Winter Meets March Madness

It’s been a long cold winter here in Nashville.  Just as the ice and snow hit, my projects at work were completed, so I had a little spare time on my hands.  You’d think having this extra time would motivate me to write write write! Or edit edit edit! But being the master procrastinator that I am, I’ve found ways to spend hours on the computer (and Netflix) without even touching my completed manuscript, Warning Signs. Or the [untitled] sequel work in progress.  My time inside was literally making me stir crazy and depressed at the same time.

But just as the real March madness began this week, I returned to the world of writing. While surfing a few writer and publisher blogs, I realized this was the week of several critique contests and pitch wars.  So I was in.  That was the easy part.

The hard part has been looking at my manuscript.  I received a critique in late January and had been putting off the edits.  But when I re-read the suggestions it hit home.  My manuscript, which has been in edit mode for A VERY LONG TIME, still needs polishing.  A lot.  I knew that, but was so thankful to get precise comments from a published author on how to improve it.  Not that the usual “thank you for your query” rejection letter isn’t fun to read, but it’s so helpful to get an actual critique!  I had received a few before but this was the only one that gave me concrete suggestions.

Continue reading Winter Meets March Madness

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A Lesson from the Dog: Anticipation

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I finally snapped this photo of Rudolph in his daily pose – full of anticipation awaiting the arrival of my husband.  If I could, I’d Insert the vintage Heinz commercial music here 🙂  He always knows when he’s coming home and runs to the front door, bumps up the curtain and stares out waiting for his human daddy to arrive.  It’s so genuine and yet another reason to love our dogs.  Who else is so happy to see you day after day?  For Rudolph, anticipation is almost always followed by pure bliss.

As I was working on this post, I realized how much time I’ve spent waiting these past few days as well.  Although I don’t have a cute photo of myself waiting because I wasn’t always a happy camper!  My youngest was finally diagnosed with walking pneumonia after eight days of high fever and no energy, and so most of the past ten days all I’ve done is check temperature, administer medicine, and wait.  And go to the doctor multiple times wondering why he was getting worse, why the “sinus infection” wasn’t a sinus infection, and why the antibiotics weren’t working.  Then we’d go back home and rest.  He’s missed the start of school, practices with his new soccer team, and the Tennessee Titans first preseason football game: the small, yet important, things an eight-year-old waits on all summer.  As parents, we’ve been waiting for that spark of life to jump back into his eyes, waiting for a sign that he’s back to his old crazy self.

He’s recovering slowly but surely, and I feel so lucky and happy that his illness is treatable and temporary.  The time we spent waiting in Vanderbilt children’s hospital for his chest X-ray this week was a true life lesson.  Mack’s eyes were wide watching all the little kids wait for their scans.  We saw a family wearing t-shirts that said “Cancer Sucks!” and heard them talk to another mom about her son who is 3 and in remission.  Mack innocently asked me if kids can get cancer.  We’ve lost a grandfather to cancer, and have my sister (his aunt) who is a cancer survivor, so he is well aware of cancer as a disease.  But he’d never seen the disease affect a child, someone like him.  Our small time waiting to find out if he had pneumonia pales in comparison to what these families are waiting on. Their strength was amazing.

So we’ve learned a lot about waiting this month.  Hopefully, we can also learn from Rudolph and spend a little time each day full of anticipation, followed by joy, as we run to our friends and loved ones.

Luna’s future is so bright…she’s gotta wear shades

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So Luna had a fed bad days after vacation and was limping and sliding on our hardwood floors. I honestly was worried her time was ending and she was in a sharp decline. She wouldn’t leave the carpet in our bedroom (which resulted in a nice accident right where I put my feet down when I get out of bed), and I was having to carry her up the back stairs to go to the bathroom.  So I called our vet who came over (a mobile vet is a blessing to an elderly dog), and her recommendation was: a chiropractor. What? Yes a doggy chiropractor!

Ironically, my husband has been going to a chiropractor for years and begging me to go. I have abstained so far, although I am intrigued. Just scared after suffering a serious car accident in my twenties with lingering neck and shoulder stiffness that never seems to go away. But would I take my dog to a chiropractor? The answer was – of course.

I knew people would laugh, but forget that. It wasn’t like my vet was making money off of this referral – it took the care to someone else. And I trust her.

Okay so why the photo? Well, the chiropractor suggested this newer cold laser therapy to help Luna’s back and hip heal faster. I thought it may be a little over the top, but after some research found it had been around a while and was extremely helpful to older dogs. I consulted with my vet, and got the go ahead. So here is Luna with her googles on, getting ready for her laser treatment. The funniest part was as soon as the glasses were on and I shrieked, the vet tech turned to me and said: “Go ahead and take a picture. I know you want to!”

And the best part, well the second best part:  the bill. Yes I said the bill. The laser therapy was a whopping $45! (I know Nashville prices may be slightly lower than the national average!) And the adjustment – $65. But the real best part is getting Luna back.  She’s all smiles again, trotting along on our nightly walks, and letting Rudolph know through a few growls that he is not welcome to eat her food.  She’s also off her pain meds, although I think she may miss the chicken flavored pill pockets.

Really wish we had this therapy years ago when I had to replace knees on both of my dogs (for a cool $2,000 each).  But at least now I know a new treatment exists for aging dogs with hip and arthritis issues.  She may only need monthly or quarterly tune ups, depending on how often Rudolph tries to jump on her or wrestle.  But it’s a small price to pay for her quality of life and mobility.

So rock on, Luna, you still have some good years left after all 🙂

Guess Tennyson was right…

I’ve always been an optimist, and tried to see the reason behind things happening.  But I’ve also always been someone who feared the worst case scenario, which has definitely increased since having kids.  So last week I had to reconcile one of my worst fears and find a reason for it.  Easier said than done.

This past week my husband and I had to watch my kids and my mother go through something awful – my mom’s new rescue dog – which we named Carson after Downton Abby because of his dapper black and white fur – was killed in front of us.  It was a freak car accident – somehow he freaked out at the vet, wiggled out of his collar, flew through the front door as another client was coming in, and took off.  We all chased him for nearly 20 minutes with the vet techs, but he was out on a joy run.  The only saving grace was it happened instantly, no blood, no gore.  Which of course is a pretty low standard for “the good news is…” (Sorry have to keep the sense of humor or else I’d be crying again!)

I felt like we were in a movie, that surely we would catch him.  But that didn’t happen.  It’s made me think of other tragedies friends and family have endured.  When children get sick you think they’ll get better.  When friends are diagnosed with serious illnesses, you think they can be cured.  But that’s not always what happens.  Handling the reality of life can be overwhelming to us adults, so how do a 7 and 9 year old handle tragedy?

Unfortunately my kids have been around death before – death of their dear grandfather, death of my mother’s pug Jessie, and the death of a close friend of ours who had kids their same age.  But I realized it was the trauma of seeing it happen and the sudden shock of it that made it so hard to understand.

I also know that I’ve passed along the Murphy “dog crazy” gene to my kids.  And as hard as everything has been, I have to say I am happy to see my kids developing a true love of animals.  It’s heart wrenching to lose them, but it’s so rewarding and wonderful to love animals.  Would we ever choose to be different?  Although I have to admit momentarily as we were running down the side of a busy highway I did think we were all crazy, and I should get my kids back to the car (they weren’t near the traffic we were being safe).  But I couldn’t turn around.  We had to keep going, keep trying to save the dog.  Why?

I think it’s unconditional love that is so rare in life.  And even though my 7 year old said “Nana needs a cat” which was heartbreakingly funny and such a simple solution for a child, I knew that wouldn’t fly.

Because we are dog people.  And proud to love our pets because they sure deserve it.  So the old cliche is still true, and it’s the only reason I can find in this hour – I’m glad we’ve loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

And I know little Carson is safe and running free. Image