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STEALTH HEALTH: Using our dogs to keep us young #MFRWAuthor #BOB

a variation of this was first seen in Perspectives, the AKC Delegate newsletter

            Standard advice as we age is to get a dog or cat for company. We’re told they can 1936538_97029219860_1238899_nprovide unconditional love and comfort. Studies show owning a pet can help protect against loneliness and depression. More of those studies tell us pet owning people on Medicare make fewer visits to the (human) doctor. Dogs offer a wealth of benefits to the mature amongst us. Having a dog as a companion could add years to your lives and play a significant role in surviving heart attacks.

We know all that, don’t we? Most of us are reading with one hand on the head of our canine companion, or possibly with our lap full of demanding dog. We’ve had dogs for decades, we’ve whelped them, raised them, trained them, shown them, watched them age and held them for that last trip to the vet. We’re now down to the last one or two dogs, keeping us company as our lives slow down.

Why?

Not why do we have a dog or dogs with us. Why do we slow down? Barring medical issues why do we succumb to the idea that we are older therefore we can’t do anything too strenuous. Or maybe we’re too heavy, too weak, too…whatever.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

George Bernard Shaw

            Maybe we think we can’t compete with the young, athletic, up and coming people in our breed, or sport. Okay at some point we might not be able to keep up with them in Conformation. But what about other dog sports? Companion Events, Performance Events…the list grows every year of what we can do with our dogs. And in these events, we can compete against ourselves.

81876594-Friday-0450Rather than go to a gym or sign up for treadmill punishment, why not try, say, Agility? What, you don’t have a Border Collie, an Australian Shepherd, a Malinois? Take an afternoon and check out the trials. You’ll see every breed imaginable, and some mixed breeds, following their people’s guidance around obstacles (or making up their own courses). You’ll also see a wealth of silver…hair, that is. Not everyone is young and svelte! Agility requires time invested in training, and here comes the stealth part.

See, you don’t actually need to compete. You can take lessons, practice at home, give yourself and your dog a good workout and never chase another ribbon. If you convince a friend you need their company then both of you will benefit. Or you can make friends, good friends, at the training center. Eventually you might decide you want to leave your safe area and attempt a trial. Here’s the fun part…you don’t have to win to reap the rewards! You can have just as much fun with your dog, just as much frustration and confusion, and never qualify. Along the way you’ve gotten up off the sofa, out of the car, and pushed your heart rate to a healthy number. Soon you won’t have time to check out VVKC-28-15that new television series, you’ll be signing up for a seminar, helping out at a trial, working on a better approach to the obstacles.

Somewhere along the way you realize you’re sleeping better, waking up earlier, and looking forward to what the day will bring. You’ve fooled yourself into being healthier, and given your dog a new lease on his canine life. And you can do the same for your friend…why should you be the only one having so much fun?

 

I’m up earlier than usual, finishing this in the predawn. Soon I’ll be heading out with my little red girl, chasing that elusive green ribbon. Even better, sharing my day with the friends I’ve made and new friends I’ll meet.

Keep moving, moving, moving. But take a moment to hug your friends, tell them you love them, that you’re thinking of them. We never know when it’s going to be the last chance.

 

 

 

 

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The Reality of STUFF

A few weeks ago, Amazon held one of its Prime Shopping days. People filled their computers with great deals on ‘stuff’ and boxes rushed across the country. New treasures for our homes, our lives.

At the same time my local thrift store had a 50% off sale of anything in store. That means clothes, furniture, dishes…anything. A treasure trove of stuff. Some very nice, some more than acceptable.

In the past few months I’ve added to the local thrift store’s stock with ‘stuff’ that has been stacked in my house to be used ‘one day’.

My friend arrived from California, with a POD full of stuff, after leaving a mountain of  ‘stuff’ behind.

Signs on the side of the road, notices in the local papers for yard sales, estate sales, group sales. Of stuff.

Stuff.

Stuff.

Stuff.

We throw away more than people in less fortunate countries own in a lifetime and we are still choking on possessions. It’s not a new phenomenon…when our ancestors inched across the country, they brought along as much of their possessions as they could stuff in those large wagons, often leaving them along the way to lighten their load, choosing survival over possession.

Most of us know we are overloaded with stuff. Even so, we all too often go on a search for more…more…MORE. Just one more painting, one more pair of shoes, one more kitchen gadget that we are sure will make our lives easier (if only!). Our economy is based on consumption. Buy more stuff, keep the economy healthy. But is it better for us?

Most medical professionals say more ‘stuff’ does not make us happier and can often negatively effect our health. I have to say I agree, especially at those time when I feel like I’m drowning in stuff. Who needs that many black totes?

I’ve been researching the problem, trying to decide what should go, what should stay. What do I really NEED in my life? My friends, absolutely. My animals, yes. All those black totes…not really. Nor the red ones, the brown ones, the green ones. Sigh.

Organized people point out if there was a fire most of this stuff would be gone anyway. Well, duh. Do I want a fire to come along and eliminate everything? Not even, since items of value are in boxes set aside to be ‘gone through’ — several years ago. So slowly, slowly, slowly I sort. I took pictures I won’t share since I don’t need to depress myself any more! Yes, being surrounded by stuff can be depressing. Every box to the thrift store, every extra sack into the garbage lightens me a bit more.

Instead here’s a cool picture of a sunrise. Great beginnings.  IMG_9943

Call your family, hug your friends. The only time certain in our lives is now.

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Yeah About That Agility #MFRWAuthor #BOB

It’s taken a while to finish this blog, because…well, reasons. Biddy and I participated in three Agility trials last weekend. Three. I was so sure this would be THE weekend, THE trials when I would finally accomplish the coveted green qualifying ribbon. So very sure.

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Biddy, waiting her turn. She likes her own blanket thank you so much!

Best laid plans and so on, we bombed. Well not totally. The first day we did fairly well, made it around the course and even through the dreaded weaves. But we took too long

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photo by Howard George

for that accomplishment so…no Q. But we did get pictures to share. Like this one.

Hmmm, looks like she’s  jumping a bit close to the obstacle instead of standing back. Jumping close is a Biddy specialty but this is a bit TOO close. That’s probably because we weren’t moving fast enough. Biddy was worried, so she slowed down. I slowed down to match her so she slowed down and…yeah, not a recipe for success!

Agility is a sport of speed and grace, for most of the competitors. Then there are the rest of us, getting around the course as best we can. Loving (nearly) every minute of it. See, I’m not built like an athlete. More like…well, here

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also Howard George

Yup that’s a bit of weight to be carrying around that arena. And kind of why it took so long to finish this post. I thought about only using the photo of her jumping but decided to go with truth in packaging. I might be fat, she might be mature, but we are light years ahead of when we were sitting on the couch ‘thinking’ about getting more exercise!

So yesterday we entered some more trials. Think green, but even more think happy…and keep moving!

 

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All the Lonely People #MFRWAuthor #BOB

Who remembers when they first heard Eleanor Rigby? Did you smile sadly, knowing your life would never be like hers or Father Mackenzie’s? How do you feel about that now?

I always wondered why Eleanor didn’t just move in with the Father, so maybe neither one of them would be so lonely. Maybe also they’d have someone to care for, and she wouldn’t have to be picking up wedding rice for her next meal.

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Source: Lyricfind
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Eleanor Rigby lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
With costs rising and all of us aging (well, the lucky ones anyway) sharing homes has become more of a ‘thing’ with some people reaching out to long time friends or even strangers. A quick search brought a wealth of information, such as an article in the AARP magazine. I mentioned in the last blog about an old friend moving in with me. The process is slow, neither one of us is a spring chicken and I’ve managed to fill my life with various activities. But she’s settling in and in a few weeks of fresh air and physical activity her health is improving. Good times ahead for sure.
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A fire in Arizona is affecting air quality and sunsets here. The reason is sad but the result is stunning

I’m off on Agility adventures. I’ll let you know how we do

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Green UP! #MFRWAuthor #BOB

“How can you live in the desert when you love gardening?” or “What’s it like to live with no water?”

I’ve heard these questions and more during the more than a decade since we moved to New Mexico. To be accurate I don’t live in the desert, I live on the Plains, up against the IMG_9896 (1)

Sandia Mountains.  Yes, it can be dry, like this time last year…I hadn’t had to mow yet.

 

 

 

 

IMG_0441Then we have a few rain ‘events’ like this and next thing you know:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s green as far as the eye can see IMG_0455

Out here that’s pretty darned far. My mower is getting a workout but I’ve fallen way behind in gardening chores.

The trumpet vine is threatening to take over the side of the house, producing even more of a wild and crazy look. Life has taken an abrupt jolt with the addition of a long time friend who needed a place to settle and get better. And I needed something to give me a push to get back to my writing. In between doing battle with the local equivalent of lawn AKA weeds!

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the ongoing garden project!

Life does not suck.

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National Purebred Dog Day #MFRWAuthor

On occasion you can drive past a Vet clinic and see a car parked out front, doors open, maybe bedding falling out, and no one in sight. If you go into the clinic you will run into a person clutching a pet to their chest, not willing to relinquish the burden to a tech. That was me today. In stirrup pants (fist thing I found) and a stained sweatshirt. Ratty hair, old Crocs. It’s not an uncommon sight at a clinic, so many of us only worry about dog, keys, car, GO. Hold it together until the techs come to help.

He was a silly dog, handsome but more likely to play than get to work in the show ring. Image may contain: outdoorOne of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known, he was friendly to any of the other Salukis except his brother. He purely loved to irritate his brother. Grumpy Old Men, they wore their thirteen years well. Until today when those years came crashing down, and I took Kerovan on his last car ride.

I realize when I got home, this is National Purebred Dog Day. Or as it’s become, National Bash the Greedy Breeders Day by the people who think we do this for the fame, glory, and the big bucks. Yeah, right.

How many of those nasty minded people are next to us when we hold our friends for that last act of caring? How many offer a shoulder as we lose a dog whose main goal in life was to make us happy…and who exceeded that goal every day. Yes we breed and sometimes sell our dogs. We make careful decisions prior to those breedings to ensure their next home has a healthy, friendly, lovely companion for many years to come.

If we were doing this for the big bucks we be total failures. Since few of us are, we have succeeded beyond our wildest expectations.

Hug your dogs, your cats, your horses, young or old. It’s a good day when you can.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, twilight, tree, outdoor and nature

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What A Wonderful World #MFRWAuthor

It’s SPRING, at least for the next few days. I generally share either the poem “In Just Spring” or the song “Might As Well Be Spring” (my favorite version)  this time of year. But I think this year I need to share THIS song

 

Anyone who has read Historical Romance will recognize the character, usually a mother or an aunt or uncle, who believe there is nothing better than where they live, generally in England. Nowhere is more appealing than their own dear home and they refuse to see beauty anywhere else.

This attitude has carried forward except now we have Mass Media and Social Media to expand our vision of what is beautiful. If we have the Bing photos on our startup, we can play ‘guess the location.’  like this:

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or thisImage result for bing images

and have the world at our fingertips. Of course I can also look outside, and see my own beautiful world: 039

Because I need to remind myself we have beauty around us even when the world seems so ugly.

 

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Staring into the Abyss #MFRWAuthor

Recently I mentioned to a favorite author how close one of her post apocalyptic series came to reality for me. Did she want to maybe expand on that? Being the brilliant young lady she is she said “Well YEAH” So here she is…JAMI GRAY

Known as The Collapse, the ravaged aftermath of Mother Nature’s fury colliding with man’s merciless need for survival has left civilization teetering on the brink of disintegration. Decades beyond the first brutal years, there are those who believe there is a possible future worth fighting for, worth dying for. Betrayed but not broken, they hold to their code, one considered outdated and useless. Loyalty to each other, shields for those without, warriors born and bred.

Staring into the Abyss…

A funny thing happened on my way to writing a book, fiction collided with reality and left me wondering if there was more than caffeine in my cup of joe the morning I started plotting out Fate’s Vultures.

Now here’s the thing, as a writer I spend my life asking, “What if (fill in the blank)?” Mainly because that’s what writers do. They occasionally surface from their word dens, indulge in some serious people/places/things watching, then disappear to make up stories using what they’ve watched.

So maybe it shouldn’t be so shocking that the circumstances leading to the fall of humanity in Fate’s Vultures is an eerie warning of what we may eventually face in truth.

Mona and I, we tend to meander down creative roads, dabbling here and there on various topics and it was her question of “Did you realize going in to your series, how close or how soon they might mirror our lives?”

To be honest, I wasn’t a happy camper when I started this series. The real world was shifting fast and mean, ripping off blinders I had willingly left on for too long. I won’t go into politics because, well…politics *shudders*, but what rose to the all too public surface was a miasma of pain and anger and frustration that’s been long in the making and with the lid off, it’s boiling over. I think for me, that has been the most heart-breaking thing to face during the last three years.  It didn’t help that trauma and grief were circling my nearest and dearests either.

But back to Mona’s question…as a series writer, I tend to play around with ideas for a long time before I start crafting a universe. Fate’s Vultures initially came into vague shape when I wanted to do something different for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Consider it a drawback of years of studying various scriptures growing up. I’ve always been fascinated by the prophecies surrounding the End Times, add in my fascination with magic and the unexplainable, it was bound to come up sooner or later.

Yet as I started to shape my world, that focus changed and I started reading papers from leading minds on the future of economics and government structure. Add in real-life situations and the world of the Vultures came into focus. Because of who and what the Vultures are, there was never a chance of a happy start to their story.

They were who they were because of what they survived, that’s the core of the characters. Living in a world consumed by chaos and loss of order, what will emerge will be those who understanding that white and black are simply shades of gray.

Yet you can’t create a grim world without adding light. We can’t live our lives without hope and that’s true whether those lives are a creation of imagination or contain a beating heart. Hope is humanity’s greatest strength and it’s that same hope that pulls us (universal us) through the darkest of times. In the Vulture’s world, that same hope is what will change the world as they know it. It gives them something to reach for, to fight for, and to believe in.

As much as I enjoy spending time in the Vultures’ world, this first arc was always meant to be only four books. Currently the first three books in the series are out, and the fourth and last book, FEAR THE REAPER, is currently sitting on my editor’s desk. I’m hoping for a late 2019 release, but it may be closer to early 2020. You’ll know as soon as I do.

What I can share, without spoilers, is yes, there is light in the darkness and it doesn’t take much for that spark to turning into something that leads the way to hope. In fact, considering the unusual family the Vultures tend to gather, I’m pretty certain I’ll be back to hang with a few familiar faces. Well, right after I finish my mission with the PSY-IV Teams, and then get Gavin’s story out with the Kyn so we can move further into the shadows.

*checks calendar* Umm…okay, so it may be a bit before I return, but the Vultures will be back because this is just the beginning….

 LYING IN RUINS – Fate’s Vultures 1

In a world gone to hell, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

On a mission to retrieve a kidnapped child, a woman skilled in secrecy crosses paths with a nomadic vigilante bent on revenge. Despite their mutual distrust, the unlikely pair joins forces to hunt a common enemy. Together they must survive the predators picking through the desiccated remains of civilization. What will tear them apart first—their suspicions or their enemies?

BEG FOR MERCY – Fate’s Vultures 2

Choosing a side has never been so dangerous…

To trap a cunning and illusive predator, a protector forged in a blood soaked history must partner with the cynical heart of a betrayed assassin. Can the wary pair forge a bond of loyalty before suspicions and betrayals tear them apart?

CAUGHT IN THE AFTERMATH – Fate’s Vultures 3

Vengeance can leave you blind…

Blinded by vengeance, a deadly predator is forced to turn to unexpected allies, only to discover a storm of passion with the one woman who threatens his long-term plans. Caught between a looming conflict and the fallout of a brutal betrayal, will they survive vengeance’s aftermath?

BIO:

Jami Gray is the coffee addicted, music junkie, Queen Nerd of her personal Geek Squad, Alpha Mom of the Fur Minxes, and award-winning author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams, and her latest Romantic Suspense series, Fate’s Vultures. She writes to soothe the voices in her head.

 

 

 

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Easy Writing/Easy Reading #MFRWAuthor

I think it was Paul Gillette who first introduced me to the concept of “Easy Writing is

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Obligatory New Mexico Sky Photo

Hard Reading; Easy Reading is Hard Writing’ during a weekend workshop. I remember him attributing the quote to a famous writer but of course don’t remember which writer he mentioned! When I shared the quote recently I thought I’d just check out who said what, when. Well, that’s an interesting question. It seems that’s a very old quote, attributed to a plethora of writers More detail here if you’re interested in the extensive history.

This concept comes up far too often these days when we read books from some prolific authors. Not all of them, of course. Many have spent years honing their craft, and well formed sentences flow through their fingers. They have put in the hours to learn to write clear sentences and they live by the rule of BICHOK. Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard.

If you want to write books, you sit down and write. If you want to write good books, you sit down and write the very best book you can. In response to the recent plagiarisms of good writer’s books, one of our very best explained how she has written and continues to write good books How Nora Roberts Does It She says it clearly enough any of us should be able to follow her precepts even if we can’t keep up with her schedule.

I’ve been on a reading binge…okay a reading glut. Most of these books are by great authors I’ve only recently discovered. There are a lot of new authors publishing. Once in a while I will take a chance on someone new, and be delighted. Some of them need to slow down, read over their book, have someone else read over their work, and not hit that publish button quite so fast? There is so much good, but so much could also be a bit better with more polish.

Hard writing absolutely makes for easy reading. Practice might not make perfect but it does make for better. Speaking of practice, Fire Dragon and I are off to a Rally trial. I have not put in the practice to make us perfect but we’ll keep working on it.

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Rally, FD, not Agility. Let’s try for just a bit more precision

 

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I Shared a Video #MFRWAuthor

At a recent Agility class, I had our run videoed to record our progress. It was probably

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Biddy at home

the worst run Biddy has offered in a long time…the earlier ones that day were so much better. And I gotta say I don’t look all that attractive. In fact I look fat. Mainly because I am fat. No one can body shame us the way we body shame ourselves.

Yes, fat body. YES fat body RUNNING. Not fast maybe but still running. Not at the place I want myself to be. Not at the place where my contemporaries who have applied themselves to intense physical training might be but way ahead of those who are going to get more exercise ‘one day’

And they will. I’m seeing more and more people checking their fitness trackers, doing their steps or stretches at airports. Maybe walking around their cars before getting in so they can meet that 250/hour goal. For them, for me, I’m sharing this reality. As long as we keep moving, we will keep winning in this game of life,

 

 

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