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This weekend I had the honor of being able to help administer the Covid vaccine to our frontline healthcare workers. I was excited to dust off my nursing license and scrubs, but that emotion quickly changed to my being humbled.
The healthcare workers I met did not discuss politics. There was no concern over the vaccine being "fake news." Every person eagerly rolled up their sleeves and thanked me after the vaccine. They thanked me - how ridiculous was that?
Over and over I heard the word "hope." One woman spoke of her mother, who passed away a month ago from complications of Covid. A young man shared how he and his family were worried about the vaccine side effects, so he was putting aside his worry to receive the vaccine (social media photo included) in the hope his family would see how safe it was and follow suit.
The atmosphere was one of fatigue and sadness for what had come before and what we still currently face, tempered by that word again. Hope. We need to remain focused, with facemasks, handwashing and social distancing. Let's honor our frontline workers by staying safe ourselves as we move to create a wall against this terrible virus.
As we set our goals for 2021, please continue to thank, and recognize our frontline workers. When 2020 has been in our rearview mirror for a time, and we have returned to hugging family members at gatherings, continue to remember those who you are grateful for today.
To my hair stylist: thank you.
To my UPS driver: thank you.
To our military: thank you.
To our truckers: thank you.
To the gas station attendants: thank you.
To everyone who acts as the backbone of our country: thank you.
A special thank you to our medical personnel, EMS crews, firefighters and police.
And to all of you who follow my blog and have supported me in my writing, I appreciate you more than you can know. Thank you.
The turkey leftovers are gone and holiday wreaths are up. This has been a tough year for everyone, so let's talk about holiday gift-giving. Usually we have all begun stressing over gifts by now. What do I get my boss? Last year my neighbor gave me a fruit basket - do I need to get her something? The normal stress of the season has been taken up a notch with Covid and all its terrible repercussions.
Stop. Just stop. None of us has the same expectations as last year and most of us are now grateful for the simple things. I hope you all are doing well and I wish for you health over the next few months. Give yourself some grace. If you cannot afford the normal gifts, it's ok. Here are some ideas for low-cost (or no-cost) presents.
Give of your time. Know someone who is busy or can't get out? Give them a hand made certificate for three trips to the grocery store, or a run to the vet. Call an old friend or family member you haven't spoken to in awhile and just listen. Look up community giving activities like food or coat giveaways and help advertise/promote them. Baking cookies? Drop some of those off at your nearest animal shelter - those workers are never appreciated enough!
Give a subscription - and set it up! This is especially helpful for those of us who are not technically savvy. Maybe a grandparent wants to see the grandbaby on zoom but can't get the account set up. Have it ready to go with a year's membership. Know a gardener? Get an annual subscription to Gardeners' World. For those who struggle getting out, pay for a year's membership to Instacart so they can get groceries or even prescriptions delivered without a fee!
What about those last minute people or groups like your work team? Make a one-time donation to your favorite charity (no amount is too small) from the department or all your neighbors. Have a stack of cards which say inside "A holiday donation has been made to..." This advertises and gives to the charity while doubling as a gift. Win - win!
Lastly, if you are struggling physically, emotionally or financially, give yourself permission to let gifts go this year. There will be other opportunities. Take care of yourself. Believe in yourself. At a time when we are all worried and may feel alone, you are not alone. Below are a few sites I found helpful for coping through the holidays. If you have a great link or gift suggestion, please add it to the comments below. Stay safe and healthy!
Grief.com — – Grief & The Holidays
Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping - Mayo Clinic
October is a great month. It is the beginning of fall, my birthday month and Breast Cancer Awareness (Get those puppies checked!). It is also Dog Rescue Month. We could all use a little positivity right now, so I am going to share pictures and info on my rescue dogs, past and present. Here is the most important thing though - I want you all to respond with your own rescue dog pics. Drop a photo and share a few lines about your favorite rescue dog so we can all smile.
Hope was one of my first rescues. Bossy and head of the house, I never met a dog so fearless.
Angel may look like a Lab but she was meant to be an adult Chihuahua or Terrier. I had gone to the shelter and asked for a small dog. Of course I brought Hope with me. She was having none of it and turned down every dog the technician brought us. As we were leaving, a Lab puppy waddle/rolled past us. Hope jumped on her (literally) and they became fast friends. My sweet girl loved the whole world but was terrified of storms. I am reassured to know she is now rolling around in a place where there is only sunshine.
Annabelle was my con artist. She was being placed in a crate at the shelter as I walked by. The attendant said she had been returned to them twice because of her cough. As I looked at her she let out a little *cough* and looked pitiful. Of course, once we got home she never coughed again. She was also my hunter. She could corner a mouse, bug or tiny snake faster than anyone before or since!
Baby had a horrible start to her life and is still (nine years later) afraid of strangers and loud noises. A snuggle-bug, she sleeps next to me and snores like a forty-year smoker with sleep apnea.
Tiger was with me for too short a time. A ruptured diaphragmatic hernia surprised us both and I still miss him. He was my first "pocket" dog and just wanted to be in a purse or pocket all the time.
Foster came from a hoarding situation and was the funniest and grumpiest old man I ever met. He loved me but bit almost everyone else. Luckily he had no teeth so couldn't hurt anyone. When I brought him home he instantly fell in love with Baby and always kept her within sight.
I called the shelter after Tiger died and asked about a small dog. They said they had a new arrival but "she wasn't very attractive." I laughed and knew she belonged with me, sight unseen. The bossiest of the group, she tells us all when it is time to eat or sleep.
Jack and Jill came to me from a criminal case and I don't share their early photos. They are inseparable but very different. Jill has vision and memory issues but loves the whole world (including snakes and wasps). Jack is the protector of everyone, but no one more so than his sister. He is the jokester and will do anything to make me laugh.
And finally we have Blanche. At 16, someone decided they couldn't care for her anymore and dropped her at an Alabama shelter. A little medical care and a flea bath later and she is part of the pack. Her cataracts don't slow her down and she knows the layout of the house better than I do. Each morning she wakes up and does a little jiggle-dance, reminding me to appreciate the day! As I end this list, remember to post a photo of your own!
Over the past few months my "eating out" money has shifted to "audio book money." Although I love reading a physical book, social distancing has given me a craving for human voices. It is also difficult to exercise or do activities while reading a traditional book, while you can put an audio book on your phone speaker and listen while doing something else or staring out at the sunrise and drinking coffee.
My newfound enjoyment of audio books started me thinking about my own books and how I "hear" my characters. My first book in The Supernatural Pet Sitter series was read by a fabulous narrator (check out the audio book version here) but hiring a narrator can be cost-prohibitive.
As you all know, I love a new challenge. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I bought audio book versions of several "how-to" books on narration. After several microphones and various equipment failures, I went with a simple microphone plugged into my iPhone and I began practicing. Hearing your own voice is odd!
I chose A Hand of Magic as my first book. The hardest thing was trying to not laugh during the sex scenes! I had a surprising amount of fun bringing a voice to Madison and the book almost created itself. The first audio book has now been published, and the second book in the series is in the quality check phase for release in October. I would love to narrate Dog Gone, but the book is so serious the thought of it is daunting. Stay tuned to see if I tackle that one.
If you have never read an audio book I encourage you to find one on Amazon or Audible. Pick any category: art, music, history or a romance novel. I've had fun lately with ghost stories but have stayed away from political books. If you haven't read A Hand of Magic, or just want to hear it brought to life in a different way, check out the audio book here.
I appreciate all the great feedback I have received around my new adoptee, Blanche. You will be glad to know she is doing fabulously and has even begun to gain a little weight. We both enjoy our morning trips to Dunkin Donuts where the drive through staff know her by name. Everyone stay well!
Lately, there has been an explosion of Chihuahua hoarding rescues in the news, and almost every shelter has at least one of the little characters waiting to be adopted. The reasons for this are complicated and something for another day's discussion. Last week I received a plea from one of my favorite rescues, saying that there was a senior Chihuahua, half blind and sickly, far south in a rural Alabama shelter. The shelter could not care for her and was desperately looking for someone to pull her into a home.
A few months ago my pack been reduced to four when my oldest girl, Annabelle, died. I had known then I would get another rescue, I was just waiting for the right one. I immediately recognized this nameless girl was who I had been waiting for. I drove five hours to pick her up, then loaded the front seat with a terrified, scrawny, half blind senior Chihuahua.
Over the next few days I was filled with righteous indignation. Who would dump this sweet girl at a shelter, and why hadn’t they taken better care of her before then? I created a fictitious enemy in my mind and cursed him/her for their lack of caring. The old girl's new name became Blanche, and she needed antibiotic’s for her teeth, flea treatment, a good nail trim, small bits of food every few hours, and a lot of love.
Once Blanche started to feel better, I realized several things. She was not afraid of anyone, and was not your normal shaky Chihuahua. She rode great in the car, and could sniff out a french fry from anywhere in the front seat of the car. She tracked me around the house better than submarine radar and not once had (or has had) an accident in the house.
Someone had loved this old girl, likely for many years. My anger faded as I thought about what it would have taken for someone to leave her at the shelter. Likely they truly thought it was better for her, with whatever circumstances they were going through. Maybe they had lost their job, or become ill. Maybe they didn’t have a lot of family or support to help them care for the animals in their home. The fleas, weight loss and bad nails had happened over time. Had circumstances gradually declined in the house? Maybe it was for precisely those reasons that Blanche was given up, in the hope of her receiving better care.
Then I thought about myself in the future. There will come a day when I can no longer rescue dogs. When the volume of dogs I have or had would have to slowly decrease. Who knows what the future brings for any of us? I will try to have grace, and wish I could tell Blanche's previous family that she is loved and will be safe for the rest of her days. I learn something from every dog I rescue, and maybe the lack of judgment is what Blanche was sent for me to learn. Whatever the reason, I am grateful to now have her as part of my pack. And remember, adopt, don't shop!
Who am I, and what makes my blog different? I believe that animal rescue, as hard as it is, can also be uplifting. Every tale I have ever written has animals as central characters. My goal is to provide practical, positive information for animal lovers, interspersed with helpful tips for writers (and writers-to-be). I will also share updates on upcoming books and my canine family. We all have stories to tell - let's get started!