Posted in Wagging Through Life Blogs

With Renewed Hope, Hello 2022

In so many ways, 2021 was a year not much different than 2020. Knocking on our doors once more was illness, violence, workplace burnout, fatigue, increased parenting demands, and the like. A lesser acknowledged and underappreciated component of 2021: Resilience. Resilience is often defined as one’s ability to “bounce back,” but we cannot neglect the fact that it also involves using our adverse experiences to develop and adapt to a new normal.

For me, developing that “new normal” involved reflecting on my values and making life-changing decisions accordingly. When it came to my own sense of happiness, I had to decide, am I going to Chase it or Choose it? 2020 made me realize how easy it can become, especially in the absence of intentionality, to chase happiness and live in an illusioned reality. My priority through 2021: Choose happiness through the means of self-prioritization. Reflecting day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month on the decisions I consciously and actively made to value my own sense of happiness has provided me with a renewed sense of hope, optimism, and readiness for 2022.

2021 at a Glance

-Read A Dog’s Purpose
-Rocked the work from home life for a little while longer
-Started the third course in my Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy certification program

-Read Chalked Up
-Celebrated Alex’s birthday together “pandemic style” with tacos and books of course!
-Traveled to a nearby town to alleviate the pandemic-induced feeling of cabin fever and to appreciate some ice sculptures

-Read The New Normal: A Roadmap to Resilience in the Pandemic Era and Blackout Girl
-Began a new workout program that I successfully committed to four to five days a week through the entire year!

-Read Still Me
-Applied for, interviewed for, and accepted a dream job offer
-Solidified my decision to leave my job and felt a peace, lightness, and clarity upon doing so
-Wrote a children’s book about dog bite prevention

-Successfully finished the second semester of my doctorate program, which involved one of three research courses
-Completed my licensure requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor and officially submitted my application
-Was honored to make my niece’s first birthday cakes
-Finally exchanged 2020 Christmas gifts with my siblings
-Took time away from work to celebrate my birthday introvert style (AKA jigsaw puzzles, some catchy tunes, and a good book)
-Went on a relaxing (albeit rainy) trip with Alex and Pinella to Staten Island, New York, drove through New York City, and visited Hoboken and Liberty State Park!

-Read From Baghdad, With Love and On Talking Terms with Dogs
-Wrote and delivered the resignation letter for my first “real” job out of graduate school
-Wasted zero time preparing for my new career opportunity by revamping our home office and creating my own version of a workplace sanctuary
-Witnessed my brother graduate from high school (Congrats, B!)
-Spent time outdoors to feed my soul and harness some feelings of gratitude

-Read Fast Girl
-Witnessed my best friend become a first-time momma
-Was given incredible help from Jes at Lean Ladies Coaching to more clearly target my nutrition and fitness goals
-Had fun watching the Olympics together

-Read What is a Girl Worth? and Who Said I was up for Adoption
-Completed the third semester of my doctorate program, including the third of three research courses
-Wished my brother well as he went off to basic training
-Was issued my Licensed Professional Counselor license (after a three-month wait) and received an unexpected congratulatory flower delivery (Thank you, Kory)
-Transitioned out of a job that I had long ago burnt out from
-Said some painful, yet fulfilling “see ya laters” to a few amazing mentors/colleagues and became the proud owner of my new friendship plant (Thank you again, Kory)
-Traveled to a new destination in the Carolinas with Pinella and Alex, made some unforgettable memories together, and ate Crumble Cookies for the first time (Yum)!

-Read Every Breath and September 11: An Oral History
-Spent September 11th with Alex and Pinella at a local memorial honoring victims, their families, and service members
-Celebrated seven strong years in my relationship with Alex and wished Pinella well on her sixth birthday
-Made a fun cake for my niece’s fourth birthday
-Thoroughly enjoyed the first of what would be three months off from full-time work!

-Read On Being a Therapist and Reaching the Animal Mind
-Pinella was featured on @RufflePup’s Sticker Sunday segment
-I experienced the death of a childhood friend but strengthened my connection with another friend by offering mutual support
-Started a fun, exciting, and creative project and present for my nieces
-Embraced the opportunity to take nature walks with Pinella during my time off from full-time employment
-Began experiencing feelings of excitement for the career opportunity that laid ahead of me in November

-Read Untamed
-Began working at my dream job and learned what it means to love what I do and find happiness in my career
-Assisted in a fundraiser for Susquehanna Service Dogs that raised close to $15,000 (Thank you, incredible community of donors!)
-Felt an amazing sense of gratitude to witness the six-month growth of a succulent that was gifted to me by a dear friend
-Was asked to be in my childhood best friend’s wedding (So happy for you, Hannah!)

-Began reading The Body Keeps the Score
-Completed my 2021 Goodreads challenge (16/10 books)
-Finished my fourth semester of my doctorate program and turned a new leaf toward the dissertation process
-Got to see my brother for the first time since leaving for basic training in August 2021
-Chose my own happiness by celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my family of creation (Fun times, Alex and P)!

Until next time,

-T & Pinella

Posted in Wagging Through Life Blogs

Chase It or Choose It

Welcome back, Sit, Stay, & Bloggers!  A new year is upon us!  Do you subscribe to the “new year, new me” mantra?  Did you set a new year’s resolution?  We’re officially one month into the new year.  Some of you are excelling beyond expectation at your new year’s goals, while others might have dismissed their resolutions altogether.  Whatever your status, you set a goal, and that’s progress in and of itself!  Be proud!

You might notice some “New year, new me” progress here at Sit, Stay, Blog in the form of a new website design as well as a new domain (!  I’m very excited to share these changes and updates with my readers and hope that it will propel me into a successful year of blogging!

The end of 2018 marked a special time for me — I completed my master’s degree!  This monumental experience has reminded me about the importance of pausing to reflect inward on who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed.  Through this self-reflection, I’ve learned something:  I’ve been chasing happiness.

Chasing happiness is a strange concept.  On one hand, you’re trying to achieve happiness (a positive).  On the other hand, you’re missing out on life as you’re trying to get there (a negative).  As I reflected on where I’ve been, I realized that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time striving to live in the future.  “I can’t wait until this semester is over.”  “I’ll be happier once I move.”  “Life will be easier when I have a 9:00 to 5:00 job.”  These statements are a reflection of my eagerness to achieve whatever goals I had set for myself; however, they also represent a grim reality of how we, as a society, operate on a day-to-day basis.  We wake up on a Monday thinking, “I can’t wait until Friday.”  When we are faced with something we don’t want to do, we can’t wait until it’s over with.  We are eager.  We chase happiness.  We push aside our ability to be mindful of the present so that we can invest all of our energy into whatever a future of happiness looks like.  I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with this sense of eagerness in striving for happiness in life.  For me, however, I’ve learned it’s important to consider the process in how I get there.

One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure”            -Unknown

Self-reflection can teach you a lot.  More recently, it has taught me that, at any given moment, you are in control of how you feel.  You have the power to choose happiness or chase it.  You can choose to find happiness in the smile given to you by a passerby.  You can choose to be happy about the wet doggy kiss your four-legged friend just greeted you with as you walked in the door after a long, hard workday.  Perhaps you can choose to be happy about the teachers who have provided you with the education necessary to read this blog post.  In the most simplest form, you can choose to feel happy about the beat of your heart that allowed you to wake up this morning and start anew.

This sounds like a relatively simple concept.  However, it requires a change in your frame of reference, and change is difficult.  We are a society that resists change because it’s much more comfortable to stick to the status quo.  I’ve chosen to embark on this new year with the goal of finding happiness each and every day.  I am working to eliminate phrases such as “I can’t wait for…” from my vocabulary and instead am choosing to focus on more present day events that spark my happiness.  In this first month of 2019, I have actively chosen to feel happy about settling into my new home, spending time at home relaxing with Pinella and Alex, receiving three job offers, increasing my presence at my favorite service dog organization, reading a new book that broadens my political knowledge base, revamping the look and style of Sit, Stay, Blog, and the list goes on.  As this year progresses, I hope to continue to  be more conscientious and deliberate about finding a way to celebrate all positivity, big or small, while minimizing my exposure to negative energy.

Surrounding yourself with nature is an excellent way to boost your mood!
Understanding the difference between choosing and chasing happiness is step one.  Step two includes implementing action steps into your daily routine to promote feelings of happiness.  Action steps include activities that allow you to be more mindful, present, and in touch with your everyday experiences.  While not an exhaustive list, below are some of the strategies I employ to reach a state of mindfulness to ensure happiness:

  • Reading a book
  • Exercising
  • Spending time with an animal (Animals live in the present and are wonderful models to their human counterparts about how to be mindful)
  • Meditating
  • Coloring/getting crafty
  • Unplugging from social media
  • Recognizing your five senses (paying attention to how things look, smell, sound, taste, and feel)
  • Journaling
  • Volunteering
  • And much, much more!

“Beauty and the beach”
2019 will be a year of firsts for me.  It is the first time in 20 years that my identity will include something other than being a student.  I will embark on a new lifestyle that includes full-time employment.  I will teach and be taught many new things.  I will care for others and be cared for.  I will strive to live my life in the present.  Most importantly, I will choose happiness.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read another Sit, Stay, Blog post!  Don’t forget to Like and Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!  If you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to see your pet featured on Pets on the Net!, leave a comment below or submit your information on Sit, Stay, Blog’s Contact page! 🙂

Until next time,