Friday, July 15, 2011
It's been a really difficult week and I'm glad it's over. Every day seemed to be a challenge none more than the death of my youngest son's dog, Kaya. Kaya was around 12 years old and a combination of half Bull Mastiff and maybe a pit and maybe an American bulldog. Aaron rescued Kaya while he was in law school at Syracuse getting a law/MBA double degree. The family thought Aaron was complicating his student life with a dog but it turned out to the opposite. Kaya was Aaron's soulmate and savior. She endured the freezing winters at Syracuse University with joy and traveled back and forth from NY to LA or Las Vegas with pitch perfect aplomb. She loved to travel and play in the snow. Dog and boy were inseparable.
When I first met Kaya, I fell in love. At the time, my significant other and I had a dobbie named Flojo because we got her during the 1988 Olympics. We also had another dog named Cleo and she was a mini doxie purchased to make Aaron happy in his new move with us to Pasadena. It was always a sight gag when I walked Flojo and Cleo.
But Kaya was magnificent. She knew she was loved and adored and gave back everything to all of us who took care of her and loved her. It was an unconditional love fest.
That's what dogs do, really. They love humans who love them back, their masters in particular without limits or conditions. It like dogs are zen creatures, holding a steady gaze out to those who love them. We cannot live without them and they cannot live without us. Kaya had cancer, probably of the stomach and Aaron didn't wait for her to suffer any more than necessary to make sure her passing was peaceful. It broke our hearts, none more than Aaron who had a rite of passage at this most solemn moment.
I tried to finish my new website content this week, but all I could think about was how profound is our attachments to animals, the loss of Kaya to my son and to our family. Nothing else seemed important. Through tears and starts and stops I managed to get some information on a page. I really don't remember what it was I was supposed to write, but it met a need to be productive. In one of the emails my speech coach sent to me, he tried to encourage me to speak out more about what I knew about the aging process, how it was that I aged so well, and what contributions I could make to the niche market I carved out for myself in the speaking world.
First thing that came to my mind was that people age better with animals. Animals increased the quality of anyone's life, whether it be dogs or cats, or fish or domesticated lizards. Animals make us happy; animals give us something other than ourselves to think about; animals cuddle; animals make us laugh; animals make us feel secure; animals give us the opportunity for physical activity, more specifically if they are dogs. It's hard to walk a cat or a lizard.
Of course, having a positive and healthy attitude about age is crucial to how we age; hopefully we are going to age with joy and productivity. Being happy with who we are at whatever age we are allows us to take on the challenges of growing older. And if we believe we can control our own destiny and are jazzed about what comes up next in life, finding our passions in life, well, then, that's even better for the aging process.
I also think that learning to be less reactive in an important part of aging. Life is in flux all the time; life changes and provides us with positives and negatives and we might think about taking everything in stride even if we don't like it much. My father used to do that all the time. I never saw the man flip out over anything in life. This idea that we stay balanced in mind and body absolutely reduces stress and anxiety.
I'm all about adapting to change. I'm all about living light and not attaching to a lot of material things. People get caught up in places and things but a healthy sense of detachment (see my blog on the 10% solution) is a must to keep issues in perspective, including ourselves. I love that line, "Get over yourself!" I actually think that aging gives us baby boomers an advantage because we have, hopefully, gained some wisdom and experience and historical perspective through our decades of learning and living.
So, the passing of my beautiful Kaya reminds me that the beauty of what we have in our lives is simply borrowed and given to us for a time. Our life on earth is a transition along the way to the ultimate end of our physical life. Kaya's energy and soul will live on and so will our soul and energy. I'm so happy to have known and played and loved with Kaya.
Friday, July 8, 2011
One of my friends called me up today and said, "Joan, I'm really disappointed in you. You haven't blogged in several weeks. What's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" I shouted back. "Are you kidding me? What's wrong is how much I have on my plate and can't get through any of it!"
"Hold on, hold on. I'm just asking," he said quietly. "I'm just asking."
"Asking is the problem," I responded sheepishly
It went something like that except not only am I busy, but I also from time to time have difficulty deciding what I want to write about. Nothing was inspiring me except guilt that I had not written. I woke up this morning with that same guilty feeling. And then my friend called this afternoon to remind me.
I've been tackling the fifth draft of my keynote speech. It seems the darn speech never ends. I'm single minded about converting my speech coach's notes into the content and then wrestling with cuts and edits this is a full time project. I can't entertain another idea and I'm way behind on providing content to my web designer for my new website. I'm tardy with an article for the Huffington Post and I'm teaching more classes than I could ever imagine. And today I gave an interview with Dr. Diana Wiley on her radio show, Love, Lust and Laughter on Progressive Radio Network. Everything takes time.
Life has interfered with my life.
But I was thinking about a subject that I've talked about frequently in the last couple of weeks. What is it that keeps us from our dreams and finding our passions? My favorite answer is resistance. Resistance is anything that keeps us fro what we love or want to do. It is the enemy within us because it hacks away at the unlived life, a life without fulfillment. And that's really boring because it causes us to make endless lists of excuses not to do what we really want to do. I'm too old, I'm too fat, I'm too settled, my wife won't like that, my husband won't let me go, it's too expensive, it's too far, it's too stupid, I won't like that kind of play, I heard the movie was lame...you get the idea.
Stephen Pressfield in his book, The War of Art, said "Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and harder to kick than crack cocaine." Resistance keeps us from achieving the life we want or the life that is intended for us. Mr. Pressfield called resistance "the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease or erectile dysfunction. To yield to resistance crushes our spirit and makes us less than what we were born to be."
Somewhere lurking underneath resistance is fear. Often we aren't even aware that we are fearful of something or someone or situation. That's an unconscious state to be in. And it indicates that we are living in the shadow world, a world of half lights. We are only aware of our shadow (Plato's Cave), the unconscious part of our being. Of course, we will resist because we are not fully aware of ourselves. So perhaps we will not be able to discover what we are intended to do with our lives, find our passions, and open our hearts to the surprises that life gives to us many times over.
I'd love to entertain you a bit more, but I have to finish the audio on my book(s), Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer and Women Obsessed. The first book will be ready for purchase on Monday, July 25. Pre-sales and discounts start on this coming Monday, July 11. I'm excited. I love the people I'm working with - really young kids who seem to have a idea to fill a market for audio books. Ben came up to me at the Los Angeles Festival of Books a few months ago and said: "With that title, you should put your book on audio." He was reading my mind and I was so totally NOT resistant, I almost hugged him. It's been a great ride since.