Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How We Came to Foster + Adopt Penelope (Our experience with Beagle Paws)

I know it seems like Penelope kind of popped up out of no where. 

One day I was blogging about Cuba, and then Penny popped up months later. 

While I am not quite ready to get into the details around Cuba's passing (honestly, I don't know when I will be), I am ready to talk about how Penelope Scotland Babb Hamlyn came into our lives and took some of the sourest lemons life had to offer and helped us turn them into something resembling lemonade.  

I knew there was a void in my life when we lost Cuba. I knew I was lonely in a way I couldn't remember being and I didn't know exactly what to do. 

Matt is willing to support me in any of my crazy ideas so he watched and listened as I researched breeders, looked at dogs for sale and dog sat within days of losing Cuba.  

Except, I constantly felt like I was looking to replace him. He wasn't even gone and I was looking for something to fill the feeling of him being gone. 

This is where my friend Emma came in. 

She had started volunteering with Beagle Paws earlier in 2017 and had fostered her dog, Freckles and she had also recently lost a lifelong companion. 

Through her constant praise of Beagle Paws and the work they did surrounding homeless and neglected beagles in Newfoundland, I felt something click. 

Filling out the paperwork, I felt empowered again. Cuba had given me a purpose I didn't know I had. It was someone smaller and more helpless than I depending on me. Being a Foster Mom would give me the same feeling of purpose, without feeling like I was replacing my boy.

After sending in my paperwork, I was able to meet with a Foster Coordinator (FC). Since we worked in the same building, we met and had a great chat. They were so willing to listen to what I was looking for, my schedule, living arrangement and experiences with Cuba that I knew instantly I was doing the right thing. 

Next came the home visit with the same FC. It was quick and thorough, which comforted me to know that they really cared about what home they put their dogs into.  

When Penelope (then Tikka) was dropped off, my heart broke into a million pieces. She was possibly the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, but she was so timid and nervous. She walked with her head and tail down and a constant look of mistrust on her face. 

She had many accidents in our house those first few weeks. She would eat her supper so fast she would throw it back up within a matter of minutes. She didn't know how to walk on a leash, and shed hair like it was nobody's business (Sorry Mom). 

I was told she didn't give kisses and was surrendered for being nippy. 

So, Matt and I started getting her ready and loved for her forever home. 

We took her to the dog park with another dog about her size that we knew and trusted around her. 

We bathed her, brushed her regularly and scratched her for hours on end, I am sure. 

We walked her, encouraged her and bought her a harness (to be given to her forever home with her.)

We taught her to give paw, to go into her kennel without making a fuss and wait outside the kitchen when we're making food.

The FC was in constant contact. Answering any questions we had, always concerned about how (Tikka) was doing in her temporary home. 

Until we got the text. Someone else was interested in (Tikka). 

But ... (Tikka) went for walks on a leash now and was starting to sleep on the bed with me. She walked with her tail stuck up like a flag. She looked us in the eye and ran towards us when she was frightened instead of away and into a corner. 

She was ours. 

Matt and I quickly discussed and decided that she was going no where, that we tried our hand at fostering and at this moment she was ours and that was that. 

We thanked the FC and said we would be at Beagle Paws the next day to pay our adoption fee. 

You think you're ready to let them go until you aren't.

Thankfully, Beagle Paws was so understanding and just happy that Penelope-Tikka had found a home. 

We had watched her grow into such a self assured dog with a quirky personality and so much love to give, we would have never been able to part with her after that. 

Beagle Paws gave me the opportunity to find a dog that fit with me. I needed to foster when I applied. Healing Penelope helped me heal my heart as well. 

I don't feel that I replaced Cuba because he is irreplaceable, but I could help another dog that needed me. It was the right situation for me and for Matt and I to take the next step and adopt Penelope together. 

Now I wake up each morning to puppy kisses. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Encourage & Inspire

I don't know about you, but I find the beginning of the week the absolute hardest! 

Waking up on a Monday morning is a pain felt by too many and sometimes we need a little emotional boost to get our souls ready for the week. 

I find a lot of comfort in quotes, words of affirmation and encouraging messages. 

A part of me is really embarrassed by this, because I admit it can be pretty cheesy and I would love to say I look for affirmation in The Secret or some other book that explains the secret of happiness, but here we are. 

In order to find a new lockscreen on your phone or help boost you through the week ahead, I'm going to leave you with some quotes that have helped me through some pretty hard days. 

(Personal Fave)

I hope at least one of these sits as well in your soul as they did in mine. 

I wish I could leave links to where I got these, but I've collected them over time. I want to say Pinterest and Instagram, so you'll have to settle for me saying I do not own, nor did I make them! 

Leave me some of your favourite mantras and comment your favourite of mine! 

Have a great week people! 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Dusting Myself Off

I realized after I posted on Tuesday that I had to practice what I preach. 

Who am I to sit here and talk about keeping the conversation on mental health going long after Bell Let's Talk day, if I don't do it myself? 

So, if you'll humour me - I think I'd like to start a little section on my website dedicated specifically to Mental Health + Wellness. 

 In keeping with that theme I thought I could start with some things that are tried and true methods for getting out of my own head when I am having a down, stressful day. 

I can usually tell when I am going to have a day (you know A DAY) because they usually happen after I don't get enough sleep or have a bad dream. 

I know how childish it seems, but whenever I have a bad dream it can leave me shaken for days. So when I wake up and feel that lingering feeling of dread, I flick to survival mode. 

I have to hop out of bed right away. I cannot lay in bed and wallow or else I feel even worse and it almost becomes like my body is made out of led. So hopping up and getting my day started is my way to get out of my own head. 

I find that lazy days are the absolute worst for me. I need to keep my mind busy, which is awful lucky for everyone around me! 

Find something (someone) to love

When I lost Cuba, I had no idea what to do with my time. I felt like I was missing a limb. I had so much open time and nothing to channel it into, I felt like I was falling and would never hit ground. 

That's when I started fostering (and eventually adopting) Penelope. 

It felt so good to help something that needed it and she has grown from a timid dog who didn't know how to walk on a leash to a diva. It is so rewarding. 

I know not everyone is an animal person, so I think volunteering, lending a hand or just spending time that might need it would also help you feel better about yourself. 

Do something mindless

I hear people shame me all the time for my love of the Kardashians and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. But I love watching it because it allows me to lose myself in something that is so low key, outrageous and usually hilarious. 

Spend time with someone who can make you laugh

Matt has gotten me through some of the toughest times. Not always because he has swooped in and saved me, but by simple companionship. 

He always seems to know if I need a sarcastic comment, funny story or if he just needs to go right for the tickle. He knows that if I start laughing, I won't stop and soon I'll be funk free (which is good for both of us) 

Get Active 

I honestly can't even believe I am the one writing this.. But the difference I feel in myself since I started going to the gym (one month in!!!!!!) is honestly unbelievable. I feel better about myself, I have more energy, my head doesn't do that fuzzy thing that sometimes happens and I feel more put together on a whole. 

Maybe there is something to those endorphins people keep talking about... 

All in all, you know your body and mind the best. 

What really worked for me, was finding what worked for me. 

People can tell you what worked for them, what they took, what they did and unless that is what you want as well - it won't make a difference. 

So be true to yourself, it always feels better in the long haul. 

Leave me a comment below to let me know what gets you out of your anxious states! 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Let's talk about #BellLetsTalk

For the life of me I can't decide if I want to keep blogging or not. 

I haven't posted since August (ish??), but believe me when I say I have tried. I currently have 19 half or almost finished posts that seem too forced, too fake or too unnecessary.

I sometimes feel like if I started posting again it would be met with a whole lot of judgement about leaving and coming back, especially since I see people plan weddings and have babies all without missing a scheduled post. 

I'm over here struggling to write 1 or 2 a week. So I stopped. But now I have something on my mind, that I feel as though I need to put out there or else I won't be true to me or true to the people who feel the same way I do. 

Tomorrow (January 31st, 2018) is #BellLetsTalk day. For every tweet with the hashtag, Facebook/ Snapchat frame used, text message sent and minute on a phone call, Bell will donate 5 cents to mental health initiatives around Canada. This is FANTASTIC and I can honestly say it is the one day a year I am proud to be with Bell. 

My concern is that people go ALL OUT for this one day a year. They tweet, text, post and promote mental health as though their lives depend on it.

But some people's lives do. 

I am lucky enough to have my mental illness (GAD, PD & Depression) under control 90% of the time. I know that through a combination of exercise, medication, therapy and getting enough sleep I can function at full capacity. But that is a 24/7/365 effort. I can't look after myself for one day and expect to be fine for the rest of the year. 

So I don't understand why promoting mental health initiatives can be acceptable for one day of the year and then ignore them for the rest of the time? 

Tweeting about acceptance is wonderful, but why don't we try really being accepting? 

Why don't we text a friend we know is struggling on a snowy day in February when they might be feeling extra down? 

Why not meet someone for a walk one day in the middle of August? 

Why not give someone a call on a September day when they cross your mind? 

Why not refrain from making comments about how someone looks when it might have been all they could do to get out of bed one day? 

Why not just accept people are the way they are and when they try to talk about their mental illness don't say "not this again

Why not try to comfort someone when they're spiralling instead of calling them depressing when they leave the room? 
(It may quite literally be the depression) 

Ending the stigma around mental health requires more than one day of activism. It requires dedication, dead ends, perseverance and passion. It requires people putting in the effort, sending the tweet and standing up for people who are ashamed to stand up for themselves day after day. 

All in all, #BellLetsTalk is a GREAT initiative. I am so proud of the strides our communities have made throughout mental health and addictions, I just believe it needs to be more consistent. 

So text, tweet and post all you can tomorrow! 

Then keep talking about it.