DOES YOUR DOG HAVE ANXIETY TOO? – Repost

This is a repost of one of my favorite posts because I think its so important to revisit. It pertains to dogs and pet owners, enjoy.

Many of us have pets and they are part of the family. If you have a cat, the good news is the cat isn’t apart of your world, you’re apart of its world. If you own a cat, you know exactly what I mean. For those of us who own dogs we can find ourselves in situations where our beloved pet has behavioral issues. Sadly, sometimes our dog’s mirror our anxiety. Sometimes our dogs have dubious backgrounds, maybe their former owners were unkind, maybe the dog is just nervous, maybe the dog breed has a propensity to have issues.

Maybe you are fortunate, your dog doesn’t have behavioral issues. If your dog does there are techniques, you can use to help alleviate a dog’s anxiety. This will not only help your canine friend, but it will go a long way to helping reduce your stress levels as well. We all want to enjoy the time we have with our pets, but if we have anxiety or our dog has anxiety it’s a potential stress filled mine field.

Get me a Saddle!

Below are going to be 5 things you can do to help alleviate your buddie’s anxiety and put them in a position to have less anxiety.

  1. Schedule: This is the most important thing you can do for your dog. Try and walk your dog at the same time every day. Fill the food bowl at the same time every day. By creating a schedule your dog is going to be able to rest assured that it’s going to get what it needs. Dogs have internal clocks too!
  2. Let them sniff: Smell is your dogs’ primary sense, let them sniff!! Check out this article as to why.
  3. Socialize them with other dogs: At a dog park, at a family or friends house, a walk with a neighbor or at an organized play date at a kennel. Get your dog around other dogs, so when you meet a strange one in your travels, all hell doesn’t break loose with your pooch.
  4. Accidents happen: So, your buddy relieved themselves on the kitchen floor? This isn’t the end of the world, but how you react will really impact your dog. Most dogs don’t go to the bathroom in the house unless they don’t feel well, or their walk was missed. If you blow up at them, they will be in panic mode. Imagine you must go to the bathroom and the bathroom is locked and you can’t get to another one, what would you do?
  5. Give them something to chew on: there are several chew products out there, ones with  L-Tryptophan and chamomile can promote a feeling of calmness and relaxation. Go ahead treat your buddy.

As individuals with anxiety, having an anxious dog can be a serious trigger. It’s feeding off of your emotional state, you know it, but you can’t always control your emotional state… It can lead to this cycle of anxiety that makes everyone involved unhappy. The items above can help you both, particularly the schedule. By being consistent it allows you to build your day around the event. Time with our dogs should be fun, they are our friends, and with all the anxiety in the world over the last year they are feeling it too. Your dog is dependent on you to help them with their anxiety, they don’t have anyone else to help them cope. Even if you are in the throughs of your own depression, remember your dog is one of your best friends!

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The secret your employer won’t tell you (but I will)

We all have to work in some capacity. Income enables us to pay rent, put gas in the car, buy food, spend silly amounts of money on coffee… Most of us go somewhere to work, or we produce something that someone else consumes. Regardless of how you obtain your income we all have customers/employers. These are the people who pay us for our services. Now there is a whole gambit of work scenarios out there now.

Many of your Gen X friends like me marvel at the new “gig” economy. We didn’t have those options when we were 20-30 and it’s really opened up a lot of possibilities for everyone. Out there of course are all sorts of competition, we now have a global pool of people whom we can get what we want from. Outsourcing is a thing, and if you have a good Wi-Fi connection you can work from anywhere in the world.

A lot of positives I know, it’s a great time to be working (covid aside of course). Many of us though suffer from anxiety and work, or more specifically, how we obtain income can be one of our greatest sources of grief. Many of us worry daily about performance, availability of work, pay scale, coworkers on and on and on. It can really wear you down and in some cases cause serious complications to your life emotionally.

There is a secret though, something that is never on a job description. You don’t hear it in your reviews, companies don’t normally profess it.

Am I contagious?
Really? They need me? Is that why they give me money?

What is it? THEY NEED YOU

Simple right? Try convincing yourself of it though. All of these companies and individuals who want your time/expertise/product need you. Sure maybe someone else can produce the outcome you can, but then they would just need them. You are highly valuable, that Accounts Payable job at XYZ company? Why are the advertising it? Because they don’t want to do it and they need you (or someone like you) to do it.

I know this all sounds rather simplistic and it is. The problem is, the person producing the outcome other people want (that person is you) is rarely, if ever told how much they are needed. Imagine you got that AP job did it for a year and then said “I’m done” and stopped doing it? It would still need to be done, so who does it? There are no practice squad teams out there, someone else will have to be brought in (and paid) to do what you did.

They need you, and that is your leverage position. If nothing else this should give you a sense of value that, while you aren’t being told regularly, clearly exists. That job you’re doing needs to be done by someone. Don’t ever forget that your value as a person is well beyond the measure of what people say to you. Exampled above, your value is also intrinsic in the notion that you are needed to produce a desired outcome.

That’s huge and as individuals with Anxiety we should be reminding ourselves regularly of just how valuable we are.

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1 year later…. I turned 51 and I lost 25 pounds during covid ! (how I did it)

Hey folks, no this isn’t turning into a “my weight loss journey blog” but I wanted to share with you one of my personal triumphs. I turned 50 on 2.2.20 and I decided I needed to lose weight. I was not obese, I worked out regularly and ate well, but I carried fat like most people. I am 6’1 on my 50th birthday I weighed 238 pounds. Shirts fit, pants were sized 36-38 waist overall I felt in decent shape for someone my age.

So when I decided to lose weight it wasn’t for a health reason, it was pure vanity. I know, that’s shallow and slightly obtuse but it’s the truth. I just wanted to look better. When I was in my 20’s I had abs was athletic, I was hot or so I am told, lol. Fast forward 30 years, still muscular, more fat, less hair, no abs. So 50 is one of those catalyst moments, one of your Gen X friends will confirm this I assure you. You really look at where you are, where you have been and where you are going.

Yes, you are nearing the end of middle age closing in on retirement age and progressing toward elderly. For me 80 is as close as 20 was, and its where I hope to be but still think about where I had been. So I decided to lose some weight. The goal was to get to 200 pounds. I was 195 when I was 24 years old and I thought “that would be cool to get back to that” well, I failed to hit that mark but on my 51st birthday 2.2.21 I weighed in at 211 a 27-pound loss over 1 year.

Squats
Squats = Weight loss

How did I do it? We had Covid, we had holidays, winter, 2020 worst year ever…. On and on. Below is a list of 3 things I changed that resulted in this weight loss that I have managed to keep off.

  1. Intermittent fasting 16/8: Now there are entire blogs and web sites dedicated to this and there are several strategies. I employed the 16/8 strategy, I eat between 12 and 8 PM. The mornings are the hardest because I get up early and it’s a long window. Yes, I’ve had days where I cheated but 90% of the time I stuck to it.
  2. Increased activity:  I walked more than ever before. We had about 3 months where gyms were closed but I still go and went to the gym 3 times a week minimum during 2020. From push-ups at home to driving to trails and walking to more sex (yes!) I increased my physical activity across the board. Shoveling snow instead of the snow blower, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, moving stones I created opportunities to be physical.
  3. Reduced carb intake: I didn’t go full keto but I ate more keto (if that makes sense). I cut out breads, cut out sugars, cut out as much carb heavy food as I could and replaced it with higher fat foods. I didn’t count calories really, but I ate smarter. For example, I made an effort to cut my meal sizes slightly (so instead of three eggs two) and eat more frequently. This meant smaller meals more often which made me full and resulted in me eating less.

Now will these work for you? I don’t know but it’s how I did it. Minimally, increasing your activity and not changing anything else should result in a net weight loss for you. I found the hardest thing was the intermittent fasting personally. I don’t think that is for everyone it just happened to work for me. Changing up what foods you eat was surprisingly easy for me but I am not a vegan or vegetarian so I didn’t have any issues there.

Weight loss is a challenging endeavor, if you embark on it be honest why you are doing it. It made it way easier for me to achieve my goal by being honest that I just wanted to look better. No shame in that IMHO, and if your journey is for health reasons all the better.

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Genetics

Anxiety Apps

I spend a lot of time on my phone now from work, I also have two 20 something kids who don’t really understand how to actually make a call (they do I’m just being a chromogen) and everything they are doing now, it seems is on the phone. I don’t have many apps on my phone, as a gamer I spend leisure time on my PC. I suppose it’s generational, as a member of Gen X we still remember rotary phones, pay phones on the street and calling 411 information. Even though my phone is an extremely powerful computer in its own right I just don’t look at it that way.

That’s me. You? Maybe you do a lot on your phone, maybe it’s your primary means of viewing the outside world. I found a great article here on a bunch of apps you can get that help with anxiety.

From the article: “Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems, affecting more than 40 million US adults each year, and COVID-19 is only making matters worse. There are dozens of anxiety-related apps available, offering options that range from guided meditation to the digital equivalent of a fidget cube, but all that choice can be, well, anxiety-inducing. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a guide we hope will make your selection process a little more relaxing.”

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety is common, for some of us its crippling.

The article then goes on to give a very extensive list of apps for all types of anxiety issues. I was honestly shocked at the number of them out there, apps for marginalized communities to organizers, to meditation apps. It’s a great resource and who knows maybe one of these would work for you.

As individuals who suffer from anxiety, it is paramount to be in the headspace that allows yourself the ability to ask for help. Maybe an App is the first step for you to break that ice? I don’t know your personal situation. I do know that any tool we can use that helps us deal with and get through the day to slog of anxiety is a positive.

Maybe one of these apps fits you, maybe it doesn’t, you won’t know until you try so check out a few and let me know what you think!

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Gandalf

The Wisdom of Tolkien .. Again..

From time to time on this blog we visit a quote from one of my favorite authors Tolkien. For many of us he is the god father of modern fantasy writing (along with Jules Verne). Tolkien gave us a lot of pearls of wisdom from his works, let’s discuss the one below.

“For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, 

What does he mean here? Simply put, those of you who have obtained wisdom or have mentors in your life cannot always rely exclusively on their view. Even those of us with a vast amount of experience cannot possibly foresee all possible outcomes. Tolkien is giving us a very important reminder here that you cannot rely exclusively on the wisdom of others.

Sometimes in life things happen that we don’t anticipate no matter how well we prepared for it. Those are often the most unforgiving and brutal of circumstances and they punish your spirit and soul. The key here is acceptance. Acceptance of the notion that life/fate is out of your hands. Things happen and it’s not always how well you are prepared for what might occur but rather how well you recover from the things you didn’t see coming.

One of the hardest things we have to deal with as humans and as humans with anxiety is picking ourselves up after a major calamity. Tolkien gives us a warning here, he is telling us that even the very wise cannot see all ends. Remember, live isn’t about how many hits you can take, it’s about how you get up and carry on after being knocked down.

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Back to Basics – Get a routine to fight Anxiety

Anxiety sucks, we can all agree on that. The problem in diagnosis and treating anxiety is it’s unique to each individual and that individual’s experience. As an example, driving in the snow causes me to have anxiety, likely you too, but why? The fear of crashing? The fear of getting trapped? A prior accident? We all have different issues and things can get out of hand very quickly.

One of the things we all can do to fight Anxiety is to create or recreate routines. Covid lock downs have created havoc for tens of millions. For those of us with Anxiety it’s even worse because those routines we clung to pre covid were shattered. Sure it wasn’t perfect but routines gave us some semblance of order and some semblance of control which goes a long way to fighting anxiety.

I haven’t worked at my office for nearly a year, it’s disrupted many of my mini routines and there are times when I am at home I feel lost. I get anxious because I have less structure, less focus, less interaction. It’s been challenging for me personally and I know there are many other people out there in a similar situation. Below are a few things you can do to establish (or Reestablish) routines.

Am I contagious?
This guy and his lists….
  • Go to bed and wake up the same time every day. This one is critical because it creates the conditions which your body can be more regulated, particularly your mind.
  • Workout the same 3 days every week. Mon,Wed,Fri or Tues,Thurs,Sat. Whatever it is you do, yoga, stretching, lifting, running, walking get a consistent routine for specific days.
  • 30 minutes a week work on your personal finances. The same time and day every week. My “personal finance day” is Sunday morning. I get coffee and from 10-11AM I look at my investments, balance the check book, pay bills, and look at my budget.
  • Friends & Family time. This one is harder but every week plan a call, plan a walk, plan a meal whatever it is plan something with a friend or family member not spouse and kids but siblings, parents, good friends.
  • Family night. This is the one for kids and spouses. A Netflix night, a movie, a game, a pizza whatever it is at least once a week (preferably every day) you plan one night with your immediate family, like a date night. Ours is Friday night, we get pizza and play cards or board games, and yes that includes occasionally boyfriends and girlfriends.
  • Personal hygiene routine. Now this one might be self evident but since we have all been trapped at home many of us have let this slip. Sure we all still clean up but are you waking, showering, face cream, shave, brush, mouth wash, grooming etc in the same manner as you were before? How about bed time? Get back into a consistent hygiene routine everyday no days off.

These may sound obvious or they may seem simple, they should be and are. The point is routine and structure give us a great tool to combat anxiety. Without it your mind gets to create whatever reality it wants and if your imagination is like mine that might not be the best outcome. Routines require us to focus on the task, and be present. They also create positive outcomes from the effort and that has the residual effect of making you feel better about yourself.

Get back to basics and get your routines (or several) back on track to fight back against Anxiety!

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Winter is coming? Winter is here

In the U.S. we are in the throws of a severe winter. Record cold, record snowfall for many. Deaths, power outages just a mess all over the place. Texas saw totals ranging from 2-9 inches of snow. Now for many of us thats not much at all but Texas? Its a disaster for them they dont know how to deal with it. Thats not a slight on them, its their reality. They dont have snow blowers, sanders, DPW road plows. The real problem is it got cold, so the snow isnt melting.

In my world its 15 degree’s today we are getting 10 inches of snow sometime tomorrow, on top of the foot + we already have. I live in NE so I am used to it. So a quick post today…. I wanted to say to all my southern U.S. friends hang in there the sun will shine again. The snow will melt things will get better. Being cold sucks, I know I hate it too.

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Dressing to feel good !

How much are you worth to an employer?

  • Get Paid What You’re Worth and Spend Less Than You Earn.

Okay but what am I worth? First, I think you are priceless but I’m not hiring you. One of the hardest things to do when determining your worth is gauging the value of your experience. I’ve seen it many times as a former manager, people with great educations and no experience over price themselves, people with great experience and average education under price.

So, a few tips for you when determining your worth in the workforce.

  1. Research your field: There are many, many websites that aggregate pay for specific professions. These will help you get a general idea of what type of pay you can command.
  2. The cost of living where you work, might be different then where you live: If you live in the city and are working in the burbs, chances are your pay isn’t commensurate with the cost of living you are experiencing.
  3. Experience, and specific targeted experience, increases your value: If you are an RN with a lot of Phlebotomy experience and you are going for a pediatric position, your experience won’t be as valuable. TLDR: Stay in your lane if you want to maximize your earning potential.
  4. You must gauge their demand: Has this job been open for a while? Do they seem “desperate”? that affects your value tremendously.

Being in the workforce is a bastion of anxiety for all sorts of reasons but feeling like you’re not getting paid what you are worth is horrible. It’s up to you to determine your value, taking a job just to have a job is okay but you won’t be happy. Remember this is a financial transaction and you must remove yourself personally (as best you can) from the transaction.

Experience is priceless.

They want to pay you the least amount possible for the most work, you want to work the least amount as possible for the most pay. The answer is always somewhere in the middle but take the time BEFORE you get the offer to determine how much you are willing to work for.

If you know going in that you will not do this job for any less than 60K a year, you’re in control of your worth. So many times, we leave it up to the company to “make an offer” then we are in reaction mode. Take some time before hand to determine what the job should be paying, and this will help relieve a lot of anxiety.

Remember many of us work for money to do the things we love to do outside of work. A precious few of us get to work at something we really love. If you are the later, I cant help you as you’ve nailed it already. If you are the former, take the time to formulate a value for your work before getting into a serious job search. This is going to help you straight out of the gate with the new job anxiety, you will be working for a wage you determined was fair.

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Helping kids with Anxiety

We don’t have to rehash what 2020 was, it was a mess for everyone. Yes, including children. Imagine explaining to a 7-year-old that they can’t see their friends because they might get sick? School? No. Sports? No. Girl Scouts? No. Kids are very resilient often more so then adults, it’s one of the benefits of youth you don’t have enough experience in the world to understand how bad things really are.

I found a good article here That discusses some of the issues for kids that are going through serious issues like cancer treatments. These tools can be used to assuage children during any time of stress. Some of the examples in the article are extreme but in context these toys can help during the pandemic too!

From the article: “We want to create technology with empathy, which can help people who are experiencing really difficult health challenges lead more delightful, joyful lives,” Horowitz says. “We see Sproutel as a small but mighty change agent.”

Social robots aren’t new: For years, kids and adults have befriended dinosaurs, dogs, knights and humanoids with smart features and lifelike movements. Bringing these robots into medicine has real limitations, as they can’t cure cancer or take the sting out of an injection – yet.”

Spending time with your kids is the best anxiety relief.

Again this article is written within the context of serious medical conditions. I am extrapolating out the premise to be something that could be helpful in nearly any anxiety situation for children. The point here is we have MORE tools to help people with anxiety, in this case kids. The toys are actually brilliant because it gives the child an outlet to experience their anxiety with a toy in a similar situation.

One of the examples in the article was a child who had to have shots regularly and was able to practice with their robot toy. How about a toy that can empathize with a child who can’t go to school or see her friends? There are talking toys, we could do that. Maybe I am grasping at straws but one day maybe I will actually get one!

The point is more options for anxiety treatments at any age = a positive outcome.

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The number 1 rule to starting your own business/side hustle

No I am not selling anything, I do not have a program or “course” for 49.99, lol. I do though have decades of business experience and before I reveal the #1 rule let me give you the standard disclaimer. You should gather as much advice as possible before making any financial decisions. The views I express on this blog are my opinion based on my experience. They may or may not work for you, this advice is not a guarantee of success.

That out of the way what is the #1 rule? It’s actually more of a question but if you can answer it you essentially have the launch point for a business.

What problem are you solving?

Yes, it’s that easy. Now “problem” has to be taken in context here, it doesn’t necessarily equate to a negative outcome it’s just someone has something they can’t do or obtain on their own that they want (the problem) you provide the means by which they can obtain it (the solution).

So when thinking of a business or a side hustle you have to first think of what problem am I solving here? What am I providing that someone else needs? The core of any successful business is providing that solution for your customer. A lot of these “problems” revolve around time and that’s important here. You might be providing a service, like lawn care, that the homeowner could do but they want to spend their time doing something else.

Anyone can start a small business or side hustle.

The problem there is, the buyer wants to spend their time doing something other than mowing their lawn. Remember that important caveat in the rule, many of the problems you would be solving involve saving someone else time. If you can figure out how to use your skills (or time) to solve someone else’s problem (or need) you can charge for that and people will pay.

Think about your life for a moment and all the people you know, what are some of the issues that come up over and over? I know 3 people in my life who don’t drive but need things you obtain at stores. Now Amazon has made this easier for them, still these people want things locally. This is a problem to be solved. One of them pays someone $25 bucks an hour to transport them. This person drives them around 1-3 hours a week, my friends pays them in cash by the trip. I know you’re thinking “can’t they uber, or take a taxi?” yes but this “assistant” (for lack of a better term) knows the client exclusively.

Simply put they know her needs, they have a routine, it works.

That’s one example of many. If you are thinking about starting your own business or side hustle just remember that one important question to ask yourself “What problem am I solving?” If you have a good answer, you have a business.

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