Category Archives: parents

My Story, Chapter 5

Continued….

…Fast forward a few years…..After our firm lost 90% of our income from the one factory going direct nationwide, I struggled a few years finding what the next step was and despite the fact that I was working full time I didn’t take any salary the first year after we lost the big chunk of income. I was working and acting on faith. I had saved and invested for the past few years and I’m glad that I did because I was able to live off that while I rebuilt the business. My father had retired and I was running the business full time.

I had to search and find companies and products that I could represent and sell that would start to replace that income. It was a scary and exciting time. It was easier perhaps, because I had few responsibilities. There were some ups and downs in the business and in the economy but life was good for a single guy.

I had a great group of friends from college with which I still hung out. We called ourselves the Dudes. Now, after college, life and work sometimes got in the way. However, we still found time for roadtrips, parties, and other fun things. I have lots of good memories of laughs, practical jokes, talking, hanging out, traveling.

So one summer, our next fun thing was the Jimmy Buffett concert. I didn’t even like Jimmy Buffett but it was a chance to hang out with my friends and to have some fun in the sun……in a parking lot somewhere outside of Pittsburgh. So we packed into my white mini-van and drove. We sat in the parking lot and tail-gated. Frankly I don’t think that I even went in to watch the concert……

So we were partying, having fun…. Just as you do when you tailgate, we were walking around, mingling, and others were coming around to our spot. There I saw Jill again. (Jill was a friend from college who was always nice to talk with … I knew some of the people she dated and she knew some of the people I dated during college)..For the past 2 years, Jill was away at graduate school in North Carolina. Now back in town, she was with her sisters at the concert.

The concert came and went. A few weeks later my buddy from Maryland asked the Dudes to a hotel in Pennsylvania while they were in town for a wedding. For whatever reason, I faxed Jill to let her know we were going there and she was welcome to meet us. (before texting and email, faxing was an easy way to communicate-AOL was still in the early stages) At that point I still thought of Jill as a friend and I wanted to include her with my other close friends.

Jill came and we all had a good time. The next day everyone went their separate ways. Jill and I decided to go have lunch at Wendy’s. I don’t know what was in the Frosty that day but we laughed and had a good time. I made dumb jokes and she laughed. Something had clicked from the evening before. Somewhere in there we decided that we were fond of each and we began to date.

It was a different feeling, it was an attraction, sure, but it was also a head and heart sort of thing. I recall saying to myself, “She’s pretty, smart, funny. We’re good friends, I respect her, I have a great time with her, we can talk about things, we have great families.” I hadn’t seen it before that moment but we were a great fit. We liked spending time with each other and trusted one another. We could talk about anything. There were feelings there. From what started as an immature relationship as friends in college grew to that of young adults taking on life together.

I never looked back after that point. In my younger years I had been fickle and immature with some relationships. But when I thought about dating Jill, I thought, “Yes, this works, this makes sense, this feels right.” The relationship hit all cylinders; my mind, heart and body. I no longer considered dating others and no longer became distracted.

I continued to work in the business and tried to find the right fit for a company to represent. I found another company with a great product but it turned out the owner was taking all the profits and buying boats, etc. and didn’t bother to pay the bills. It’s tough for a manufacturing company to run when you don’t pay for the machinery. That company closed and I again had to start over. I found another company with really good people but their product line was limited and they started having quality issues. Soon because of customer feedback and quality issues, I split with them. It all started to work away at my credibility, since I was switching product lines.

I learned a lot about people, perserverance and life during that time. Many people stuck with me because of my dad, some because of me, some because of the product and / or service. Others took off in a heartbeat after years of working together and after giving them lots of free consulting and help.

I confess that I took some of these things personally, and my ego was bigger then, so it was tough. Plus I suddenly was earning much less despite working long hours, traveling many miles, and driving a white minivan. (A mini-van wasn’t great for a single guy in his mid-twenties!)

Cool, neat, little things happened to us when we were together….for instance one time we got bumped from a flight while we were flying to Florida. We got free first class tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. So we picked the farthest point that sounded great – San Diego. We traveled to San Diego and experienced lots of great things – with trips to L.A. and Mexico. We again had cool experiences together there. San Diego grew on us.

Jill and I dated for a while but we didn’t want to wait too long to be married. We also didn’t really want all the big ‘fuss’ for our wedding. You see, the year we decided to get married, there were 15 other weddings…..we were invited to all 15. Jill and I were in about 7 of them, including her two sisters. It was crazy! Just think, we spent at least $50 (usually more) for a wedding, plus hotel and travel. That was an expensive year! Most of those weddings were crammed into September-December.

At first we were going to elope to the Outer Banks and come home married. But we decided not to do so, our families might have had hurt feelings, etc. So we decided to have a much smaller and elegant wedding. We wanted to pay for it all ourselves. I got a second job selling alarm systems. One large project paid for some of the reception, another paid for most of the honeymoon. Jill worked a second job and saved money for the wedding and other things. Our parents still wanted to help, so my parents helped by adding and upgrading the food. Jill’s parents helped with the wedding dress and photography.

Still, it felt good to pay for most of it ourselves. I was self-employed and I had decided to start attending the evening MBA program at Pitt. I enjoyed it but the classes after work were a bit tough, as were the payments. I did take out a loan for some of it and I tried to pay for some as I went.

After about a year, my new wife and I saved some money, used a small gift from my parents, and built a small Cape Cod. It was nice and simple. The upstairs and basement were left unfinished to save on dough. We were happy.

The thing about all of it was this- we were tight financially for some time. I actually had to ‘lean’ on my wife for 1-2 years as I rebuild the business, she often made more during the volatile time for me. Then I kept growing it.. She believed in me and I in her. Jill and her sisters were running a large child care center that eventually would have 80+kids.

(At this point I began to think about something that I’d see observe and feel for the rest of my life – it seemed that I was reaching out for a job, an opportunity, something that I was definitely capable of doing well – but I was pushed back. I think in some way I was being pushed or pulled back to where I was supposed to go. Maybe something inside of me or part of me was guiding me. Maybe it was God or something else. But so many times we all experience it – ‘that job would be great and I can do it ‘ then you apply and get smacked back royally. Maybe there’s a reason….almost like we’re being guided back onto the right path….)

I found some stability with my own business and really started to enjoy the MBA program. Many cool things were happening in our lives. Small things like the fact we got upgraded to a Penthouse suite with 3 bathrooms, a dining room with 10 chairs, full kitchen, den, living room, and skyline veranda in Toronto…..Big things like getting pregnant – we were expecting our first child!

Then I had a chance to move onto a totally different career. I got a job as an intelligence analyst. I felt like Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy’s series. I started working for the U.S. Department of Justice and I liked it for a while.

Leaving a cushy job – a good idea or bad idea?……..

How Couples Can Stop Fighting About Money

How many of us have fought with a spouse or partner about money?
We all have in some way, right?

When financial issues come up, we handle things differently due to our gender, family, upbringing, current outlook, etc.

So how do we handle this?

I saw this good video about it from Noah St. John.

Thanks

.

Is happiness the secret of success?

HERE IS A GREAT ARTICLE BY SHAWN ACHOR OF CNN THAT IS WORTHY OF SHARING. I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT, USE IT, AND GET HAPPY!

Is happiness the secret of success? – CNN.com

By Shawn Achor, Special to CNN –—          

Is happiness the secret of success?

Editor’s note: Shawn Achor is the author of the Happiness Advantage. He spent 12 years researching at Harvard, and is now CEO of Good Think Inc.

(CNN) — Scientifically, can happiness be an advantage?

Some people think if you are happy, you are blind to reality. But when we research it, happiness actually raises every single business and educational societal misconceptions about

When we study people, scientists are often interested in what the average is. If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.

Many people think happiness is genetic. That’s only half the story, because the average person does not fight their genes. When we stop studying the average and begin researching positive outliers — people who are above average for a positive dimension like optimism or intelligence — a wildly different picture emerges. Our daily decisions and habits have a huge impact upon both our levels of happiness and success.

Scientifically, happiness is a choice. It is a choice about where your single processor brain will devote its finite resources as you process the world. If you scan for the negative first, your brain literally has no resources left over to see the things you are grateful for or the meaning embedded in your work. But if you scan the world for the positive, you start to reap an amazing advantage.

Now that there is research validity to these claims, the working world is starting to take notice. In January, I wrote the cover story for the Harvard Business Review magazine on “Happiness Leads to Profits.” Based on my article called “Positive Intelligence” and my research in The Happiness Advantage, I outlined our researched conclusion: the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce.

A decade of research in the business world proves that happiness raises nearly every business and

educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality-of-life improvements.

Given the unprecedented level of unhappiness at companies and the direct link between happiness and business outcomes, the question is NOT whether happiness should matter to companies. Given this research, it clearly should. The first question is: What can I do in my own life to reap the advantage of happiness?

See also: Ambition could make you rich, but not happy (on cnn.com)

Training your brain to be positive at work is just like training your muscles at the gym. Sounds simple, right? Well, think about how easy it is to make yourself go to the gym. The key with any new resolution is to make it a habit. New research on neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to change even as an adult — reveals that moderate actions can rewire the brain as you create “life habits.”

In The Happiness Advantage, I challenge readers to do one brief positive exercise every day for 21 days. Only through behavioral change can information become transformation.

  • Write down three new things you are grateful for each day;
  • Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours;

–   Exercise for 10 minutes a day;

  • Meditate for two minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out;

• Write one quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising someone in your social support network (family member, friend, old teacher).

But does it work? In the midst of the worst tax season in history I did a three-hour intervention at auditing and tax accounting firm KPMG, describing how to reap the happiness advantage by creating one of these positive habits. Four months later, there was a 24% improvement in job and life satisfaction. Not only is change possible, this is one of the first long-term ROI (return on investment) studies proving that happiness leads to long-term quantifiable positive change.

In a study I performed on 1,600 Harvard students in 2007, I found that there was a 0.7 correlation between perceived social support and happiness. This is higher than the connection between smoking and cancer. So if in the modern world we give up our social networks to work away from friends and follow celebrities on Twitter, we are trading off with our happiness and health.

Following up, I switched around the questions and asked how much social support employees provided (instead of received). The results were off the charts. Those high on provision of social support are 10 times more engaged at work and have a 40% higher likelihood of promotion over the next four years. In other words, giving at the office gets you more than receiving.

The greatest cultural myth in modern society is that we cannot change. My research proves that you can not only become more positive, but if you prioritize happiness in the present, you can reap an extraordinary advantage.

Kids: Strategies and Ideas to move them?

AE5 AE4 AE3 AE2 AE1 AE6 A smile What do you say to your children? What self-talk do you use that they observe?

What kind of example do you set for your children? What other reminders, helpful hints, tools, strategies can you provide for your children?

These are just some questions I’ve been asking myself in recent years. My daughters were just 6 and 7 years old yesterday (or so it seemed), now they are 12 and 13. They still think that I am funny and semi-cool but I can tell that may be fading.

So how do I use this time to help them learn, experience, and integrate some good strategies and tools for life? How do I help them be more independent? How do I help them be better people?

I was at a client’s conference room a few years ago. Around the top of the wall, almost like a decorative border all around the room, they had all sorts of positive sayings. Some were about serving their clients, some were about personal success, some were about life. That was one of my actions – to put things around my daughters’s rooms, bathroom, etc. so maybe they’ll see it, think about it, etc. Likewise I would try to talk about it and discuss it with them so they integrate some of it.

These photos that you see here are many of them. We try to change them to keep it fresh. You can see that the girls made many of them (suggested). Look at the large mirror – my oldest daughter decided to write a bunch of inspiration quotes on the mirror all on her own. One day I walked in the bathroom and saw writing. I thought it was dribble about OneDirection or something and then I saw what she wrote. Inspirational and motivational stuff.

Some was from what we discussed, other items she found/learned on her own. I was deeply moved.

What are some ideas that you can share/suggest for helping our kids be a step ahead on ‘life strategies’, wise ideas, and inspirational thoughts?

The Wreath of Death

Ok, I’m just kidding. I was going to call it the Wreath of Divorce, but then opted for the Wreath of Death – it sounded more like a Bruce Lee movie or James Bond franchise work, plus somehow the ‘eath’  in both words had a zen-like appeal. Why the title? Bear with me, I’ll explain.

So today me and the family woke up and we decided to attend church. Before church I was a little crabby and perhaps we all weren’t 100% our cheery selves, so we, …mostly me, were focusing on things that didn’t work, instead of things that did work. Never a good way to start a day.
I believe that I was pointing out things my wife was doing that I found erroneous, and I was annoyed by a few things my daughters were doing. None of the things were important or significant.

Then in church, as I was mumbling to myself about something I found annoying with my daughter, I suddenly saw a friend of ours wisk his child out of the church into the narthex, while nodding to a person in the crowd he knew as a nurse. The nurse and several people joined him outside the church. We all know that the child has had some medical challenges in his young life. We all got tense, you could see a few people tear up, and the priest made a comment as well. We knew something was wrong, but no one knew how serious nor to what extent.

My wife had the better frame of mind to join the other child in the pew who was now alone and concerned. She also later checked on the child and father. I wasn’t thinking well enough.

I had many emotions and thoughts during those tense moments….I think that I felt bad for the child and father, of course – everyone did – but I felt extra bad because I was ‘upset’ as so many silly, irrelevant and unimportant things that morning. Here I was, in some nice clothes, in a nice church, with a full stomach, with a job, with an income, with a healthy, happy family, surrounded by friends, complaining and grumbling about things I can’t really even recall now.

Things for the child turned out OK. Soon we found out that the child’s issue was over and that it wasn’t serious. The father later carried in the child and we spoke to him and found that things were better. They were checked out by an EMT and things were fine. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

Later at home, I apologized to my wife and we hugged. We both agreed that the incident gave us a nice slap in the face and a better perspective on things. I felt guilty, silly, and embarrassed for my earlier irritated mood.

So the Wreath? Every year we put up this huge wreath. When we moved into this house, a “friend” gave us this wreath. I use quotes because after I put up the wreath in the first year, I considered not calling them friends anymore. (just kidding)

The wreath is heavy, awkward and not fun to put up. The first year we put it up using a tall ladder in high winds. It must have looked pretty funny…a guy up on a ladder struggling with a large wreath, a woman below, and the two of them yelling back and forth in high winds…. The next year we tried something different. The following year, something different, again. We always improve a little.

However, putting up this awkward wreath on a small hook about 30 feet up is very much like a task one would find on AMAZING RACE. In fact I’m pretty sure they considered this as an event and a focus group told them it generated too much negative energy. I think the producers were concerned advertisers would pull their spots.

You see, my wife and I don’t always work like a well-oiled machine while hanging the wreath. In fact, after we complete the task each year, we often breathe a sigh of relief and know that our marriage is now stronger having survived “The Wreath”. The Wreath is a true test whether we should consider divorce, as it can strain the best of relationships, I think. But every year, we do well and we’re stronger for it.

Well this year, just before putting up the Wreath of Death and Divorce on the beautiful Sunday afternoon, we had the aforementioned incident a church. Suddenly hanging a decorative wreath our own beautiful home, which is warm, has electric and utilities, and considering those affected by SANDY, it seemed a whole lot better.

Any struggles on or about The Wreath were quckly dismissed as I continuously recalled my roller coaster of feelings in church, being concerned, sad, then relieved – and grateful for my own family’s good health.

Often times we get caught up in the little things, silly things don’t we? Hopefully we don’t need a slap in the face to help us remember how good we have it. I think that next time – and everytime, I look at the Wreath, I’ll recall the lesson from church and look at things a little different. Maybe my story can help you too.

STOP that argument in its tracks

From time to time I like to pass along other good websites or blogs, etc. that are really good stuff.

This is from Robbins-Madanes Training (Tony Robbins and Chloe Madanes) http://robbinsmadanescoachtraining.com/?p=1464

I highly recommend that you take time to read it and watch the video(s)…….

It starts here…..

Have you ever been in an argument with someone where you realize, “Wow. This might be the end of our relationship!” It could be a tough conversation with a friend about hurt feelings that could end the friendship and make you enemies. It might be a business negotiation where instead becoming partners you become competitors. It could be a conversation with your spouse that could lead to a decision that you regret forever. These are dangerous minutes, right? Well, conversations like this we call “high stakes conversations.” If you win, you win it all. If you lose, you lose it all. The stakes are high. So how do you turn it around?

Today let’s explore one simple strategy called the Outcome Strategy.

You see, the problem with high stakes conversations is that two speakers tend to get stuck in an emotional opposition to each other. In other words: the more you take your position, the more I disagree with you and take the opposite position, and vica versa. When you get opposed to each other like this, you start reacting to me and the emotional dynamics of our conversation rather than the actual outcome you want. Instead of being proactive – and thinking creatively about what’s best for everyone, the conversation plays out as if only one of you can win this game. Now, what’s wrong with getting stuck in an opposition is that any two people having a high-stakes conversation are likely to have a lot in common: a relationship, a history, and shared objectives. When you get stuck in an opposition, you stop reacting to what’s good and only react to what you see as bad – the other person’s disagreements, opposition, disrespect. That’s what’s so dangerous – you’re likely to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The Outcome Strategy is there to stop that pattern, see past the opposition, align with each other, and find creative solutions for your outcomes. The strategy has three basic parts:

1. ASK TO UNDERSTAND. Simply tell the person, “I really want to understand you,  your experience, and what you want. Please tell me what is most important to you right now.” In other words, you’re asking to understand their outcome. Most conflicts are triggered by a specific emotion -when the other person doesn’t feel you will look after their interests. When you become a great listener, this changes fast. The thing they’re upset about could be a policy decision, it could be that they want to feel respected, it could mean they sick of deadlines not being met. At bottom, what is upsetting them is the feeling that you are not willing to help them. Listen, listen, listen. Align with them so that you’re helping them get what they need.

2. ASK HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN – AND OFFER HELP. Pretty common-sense, right? When we rally for something, when we push for something to happen, we usually have a vision – an expectation, an idea, a preconception, a bias – on how it should happen or will happen. You need to understand the other person’s vision in very concrete terms. So just say, “What’s important to you is important to me, and I want you (and us) to have this outcome. How are you thinking it’s going to take place? What has to happen? What do you need? What’s the sequence of steps we need to take?” Don’t ask this in a challenging way. Instead, think of yourself as rolling up your sleeves, going side-by-side with the other person, saying, “OK, where do we start?” If you can, take notes and get the sequence of action steps to get to the outcome. Remember: if this is a high-stakes conversation, the upset was caused by the feeling that you’re not looking after your friend… so counter that by committing now to some steps and turn that around. Write your commitments down on paper. This sends a strong signal that you are cooperating and that the argument is over. Once the person understands that you are on their side and that you will help, you also have an opportunity to offer solutions that get you to the outcome more quickly.

3. RAISE THE COMMON INTENT. Now, once the person feels you understand their outcome and how they want to get it, once they feel you are no longer opposed to them, raise the intent. Here’s how this works. When we get into a high stakes argument, it usually devolves to you vs. me. Now that’s a restricted kind of “survival mode” thinking that kicks in when we get into a personal conflict. Now that you’ve aligned with the other person, share a broader intention – of helping you, helping me, of helping those around us, and helping in the long term. When you raise the common intent and widening the circle of people who will get benefits, you have the opportunity also to introduce action steps that may help more people or bring the outcome on more quickly and effectively.

SOUND SIMPLE? The Outcome Strategy sounds simple because it makes a lot of sense intellectually. It’s actually a fundamental skill of problem solving that is useful in just about every high-stakes conversation you’ll encounter. So let’s take a real-world example. The day is September 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks in New York. Tony Robbins had been giving a workshop in Hawaii for 2,000 people from over 30 countries, 50 of whom had just lost friends, family, or businesses in the World Trade Center attacks. The group was incredibly upset, and there had already been outbreaks of arguments and fights. Tony stepped onstage and was guiding the group through a process of emotional mastery to deal with the fact of the event… when a young Pakistani man stood up to exclaim that he felt sympathy with the terrorists. So there you have it: a high-stakes conversation. One man with a minority point of view in the group, speaking in a highly charged, raw way about something that has upset everyone, while others in the room were having to be restrained from attacking him. How does Tony deal with this intelligently? The Outcome Conversation. It’s only 15 minutes long – but it transformed everything.

(there is a video at http://robbinsmadanescoachtraining.com/?p=1464 that I can’t copy here)

How did the Outcome Conversation work with Asad? Let’s review.

1. Tony asked Asad to share how he feels and why, so that Tony can grasp is point of view. Understanding Asad is Tony’s path to mastering the situation. He listens non-judgmentally, thanks Asad for explaining himself, and acknowledges his point of view completely. He also says over and over: “I haven’t had your experience, so I have zero judgment. This is just my opinion. If you want to tell me I’m full of it, I’m totally OK with that, because I’m not you.” This tells Asad that he’s justified in his emotions and that he has been heard and understood.

2. Tony asks Asad “How do you expect this will happen?” In this case, how is the terrorist attack supposed to further the Muslim cause? At this point, the conversation shifted. Asad realized that his position doesn’t make sense… violence would not lead the west to understand, it would just lead to more violence in the cycle. Tony gives Asad a non-judgmental space to figure this out himself. Once Asad realizes that it doesn’t make sense, he’s open to help.

3. Tony raises Asad’s intent. Asad is thinking big – he’s thinking about the Muslim cause and the plight of Iraqis torn by the war, so Tony meets him there and raises his intent even higher: how can we impact the people Asad loves in the most effective way? By condoning violence, or by making violence unacceptable? When Asad accepts this higher intent, he also accepts the responsibilities of being a leader – of seeing how his behavior will impact hundreds and/or thousands.

As a result, a conversation that could have been dangerous or disappointing ended up bringing everyone in the room to a higher level of intent, understanding, compassion, and intelligent action. Asad clarified his outcome and achieved it on that day – and as a result, he became a crusader for tolerance and greater understanding.

After this conversation, Tony invited Asad onstage, along with Bernie, a Jewish man from New York who had stood up to challenge Asad. Tony guided the two through a process of Indirect Negotiation. By the end of the evening, the two men had each had breakthroughs, embraced, and started an organization for religious tolerance. Today Asad continues to work as a crusader for peace. Here is his talk at a TED conference in Karachi, Pakistan.

The 2 pound dog with really big angel wings

Besides onewebstrategy.com, this blog, I also sometimes write – or have my daughters contribute to, another blog about our dog (http://yorkiebichon.wordpress.com/) – it was originally created to be a fun, upbeat, simple little blog about how little things can make a big difference. It was created to entertain, enlighten and help us all remember the importance of laughter, family, friends, and fun. It was something that my daughters could read, that they could write about and contribute to, and they could have a little fun with – and I could have a little fun with… This blog posting is a little bit of a downer, sorry, but needs to be said…..

Hi, this is Daisy’s male human. I am the only male human in her home. Daisy and I wrestle and play more than the others at home.

Heck, I’m a Forty-something male, married with children, and here I am writing about a 2 pound dog named Daisy. Real manly. Are you serious? Yep.

If you have followed the blog for a while, or read the ABOUT page, you’ll know that the blog is based on how (and I realize that it may sound silly) Daisy made a big difference in my family’s life, in my life, during a tough year. Like many Americans, I became unemployed for the first time ever in 2009. I was making some nice money and it went away. Then my wife’s sweet grandmother passed away. Then my dad passed away. 5 weeks later my mother passed away. We lost my wife’s uncle and her other grandmother that year too. We bought Daisy that summer. A little, feisty, fun Yorkie-Bichon.

Daisy brought the family some much needed joy, fun, and distraction that year, and continued to do so.

She often wanted to play, and for 2 pounds, she got into it. Like many dogs, she would always greet you with all sorts of enthusiasm when you came home. She did silly things that made us laugh. She would offer a lick almost anytime you wanted it. More that anything, she loved to cuddle. Being only 2 pounds, should could cuddle in an armpit, on your lap, in one arm, on your shoulder (like a parrot?), and other small places. She had spunk. She always thought that she could jump up anywhere, and would try and try. I think that she believed she could do anything – or that she was bigger and badder than she really was.

One thing that she did for me, and I hardly told anyone, was kinda sweet. I was really depressed one day. I was thinking about the loss of my parents, my unemployment, and my responsibilities as a husband and dad. A tear came down my cheek. Daisy was across the room in her bed but suddenly came running over, jumped up on the couch, and up to my face, and licked the tear off, wagging her tail, and then licking me all over. This happened another tough day too when she was in a completely different room. Somehow she must have sensed it or whatever. She came running in and cheered me up.

She cheered us all up that year, and ever since. In some ways, Daisy represents recovery and renewal for us. She helped us remember that life goes on. Through her unconditional love, we were reminded how we share that love with one another; our family and our friends. We admired her style, her spunk and her enthusiasm – she had a big heart for a little dog. Most dogs help us to be more aware and ‘in the moment’ – to enjoy the present.

We remembered that sometimes the most important thing is a roof over your head, a nice warm bed, food, and people that love you. Those fancy toys don’t really mean that much…..

As you may have noticed, I am speaking of Daisy in the past tense.

This week, Daisy awoke one morning, energetic, wagging her tail, licking us, and full of excitement as usual. Later in the day she became lethargic and slowly went down hill. One Wednesday, Daisy, approx. 2 pounds and 3 years old passed away peacefully.

My first thought was that we, as a family, (or me) still need Daisy to cheer us up….that we still needed her excitement in the morning and when we got home…her presence around the house, in our arms and on our laps.

Then I immediately felt something else. Daisy came to us when we needed cheering up. She did a great job and showed lots of love to the family. We laughed a lot because of her entertainment. Now Daisy is gone and I feel like maybe someone or something is telling us we don’t need her anymore, that we’re ok on our own now – and maybe some other family needs Daisy to cheer them up. Maybe she’s with them now. I may sound weird to some but her passing helped me finally conclude my grief for the sudden loss of both of my parents years ago.

I never thought I’d write a blog about a dog when I was over 40. It sounds kind of silly, actually. Then again, I am consistently, pleasantly surprised by people, life, the universe and all things that come my way lately. I think this blog is not really about just a dog, its about the love and laughter of a family, the playfulness and fund we find in life, of our hopes and happiness –  our pets can represent that sometimes. We personalize them and sometimes ‘impose’ human traits that really aren’t there sure. I am grateful for all of the people in my life. I am grateful for Daisy and all of the pets I’ve had through life.

UPDATE: I posted the above about one day after Daisy passed. In that short of time, we have received some much support from friends, and even some strangers. We received 2 handmade posters, multiple cards from our friends and from classmates of both daughters, our daughters received so much support from their school, we all received supportive texts and Skypes, my wife received many supportive Facebook messages, and people gave us brownies, chocolates, scones and a potted Gerber Daisy plant. School teachers gave hugs. The world is pretty cool. There are some really nice people out there. We have some really great friends. Thanks for all of the nice thoughts. Right back at ya!

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