Meditation for slackers and insomniacs

When you think of meditation, does the idea of eliminating thoughts come to mind? It’s really more about substituting one thought for another. A mantra, sound or vision can fill the vacuum that is typically filled with our “to do” list and other annoying thoughts.

Meditation is not so much a destination as it is a journey. Years ago I used to let my brain get a cramp trying to get somewhere. Now I sometimes use a mantra learned decades ago with TM or picture myself under a lovely evergreen tree. You can use the classic OM sound or picture something that gives you tranquility.

Other techniques that required me to remember successive affirmations have long ago been forgotten. I found them burdensome. When I’m awake at night I use the meditation tool to fall back asleep. I’m sure I’ll be scolded by some as you’re taught to sit upright so that you’re in a state of calm consciousness. I think I hit that zone during the transition back to sleep in my bed at night!

Ask Maddie: Advice for Dogs – The Christmas Sweater

maddie-newPost #2: The Christmas Sweater

Dear Maddie,

Q1: There’s been a lot of noise around the house. A tree without a smell came out of a box and even has lights. I don’t like the dark, but these lights make it hard to nap. My question, however, is about a little sweater that they make such a fuss about. It’s green and red and everyone says I look so cute in it. My friends laugh a little when they see me in it. What gives?

A1: Well, I wanted you to feel in good company, so here’s a picture of me in my Xmas sweater. I’ve had it about five years now. Ever since my owners keep me trimmed up with an electric buzzing device, I get cold this time of year. Once you get past having something binding you, the warmth might win you over. Have you ever hosted a canine sweater soiree? They’re trending now.

Q2: This is a tough time of the year to keep control of myself. The wrapped packages look as if they’d like a little nibble, and the ornaments would be fun to catch. The temptation is unbearable. Last year they closed me in the bathroom just when I let my inner dog loose.

 A2: Haven’t you learned yet that some good things are better left undone? These thoughts of tearing paper, tossing ornaments and tasting tree boughs shouldn’t be repressed entirely. Look forward to a little doggie daydreaming and try to be satisfied when they toss you a small piece of poultry after dinner. If that doesn’t work, remember how cold that bathroom tile floor is.

Author’s note: Maddie is my daughter’s little Dorkie, and lives in Charlotte, NC. We raised her from a puppy.

Ask Maddie: Advice for dogs

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Writer’s note: First, let me qualify that this will be just a one-time, or occasional column to get a few laughs. We’re familiar with write-in columns for humans. I was imagining what kinds of questions a dog might ask and I knew humor was lurking.

Question #1: Dear Maddie, I don’t know why I am asked to sit and shake paws before I get a pet treat from my owners. Why don’t they just give me that treat they wave around in their hands?

Answer: It seems to have a bit to do with controlling our behavior. I’ve been sitting on the pillow when my humans are reading about dog psychology. A new term for me was “Nothing in Life is Free,” or “NLIF.” We have to perform, according to their wishes, to get what we want. Not the worst philosophy, I guess.

Question #2: Dear Maddie, I moved from Florida to North Carolina a few years ago, and I hate wet grass and cold weather! I just can’t get comfortable to do my business outside and then end up going somewhere in the house. Lately, I’ve been confined to the bathroom when my owners are out.

Answer: If your owners decide to cover your feet with boots in inclement weather, you need to wear them. It won’t matter if they are bright, fluorescent green or some other hideous color. Wouldn’t you rather do your business outside and earn the right to roam the house? If you don’t get gifted with boots, you might just have to learn to put up with wet, cold conditions. Life isn’t always like a warm comforter on a bed.

Question #3: Dear Maddie, I’m obsessed with ripping up my toys. When I get all of the stuffing around the house, my owners are so mad at me. Why can’t I seem to play with them without destroying them.

Answer: Are you holding some anger inside of you? I suggest that you try to channel this emotion somewhere else. Do you get a chance to play rough with large sticks outside? Perhaps when you come back into the house, you can play more calmly with the toys you love.

The trench coat and the fashion police

trench-coatIt is never a good idea to think too highly of our personal style. Good style to one might be a fashion nightmare to another. Take a story about my classic trench coat for instance.

My daughter recently dissed my coat. Granted, I haven’t worn it much myself. Sill, I took a certain pride in owning a long, black, London Fog trench coat. I could still be chic in the rain — or so I thought. She had just bought a new suit for an important interview and I knew she didn’t own a raincoat.

Now I must admit that I have been fantasizing about a knee length Burberry trench. It’s the style that you can buy used for $500 on Ebay. I told myself that the trench I have might still work or even be updated. What if I took it to the tailor and asked them to sew in an updated lining? Maybe take the length up? Add a second row of buttons and we could call it a designer hybrid — a Fogberry perhaps.

When my daughter put the trench coat on, she burst into laughter. I hadn’t really thought about how the red details on the black gave a vampirish look to it. We’re just past the Halloween season, so perhaps our minds were getting carried away with us. Still, the coat was far from being an understated beige trench with a soft, brown plaid liner.

I’m having good fun with a coat from around 1980. Is it fair to speak so unjustly about a coat of 35 years? The lining is a bright red material as well. Good thing it hadn’t been zipped in when I offered to share the coat!

As she belted the coat and she gave out a great belly laugh, I couldn’t be offended. I remember other times that she has pulled some similarly outdated items and asked me to reconsider. Before one move, I must have donated one-third of the clothes I thought were still hip.

So, in summary, it’s occasionally a good thing to have another perspective on the wearable art we call clothing. We don’t need to arrive in coats that look like we’ve been on holiday to Transylvania!

Vintage is anothser word used for old, and someimes chic. Sometimes it is fun to relive old experiences and our old clothes trigger good memories. Maybe vintage is a pile destined for the charity bin!

With the laughs behind, the creative inside of me is tempted to transform this coat. Call me cheap or sentimental. I’m a minimalist and a pragmatist who hates waste. It might just be good fun and a great experience to transform it. Wish me luck on the Fogberry theme here in Flanneland. Just don’t hold your breath!

Oh, and if any fashion wannabees have an idea, please share it here on the site. It’s all good fun and a way to relax!