Visit PetSmart at Halloween

Dog in hat and sunglassesCalling all ghosts and goblins. If you want to get into the Halloween spirit early, and put a ghoulish grin on your face, visit PetSmart this week.

Every year, PetSmart offers Halloween photos of your pet in costume. Last year when we visited the store before Halloween, the store was filled with primped pets prowling the aisles. There was a ghoulish greyhound, a devilish Dalmatian and a schnauzer dressed as Superman.

At PetSmart, trick or treating takes on a whole new meaning. Raise your paw, get a treat. Roll over and speak. Woof down another treat.

We popped into PetSmart on Saturday—there weren’t many dogs dressed up since Halloween was still 10 days away, but there was a big lab growling at the Pet Smart mascot, and a little Jack Russell trying to catch the rats in the photo display.

This week’s #HappyAct is to visit PetSmart before Halloween. Just don’t shell out near the fish tanks and steer clear if a black cat crosses your path.

Ed. note: I didn’t get many good photos at PetSmart this week, so I’m sharing a couple of costume pictures of our loveable mutts.

Dog in flamenco costume

 

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Always see with your heart

Facebook this morning is full of images and RIP messages for a very special golden retriever: Smiley.

Smiley was born without eyes, and a rare condition that made him look like he smiled all the time. He worked as a therapy dog bringing joy and happiness to everyone he met. His owners had to put him down yesterday.

His owners posted this yesterday, “The little dog with a big heart and a grand purpose left us today at 12:30pm. In Smiley’s honour, please be kind to one another, give back, and always see with your heart.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to always see with your heart and keep smiling. RIP Smiley.

Wag more, bark less

Bumper sticker that says wag more, bark lessYesterday was #NationalDogDay. There is much we can learn from our four-legged friends.

  • Love unconditionally
  • Nap often
  • Let the wind ruffle your ears
  • Live life with abandon
  • Play
  • Walk daily
  • Take time to stop and sniff the roses
  • Wag more, bark less

This week’s #HappyAct is to take a cue from man’s best friend. Let’s all wag more, bark less.

Accept we are not in control

Comic Mind full or mindfulSpecial guest blog by Ray Dorey. You can read more of Ray’s adventures at www.storiesfromdoreyville.wordpress.com.

“The key to a happy life is to accept you are never actually in control.” – Character of Simon Masrani, Jurassic World.

I think I laughed out loud when I first heard this. I’d always believed the polar opposite. But as I’ve come to learn, these words from a fictional movie about a dinosaur park couldn’t ring more true.

I have somewhat of an obsession with “to do” lists – summaries both personal and professional, detailing all of my goals and tasks for a given period of time.

In my job, I have every day of the week planned nearly down to the minute. All meetings and objectives are scheduled to optimize efficiency and ensure completion.

And whether personally or professionally, I had always at least partially measured my success by how many of the items on my list were completed in the time I had prescribed.

But as we all know, life often doesn’t care about our tidy lists. It can be so easy for our plans to fall off the rails, and that can lead quickly to frustration – and possibly anxiety if we allow it.

I’ve learned that what is far more important than measuring ourselves strictly to planned objectives, is how we choose to react to the inevitable surprises and challenges that get interjected without notice or reason.

The past two years have been especially challenging for me personally. I’ve suffered multiple retinal detachments in both of my eyes, requiring surgery and extended recovery periods. In an instant, all of my immediate plans were abruptly pushed to the side, and longer-term plans became a complete blur (pardon the pun).

But my recent health issues have also strangely been among the most positive things to happen to me. Throughout seemingly endless visits to my ophthalmologist, I encountered and empathized with many others fighting their own vision issues, from the very young to the elderly.

My experience has taught me patience, perspective, and what is truly important in life. During recovery, when I couldn’t do much but keep my head down and stare straight at the floor, I would write (using my one good eye of course). I’d often scribe summaries of everything I was grateful for – from my parents, siblings, and faithful canine companion, to the air I breathe. It didn’t take long to fill at least a page and a half every time.

I watched a documentary recently about mindfulness, the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment. Participants at a weekend retreat were first required to purge distractions including leaving their smart phones in their rooms. Two of the exercises stood out. In the first, attendees simply walked across a room. But they did so very slowly, and were encouraged to be mindful of every step, including awareness of the position of their body and the feel of their feet on the floor. In the second exercise, participants ate a quiet meal, chewing slowly and focusing carefully on the taste and texture of every bite. On the surface, both exercises appeared ridiculous, but I understood the lessons they were meant to teach – to concentrate on the here and now and truly savour each precious moment.

I now follow a couple of Twitter feeds to provide daily reminders to slow down and value each moment. Buddha Quotes (@ByBuddha) and Daily Zen (@dailyzen).

As I write, I often glance at my dog, sleeping peacefully on the couch. I envy her, for I doubt she ever worries about the future. If she could write, her daily “to do” list would most likely be limited to four core activities: eat, drink, play and sleep. Not in any particular order, and just responding to needs and wants from one “now” to the next.

At the risk of oversimplifying, we really need to learn to “go with the flow.” There’s no problem in trying to maintain control – we all have responsibilities that we must try and manage. Just be cognizant of the fact that challenge lies around every corner, and we must be mentally prepared – and conditioned – to cope.

This week’s #HappyAct is to focus on the present moment. Every minute you spend worrying about future events robs you of your enjoyment of the here and now. Practiced mindfulness can easily lead to deliberate happiness.

Where do you turn when you feel all alone?

sign that says this too shall passI’ve learned something important about happiness this week. It’s hard to be happy when you feel all alone in the world.

This week, for reasons I won’t disclose I’ve felt very alone and isolated. In fact, I can’t ever recall feeling quite this way before. I struggled to find my own inner happiness. I tried, oh, how I’ve tried, but I’ve learned it’s difficult to be happy when you feel all alone.

Here are some of the things that helped this week. Hopefully they will help you too if you ever find yourself feeling this way.

  • Being around other people. On Friday, I went for a skate at Market Square in Kingston. Just being around other people laughing and having fun outside on a beautiful cold winter’s day made me feel better
  • Spending time with my animals. No matter what, your pets will always love you.
  • Spending time outside—feeling the sun on my face, going for a walk on a crisp wintry night surrounded by the stars
  • Calling an old friend and hearing a friendly voice
  • Playing the piano. When I play the piano, I forget everything else and just concentrate on the notes, and the beautiful melodies floating up from the keys.
  • Writing—I guess it’s no surprise I’m writing this post at 4 in the morning when I couldn’t sleep

When all else fails, indulge in a good bout of tears, preferably in a hot tub under the stars. At least, that’s what my Mom always used to say (well, not the hot tub part–that piece of wisdom is mine).

This week’s #HappyAct is to share a comment on this week’s post. Have you ever felt all alone in the world? What did you do? And don’t worry about me. I’m hopeful, this too shall pass.

Ed. note: While generally I try to post positive, uplifting happy acts each week, I believe it’s just as important to know and spark discussion on what makes us unhappy.

The Sounds of Silence

morning sunIt’s 8:30. I’m sitting in the sunroom sipping my morning coffee, the sun streaming through the windows.

The house is still.

Bella is sprawled full-length on the futon, one eye half-open. Murphy is lying quietly at my feet, occasionally stirring to scratch an itch.

Clare is curled up on the living room couch under a blanket, fast asleep. Grace is at a friend’s sleepover.

Dave, the early riser of the house, is still in bed.

I hear nothing.

No kids yelling. No phones ringing or devices beeping. No irritating noise of the TV in the background. No dogs barking.

Just the sounds of silence.

This week’s #HappyAct is to find a few precious minutes this week to enjoy a moment of peace, quiet and solitude.

Dog sleeping on couch

 

 

Girl sleeping

Forget the Super Bowl, watch the Puppy Bowl

puppy bowl logoI used to think the biggest TV sporting event of the year was the Super Bowl. I was wrong. Puppy Bowl 12 kicks off today at 3 p.m. Sponsored by Animal Planet, and billed as the cutest sporting event ever, the bowl of dreams features 49 players from different animal shelters across the United States playing for #TeamRuff or #TeamFluff.

There’s a tailgate party starting at 2:30, Pup Close and Personal features on each player and a Kitty half-time show.

If you’re on Twitter you can follow @MeeptheBird for the latest news, puppy drama and locker room moments from inside the stadium.

Who are you going to cheer for, Bonnie, Clyde, Wrinkles, Cream Puff or maybe Brooklyn? All the puppies playing in today’s bowl are either up for adoption or have been adopted.

As they say in one of their trailers for today’s show, “They can smell victory, and I’m pretty sure they will lick it too.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to forget #SuperBowlSunday and watch the #PuppyBowl. Check out this video featuring some of this year’s line-up. And special thanks to my friend Tim Aylesworth for helping me discover Puppy Bowl mania!