gratitude52, Week 4: My Dogs

gratitude52, Week 4: My Dogs {the ponytail diaries}

gratitude52 (because “52 Weeks of Gratitude” is too much of a mouthful) is a year-long challenge/series on, obviously, gratitude. Read more about the challenge here and all gratitude52 posts here.

This week’s prompt is “A family member” but because I don’t want to pick just one family member to single out and write about, I’m giving it a little twist.

I’ve been lucky enough to have five dogs now, and every one of them has been wonderful. Let’s start at the beginning.

Jasper

My parents got Jasper, a Britney Spaniel puppy, about a year before I was born. (They joke that they wanted to “practice” before having a kid. He broke his leg running in the backyard and drank antifreeze in the garage. So…yeah.) (He survived both of those events just fine. Apparently he stayed at the vet’s overnight after the antifreeze thing on a vodka drip. They said he was a loud drunk.) So I basically grew up with that dog. Walking him after the school was my first official “chore.” He was fun, playful, energetic — until he got older, when he started developing arthritis. I learned that dogs don’t live nearly as long as people — and worse, that it’s part of our job as dog owners to decide when the kindest, most loving act is to put them down.

gratitude52: Jasper {the ponytail diaries}

I remember when dad told me that Jasper’s kidneys were failing and soon, he would stop eating on his own. I said, “I wish Jasper could tell me what he wanted.” My dad asked if I could accept the vet telling me what was best. I guess I did. I remember the morning when Dad told us he would be taking Jasper to vet for the last time while we were at school. I took one last picture with him in front of the fireplace and Dad and I took him for one last walk — just halfway up the block and back, because he couldn’t walk much farther.

Jake

We got Jake, a Golden Retriever puppy, about a year after putting Jasper down. Jake still holds the title in my family as “World’s Greatest Dog,” and he earned it. By now, I was old enough to take part — a little — in training him and started to learn about disciplining dogs and asserting dominance and their pack mentality. Jake exemplified the Golden Retriever traits — smart, eager to please, loyal, active. He loved going to Tahoe — and we took him there a lot. He’d patrol for squirrels, keep watch from the patio, go on hikes, swim in the creek. At some point my dad, and then I, started taking him on runs. Dad established this four-mile loop with him and they’d run four or five days a week. When I tried to take him, he would not go on any other route. That was his running route and that was it. He obviously loved all of us, and really anyone who’d scratch his ears or give him treats, but he had a special bond with my dad.

It was heartbreaking to watch Jake get older — he got horrible arthritis in his hips, and this dog who used to run four miles and want to go again as soon as we got home started to struggle just to stand up. I remember one time when I was home with my dad — we had just eaten dinner and we probably watching the Giants game. We heard a commotion behind us. Jake had gotten his front legs on the dining table and was going for the last half of the French bread we’d eaten with dinner. Dad and I were so impressed that he, at 12 years old, could still do that, I think we rewarded him with a Beggin’ Strip.

gratitude52: Will & Jake {the ponytail diaries}

Will on the left, Jake on the right

Will

We found Will at an adoption event about a year after getting Jake. He was older — about eight or so — and clearly had a rough past, though we never knew much about it. When we first brought Will home, if you banged a cupboard door shut or even clapped your hands suddenly, he’d run to the corner and shake. Eventually he calmed down and learned to trust us. He and Jake were instant buddies. I think Jake helped keep him young and Will sort of acted as an older mentor — like Shadow to Chance in Homeward Bound, a little.

Will loved car rides and jogging. He used to lay on our beds and snuggle himself into our stuffed animals. He was so chill — we could put sunglasses or hats on him and he’d just sit there like “whatevs, dude.” Once he settled with us, he just seemed happy. That perfectly content, free-from-cares, what-more-could-I-ask-for happiness. He had found a loving family and there was no reason to ever be anything but relaxed and carefree. Except in crowds — he’d get overwhelmed when we’d go to Tahoe with the whole extended family. I used to find him hiding in the bathtub. And my youngest cousins, at the time, didn’t fully understand that some dogs liked some personal space or to be handled gently, so he ran and hid when one would see him and yell “WEEEEEELLLLL!”

gratitude52: Sam & Jake {the ponytail diaries}

Sam on the left, Jake on the right

Sam

We used to have baby gates to keep them in the kitchen/den area at night or when we weren’t home. The night that we put Will down, Jake jumped the gate for the first time and made his way to my parents’ room. So just a few months later, we adopted Sam from an Old English Sheepdog rescue group. Oh, Sam. He was a big, klutzy, crazy goofball of a dog. If I’m being honest, he and I probably had the closest bond when I was in high school. The summer I was home from college and only working part-time, when I was usually the last one to get up each morning, he’d come to my bedroom, nudge the door open, and plant himself right next to my bed until I got up. When I took a shower, he’d sit  right outside the bathroom, waiting for me/guarding the door.

It was a role reversal for Jake — Sam was a couple years younger than him, so where Jake used to bug Will with his youthful energy, Sam now hounded Jake. Their relationship was more like brothers — they mostly got along, but they also kinda bickered a lot. We tried to get Sam to run with Jake on those four-mile loops, and Sam would go, because he didn’t want to be left out, but OES are really not made for distance running. I’d go with them and have Jake’s leash in one hand as he pulled ahead, and Sam’s in the other as he lagged behind. Sam’s favorite part was when we turned the last corner home — it was downhill, and I’d drop Jake’s leash (he would pick it up in his mouth and trot straight to the front door) and Sam would muster up his last bits of energy, knowing that treats were coming soon. Nothing, absolutely nothing, made him happier than mealtime. Sam, at his lightest, weighed around 105 pounds, but when he realized he was about to get dinner, he got all four feet several inches off the ground in his excitement. He literally experienced Christmas morning every single day, and still is an inspiration to me to get that excited whenever I have the chance.

Onyx

And now Husband and I have Onyx, and she’s 100% one of the best things in my life. She’s my running partner, my hiking buddy, my shotgun navigator, my fierce protector. I’ve never referred to dogs as “furbabies” and I don’t call myself Onyx’s “mom.” I’ve recently thought about that, and decided it’s because even though she’s “dependent” on me and my husband, it’s not a straight caregiver-dependent relationship. In many ways, she’s more companion than child.

gratitude52: Onyx {the ponytail diaries}

When we first adopted her, I wasn’t totally sure it would work out. She was so shy, so reticent, so damaged by whatever asshole had her first — but it took just a couple weeks for her to start to break out of her shell (with me, at least). And I saw this playful side to her that had probably never been shown before (at first, we’d give her toys and she’d have no idea what to do with them), this intelligence, this amazing capacity to love if someone would just do the same for her.

I’m grateful that Will taught me how amazing and wonderful rescue dogs are if you can be a little patient. I’m grateful for Jake showing me that dogs are the best running and hiking partners. I’m grateful that Jasper first taught me the awesome, amazing responsibility of owning a dog. I’m grateful that Sam showed me what pure joy looks like. I’m grateful that Onyx just makes me smile every single day. And for all of them, for so much more.

I’m grateful that they taught me — are still teaching me — how incredible unconditional love and loyalty feel. How amazing it is to have someone so excited for you to come home or say the word “walk” there’s nothing to do but run around in circles for two minutes.

If you have the love of a dog, you’re doing something right.

 

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Hopelessly Not Hip

Hopelessly Not Hip {the ponytail diaries}

Up until I was 11, I was completely and blissfully unaware of 95% of pop culture. One of my first CDs ever was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (still one of my favorite albums of all time, by the way). Aside from Full House, the Power Rangers, and Disney animated features, I knew next to nothing about what was hot and what was not. (Oh, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. He was dreamy.)

Then I discovered Hanson (because, confession, my grandmother, an elementary school secretary, told me all the girls my age were listening to them) and I was done. Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, NSYNC, and Britney Spears all entered my Discman. I started watching Friends and Will & Grace. I can’t watch Gotham now without thinking about Ryan Atwood from The O.C. My poor parents suffered through radio battles that ended with them listening to Nickelback and Three Doors Down (sorry mom and dad…). I read Seventeen and CosmoGirl and whatever other teen magazines were out there.

But I always kept to my “roots,” such as they were. Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen were right alongside Ricky Martin and Matchbox Twenty in my CD rack. And I never was an “early adopter,” not when it came to POGS or Tamagotchies or even Beanie Babies, and not for Facebook (stubbornly refused to join until June 2005) or Pinterest or blogging or Serial (I think I started listening about six weeks in).

I always wanted to be cool, but now? I’ve accepted and embraced my complete cluelessness about all things considered hip. To wit:

My fifteen-year-old cousins have tried to explain Snapchat to me multiple times, and I still don’t get it.

Until recently, I had literally no idea who Iggy Azalea or Arianna Grande were. I mean, I’d heard their names, and I’d probably heard their songs, but I can’t connect the two. (This happens a lot. I think it took at least four months for me to connect the catchy song I heard on the radio that went “now you’re just somebody that I used to know…” with the name “Gotye.”)

The last five concerts I’ve been to are, in reverse order: Zac Brown Band, Blake Shelton, Journey/Steve Miller Band, Hanson, and Fleetwood Mac. (And I’m beyond bummed we weren’t able to see them again last December when they toured with Christine McVie.) (And Stevie Nicks is a goddess. Watch this if you don’t believe me.)

This is my favorite Spotify playlist. Zeppelin, Stones, Hendrix, Dylan, CCR, The Who, CSN&Y, The Band, Tom Petty? I’m in heaven.

I had to Google “what is a basic bitch” a couple months ago when I started seeing the phrase pop up in blogs and on social media.

Spotify is currently recommending I listen to David Crosby, Alanis Morissette, John David Kent, Arlo Guthrie, James Taylor, and Van Morrison. (Also, Amazon recently recommended I get a Barry Manilow CD, but that’s because I got a Barbra Streisand CD for my mom for Christmas.)

I refused to buy maxi dresses or a chambray shirt until last summer.

I try listening to Top 40 radio stations every now and then, but can’t handle more than a couple songs before switching to classic rock, country (that doesn’t last long either because San Diego’s only country station is horrible) or public access radio.

I’ve never, ever watched a complete episode of The Bachelor/ette.

When I read People magazine these days, more often than not I’m going “who’s that?”


It’s an ongoing struggle, isn’t it? To determine “Do I like this because I really do like it, or because I’m being told to like it?” I’m very much past caring whether or not people judge me for my likes and dislikes, but my challenge now is to give things a chance and not just automatically write them off because they’re popular. It’s all too easy for me to throw up my hands and say “I’m not hip — I don’t know or care about current pop culture” but obviously I get great enjoyment from The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Downton Abbey, and Gotham. I’m actually kinda into Aloe Blacc (though I may have head to look up the correct spelling…) and Bastille. And of course I gotta shake it off for T. Swift. But isn’t it both easier and harder to just like what you like, without worrying about whether others like it or not?

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Passive-Aggressive Open Letters

Passive-Aggressive Open Letters {the ponytail diaries}

Dear Facebook,
Stop showing me posts that are three days old. CHRONOLOGICAL NEWSFEED NOW PLZ.

Dear San Diego drivers,
Do you not understand the point of stop signs and red lights? Or crosswalks and pedestrian right-of-way?

Dear iPhone,
I know you’re barely holding on. Just a little longer, please?

Dear Mrs. Hughes on Downton Abbey,
You rock. Keep on keepin’ on.

Dear obnoxiously loud neighbor,
Try turning your TV off for, like, an hour. I promise you’ll survive without it.

Dear wedding photos,
Pick yourselves for our album.

Dear mouse that may or may not be in my apartment,
If you’re still here, GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.

Dear arch on my right foot,
Please don’t be seriously injured. You only ran 26.2 miles. Get over it. You’re fine!

Dear person holding the library’s only copy of The Desire Map hostage,
Be a decent person and return it. You’ve had that for two months now.

Dear Instagram,
You’re wonderful. Don’t ever turn into Facebook.

Dear Rob Lowe,
Surely you can’t need the DirecTV money that badly. The first commercial was kinda clever, but we get it now. Just stop.

Dear DVR,
You seriously can’t hold more than 20 shows at once? Why do we pay $20 for you every month?

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I Believe…

I Believe... {the ponytail diaries}

I’m linking up with Amanda (The Lady Okie) and Megan (Semi-Charmed Kind of Life) today — I absolutely love this prompt. That’s all.

I believe…

in the road less traveled and getting lost

that everything happens for a reason

in reading

in eka pada rajakapotasana (pigeon pose)

that running is the best way for me to sweat

that the appropriate application of margaritas, cupcakes, chai, wine, and pizza can cure almost anything

that if you haven’t read Harry Potter you need to sit in a corner and think about what you’ve done with your life (and read the books)

in everything classic rock

that guys really do dig chicks who drive stick

that Lake Tahoe is a little piece of Heaven on Earth

in tipping generously

that there’s a special place in hell for people who drive in the exit only lane and cut back into traffic at the last second

in climbing mountains

in high-quality, universal health care and education (and that a teacher’s minimum salary should be $100K a year)

that parrotheads have more fun

that Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey are em-effing demigods

that my generation got royally screwed (but that’s no excuse to bitch and whine and give in)

that every home should have at least one dog

that “even though we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win”

that everyone needs a little grace and the benefit of the doubt

in finding joy in the journey, not the destination (not that I always succeed at this)

that I will always cry when Shadow runs over the hill to Peter, and at “Wanna have a catch?”, “I consider myself…the luckiest man…on the face of the earth…”, “to love another person is to see the face of God,” and “I got off the plane.”

that family always comes first

that love is everything
I Believe Link-Up

 

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Weekly Wishes: Post-Marathon Recovery

Weekly Wishes {the ponytail diaries}

I’m linking up with Melyssa at Nectar Collective today to share my wishes/goals for next week. Join in!

The marathon is over, and my PR still starts with a 4. And, barring a couple miracles, it’s gonna stay that way. It started great — at the last minute, I decided to stay with the 4:00 pace group, which was a fantastic decision. But around miles 16-18, my legs started to feel like they were going to fall off, and by mile 20, they were ready to full-on mutiny. I dropped off the from the group around mile 21.5 and it was a miserable struggle-fest to the finish. I actually got through it in part by telling myself, “Once you finish, you never have to do this again.”

So there’s that.

Also, not only did my parents fly down, my uncle and cousin came to watch from Orange County too. So that was pretty cool.

Last Week’s Wishes

01 | prep to switch the self-hosting
Sort of.

02 | finish editorial calendar for January and get started on February
Almost! January’s mostly figured out and I have a bunch of ideas for posts that need to get scheduled.

03 | start Article Writing Masterclass and stay current with the sessions
Yep.

04 | at least 4 green smoothies
Um, one. Whoops.


This Week’s Wishes

01 | switch to self-hosting

02 | take Onyx on some runs
Poor thing has barely gone on any runs for the past two weeks because of my stupid taper. And she desperately needs to get out and burn some energy. My legs are still kinda mad at me, so this may wait until the end of the week.

03 | work on my portfolio
Now that I actually have clips (!!!) that are stored on my computer, I need to get them uploaded and looking all good on my website.

What are your goals for this week??

The Nectar Collective

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gratitude52, Week 3: Family

gratitude52, week 3: Family {the ponytail diaries}

gratitude52 (because “52 Weeks of Gratitude” is too much of a mouthful) is a year-long challenge/series on, obviously, gratitude. Read more about the challenge here and all gratitude52 posts here.

I could literally write an epic about how awesome my family is.

My parents are flying down this weekend to watch me run the marathon. Let’s just talk about that for a second. I already wrote about how awesome they were when I was running cross country and track meets in high school — and they’re still doing it. They’re going to give up their weekend, fly down from the Bay Area, get up at the ass-crack of dawn, and stand around for 4+ hours to see me for, like, 20 seconds or so. And then watch me eat all the things afterward.

My brothers and I are each two years apart — I’m the oldest, Brother #1 (hereafter known as Med School) is two years younger, and Brother #2 (Rocket Scientist) is two years younger than Med School.

Growing up, we didn’t always get along. Sometimes we did, and we didn’t have a lot of full-on, knock-down fights — but for most of our childhood, we were either bickering or ignoring each other. (Or getting dragged to each other’s various sporting events, often against our will.)

I can’t put into words how grateful I am that, somehow, after I left for college, my brothers and I became friends. We have one dynamic altogether, I have one dynamic with Med School, one with Rocket Scientist, and they have their own.

Med School and I can talk about anything — there was a brief time in college when I got used to late-night calls from him when he needed to either vent about his (now ex) girlfriend or talk through how he didn’t want to pursue film production, but wanted to be a doctor or firefighter instead. And now he’s gonna give me free medical advice for the rest of my life.

Rocket Scientist has this wonderful, dry, subtle sense of humor that cracks me up. He was the most introverted and quiet of the three of us, so I think none of us — my parents included — realized how crazy smart he really is. I mean, he’s got a Masters of Science in what most people agree is the toughest engineering discipline (aeronautical).

I’m already seeing us grow up and grow apart into our separate lives, which makes me even more grateful that we’ve developed this bond — that we’re not just brothers and sister, we’re honest-to-God friends. There is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do for those two.

And as we grow up, I’m also grateful that we have a wonderful example and tradition of family staying close. We’ve been getting together with my mom’s family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) and going to Lake Tahoe twice a year since I was about four or five. When I was in junior high-ish, my parents bought a cabin up there. Then they bought land and my dad designed a custom family vacation home. And we still get together for those two weeks every year — in addition to Thanksgiving and Easter and other random occasions (graduations, First Communions, whatever). We’re lucky that everyone’s in California (and Reno) — and even though not everyone can come to every get-together, I know without a doubt I’ll see every single relative (plus some second cousins and cousins once removed) at some point every year. And I know that all those get-togethers will be fun and drama-free. My dad’s family is a little more spread out and we don’t see those aunts/uncles/cousins as often — but I still love them all and I think it makes me even more grateful to have my mom’s side.

So I’m grateful to my parents for instilling a “family first” mindset (also, Husband says that’s part of what made him want to marry me). And I’m grateful that I genuinely like every single one of those crazy nuts. We’re far from perfect, but I really can’t relate to those articles that crop up around the holidays about “how to deal with stressful family dinners,” or people who complain about “having” to go visit family.

I know I’m so incredibly lucky to have such an amazing group of supportive, accepting, loving, helpful, unselfish people around me (remember how a bunch of them rearranged plans to come help me find Onyx over Thanksgiving?). And most of all, I’m grateful that I recognize how amazing that is, because I won’t ever take it for granted.

 

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