Farewell for Now

Guapa, the saucy gypsy Aussie, ran over the Rainbow Bridge this summer.

Guapa wore a dog diaper for one night only. She had her pride to the end. Like Houdini she escaped from her binds in the night. Guapa had her pride and a bit of entitlement. She had been a lost lady of Jacksonville, Florida. She had pranced around the country with The Marvelous Mutts rescued dogs performing sports team of upstate New York. When she was ready to retire, she was bestowed on a nice quiet couple in Kansas.

Empty nesters, they gave Guapa everything she wanted. She did not want to travel anymore – except maybe to the next block. She just wanted to stay in her house and yard, and protect her people. And eat treats. And jump the fence. And own the off leash park.

Which Guapa did. She was a very good dog for just the right family for eight years. Recently, she noticed they were even sweeter to her when this year she started having trouble walking … then eating … then standing. Even the home cooked liver cubes, slowly hand fed, no longer tempted her.

Her boy, who was visiting, carried her to the car. His girl stroked her head.

The old couple in the front seat cried.

Then she was carried again to a fuzzy blanket with a soaring eagle. She remembered seeing that bird at the lake where she refused to stay in the kayak. They laid her on the blanket. She looked up at the sky. Her number one knelt near. She felt a little pinch above her paw. It made her want to get up and go run in the off leash park again. Maybe jump on a couple puppies or old small dogs and make their owners scream.

Then she felt warm and woozy. She dropped to the blanket. Her number one whispered, I love you, in her ear. Another pinch. The sky was bright and then brighter.

A teardrop fell on her nose.

Guapa saw colors and she followed them.

Hiatus for All

The world is becoming united now in breaking from daily activities. We are told to limit close exposure to workers, friends, surfaces, crowds. My hope is this will be a quieter time in which to reflect.

I already am being struck by how small my battle to stop taking a certain drug really is. I am healthy, I am alive, I have a future.

I am saddened that young people must face this crisis at a time in life when they should be free to immerse in life’s experiences. My son, a university lecturer who just started this year, must face teaching online for the first time. His classes will lose the personal interaction so important to learning about creative writing.

Maybe there will be good to come from our restrictions. I told him this anyway. We have never lived through anything like this before, I said. Later, I thought, oh, yes, we did. The early 1980s, before HIV was understood, there was widespread fear. How was it passed? Could it be treated? Then it was the young who were dying. Parents were devastated. Lives were changed forever.

Today, it is mostly the old who are becoming infected. We are still sad and afraid. Especially when new cases arise of the not-so-old. As testing becomes available, doctors say, there will be many more cases. But most, we pray, will live. And we will learn more about all living together on this earth.

#health #hope #future

Another Tribute to IWD March 8

This quote from June 2019 prompts questions on International Women’s Day 2020.

I heard this quote mentioned this morning while attending a church service at Unity Temple. The word “western” struck me. As it is International Women’s Day, I am wondering was the 14th Dalai Lama intentionally excluding women from his own part of the world? And if so, why?

And what does the Dalai Lama see as hopeful qualities in women of “the west”? And should we assume he means the Americas and Europe, but maybe not Russia or Africa. I definitely am fascinated with this quote and find it powerful, but would feel better if it hadn’t been qualified.

Lastly, what does the world need to be saved from that can best be accomplished by western women? Many would agree that war, health care, family rights, poverty, and hunger could be more decisively tackled generally by women who would give these problems priority over power and prestige. Would Mother Earth also respond more favorably to female Climate Saviors?

Just some thoughts on this heralded day – with gratitude to all the women everywhere who are working each day to make their world a better place.

Where is Your Happy Place?

One of many eclectic shops joining coffee stops, bars, restaurants and live music venues on South Congress in Austin TX, ranked the 14th happiest city in the US, according to this study. I know I had a fun trip there!
Photo by Dana C Moriarty

Happiest Cities In America 2020

What determines “happiness?” According to a study by WalletHub, there are 31 metrics that determine someone’s level of happiness categorized into three dimensions: emotional and physical wellbeing; income and employment; and community and environment. Emotional and physical wellbeing was weighed as 50% and the other two dimensions were weighed at 25% each. Each metric is graded on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 representing maximum happiness. WalletHub then determined each city’s weighted average across all 31 metrics and used the final score to rank the cities.

A total of 182 cities were ranked using this method. In the top 50 cities, most cities were found the Midwest or on the west coast, except for Florida and North Carolina. Out of the top 50 states, Californiahas 14 cities and Texas has eight.

The Wallethub study shows that happiness is made up of several factors, including a positive mental state, a healthy body, financial wellbeing, job satisfaction, and strong, positive social connections. Additionally, moving to a new city on the list could increase happiness as well, as this study intends to illustrate.

The top twenty happiest cities in the United States are:

  1. Plano, TX
  2. Irvine, CA
  3. Madison, WI
  4. Fremont, CA
  5. Huntington Beach, CA
  6. Fargo, ND
  7. Grand Prairie, TX 
  8. San Jose, CA
  9. Scottsdale, AZ
  10. San Francisco, CA
  11. Bismarck, ND
  12. Overland Park, KS
  13. Santa Rosa, CA
  14. Austin, TX
  15. Sioux Falls, SD
  16. Pearl City, HI
  17. Glendale, CA
  18. San Diego, CA
  19. St. Paul, MN
  20. Charleston, SC

Plano, Texas is the happiest city in the United States. Plano’s happiness score is 72.30 and scored highest in the community and environment dimension. Plano is known for its good schools, technology growth, and being home to the headquarters of American companies such as Cinemark and Frito-Lay.

About this article: Happiest Cities In America Population. (2020-02-17). Retrieved 2020-03-05, from http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/happiest-cities-in-america/

A full list of the happiest cities in the United States can be found in WalletHub’s study.

#wallethub.com #worldpopulationreview #happiness #wellbeing #cities

What to expect when you’re not Effexor-ing

This is pretty much what I’m feeling as I continue my Effexor withdrawal. It’s so nice to have a cool graphic with a cat to sum it up.

The condition even has a name – Discontinuation Syndrome. That makes me feel a bit better, too.

Something others have called “brain shivers” is also on my list of funny feelings. The sensation comes when I glance side to side or turn my head. Sound familiar to anyone?

If this discomfort refuses to go away, there’s a drug called fluoxetine I could ask my doctor about. But normally I can expect just 1-2 weeks of being off balance at this dose. That is definitely bearable.

In the meantime, I’ll be researching for upcoming blogs on Mentally Healthy Places to Live and Jobs for the Best Mental Health. Brain shivers and all.


Double Whammy

As my blog heading says “Getting Off Effexor,” how’s that going, you might ask?

Two days ago I dropped to one half of my original dosage. That’s one tablet a day. I had been taking two half dosages for the past three+ weeks.

This new drop now feels drastic. Shopping in a busy Sunday Whole Foods, I careened around other racing shopping carts with a rising sense of self-consciousness and mild paranoia. By yesterday my head was spinning whenever I turned it. Today I am weak and deflated. This is all with taking the new half dose only in the evening!

I am wondering if I should be alternating going without during the day. Any thoughts?

I probably need a strong motivational quote about now to get me through tomorrow. I am also fasting for a colonoscopy then. Millennial darlings, the preparation will be vastly improved, Science willing, when your time comes!

The Calming Power of Pets

One adorable “Emotional Therapy” dog

Anybody who owns a pet, especially a dog or cat, knows this — they brighten our lives. Who can ignore a warm curling, purring cat on the lap or the smiling wag of a dog at your door?

Science has started backing this up. Owning a pet can actually help fight depression. And it all goes back to our little happy hormone, Serotonin.

“Stroking a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and heart rate and boost levels of serotonin and dopamine,” declares an article on this very subject on Psychcentral.com.

Caring for a pet can help our mood and stave off depression in several ways:

Pets offer a soothing presence by helping lower blood pressure as mentioned.

They offer unconditional love and acceptance. For example assisted living and nursing home residents have shown to be less lonely when exposed to quiet time with a dog.

Pets, dogs and cats especially, alter our own behaviors as we respond to their licks and affection. Our breathing, speech and minds slow down during these interactions.

Pets do a great job of distracting us – even more than social media, movies and books – by taking us out of our head.

Taking good care of a pet makes us responsible. Responsibility to another promotes mental health by building self-esteem and giving us purpose.

At the same time, the caring of a pet, dogs especially, opens up increased opportunities for exercise, outdoor play, and socialization – all positive health factors in many ways.

A friend and student of mine in her mid-20s was having depressed feelings and lack of direction. Her life wasn’t leading to even the most realistic goals she had set for herself. She was at the time feeling unloved and not surrounded by supportive family. She seriously began to feel that life wasn’t worth living.

Out of the blue, an older cousin gave her a puppy from her dog’s litter. It was probably an accident pregnancy, as the puppy was an unusual but adorable mix — rat terrier and dachshund. The dog turned out to be a most beautiful accident for my young friend. She began caring for the puppy, buying her all the right food, small toys, even cute sweaters. She shampooed her and took her to the vet for check ups and shots. She made a cozy crate for her pup to sleep while away at work. They always played and walked.

She called the puppy her “Emotional Therapy Dog” and she got back her self-esteem and, with it, the sparkling, fun-loving personality she was known for.

Not everyone can or wants to own a dog or cat. They take time, especially dogs, and are best for certain periods in our lives. Many rental apartments and homes sadly do not even allow pets or charge high deposits for them.

But volunteering at a shelter one day a week can give mood boosts, too. Shelter pets also need touching, loving and exercise – and you can brighten your day together. Or offer to walk a neighbor or friend’s dog from time to time. Even better, start walking with that friend and their dog. You will all get a boost from the emotional power of pets.

#dogs #cats #emotional therapy #depression #health #shelter #Petsmart

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