Tag Archives: Joy

Life Is Good 1

Life Is Good

I can always tell when my sleep is better — the number of simple joys I experience throughout my day increase exponentially.

Lately, I’ve been delighted by:

all the animal tracks in the snow;

Life Is Good 2 Life Is Good 3

the way the snow accents the wreath I made;

Life Is Good 4

 

the light streaming through the trees in the Barbour Woods;

Life Is Good 5

 

shoveling snow;

Life Is Good 6

Okay, I know this one is a little weird. But lately my body and mind have been craving functional forms of fitness and shoveling snow will give me that fix every single time.

I’ve also been thoroughly enjoying walking Annie through the snow-covered woods for the same reason. It’s such a great, blood-pumping, muscle-engaging workout to walk through the ankle-deep snow.

Life Is Good 7

And last, but not least, these mashed potatoes:

Life Is Good 8

I made a low fodmap vegetable stock recipe the other day. You throw a bunch of vegetables like leeks, the green parts of scallions, carrots, parsnips, parsley, and potatoes in a big pot with water and let it simmer for an hour. Then the recipe says to strain the liquid and discard the vegetables. Heath questioned the part about discarding the vegetables. I told him, “that’s what the recipe says.”

Yet, when the time came to actually discard them I looked at the wonderfully soft potatoes and thought, surely I should mash these instead of throw them out. Which is exactly what I did. And, oh, my, potatoes! They are the most delicious mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten, a sentiment also shared by Heath.

So that’s where I am these days. My sleep is improved enough that I find mashed potatoes marvelous. Life is good.

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition 9

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition

A few weeks ago, I led a TED Talks discussion group using Candy Chang’s talk, Before I die, I want to…. You can watch the TED Talk here.

Two of my discussion questions were:

  1. How would you fill in the blank — Before I die I want to __________?
  2. How would your answer change if you knew you only had one year left to live? What about one week? One day?

A lively discussion ensued. One gem of wisdom shared by a participant was that a year was a luxurious amount of time. How grand to know you have a full year ahead of you!

Juxtapose that idea with the basic premise of Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, whereby the average human lifespan is only four thousand weeks. Four thousand does not seem nearly enough.

Since the reality is we really don’t know how much time we have left, I take time every year to reflect on my own death. This practice helps me ensure that no matter what happens, I know what’s important to me, which in turn, helps me make decisions in both the short- and long-term for living my best life. Previous death meditations inspired me to quit my tenured position as an associate professor of psychology, to volunteer for seven weeks at a science center in sub-Arctic Canada so I could see polar bears in the wild, and to recognize that my perfect day includes time for rest, self-care, being with loved ones (and a dog), some play, and some productivity.

This year, I reflected on my death while at a winter solstice sunset meditation program at Naumkeag. Naumkeag is a beautiful house in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, set on a rolling hill with the Berkshire Mountains as its backdrop.

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition 10

Picture taken on Autumn Equinox in 2021.

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition 11

Picture taken on Autumn Equinox in 2021.

Having been there before, I knew Naumkeag is a magical place. What made the night even more magical is the house and grounds glowed with thousands of colorful lights as part of their winter lights festival. I could not have asked for a more perfect place to reflect on my past year and find inspiration for living my best life in 2022.

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition 12
2021 was a hard year for me. The grief of losing family, friends, and dogs in 2020 carried over, as did the uncertainty of the pandemic. Add to that a terrorist attack on the US capital in January, a constantly mutating virus because not enough people are vaccinated, and a debilitating sleep disorder that has been getting progressively worse for years, which, in my opinion was so stressful it reactivated a shingles infection in my body in August, and I’ve got a year that really sucked at times.

And yet, because I’ve taken time in the past to consider my time and mortality, I also experienced a pretty wonderful 2021. I have never been more in love with Heath than I am today.

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition 13

He is an amazing teammate, best friend, and husband. A lot of times when I panic that I’m 44 and if I live to the same age as my dad then I only have 30 years left, the panic is because I feel like that is not enough time to love Heath. Since there is literally NOTHING I can do about my eventual death, my way forward is clear: just love Heath to the best of my ability each and every day.

Last year, I also had a dog fall asleep on my head! Best. Day. Ever.

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition 14

In those moments, as Fergus snoozed away, I thought I might explode with joy. I also thought I might never be able to move again, because I couldn’t bear to wake the little guy up.

Knowing how dogs have a special place in my heart, I mostly kept up with my twice weekly walks with Annie. Even in my darkest days of sleep and health challenges, being with Annie in the woods was a wonderful tonic which helped me keep going.

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition 15
2021 is also the year that I learned how to write a novel on my phone. In my work at the Norfolk Library, I led a program on habit formation using James Clear’s Atomic Habits book. From his insights and practices, I finally let go of wanting to be a person with a habit of jumping out of the bed first thing in the morning. That kind of habit is impossible for me when I feel severely sleep deprived and depressed due to narcolepsy. Instead I used the techniques and information to develop a habit of writing on my phone, which makes a lot of sense considering how often I use my phone and how my phone is almost always within arm’s reach. Six months and over 37,000 words later, I now have the first draft of a middle grade novel that is just waiting for revision.

I also spent a lot of time querying agents in 2021. I received several requests for full manuscripts or more work. Although I was not offered representation, I did receive personalized rejections, some with encouragement to keep going. It’s not what I hoped for, but I’m certainly not giving up now.

In reflecting on 2021, one area of my life other than sleep also seemed out of balance: my work life. When I quit teaching in 2016, I never wanted to work full-time again. The hours and stress of working full-time did not seem possible while also trying to prioritize my sleep health.

In the beginning of 2020, I worked 12 hours at the Norfolk library and 10 hours for the Congregational Church. That combination seemed perfect for my personal and professional goals. By the end of 2020, I was working 35 hours a week — 25 for the library and 10 for the church. I needed to work 25 hours at the library so that after 1 year at those hours, I would be eligible for health insurance. During 2020, our market place health insurance monthly premium went from $60 a month with state assistance to $1,069 a month with no assistance.

Perhaps if I didn’t experience downward-spiraling narcolepsy symptoms in 2021, I may have been able to sustain a 35 hour a week work schedule. Unfortunately, my sleep health was so poor in 2021 that I knew I couldn’t continue working this way. I made the difficult decision to resign from my position at the church. I will still volunteer for various church initiatives, since they have such a wonderful presence in Norfolk and beyond. But I now have the discretion to say no when I am simply too tired.

Which brings me to 2022 — How do I want to live differently, if I knew 2022 would be my last year?

The answer to that question came almost immediately while I was at Naumkeag. On that cold dark Night, we were led through a rainbow tunnel of lights.

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition 16

During that walk the words colorful creativity popped into my head. I knew the instant I heard myself say those words that my creativity is missing an important component.  So much of my creativity goes to writing: I write for my job at the library; I write for the Norfolk Now monthly newspaper; I wrote for the church.  I also write in my free time in hopes of being a traditionally published author someday.

What I don’t do is use my creativity simply for fun. I don’t create for play. I don’t create simply to create. There is always a purpose. That stops in 2022.

This year, my year of colorful creativity, I will prioritize using color in creative ways. I never have considered myself a visually artistic person. I think that’s an important point. I am choosing to spend some of my time on artistic endeavors that have no higher goal, other than to simply create something colorful.

I find this idea both exciting and terrifying. I feel excited because it’s something new and different. It’s terrifying for a few reasons. One, I still think of myself as a minimalist and I’ve already bought some art supplies which creates cognitive dissonance with my minimalistic values. So that’s something I’m reconciling as I go down my colorful creativity path. Two, I know how precious time is. It’s terrifying to give up some of my writing time or otherwise free time to play. I don’t have to worry about giving up time with Heath because we know have art dates every Monday.

We’ll see how it goes. I decided to get a head start on my year of colorful creativity and made before the official start of 2022.

Thinking about Death in the New Year, 2022 edition 17I call it Polar Nights. Here’s to more colorful creativity in 2022!

Paging Dr. Dog! 18

Paging Dr. Dog!

I’ve never met a dog who’s not also an excellent heart surgeon. That’s right – heart surgeon.

Every time I meet a new dog, they manage to slice and dice my heart until there’s room for them, too. Having never taken an anatomy class, I have no idea how these dogs keep doing it. Maybe they keep adding additions?

Yet somehow there is always room for another dog in my heart, and the dogs I’m already hopelessly and completely in love with (here’s looking at you Annie, Dodger, and Fergus) wag their tails and high five each other to welcome that new dog to the pack.

Paging Dr. Dog! 19

Everyone, have you met Hailey?

Paging Dr. Dog! 20

Hailey is the sweetie pie rescue dog who lives below our Norfolk apartment. I’ve known her for well over a year now. She can be shy at first, and I never thought I would truly make inroads with her. But then her human mom had to unexpectedly leave town for a few days. I AM IN LOVE!

I think it’s obvious why:

Paging Dr. Dog! 21

What a goober!

Paging Dr. Dog! 22 Paging Dr. Dog! 23 Paging Dr. Dog! 24

Hailey entered into a deep depression when her mom left. This separation was the first time they had been apart like this, ever. It took several days for her to warm up to me. After those few days, when Hailey began to trust me and liked all the treats I’d been giving her, she started running to the door when I unlocked it. She wiggled her butt and wagged her tail and a few times even jumped up at the door before I opened it.

I visited Hailey for eight days before her mom came back. Even though I’ve been having a lot of narcolepsy troubles lately, those were eight days with moments of doggone good love and joy. Those moments matter a lot to me when I’m struggling with sleep.

It’s hard to pick a favorite moment of my time with Hailey, but if I had to, I would pick the times when I’m getting ready to leave their house and I hide a handful of small biscuits in Hailey’s toy box. As you can imagine, Hailey is absolutely adorable rooting around in a wicker box filled with stuffed ducks, bears, and cats.

I am so grateful that people trust me with their dogs. I can’t imagine my life without them.

Also, just for fun, here are two other dogs I met recently.

Paging Dr. Dog! 25

Maggie is a poodle and cavalier king Charles spaniel mix. I met her in downtown Hartford when I was supporting my author friend Lynn Katz at Books on Pratt. If you’re interested in a psychological thriller with some dark and twisty turns, check out her book The Surrogate. I’ll also be chatting with Lynn on October 7 when the Norfolk Library hosts a virtual author talk with her. If interested, you can register here: http://www.norfolklibrary.org/events/virtual-author-talk-with-lynn-katz/

Then there’s Wilson. Wilson is a basset hound! I never knew a basset hound could be a solid color. I thought he was a basset mixed with a dachshund. Also, yesterday was his birthday! He’s a jolly eight years old.

Paging Dr. Dog! 26

I wonder how many dogs I’m going to meet this week? I suppose it doesn’t matter. I’m confident they’ll figure out what to do with my heart when the time comes.

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 27

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog!

Today my blog turns five years old and I turn 44 years old. I remember when my dad turned 40 and we gave him a pin that read 40 isn’t old if you’re a tree. Since I’m a fan of trees and upon my death I would like to be turned into a tree, I accept that I am not old. For the record, I hope my death isn’t at least for 44 more years (God and Kelly willing).

Most importantly, I don’t feel old. And I think that’s what matters most.

One of the true highlights of my day was seeing the artists’ list for the August exhibit of Norfolk Artists & Friends that’s opening at the Library today. When I arrived at work on Thursday, I was delighted to see this painting:

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 28

 

That looks like Annie,  I thought.

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 29

Annie!

Well, sure enough. The painting is titled “Annie Rose Smells a Flower,” by Susannah Anderson.

It delights me that I know Annie so well I can spot her in an acrylic paining.

It really is the little things in life that bring the most joy.

Other little things that have been bringing me joy lately:

The little chipmunk living under the front porch.

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 30

The blue heron who keeps visiting the drivewayHappy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 31

Meeting new dogs (that’s Hobbes in the front and Legend in the back). I met them at Cornwall’s Library’s outstanding Puppies Behind Bars presentation.

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 32

Teeny tiny frogs!

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 33

Fergus visiting my office at the Norfolk Library.

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 34

Getting hugs from my friend, Dotty.

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 35

And last, but not least, is watching my kalanchoe plant grow. Heath gave me this plant for our 5-year wedding anniversary in February. It seems to be doing quite well!

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog! 36

My birthday wish for anyone reading this blog post is that you find little things in your day that bring you joy.

 

Patriotic Pups for the Fourth of July 37

Patriotic Pups for the Fourth of July

It’s the 4th of July! You know what that means?

The year is more than half over.

Ha! Bet you didn’t see that coming. Yes, it’s true. We are officially more than halfway through 2021.

Since my brain can’t seem to wrap around how fast time is moving, I decided to distract myself by creating some patriotic pups.

Patriotic Pups for the Fourth of July 38

This is Indie! She’s a young Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Heath and I both had the opportunity to babysit for her recently. But since Heath is 100% smitten with her, I magnanimously offered to step out of the way so the two of them could be together.

Patriotic Pups for the Fourth of July 39

Say hello to Zelda! She’s an old-timey Bedlington terrier. I recently got to take care of her and her baby sister, Sadie. This is the second time I had the privilege of taking care of Zelda. The first time was over four years ago, well before she had a baby sister. I remember enjoying the experience, as Zelda is as sweet as 4th of July apple pie.

Patriotic Pups for the Fourth of July 40

Sadie, however, made this time quite different as she is a HUMONGOUS goofball. She reminded me so much of my beloved Smudge, I simultaneously wanted to laugh and cry. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.

Patriotic Pups for the Fourth of July 41

Next, we have Fergus. Wednesday at work I heard some jingling outside my office door. In flew Fergus! His human mom had brought him to the library and one of my colleagues/friends brought him up the stairs to visit me. Wednesday was the last day of the extremely hot temperatures we were having (think close to 100 with the heat index). Since the library is nice and cool with our abundant AC (not common in the NW corner of CT), Fergus’ mom wanted to get some work done in a cool and relaxing environment. I asked if I could take Fergus upstairs with me. For the rest of the afternoon, Fergus sat on my desk intermittently napping and watching the world go by on Rt. 44.

Patriotic Pups for the Fourth of July 42

Annie is clearly a 4-star dog! Even when she’s muddy. I think that adds to her charm. I recently had the opportunity to babysit Annie overnight. Is anyone surprised to learn she’s a bed hog?

Patriotic Pups for the Fourth of July 43

Last but not least, we have Yankee Doodle Dodger.

Patriotic Pups for the Fourth of July 44

If you’re thinking that Dodger looks different, well…There was an incident at the groomers where “summer cut” meant one thing to us and something else to the person grooming him. I can’t believe how small a dog Dodger actually is. I’d been calling him “Pork Chop Dodger” all winter and it became clear I needed to apologize once I saw his true size.  Dodger forgave me (mostly) and he seems to have (mostly) recovered from being shaven. The humans have yet to recover.

I hope you have a safe and happy 4th of July! And remember — we only have six months left in 2021. Let’s make them good ones!

 

 

And So It Begins ... Again 45

And So It Begins … Again

Today marks my least favorite day of the year. For people with narcolepsy, daylight savings can wreak all kinds of havoc on our already precarious sleep-wake cycles. If my past is any indicator of my future, It will take me weeks to recover from this loss of one hour.

And So It Begins ... Again 46

Morning #1 of Daylight Savings 2021

In the meantime, I hold onto the small things in life that bring me joy. Here are two examples:

And So It Begins ... Again 47

First, meet Fergus! I had the delightful privilege of caring for this little fella for a few days recently. For such a small dog, he has taken up a big space in my heart.

Second, the artwork! The Norfolk Library is known for its rotating art shows. During the pandemic, the Library featured several shows from Norfolk Artists & Friends, a community of visual artists in Norfolk. When this piece was displayed in December/January, I told the artist, Hilary VanWright, how much I loved it — the colors, the message, the exuberance. When it came time to take the show down, Hilary gave the piece to me. Just like that! She didn’t have room for it and she knew how much I appreciated it. Every day I look at this art and I feel not only gratitude, but encouragement to keep going.

Since it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, here’s another small thing that has brought me joy lately:

And So It Begins ... Again 48

The president of the Norfolk Library Associates brought in shamrocks for us to give to patrons. I love coming into the kitchen every morning and seeing the bright pop of green and the lean of the flowers towards the sun.

That’s what I’ll be doing these next few weeks. As I try to work within my disabled sleep to get back on schedule, I will lean into the longer days of sunlight. I know I’ll make it through these next weeks no matter what. But it’s good to have a literal beacon of light guiding me forward.

Stay rested, my friends! And may the luck o’ the Irish be with you this week.

 

Smudge and Twiggles Save Christmas 49

Smudge and Twiggles Save Christmas

For the last 10 years, a children’s book writer named Susanna Leonard Hill has hosted a holiday writing contest. Last year I entered a story entitled Christmas Peach Pie, and out of a few hundred submissions, I was in the final twelve. Voting ensued and I won third place! I’m now querying that story to agents and editors, so we’ll see what happens.

This year the theme was “Holiday Helper.” The stories are always judged on : 1) kid appeal; 2) adherence to theme; 3) quality of story; 4) quality of writing; 5) originality and creativity; and 6) following directions, including the strict word limit of 250 words).

I hadn’t planned on entering this year. But, the prizes seemed pretty good, and a story popped into my mind. I cranked it out in one sitting, made some minor edits and submitted it to the contest.

And….

I didn’t win. Not in the top 12 and not even an honorable mention or special shoutout.

What a holiday bummer.

Except….

I really love the story I wrote (scroll down to the bottom of the post to read it). It features my favorite children’s story elements: talking animals being silly. I especially love a good dog story, and this one features my buddy, Smudge. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss this guy.

Smudge and Twiggles Save Christmas 50

This week was especially hard for me because we got almost 14 inches of snow and there was no moment of joy as I opened the door for the dogs to run outside and witness their snow-fall antics.

Heath and I laugh often over the time we got so much snow, there was no distinction between the porch and the sidewalk. Smudge tore out the door, promptly belly flopped off the front porch and then swam a small circle before coming back inside, very upset at how the whole situation went down.

The absence of these moments in my life is one of the hardest adjustments with losing our Norfolk family pack.

We did, however, get to romp with Annie for a bit in the snow.

Smudge and Twiggles Save Christmas 51

Smudge and Twiggles Save Christmas 52

Doesn’t she look cute? I think she might have part Sasquatch in her, the way the snow freezes on her in such a becoming manner.

For those of you who celebrate, I wish you all a Merry Christmas! For all of us who are missing loved ones this Christmas, I’m holding you especially tight in my heart.

Now, without further ado, I give you:

SMUDGE AND TWIGGLES SAVE CHRISTMAS

Smudge and Twiggles Save Christmas 53

Smudge patrolled the yard for the tenth time that night.  

“Anything yet?” Twiggles the squirrel hopped from branch to branch as she shadowed the black Lab.  

“Noth – hold on!” Smudge sniffed the air. Reindeer! Wrapping paper! Coal! 

“He’s here,” howled Smudge. “Let’s go.” 

Smudge and Twiggles scampered to the house. Three years of Christmas Eve patrolling and so far, they had only spotted the backsides of nine reindeer and a bumper sticker that read I brake for elves.  

In his excitement, Smudge started barking. “SANTA! HEY SANTA! 

“HO, HO, OOOOOOOOH!”  

CRASH! 

Smudge and Twiggles stared at the lump of red and white velvet in front of them.  

“What do we do now?” Twiggles poked the lump. Nothing happened.  

“I think we’re supposed to put on the suit. I saw it on TV once with the humans.”  

Twiggles and Smudge looked at each other. “Dibs,” called Smudge. 

“Nuts,” said Twiggles “How about we split it? You take the pants. I’ll take the shirt. Then we can deliver presents together!” 

They burrowed their way into the mounds of velvet. A wind began to whirl, magic began to twirl and … 

POOF! 

Smudge and Twiggles found themselves on the roof sitting in Santa’s sleigh.  

“What are you supposed to be?” asked Rudolph. 

Santa’s best helpers ever!” yipped Smudge. 

Oh, boy,” said Dasher“This is going to be some night.”  

“Merry Christmas to all,” howled Smudge as the sleigh took off.  

“And to all a good night,” squeaked Twiggles. “Which way do we go?

 

 

 

Finding New Joys During a Pandemic

Finding New Joys During a Pandemic 54

Photo by Irina Iriser on Unsplash

Being able to celebrate the simple joys in life is a gift. Since our lives have all been upended by the pandemic, I hope you’ve been able to find a few new simple pleasures that give you this joy.

For me, I’ve discovered that I could watch salamanders playing in the water for hours on end. How cute are these little guys?

They even inspired this poem.

On this warm and sunny day
The salamanders swim and play
They twist
They turn
They flip
They flop
To my delight,
They never stop!

I’m also finding joy in removing this rock from the driveway.

Finding New Joys During a Pandemic 55

Every time I walk Smudge and Faith around the yard, I stop to dig up some dirt. I use my foot, so it’s maybe not the most effective method. Still, I make progress every day, and one of these days the rock will be free.

How I’m approaching this rock could also be a metaphor for how I’m approaching the pandemic. Maybe I’m not as productive as I would like during my time of isolation, but little by little I work on projects that are important to me, and with enough small steps on a consistent basis, I’m hoping that by the end I’ll look back on this time as one of great creation.

I’m also loving my pandemic diet, which consists of eating the same meal for breakfast and lunch every day. Here’s what I eat: 4 strips of chicken bacon, an Ezekiel bread English muffin with coconut oil, and a smoothie. My breakfast smoothie uses almond milk, protein powder, one chopped up carrot, four strawberries, and a few shakes from the cinnamon, the ginger, and the turmeric spice jars. My lunch smoothie is ½ coup of tap water, ½ cup of maple water or coconut water, two handfuls of frozen greens, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and a sprig of frozen mint.

I end breakfast and lunch with one Chocolate Coconut Mint Cookie from Emmy’s Organics.

I savor these foods every meal. They are delicious and healthy, and because I enjoy the taste so much, I don’t mind that it’s the same foods twice a day every day. In fact, I look forward to it!

Also with this meal plan, I don’t have to waste any brain power deciding what to make. Cooking is not a strength of mine and the relief of being free of that stress is priceless. I also don’t procrastinate on doing my dishes because: 1) I need a clean blender for both breakfast and lunch; 2) there’s not that many dishes to do; and 3) I know how long washing the dishes will take since I’m washing the same ones over and over.

At first, I felt like eating this way was somehow “wrong.” That I should have more variety. It wasn’t until Heath said to me, “Kelly, if that’s what you want to eat, then just eat it,” that I let go of all the worrying and shoulding on myself.

Isn’t it funny how giving someone permission, even if they don’t need permission, can have such a positive effect on the way they approach something. Since then, I haven’t looked back. I suspect I’m going to keep eating this way even when the pandemic is over.

Finding these new joys is a good reminder that there are things to be grateful for even during times of uncertainty. And even when there are days when life seems so hard and I worry about what is happening to this world we live in, there is always Smudge, ready to pose for a picture for the simple price of one toss of a tennis ball. How could I not be grateful for this guy?

Finding New Joys During a Pandemic 56

What’s in a Name?

What's in a Name? 57

I took this guy to the vet on Friday. Dodger is not my dog, but I sure do love him a lot. His mom, Cecily, can’t drive anymore so I help out when I can.

While there, the vet said, “Okay, Dodgeball, let’s go.”

Dodgeball?!?!

How had I never thought of that nickname for Dodger before? Dodger already comes with quite a few nicknames: Dodge Podge, Dodgey, Podgey, Mr. Podger*, Rodger Dodger, Didgeridodge, BossyPants*, BossyBritches*, Sassafrass*, Dirt Bag Dodger* (reserved for the summertime when he gets filthy dirty from laying in the dirt all day long), and, most recently, Pork Chop Dodger*, owing to the fact that he has gained 10 lbs since his last visit to the vet. Let the diet and exercise regime begin!

But Dodgeball certainly fits in with his personality, given the way he bounces around the woods.

What's in a Name? 58

Suffice it to say, I will be rotating Dodgeball into the mix.

My husband, Heath, thinks I’m terrible at coming up with nicknames for dogs. According to Heath, only one time in the history of our four-year marriage have I come up with a good nickname for a dog. Meet Mission Control on the left (her real name was Missy). What's in a Name? 59

 

I, respectfully disagree with Heath. I think my nicknames are hilarious. For example, this is Smudge:

What's in a Name? 60

I think he needs a fancier name sometimes, and so I call him Smudgerton. I also gave him the middle name Peter, which is shorthand for Poop Eater (I know, gross, but … DOGS!).

Then there are times when he’s just a cuddle bunny. So in those instances, I call him Smudgey Bear.

What's in a Name? 61

Okay, maybe this one is embarrassing. But he’s so cute. I can’t help it.

Smudge’s sister, Faith, on the other paw, comes with a whole slew of nicknames, as well.

What's in a Name? 62

She has been known as Lumpy Butt, because of, well, a lump near her butt. Also, just Lumpers because we as humans like to shorten long names. Then there are times when she’s been out romping in the woods all day long and she gets kind of stinky. So then she becomes Stinky Lumper/Lumpy Butt, also shortened to Stinky Lumpers.  A few times she has been THE PREDATOR because her hunting skills on poor woodland creatures are quite good. And every once in a while we call her Bulldozer because she likes to push her way past Smudge.

Coming up with these names is one of the simple things in life which brings me a lot of joy and laughter. I don’t think I’m the only one who does. Anyone else want to fess up?

And feel free to send me photos of your dogs/cats/nicknamed animals to my email genesispotentia(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)gmail.com. I would love to see them!

Have a great day, everybody 🙂

* Indicates Dodger nicknames I personally created.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! 63

Merry Christmas to all my family and friends! May the joy of this holiday season be as much as the joy of Smudge running in the snow:

Merry Christmas! 64

And since it is Christmas, here’s my gift to you: Some of my favorite Norfolk animals in Santa hats. You’re welcome 🙂

Merry Christmas! 65

Cuite pie Faith (with a photo bomb by Smudge)

Merry Christmas! 66

Santa Smudge with a snowy snoot

Merry Christmas! 67

Dodger and his cousin Maestro! Too much cuteness for words.

Merry Christmas! 68

Sooty Sam and Stuffed Dodger (courtesy of the incomparable Eve Thew)

Merry Christmas! 69

Benjamin Button, the bravest kitten I’ve ever known

Merry Christmas! 70

Annie Banannie, the happiest dog I’ve ever known

Merry Christmas! 71

Chloe, a dog with the heart of an angel

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Love,
Kelly