “perfect.” However, in this instance, I felt it was more than appropriate, as what I’m about to detail FELT nothing short of “perfect” or “ideal”, rather, to me.

For me, reading has always been my go-to activity for stress-relief, coping, relaxation and contentment. Not only does it provide me with recreation, but also a means to travel without leaving the confines of my room. Reading also affords me with knowledge, a chance to reflect and also daydream about what could be. In other words, I’ve often felt my creativity soar simply by reading the words of others, feeling inspired to craft my own stories.

Reading quote           Reading Quote 3    Reading Quote 4

Thankfully, several weeks ago when they were open, I visited my local library to rent numerous books, which I’ve been working through at a steady pace. Most I’ve read were decent, but not stellar or standout. The way I can often determine this is whether I’m thinking about it when not reading, or if I leaf through it with an insatiable hunger, eager to discover what will transpire next. Much to my satisfaction, the latest book on my venture titled, In Five Years, by Rebecca Serle is nothing short of this aforementioned, “perfection.” It is the type of book which serves as the ideal prescription during this stressful and tumultuous time. Reading it at night as I settle into bed is my personal retreat and solace, giving me the opportunity to indulge in a vastly different life and story, taking me away from the hectic news and current state of the world. It is the type of book I could potentially read in one setting, but choose not to so I can savor and mull it over. It is a book that both intrigues and delights me, with a story uniquely crafted with poise.

In Five Years

How grateful I am to have selected this book to rent weeks ago, not knowing what the current state of the world would become; then again, how can we really ever know what will or could transpire? If you happen to be a reader like me, or are considering taking up reading and are in search of a book, I highly recommend In Five Years. If you choose to read it, I hope it brings you as much joy as it is currently bringing me.

Reading quote 2

 

A Raw, Real Reality

From the tender age of four or so, some of my earliest memories are of cradling magazines and newspapers, leafing through them each day, often countless times, nearly memorizing the images and words, despite only beginning to read. To me, they were my constant companions, offering me knowledge, reprieve and awareness. Today, they are still of the same, if not more importance to me, though now I often turn to social media and TV news programming, as well.

Knowledge Quote

For the past several weeks, since the pandemic magnified, I’ve been regularly turning to the TV news channel, CNN, for confirmation, knowledge, awareness and transparency. Unbeknownst to me until these past weeks, I hadn’t realized the comradeship, rapport and insight all of the anchors I’ve watched exhibit. To me, they provide what I need most during these times; candid, open accounts, not simply reporting findings or facts, but enhancing it by sharing their personal experience, raw and real. Authenticity has never been important in this day and age. Often times, as consumers, we are forced to sift through a surplus of information, having to decipher fact from fiction. Watching CNN and the reporters and anchors who deliver the news in a way I can easily comprehend, I feel I don’t need to do this quite as much.

CNN

Many years ago, when I was a young teen, I’d regularly watch Good Morning America and would take pride in watching a particular anchor/reporter by the name of Chris Cuomo. To me, he was a bright light in a sea of news; exhibiting strength, drive and exhilaration. His energy, as it still is today was infectious and his passion could be felt through the screen. Nowadays, he is a renowned anchor and reporter on CNN and so for the past several nights, I’ve watched him with an enhanced interest and an insatiable hunger to hear and feel his words, as I did.

Diagnosed himself with COVID-19 just days ago, he has remained on-air the entire time, broadcasting from his basement. Encountering symptoms and some of the most difficult nights he’s ever lived through, he is candid and descriptive in detailing these live on-air. His emotions, as raw and real as they are can be easily felt through the screen. He refuses to shy away from descriptors, as challenging as they may be to take in; he wants to present to viewers what it truly FEELS like and presents a depiction so genuine and authentic, I could nearly FEEL his anguish through the screen. His passion, desire to tell a story, albeit his own or others, exemplifies what it means to be a journalist. Inspiring and unsettling, he rattles my emotions and internal sentiments each evening as I closely watch him, taking note of the symptoms I can see and feel on-screen. He doesn’t hide, he doesn’t conceal his anguish, he lets them be known, because to him it is of the the utmost importance to provide viewers with authenticity. We are living this virus through him; he offers words of wisdom, strength and embodies what it means to be a storyteller, fighting to present the public with the knowledge and awareness we need to weather through this storm as best we can.

Journalist quote

For me, as a consistent consumer of news, this is what I look for most in news programming. Not long ago, I longed to be a journalist, myself, wanting to tell others’ stories, wanting to inform others, wanting to be as authentic as I could be. Though I may not be a seasoned journalist, or a journalist at all, I try to do this on here, my personal blog. In my writing, I aspire and attempt to present authenticity, maintaining integrity in my words. Being candid, genuine and most importantly, strictly authentic are standards I hold myself to, hoping to model Chris Cuomo’s energy and infectious drive for knowledge and awareness.

Chris Cuomo

Now more than ever, I see heroes everywhere – some of them unsung, some of them more apparent than others, but to me, they can and are anyone. They are health care workers (doctors, nurses, therapists, nurse assistants, lab techs, etc); scientists and those working in the science and research realms; grocery and retail workers; utility workers; journalists and anchors and so many more.

One of my favorite quotes ever uttered by Fred Rogers, reads, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who were helping.” His mother, especially in this current state of the world, couldn’t be more accurate. Today, I’m issuing a constant thank you and words of gratitude to all of those helpers out there; all of you are the heroes.

Help someone 2

 

A Pause for a Paw

For so many of us, they are our co-pilots, our confidantes, our comfort on difficult days and trying times, our sunshine through rainy days and turbulent events; they are trusted friends, they are family, and they are more than a pet; more than a dog or cat. For me, this is currently Daisy and previously, Oliver, who I still miss and grieve for on most days.

Daisy:

Daisy 3       Daisy 6

Given the current state of the U.S. and other countries throughout the world, so many of us are spending more time than ever with our pets, serving as our “coworkers,” or our close companions throughout the entire day and night. Much to their delight, many of our furry friends are being walked and cared for even more closely than before and of course, with that comes a need to entertain and soothe them. With so many of us working from home or currently out of work, our furry pals may be in need of some occupying or distracting, since we can’t always serve as playmates at all times. When work or something else is requiring our full attention, thankfully, there are many toys, nourishing treats and foods, we can all provide to our pets to keep them content and at peace. Below, you’ll find some of Daisy’s favorites (food, treats & toys) she’s enjoyed through the years and currently:

Dog Food/Treats:

Nulo FreeStyle High-Meat Kibble Lamb & Chickpeas Recipe: Almost two years ago, Daisy began enjoying Nulo after trying several different brands (samples were given at a local pet store). Each day, she enjoys this twice per day. It can be easily ordered via Amazon.com or Chewy.com (check local pet stores – this brand/variety can sometimes be tricky to find!)

Nulo Lamb

Zuke’s Mini Naturals Training Dog Treats: At the same time Daisy’s food was discovered, these mini treats were suggested to my family and I by a local Pet Valu employee. This is Daisy’s all-time favorite treat in either the chicken or peanut butter ‘n oats flavors! (they are also available in other flavors) They are easy to find in local pet stores and online (i.e. Amazon.com, Chewy.com, Pet Valu, Pet Supplies Plus, Petsmart, etc).

Zuke's Mini Naturals

Nutro Crunchy Treats: One of the first treats Daisy enjoyed after my family and I adopted her from an animal rescue, she is a big fan of these in the peanut butter flavor! Shaped like hearts, they are a great, small treat for her to enjoy on a regular basis. These are also available in other flavors like chicken, apple, mixed berry, etc. Like Zuke’s, they are also easy to find online and in-stores.

Daisy 9

Nutro Treats

Wellness Crunchy Puppy Bites: Though she may not technically be a puppy anymore (once a puppy, always a puppy, right?!) Daisy has enjoyed these treats for years, as well. Tiny in size, they pack a flavor Daisy enjoys in the Chicken & Carrots flavor and they are also available in Lamb & Salmon; they are available both online and in-stores.

Wellness Crunchy Puppy Bites

Pioneer Woman Waffle Dog Treats: As a big fan of the Pioneer Woman, a renowned blogger, TV cooking show host and cookbook author, I was thrilled to learn she was introducing her very own line of dog treats! Much of my surprise, I received a sample bag in the mail for Daisy to try! Shaped like waffles, these are available in two flavors: Bacon, Maple & Apple (this what Daisy received and loves!) and Chicken & Blueberry! Ever since Daisy first tried these, it’s breakfast anytime in our household!

Pioneer Woman Dog Treats

Rachael Ray Dog Treats: Throughout the years, Daisy has tried and enjoyed numerous treats from renowned chef, TV talk show host and cookbook author, Rachael Ray! Included in her favorites are: Burger Bites, Turkey Bacon, Savory Roasters, Paw Pies, Meatball Morsels & Chicken ‘N Waffle Bites!

Paw Pies

Rachael Ray Chicken      Rachael Ray BurgerRachael Ray Turkey BaconRachael Ray SavoryRachael Ray MeatballPaw Pies

Halo Healthsome Garden of Vegan Peanut ‘n Pumpkin Dog Biscuits: Easy to break apart, Daisy has enjoyed these intermittently through the years. Made with the highest quality ingredients, these are crunchy biscuits for Daisy to healthfully snack on. Available online via Amazon.com and Chewy.com. (I’m unsure if these are easy to find in-stores)

Halo Dog Treats    Daisy Halo    Daisy Halo 2

Greenies Dental Treats: A win-win in my mind, Greenies is a treat Daisy loves (especially the teenie ones and seasonal flavors, like pumpkin spice!) and thoroughly cleans her teeth and maintains her oral health for a healthy smile, keeping her pearly whites pristine!

Greenies     Greenies 2     Greenies 3  Greenies 4

Dog Toys:

Daisy toys

West Paw Dog Toys: Made in the USA, durable and with the highest quality materials, this is my go-to brand for dog toys for Daisy! They are made with tough materials that LAST (if they don’t, they replace them!) and are constructed in interesting and unique shapes and colors. They offer a wide variety and are always adding additional toys to their line-ups. They are available online, via Amazon.com, Chewy.com and in assorted stores. Currently, Daisy has:

Zogoflex Tizzi Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Fetch Play Toy:

West Paw Tizzi

Zwig Squeezy Dog Stick Toy with Zogoflex Echo:

West Paw ZwigZwig

Zogoflex Qwizl Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Puzzle Treat Toy:

West Paw Qwizl

Zogoflex Bumi Interactive Tug of War Durable Dog Toy:

West Paw bumi        Daisy bone

Zogoflex Jive Durable Nearly Indestructible Dog Ball Chewy-Fetch Play Dog Toy:

West Paw Jive

Zogoflex Hurley Durable Dog Bone Chew Toy:

West Paw Hurley    Daisy 7

Zippy Paws: Another one of Daisy’s favorite dog toy brands, Zippy Paws feature fun, unique and creative designs for dogs to play with and enjoy! Offering everything from chewable wands (Daisy’s favorite!), to Elephant-shaped teethers (another one of Daisy’s favorites), and fluffy donuts and beyond, these toys are affordable and easy to find online and in select stores!

ZippyTuff Star Wand Dog Toy:

Zippy Paws Wand

Elliot the Elephant Teetherz Dog Toy:

ZippyPaws Teether

Mini-Donutz Dog Toy:

Zippy Paws Mini Donutz

Unicorns Rainbow Puzzle Dog Toy:

Zippy Paws Unicorn

Nylabone Dura Chew: Offered as the toughest variety in the line of chew boys by Nylabone, this is one of Daisy’s favorite boredom busters! Available in unique and vast flavors, these Nylabones last long and hold up against even the toughest chewers, like Daisy!

Daisy Nylabone       Daisy Nylabone 2       Daisy Nylabone 3

Nylabone Dura ChewNylabone Dura Chew 2Nylabone Dura Chew 3

 

Miles of Mountains

For me, the time as I attempt to lull myself to sleep is often the worst. Around 11pm or so each evening, as I place the book down I’m currently reading, simultaneously turning my light off and settling in under the covers, the internal dialogue heightens. Closing my eyes, my mind wanders to the millions of healthcare workers, albeit doctors, nurses, nurse assistants and also the delivery drivers, grocery workers and millions of others out there working to save and support others. Sometimes, my thoughts even turn to feelings of guilt, knowing I am free to sleep in the comfort of my bed while others are battling what can only be perceived as endless mountains of turmoil and medical dangers.

Many of us, myself included, have posed the question, how do we ever go back? How do we fix this? Will life ever return to what we previously knew? I found it to be a coincidence the other evening as I read the latest issue of Real Simple Magazine, as I stumbled upon a quote, as you see below, which reads, “That’s the only thing you can do with a mess. Start cleaning it up, a little at a time.” It is true; no matter the type of mess, struggles or difficulties we encounter in life, the only thing we can do to make it better is to start. There is a quote that reads, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” This quote rings true in countless aspects of life and it has brought me comfort and direction in more situations than I can even recall.

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In particular, when I was 20, I had no idea where my life was headed; I felt lost, confused and unaware of the steps I should take to make my life better. Then one day, frustrated, angry and wanting more out of life in general, I started where I could, with what I had. There was one day in particular, some may even call it an epiphany of sorts, when I decide to start cleaning up the mess that had become my life. The steps weren’t easy or straightforward by any means, but the most important part, was that I started.

So in my mind, to answer my own question and others inquiries of how to fix what life has become for many of us, we start. So many us, or maybe even most of us, have ALREADY started. We stay home when we can, we support our family, friends, neighbors and essential workers out there. We nourish ourselves mentally and physically, we reach out for help when we need it, we check on others in the way we can, and most importantly, we start where we are, with what we have.

We all have important roles in life, no matter how we feel. All of us are important, no person’s job is more imperative than the other, even though it can sometimes feel that way. Often times, I think of life as a puzzle; we may never know where we fit in the midst of it, but without us, life wouldn’t be the same.

Play your part and remember, start where you are, with what you have; forward is forward and it’s about progress, not perfection.

Start quote

A Hand to Heal

During these stressful and uncertain times, it can be easy and expected to house anger, frustration and apprehension, generally speaking. However, sometimes, (I, myself, am unfortunately occasionally guilty of this), we can take it out on others, especially those we love and are regularly in the presence of. These fears and worries can manifest as barking, “I don’t know, leave me alone!” “What do you want from me?” “Figure it out on your own!” Those aforementioned cries are just a sampling of the bits of words, phrases, harsh tones and sentiments we can employ towards others. Many of them unintended to hurt, it can be challenging and an enigma to weather through the torrent of emotions swirling inside many, if not most of us at one point or another. Some of us, may do the contrary and isolate, keeping our sentiments to ourselves, quietly sobbing, or revealing our emotions in other ways such as journaling, listening to music, or distracting ourselves, generally speaking.

The truth of the matter is, we all cope and deal with stressors and change in many different ways, but it is paramount to remember, as hard as it may be sometimes, that through kindness and a simple, “how are you,” we can often improve someone else’s day (and often times, even our own!) by even a small margin.

As one of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou states, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them FEEL.” Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”

Kindness Quote 4

Calm through Chaos

Today’s post will be a short one, but hopefully an uplifting one. Being home considerably more has gifted me even greater chances to play and bond with Daisy, my sweet dog, who my family and I rescued in February 2018. In the past several days, I’ve snapped a few photos of her lounging around and playing with her favorite toys and of course, her favorite thing to do each day – gaze out the window searching for squirrels, dogs and other random passerbys!

Without further adieu, enjoy the photos and I hope this brings whomever is reading, some calm through this chaotic time:

Daisy window       Daisy with Toys 2   Daisy with Toys          Daisy with Toys 3      Daisy tongue     Daisy camera    Daisy calm

Clinging to Comfort

For roughly two weeks now, throughout the country and perhaps globally, grocery stores, drugs stores, convenience stores and other retailers still open and in operation have been suffering from severe shortages in many items. So many people question why? Why are these items suddenly running so low? Why are they now a hot commodity if companies claim there are NO shortages on supplies? Initially, I contemplated these questions myself, perplexed and scratching my head for an answer, when after giving it greater thought, I realized the answer – or at least, concocted my own personal theory or set of beliefs.

During struggle, times of uncertainty and need, we often will cling to what we know, or what has brought us comfort in the past. Consistency, is often key, or knowing we can reach into our pantries or closets and retrieve a food item we’ve always loved, or paper products. Buying and having excess is something we can control; we can buy and buy and buy, filling our houses, bellies and loved ones with something tangible. Given how much so many of us have lost at this time; albeit money, time with loved ones and friends, careers, or the lifestyles we’ve acclimated to, buying and surrounding ourselves with tangible items can be the only source of comfort or control many of us can render. Still there and holding strong are these items; maybe it is the Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese we grew up with and would enjoy on weekend afternoons or for weekend dinners. Maybe its the peanut butter sandwiches we would eat for lunch each day at school; or maybe its even seeing the packages of Bounty Paper Towels lined up in our closets, always there when needed and accessible. It’s natural to want comfort during times of struggle and uncertainty, wanting to taste something familiar and beloved, bringing us back to happier times; the taste and feel of nostalgia bringing a bit of warmth to an otherwise cold period of time.

Bravery quote 2

For me, as someone who was hospitalized for a month and unable to venture outside in the fresh air for that period of time, it taught me a lot. When hospitalized, often times, especially in the afternoons, I’d look outside, noting the changing sky, the climate, the passerbys. I’d watch as they strolled or jogged by, wondering what their days were like and imagine what would do once I was able to once again enjoy the freedom of movement. When I look back to those times, I think it is perhaps the reason why this quarantine hasn’t impacted me as much as it could. When housed inside a hospital, my imagination often took flight, as I envisioned all the places I would visit once released. It made me appreciate a walk outside on a warm, sunny day; the feel of the carpet in my home on my feet and the ability to end the night comfortable and at ease in my bed.

Life has surely changed for most, if not all of us at this time, but it’s important to remember, it is okay to want or crave comfort; it’s okay to be frustrated; when privileges leave us, albeit permanently or temporarily, it can be a tough reality to swallow. Patience is key, as it often is. However, patience is also from my own experience, one of the toughest acts to maintain. Let us all be patient while doing our part; doing what we can to help ourselves and others, while remembering to nourish our minds and bodies, with the type of comfort that can bring us joy, no matter how small.

Resilience Quote 2

Resilience is something I’ve always felt we all can employ; you can do it, WE can do it.

Bravery Quote