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Posts Tagged ‘Nala’

Living 100%

I’m back home from DC and the World Fantasy Convention, and I have that slightly hazy post-con mind with which many of you are probably familiar. I got to spend time with so many amazing people, and yet I felt like I didn’t have close to as much time as I wanted: another familiar feeling. But I did have many wonderful conversations, and I’m going to piece together a few for you.

But first, a dose of the adorable Nala.

But first, a dose of the adorable Nala.

I was talking about this blog, the way I do, and I always do a terrible job explaining what it’s about. But one thing I said sticks out to me now through the blur. I tell personal stories on my blog, I said, in order to illustrate insights I have had that I think might be helpful to other people. I don’t know that I’d ever put it into such simple words before, but yes, this is one of the reasons I keep blogging.

And because it is one of the reasons, I’m going to tell you a story that I told a friend this weekend.

My mom was in remission from cancer my senior year of high school, and she came to see me perform as the Narrator in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I remember that she had an interesting reaction to that performance. She was proud of me and happy for me, but she was also … wistful. I don’t remember if we talked about it or not, and what we said if we did, but I do remember what I thought about it at the time.

I had been one hundred percent alive on that stage during that performance. From the opening bars when I descended from the ceiling of the stage in what amounted to a mechanical box through to the finale, I’d felt energy pouring through me, along with that feeling that I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. And I had the impression that watching me being so fully and utterly alive and ME was a bittersweet experience for my mom because she had never had the opportunity to do that.

She was diagnosed with another cancer later that year, and as she was dying, I watched her venture outside her comfort zone a little bit. She flew with my dad to Hawaii once or twice and had a beautiful time, whereas before she’d never felt comfortable with travel. She spoke at the memorial for one of her support group members, even though she’d never liked speaking in public. And in these small actions, I could see the shape of who she might have been or become shimmering in front of me like a phantom.

And then she died.

And watching this, here is what I decided. When I die, whenever that should be, I don’t want to see that phantom of myself. I don’t want to see the most awesome version of Amy who I was too afraid to be. That is why I work so hard–and make no mistake, it is hard and sometimes punishing work–to learn about myself and to push myself and to figure out who I can be. It’s not about being perfect or easy or comfortable, and it’s not about straining upwards towards an unreachable ideal. Rather, it’s about trying to be the best possible version of myself, whatever that might entail in this moment.

Or in other words, it’s about being one hundred percent committed to this business of being alive. I don’t want to feel wistful because I’ve never had that.

Instead, I want to revel in it.

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I’ve been very tired lately, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve come down with a cold. I’m taking it easy for a few days, and I don’t have the brainpower to tackle the post I wanted to write today, so instead it is obviously time for some adorable dog photos.

Nala shaking my hand.

Nala shaking my hand.

Nala is a very food-motivated dog, so the main problem with doing tricks with her is that she gets so excited, she has trouble focusing enough to figure out which trick I’m asking her to do. Instead she tends to wave her paws wildly in the air and/or wag as fast as she can. But with a little bit of patience, she is happy to shake hands.

The Nala blur.

The Nala blur.

I know this isn’t a great photo, but I love it because it captures how excited Nala gets. She just can’t stay still. This is a different trick in which she grabs my hand with both paws.

In other news, it seems like fall has come along with my cold. When I took Nala outside today, I shivered and realized I’d have to wear heavier clothing if I actually had the capacity to leave my house today. It’s getting dark earlier, and the time change is less than two weeks away. I’m wearing boots again, and the house has held steady at 80 degrees Farenheit today without any A/C. (Yes, I live in a very hot location in a very hot apartment. Who knows what this experience may have done to my already poor temperature regulation abilities.)

I generally dislike cold weather, but for the first time in my life, I am so ready for winter.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to opine on this year’s general disdain towards all things pumpkin spice. I guess it’s supposed to be funny? Are peppermint, egg nog, and gingerbread flavors funny in December? Personally I think they’re tasty, just as I’m happy to be able to order my favorite pumpkin spice chai at the coffee shop again. I’d order that drink all year if I could. As it is, I limp along with the occasional vanilla chai in the spring, but it’s not the same.

Anyway, is the pumpkin spice hatred because of ridiculous marketing? Occasionally I feel like there’s this whole slice of American culture that I’m missing out on because I don’t watch television commercials. I’m pleased to miss it, but once in a while I have a conversation in which I have to plead ignorance and change the subject. In any case, I have trouble seeing how pumpkin spice marketing could reach anywhere near the ridiculousness of Christmas marketing, but I suppose stranger things have happened.

And now it is time for me to rest some more. Until Thursday, my friends.

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Cute Dog Day

Every now and then, I need to declare a cute dog day. This is one of those days.

Here, have a cute dog photo:

Nala!

Nala!

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I’m writing this on Monday, the 16th. Today is the five-year anniversary of bringing Nala home from the shelter.

Here are the two of us on that happy day:

I look so thrilled.

I look so thrilled.

Anyone who has seen the two of us together knows how devoted we are to each other. And Nala is great at bringing out my inherent silliness. My quirky relationship with her has inspired much gentle teasing over the years…and then it began to rub off. I am no longer the only person who tells Nala she is only six. (I remind her of her age because I feel her grasp of numbers and time isn’t the strongest. And because it entertains me every single time.)

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Sometimes I call Nala my Wisdom Dog. Her life is relatively simple, and it’s all about love. She is sad when I leave, and she is beside herself with joy when I come home. She is enthusiastic about making new human friends. She gets so much happiness from rolling around on the carpet and chasing her cow around the room and licking her already completely clean Kong. She takes pride in her fierce barking that protects our apartment from strange noises. She is a happy little dog, and watching her be happy reminds me of all the things I have to be happy about too.

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Nala is my best friend. I don’t mean that in a sad, isolated kind of way; I have so many lovely people in my life, and they are each special to me. But I spend the most time with Nala; she is here all day while I work, she is here at night when I go to bed. She is here when I write, here when I’m bouncing up and down with excitement, here when I cry. She is a dog, which means there are so many parts of me she can never really understand. But she knows some essential part of me better than anyone else.

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I have often said that adopting Nala is one of the best decisions I’ve made. Every decision in life has its tradeoffs, and this is no exception. But when it comes down to having an easier time finding a place to live versus having Nala in my life, I don’t hesitate. She enriches my life beyond calculation with her presence.

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Nala teaches me how to love every day, and that is a beautiful thing.

Best friends.

Best friends.

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Travel Day

Today is a travel day, so here, have a photo of a cute little dog:

Adorable.

Adorable.


She took advantage of the chaos of moving to find a particularly comfortable place to sleep.

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Fall Cleaning

Spring is the traditional time to clean, of course, but this year I am cleaning in autumn. Not my house, although that could probably use it too, but a more general airing of my life. It feels like a nice time for it, with the new school year fully in swing and the weather turning cooler.

Some of my fall cleaning is about maintenance. I finally went in for a physical and got my flu shot. I procrastinated on this so long last year that it didn’t end up happening. I got my teeth cleaned. I finally got a hair cut. I’m planning to go buy new socks for the winter, and then remove all my old socks with holes in them from my drawer. (I expect there to be a not small number of those.)

A lot of my fall cleaning is about taking space. A friend of mine recently asked when the last time was that I felt stress-free, and I couldn’t think of an answer. I’d already been taking the time and space I needed to relax during the last few weeks, but this only increased my resolve.

It’s not that I am able to avoid all stress right now–I wish!–but now that I’m not being constantly bombarded with urgent matters, I can breathe and place some limitations on what stress I’m allowing into my life. A lot of that has more to do with my outlook and what I’m willing to emotionally take on than with anything happening outside of myself. And some of it has to do with observing my own experience and being okay with it instead of existing constantly under a harsh eye of judgment.

I am also on the look out for new perspective. Some of this comes from giving myself permission to take time to think through things. Some of this comes from discussing things with other people and listening to their thoughts. And some of this comes from being open to what is new and different.

Quality Nala time!

Quality Nala time! Photo by Yvette Ono.

And I am doing things that I find nurturing. This involves lots of Nala time and the occasional pumpkin spice chai. It involves giving and receiving support from friends and using this time to draw closer. It involves quiet time and honesty and toast and walks to soak up the sunshine. It involves sleeping late and soaking in the hot tub and paying attention to what sounds good in the moment.

Are you doing any fall cleaning this year? What does it mean to you?

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I got the flu shot, and now I’m feeling pretty sick. So, instead of the post I was planning…

Here is a cat in a bag:

Saber made a lot of effort to get into this bag.

Saber made a lot of effort to get into this bag.

And here is a little dog who loves to be petted:

Nala is particularly fond of belly scratches.

Nala is particularly fond of belly scratches.

I’m going to go do nice, wholesome things like sleep and eat soup now.

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