Tag Archives: changing the world

ZZZZZ…The End of the A-Z Challenge.

Never Wake A Sleeping Dog!

Ha! I have bad news for you, Bilbo! Dogs are open for therapy 24/7. You’re on call day and night…and thank goodness for that!!

Yesterday, marked the end of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge and as the song puts it, the party’s over..at least until next year! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8BGHt18JTI

Taking a leaf out of the dogs’ book, I was planning to fall into a very deep sleep now that the challenge is over. I was really looking forward to cruising along easy street. Indeed, I wasn’t even planning to get out of bed!!

However, my  hibernation was rudely interupted before it even began, to be perfectly honest. That all transpired after reading Geoff Le Pard’s Z post: Z Is the End? http://geofflepard.com/2015/04/30/z-is-the-end/

Now, I, or I should say “we” have a lot of work to do!!

Damn! However, I had a funny feeling that this overactive brain of mine wasn’t going to switch off, anyway!

Thanks to all who have been following me throughout the challenge, commenting and even sharing my posts. I have also grown expendentially by reading some fantastic blogs during the challenge, which have incredibly enhanced my awareness of the world beyond my own front door.

Being unable to travel much at the moment, I’ve truly appreciated these vicarious journeys and I can’t wait to follow in your footsteps!

Meanwhile, I’m going to make a greater effort to explore the world around me, which, after all, people travel from the other side of the world to see.

I’ll be back with a summary of my A-Z posts and I’m also going to do a word count. See how far these clicketty clacketty fingers have travelled in the last 30 days.

How many words did you clock up? I think we’re all about to be seriously impressed! However, if only building up words could somehow fire up the pedometer and get the body fit as well as the mind, we’d all be competing at the Olympics!

Anyway, although the challenge has been well and truly challenging, I have loved every minute and will be missing it just a tad…

xx Rowena

# Cats and Dogs Are Friends

“I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks”.

Daniel Boone

The last few weeks have been terribly confusing for yours truly. We all know about the dreadful events which have taken place right around the world. Being quite the philosopher, I often wonder what the humans are doing to our planet. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before they either blow us all up or we all get fried to a crisp.

It’s hard being a bystander. I had hoped things would improve in the New Year but it’s only got worse.  But what can I do? I’m only one dog. Yet, I am not any ordinary dog. I have magic powers. Well, that’s what I call being smart and finding solutions to age-old problems. That has to be a sort of magic.

Rewinding the clock, I considered what I could change in the New Year. As we all know, a new year is a clean slate and anything is possible. Of course, like all good dogs, I wanted to put my best paws forward. However, as I’ve had no luck with dieting and I’ve never smoked or taken drugs, I was stumped.

That was until Mum heard about this new idea of choosing a word to define your year. Mum’s word for 2015 is “love”. That sounded very inspirational but being my usual enthusiastic, over-achieving self, I decided to aim a little bit higher. Why settle for just one word when I could achieve so much more with these three words:

Change the World

Earth viewed from space.

Earth viewed from space.

I know you probably think that I’ve set myself the ultimate in impossible goals. However, quite frankly, it has to be easier than losing weight. These love handles of mine have definitely become permanent fixtures.

It was this quest to change the world which launched my journey into the perplexing field of philosophical research. From there, the Golden Rule certainly seemed to be the best way forward but further analysis confirmed that there is indeed an exception or challenge to every rule. For me, it was cats.

There was also the matter of my canine companion, Lady, who chews up my tennis balls without any consideration about my feelings at all!! This travesty posed yet another challenge to the Golden Rule. As I said, the Golden Rule works well when everybody follows it but when someone bucks the system, where’s the justice then?

Or, do we just hope karma intervenes?

Being somewhat jaded and disillusioned, I briefly turned to the dark side , investigating a different ideology: Do unto others as they would do unto you. While I could see that this approach could result in both good and bad outcomes, I thought it was all too easy to just start living for No. 1. That was definitely NOT where I wanted to end up. After all, while I’m not responsible for the actions of others, I do have to live with myself!

So it seems that my ideological journey went around in a great big circle and I was almost back to the beginning again. Back to the Golden Rule and trying to work out how I could be nice to cats.

Somehow, Odie pulled it off.

Odie loves Garfield but what does he get in return?

Odie seems to love Garfield unconditionally.

This was all well and good in theory but like all of my philosophical theories, difficult to put into practice.

To be nice to a cat, I actually had to get near a cat and even that was impossible. You might be surprised but I’ve never actually met a cat let alone tried to converse or conduct any type of meaningful dialogue with one. The closest I ever came to fraternising with a cat was when I bailed up that wretched thing, I mean, the nice cat from next door. I’d had that cat cornered until Dad suddenly appeared, grabbing me firmly by the collar, allowing my guest to escape before we’d been properly acquainted. Needless to say, she never came back.

Cats aren’t exactly innocent either.

"The cat next door" slashing Snoopy's doghouse

“The cat next door” slashing Snoopy’s doghouse

Firstly, let me mention my friend Snoopy and his encounters with the  savage cat next door to him. He is an extremely vicious cat who terrorizes Snoopy and Woodstock. Whenever Snoopy mocks the cat from across the yard, the cat slashes and Snoopy’s doghouse or sometimes, him. Charlie Brown usually ends up having to buy another doghouse, as a result.

Then there’s Garfield who constantly berates Odie.

Garfield needs to learn the Golden Rule.

Garfield needs to learn the Golden Rule.

I guess it’s probably due to heated moments like this that humans have decided to keep us separate: dogs here, cats over there. Even when I go to the vet, cats are inside, dogs outside. As I said, we live in divided worlds.

However, how is separation and ignorance building bridges between cats and dogs? Bridging the gap and trying to overcome our differences? It’s not.

The time has come to start bridging the gap uniting cats and dogs through love, understanding and forgiveness to create a better world. To achieve this, we  at least need to interact and get to know each other better. After all:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

The trouble is how do we break the ice and get the ball rolling?

All I do know is that if I want to change the world, it all begins with me. I have to be the change.

Back to the lab… A protocol is definitely required to improve relations between dogs and cats.

How to Become Friends with Cats

  1. I drew a picture of myself being nice to cats and stuck it up inside my kennel. Perhaps, if I could visualise being friends with cats, that could be a start.
  2. I keep repeating “I love cats” over and over and over again. I’ve even stuck a flag on top of my beloved kennel: “I love cats”. While I still make the occasional slip of the tongue, surely, it must sink in eventually.
  3. Feed your enemy. As everyone knows, the easiest way to the heart is through the stomach. I retrieved a dead fish from the beach and shoved it under the fence. I had thought about sharing my bones and even throwing my ball to the cat next door but I soon realised that cats don’t value either of these canine pursuits. This is what’s known as the Inverse Golden Rule “Treat others as they would like to be treated”.
  4. Find a dog who lives happily with a cat and request an introduction. After all, a dog just can’t approach any old cat and say hello. I’d be torn to shreds by their dreaded claws.
  5. Start small by taking very small steps.  Cats and dogs have been fighting since forever. It’s going to take time for things to change:

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”- Lao Tzu

6. Learn from the past but make a new beginning.

7. Forgive.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

Mark Twain

However, while I thought I was a real genius putting this protocol together and was expecting a Nobel Peace Prize for my efforts, a cat appeared in my backyard last night. I don’t know how much you know about dogs. Although we try to be good,  we’re actually reactionary by nature. We act first and think later. So despite all my philosophical research and heartfelt desires to be nice, I failed. I still took off after that cat at full speed, barking with the same vicious growl that I usually reserve for the posty. Yet again, I’d fueled the war between cats and dogs despite my best intentions.

Back to the drawing board.

Bruce the Shark smiling at the fish.

Bruce the Shark smiling at the fish.

This time I decided to try social media. Suffering from creative block, it took awhile to get the creative juices flowing. However, inspired by Bruce,  the Great White Shark in Finding Nemo. I developed my own hash tag:

“# Cats and Dogs are friends”.

Now, I just need to get the word out.

That means Mum has to learn how to twit or was that tweet? I can’t remember but I know it had something to do with those wretched feathered things that keep invading my backyard and tormenting me so much.

Well, she’s always telling me that an old dog can learn new tricks. Now, it’s her turn.

Wish me luck. As always, I need plenty!

xx Bilbo

 

An Old Dog Teaches Humans New Tricks About Love.

For some reason, many humans arrogantly believe they are innately superior to dogs. That they have all the answers and there is nothing at all they could possibly learn from their best friend.

I beg  to disagree.

If only humans could only interpret paw prints, they’d know that their canine counterparts also have a significant understanding of matters philosophical and psychological, although like so many of our canine achievements, they have gone unnoticed.

Perhaps, you’re already aware that I am quite the dog philosopher. My particular field of research is how to teach old humans new tricks.

Unfortunately, I’m not having much success.

Although you might think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, this is all lies. Pure human propaganda!!

Dogs, both young and old, are more than willing to learn new tricks…just as long as we consider them worthwhile. Of course, there has to be a point… a sense of purpose. After all, we’re dogs…not robots!!

I’m sure you’d understand that once you’ve worked hard to reach that all-important 10,000 hours of practice and have finally become a champion, be that a champion ball chaser, stick fetcher or sheep herder, you don’t want to start all over again and lose all those precious skills. You see, whenever, you take on a new skill, there’s that very steep learning curve and you have to put in quite a lot of time and effort to reach the top of the hill. So, if you’re already dedicated to your chosen field, you might not have the capacity to take on something new and master that as well. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn new tricks. It’s a matter of choice. After all:

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Although I’m not all dogs, I’ve been quite willing to try new things and extend my horizons.

In the last two years, I’ve gone from being your garden-variety backyard dog and stepped out into the world of extreme sports. I’ve been sailing, kayaking and hardest of all, I’ve even welcomed another dog into our household. Hence, I’ve had to share the things I value most with my uninvited “guest”: Mum, Dad, the kids and even my precious tennis ball.

To further stretch my patience and my heartstrings, Lady, the new dog in our family, still hasn’t worked out that tennis balls are for retrieving. Instead, she ignorantly runs off with them and parks herself on the grass where she chews them up and even pulls their fur out bit by bit. I might be patient but that’s a lot for The Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe to endure.

However, in the spirit of love and acceptance, which is key to all my philosophical beliefs, we have become friends. Lady has also taught me the power of positive thinking and that it’s good to wag your tail once and awhile.

This is what it means to live in harmony.

On the other hand, my research has shown that humans are very set in their ways and can’t even teach themselves new tricks. Instead, they just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again non-stop.

In my first post, I mentioned that humans seem to have a strange aversion to being “nice” and that indeed there’s quite a lot of “haters” out there. People who would much rather hate than love, accept and encourage. I found this very difficult to understand because most dogs innately try to be good. We want to love and be loved, although there might be a few exceptions. So many humans, on the other hand, seem to be hell bent on being mean, hurtful and just plain nasty.

On the home front, I’ve mentioned how my very own family takes great delight in throwing my ball into the water at Palm Beach, even though they know how much I suffer. Then, adding salt to the wound, Mum takes photos and video footage of me writhing in agony thinking it’s funny…a huge game. That is, instead of saving my ball and helping me out. That really hurts…especially since Mum uses the Golden Rule as her mantra:

The Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.

As we move further afield, you just need to turn on your TV.

Last year, we had the shooting down of MH17, the Sydney Siege, the Pakistan Massacre, seven children murdered seemingly by their own mother in Cairns.She also murdered their cousin.

Fast forward to 2015, the United Nations Year of Light, and we have Paris.

Perhaps, I’ve missed something but from where I sit, the humans haven’t learned anything at all.

Well…

That’s not entirely true because you can’t judge the many by the few.

Australians mourn the loss of hostages in the Martin Place Siege. We send their family and friends our heartfelt condolences.

Australians mourn the loss of hostages in the Martin Place Siege. We send their family and friends our heartfelt condolences. Photo: The Age.

Indeed, following the Sydney Siege, the heart of the city was overflowing with genuine grief and floral tributes. There was an overwhelming outpouring of love. One man might have been evil, pure evil, but millions were good. While that couldn’t change what had happened, it did show that the humans do have a capacity for love, compassion and empathy. There was also that campaign #I’ll ride with you that reached out to show love and acceptance to Muslim women in the aftermath of the siege.

This very encouraging development was certainly something new. Perhaps, the humans are learning, after all.

We’ve been on holidays this week so it’s been difficult for me to really process what has happened in Paris with limited TV access. However, I did see people coming together and lighting candles and another hashtag emerged: “#Je suis Charlie”. While I don’t believe all those people loved the magazine itself, they supported free speech and not being shot for your opinion.

While hate tried to tear down these cities, love has triumphed. It really has.

Love.

Love. Photo: Rowena

But that doesn’t let us off the hook…humans or dogs.

I don’t have all the answers but if we perhaps start with the Golden Rule and treat others the way we would like to be treated, humans and dogs will both be learning new tricks and helping to spread  love throughout our aching world.

“For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Reach out and connect with somebody beyond your comfort zone. Share the incredible power of love.

Reach out and connect with somebody beyond your comfort zone.  Share the incredible power of love. Photo: Rowena

However, I’d just like to request one little furry exception to the Golden Rule…

Do I really have to be nice to cats?

This thing between cats and dogs goes way beyond me and that pesky cat next door. It’s in our blood…our genes. As long as there have been cats and dogs on this planet, it’s been war and that isn’t going to change any time soon.

Humph, this Golden Rule is more of a problem than I thought. It’s all very well to treat everyone you like the way you’d like to be treated but it’s quite a different story when it comes to your enemies. However, there can be no exceptions to the Golden Rule. It doesn’t work like that.

Humph. At this point, it’s very tempting to head back to my laboratory and stick to research. There’s such a gaping void between research and practice and I have no idea how to build a bridge. I might be smart and The Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe. However, being the change myself is just too hard.

Humph!

Perhaps, I’ll have to bring in an expert. I have heard about households where cats and dogs are family but there certainly aren’t any in my particular neck of the woods.

Yes, indeed. This is a great place to launch the next phase of my research.

Who knows, perhaps with a bit of training and some loving support, even I might just be able to love cats after all but I suspect that dogs will be living on the moon long before that happens.

Love & a fairly cautious wag of the tail,

Bilbo

 

 

 

Once They Were Six

When I decided to blog, I never set out to comment on world events or interpret such things. I am simply somebody who is trying to change and improve her own life and I’m documenting this process on my blog.

Then, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut and killed innocent children, teachers and other members of the school community.

How am I supposed to respond to that?

Yesterday, I was working away on a post about my ongoing frustration with my violin practice but there was this nagging thought at the back of my head: “Can I just keep blogging on about my own life in the aftermath of the horrific Newtown Massacre?”

I don’t think so.

That said, I’m not quite sure how to respond.

What are any of us supposed to say or do when something of this magnitude happens?

I don’t know. Given my own health situation, we are already very conscious that life is short…so very fleeting. I already appreciate my husband, my kids even if we are busy trying to fit a couple of lifetimes into one day.

I’m not a psychologist or a forensic anthropologist so I can’t begin to explain why this has happened, although I would like to suggest that it’s complex and perhaps we will never know. I do hope we will get some serious insights into how to prevent such shootings in future. For me, that includes serious gun control measures but also goes well beyond that. A gun doesn’t pull its own trigger.

I live in Australia. This event is well and truly beyond the scope of my backyard. I’ve never been to America and I don’t know what it means to be American. Yet, whether we like it or not, we do live in a small world and whatever happens “over there”, also appears in our homes at least on our TV. We are part of a global village.

I care. I care very much.

DSC_3483

There is one element of this tragedy that really hits home. My daughter is also 6 years old like many of the children caught up in this dreadful massacre… both those who lost their young lives and also those who have somehow survived.

I haven’t even thought about what if it had been my daughter. It hasn’t even crossed my mind that something that awful could ever happen at our school. Not because our school is any better than any other school but because our school is like an extension of our family home. I help out with the reading and do the publicity for the school, a role which includes photographing the kids. I am on a pretty friendly basis with a number of teachers at the school and they have been very supportive regarding my health issues and just loving and caring for my kids and all the kids at the school. It’s not a perfect place but it’s certainly special!

I gather this is how most families perceive their school and that contributes to our overall outrage.

Having a six year old daughter, I wanted to honour those children who lost their young lives and those who survived by sharing some insights into the world of a six year old. I can’t really say I always know what makes them tick but here are some observations.

Six year olds have such a precious view of the world. They really feel so grown up but are still pretty small and still need a chair or stool to reach the taps or get things down. They still believe in pretend and are only just stepping out into the world. Their explanations for how and why things happen can really be quite amusing.

Our daughter's letter to the tooth fairy.

Our daughter’s letter to the tooth fairy.

Having your teeth fall out has to be one of the most important things for a six year old. My daughter is currently missing her two front teeth and she has another wobbly tooth. Last week she announced: “I’ve lost 5 teeth in one year. That must be a world record!!” When I meet up with her friends, they also show me their wobbly teeth and tell me how many teeth they have lost. There’s lots of wiggling, wobbling and lots of gappy smiles and giggles. You don’t want to be the last kid to lose your first tooth.

Having your teeth fall out, goes hand in hand with the tooth fairy. There are many discussions about how much money the tooth fairy has left behind. There is still faith in the tooth fairy although perhaps if there’s an older sibling, there can be a bit of doubt. My friend tells her kids: “you have to believe to receive” and I will borrow that one when the time comes. My daughter refused to put her first two teeth out for the tooth fairy because she wanted to keep them. By the time tooth number 3 fell out, she was ready to part with it and wanted the money. She also wanted to catch the tooth fairy so she could learn how to fly. She also told stories about how she woke up with special fairy dust on her hands.

Isn’t the world of a six year old amazing?!!

The other thing that stands out about six year olds is just how much they adore their teachers. My daughter has been home from school sick and literally cried for her teacher. Last weekend, it turned out that her teacher was coincidentally attending her end of year dance concert and she was over the moon. The teacher was just as excited too and was looking forward to seeing her dance. If we ever see one of the teachers down at our local shops after school, it’s like seeing Elvis or Justin Bieber. The kids are so excited!!

My daughter is still scared of the dark and asks me about monsters living under the bed. I tell her that there’s no room for monsters under her bed with all her Barbies stashed under there but she is not convinced.

This year's Santa Photo

This year’s Santa Photo

She still believes in Santa and asked me yesterday whether Santa lives in an igloo because he lives at the North Pole. We agreed that he lived inside a gingerbread house like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. She had no trouble accepting that and she’s a fairly discerning character.

She also believes Santa can get her anything she wants pretty much because his elves will make it. She is currently desperate for a DS (an electronic game). I have told her that they are expensive but she says that’s fine because Santa can get it. I don’t have to pay for it. We have tried to tell her that Santa is very old and not good with technology but then she thought of the elves. She has an answer for everything.

Being six is also a fickle world where friends can be a bit fragile. You can be BFFs one day and then there’s the chant of “you’re not my friend”. Six year olds can become very emotional.

It also seems to be a year of transition from being a pre-schooler into a school kid. Once loved Dora, is now considered babyish but t-shirts with pictures on them are still preferred fashion. Gaudy glitter and sparkle fashions are also cool and pink and purple are still the favourite colours with the girls.

Six year olds, at least the six year old girls I know, all seem to love drawing rainbows. I have some beautiful rainbow drawings both my children  have done on my fridge to remind me of the beauty of the world when I’m having a hard day.

There is also a naivety there. A few weeks ago when we were baking together, my daughter ate some Self-Raising flour and then asked me if she was getting taller. She had interpreted the name on the flour quite literally. Like most kids, she is wanting to grow up way too fast.

Needing to fit in and conform also seem to be important (at least, for our daughter). When we had our dog clipped recently, she didn’t want me bringing the dog to school because she’d be teased for having such a weird dog. He is a Border Collie and he did look rather weird after his haircut (he went from black and white and fluffy to light grey was all but skinned) but I had to remind her that he is still the same dog, whom she loves.

As cute as six year olds might be, they also have plenty of attitude. We sometimes call our daughter “Princess” and it’s not a compliment. She can expect to have everything done for her, waited on hand and foot. She likes to get me to carry her school bag and her brother to run errands for her and she usually forgets to feed the dog. When I asked madam to put her leotard in the washing basket, she said to me: “I am not your slave!” I was not impressed.

Fighting with her brother also seems to be a favourite pastime, although they also play very well together too.

……………………………………………………………

This is the world Adam Lanza destroyed when he took the lives of those innocent children, their teachers and other members of their school community.

It is important that we, as citizens of our global village, acknowledge and respect that. That we don’t just ignore what has happened because it’s too hard. We must continue to fight for a world that is free of violence and hate and make our world a safe and loving place for all people. That fight begins with each and every one of us as individuals and is acted out each and every day in how we react to people and situations. If we each followed the golden rule and treated others as we would like to be treated maybe kindness would someday rule the world.

I will leave you with the words of AA Milne:

Now We Are Six

When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new

When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever;

So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

Love & God Bless,

Rowena