Thursday, December 31, 2009

Should Old Acquaintance, Etc.

A year ago today, I posted a blog about what I should resolve for 2009. (You can read it in its entirety by locating it in the menu at the right: 2008, December, entitled "What To Resolve"). I settled on "being positive". Not an easy one, when faced with insurmountable reasons to do otherwise.

I said I would keep readers posted on how I was doing. Assessing the situation at year's end, I'd say I was successful 80% of the time - not bad, really. In the 20% of the time I failed to approach something in a positive way, I did usually berate myself for the defeat, so that counts for something too. In a year when there were so many depressing avenues I could have pursued, I'm pretty proud of my follow through. But I know I didn't accomplish it alone.

I have family and friends who never fail to support me, indulge me, and inspire me. But I don't always express to them how much my life depends on their love and friendship. So, my resolution for 2010 is to make certain they know. I plan to do this through written letter, phone communication, and conversations in person. It's way too easy to say to yourself, "They know how I feel" because to express it is sometimes difficult or just plain time consuming. Not an excuse in this day and age when we have so many avenues of expression. And it's too important to me.

I can honestly say that there are scores of people in my life who have no idea that knowing them has influenced or bettered my life; they have touched me, continue to touch me, and, by keeping their caring alive, I think I'll stay on that path of positiveness.

I also believe it will provide me with new threads of creativity. Connecting with other human beings - learning about their needs, their happiness, their goals - fuels me in many ways. Best of all, by doing it, I maintain those ties that are so important to me.

At the end of 2010, I want to be able to say that I've renewed some ties, strengthened others and fulfilled my resolution in a way that was good for both sides. I'll be even busier this next year, and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remain In The Day

One of my favorite films is "Remains Of The Day". It tells the bittersweet story of two servants in an upper-class British mansion who love each other, silently, for years but never express it in words to each other, not even years later when they meet again. I admire the work because of the intelligent script, the perfection with which Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson portray their characters, and the insight I never fail to gain by observing the immense difference between the British classes of that time. Even though I've watched the film numerous times, I always cry openly at its tragic ending.

I recently read an article about British actor, Bill Nighy, in which he talked about his recent role in "Pirate Radio" and an observation he made while doing that film. The observation had to do with retrospective insight. His words spoke to me. He quoted a line from the film about how people think when reminiscing : "Those were the days of my life." He countered with the notion, "These are the days of my life," going on to explain that he wasn't going to search the past, or the future, for clues about how to celebrate life. He said he planned to "remain in the day, and experience it fully."

"Remain in the day" - perfect advice, especially in these tormenting times of financial and personal unrest. The challenge is not in looking backward to better times, or in projecting gloom and doom for the future based on what might happen. If, instead, you "stay in the moment", applying all your energies to what you can do now, focusing on what is in your life at this moment that is positive, and taking that power and insight and using it to make today the most important time of all, it certainly seems to me the better use of your mental and physical talents.

The last scene in "Remains Of The Day" between Hopkins and Thompson is a silent farewell that borders, for the viewer, on agony. I want so much for one of them to say something or do something that will change the moment into one that will benefit them both. The title of the film is never more true than it is in that scene. I feel they both lose because they are focused too much on past convention and future uncertainty. It makes for a memorable cinema moment, yes, but I grieve for their loss.

I must admit I try but sometimes fail to live in the day myself. I want to, I know I'm more productive when I do, and I know those around me are happier when I do. But it's not something you just "do". It takes concentration and perseverence because it's easier to blame the past or to give up before you make the effort to try. I think I'm getter better at it and Nighy's words gave me a push to "get back in the game". I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Welcoming A New Family Member

Anyone who has read my blog from the beginning knows I am a dog nut. Dogs have been a part of my life throughout my life, and I can't imagine it any other way.

So, it should be no surprise that the "new family member" in the title of this piece refers to a canine. My husband and I have wanted a second dog since saying goodbye to Rascal over two years ago. Unfortunately, circumstances kept preventing that. But recently we found a loophole, so to speak. We learned that our county animal shelter would allow anyone 65 or older (my husband fits that description) to adopt a dog for $1.00! So, off we went to the shelter and, by late afternoon, Shayla had been welcomed into our home.

Shayla is a beautiful 3-year old black Labrador, well behaved, loving, and, best of all, accepted by our 10-year-old hound, Molly Brown. More specifically, Molly is tolerating her at this stage, but each day brings new bonding between the two of them. Yesterday they chased each other around the backyard with playful glee; I haven't seen Molly exercise that much since Rascal was alive! Molly has taken to sleeping near Shayla for part of each night, and she accepts - most of the time - Shayla's attempts to play with her, although she walks away from such invitations so far. But Shayla's only been here for two weeks; I predict they'll be pals before much more time passes.

With the exception of two, all of the dogs we have owned have come from shelters or been abandoned and adopted by us. We promote this way of getting a canine to add to your family. There is just something about rescuing a shelter dog that adds to the love quotient in my heart. We're both winners in this scenario.

The best part of adopting Shayla is the added joy she brings to everyone in the family; she is that bigger dog that's been missing for so long. We know without reserve that we couldn't have found a better canine to fit that empty space. We know that her love and devotion will only add to our homefront blessings.

I'm sure you'll be hearing more about Shayla in future posts; about Molly's acceptance of her, about how she's fitting in to our routines, about her discoveries and our discoveries of her. So, welcome, Shayla, to the wild and wacky Ogren clan!

NOTE: I was felled by a virus in November that had me in bed for over two weeks and I spent the rest of the month recuperating. I hope to be back at my writing full steam beginning this week.