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For the month of December, I’ll be participating in #WEverb11. Each day gives a new prompt, each of which is a chance to reflect and look forward.

December 13: Read

What article or book changed your outlook on an issue or life? Contributed by Melinda.

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As many of you know, I was completely devastated when I lost Lulu in March of this year. A few weeks after her death I read A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, and it helped me heal like nothing else could. Here’s what I wrote about the book in my Goodreads review:

I started A Dog’s Purpose right after my 1-year old dog Lulu was hit and killed by a car, and I have to say that reading it has really helped me get through her death and the loss and emptiness that has come with it. The book is told from a dog’s perspective, and it actually gave me a lot of insight (even though I know it’s fiction). The author consulted with lots of dog behavior experts, including Cesar Milan, and so I think he was able to capture life from a dog’s perspective perfectly.

It has so much to say about what life is really about and that we should appreciate all the simple pleasures and quite moments because we’re experiencing each of them for a reason.

This book is for anyone who loves dogs, and it has truly offered me a huge amount of comfort.”

What I didn’t write at the time is that the book’s premise is that dogs are reincarnated to continue their purpose on earth. So, while one dog might be killed unexpectedly or before their time, they get “another chance” to fulfill their true purpose as they come back to earth with all the knowledge they had in their first life. In the book, the main character (the dog) comes back as many different breeds, each time learning a bit more about what his true purpose is.

It may sound weird, but in many ways, I think that Lulu helped me find Sofi. Sofi was born four days after Lulu’s death, and something drew me to her breeder’s webpage. Sofi also seems to have an innate wisdom about her; she’s definitely a much smarter dog that Lulu ever was. Not that I think Sofi is Lulu reincarnated; I just think that because of Lulu and all that I learned about being a dog owner from her, I was better able to train Sofi. Although Sofi really did start off much smarter. Plus, just look at this cutie:

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In any case, this book was the perfect thing for me to read at the time, and it did help me deal with a really significant loss (and guilt associated with it) that I was experiencing.

What have you read that completely changed your point of view?

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If you’d like to join in on the daily writing prompts, go to WEverb11, sign up for the email notifications, and join us! Or follow along on Twitter using the #WEverb11 hashtag!

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Yesterday began as a very difficult day, but after I ‘fessed up, I felt so much lighter.  And it must have shown, because I had two separate NSVs.

First when I was at my parents’ house dropping something off, my mom said, “you know, Bella, I  can really see the weight loss now.  To be honest with you, I didn’t see it until today.  I know how hard you’ve been working, and I have been so proud of you, but now it’s finally becoming really noticeable.”

And then later, my friend AD came over with her new, 10-week-old puppy, Riley.  As Riley and Minnie (my sister’s dog) were playing, AD said, “Bella, you look fantastic.  How much weight have you lost?” I hadn’t seen AD since before beginning Medifast.
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Which showed me that even though I had a setback the night before, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’ve made incredible weight loss progress in 9 weeks.  And hearing these comments fuels me to keep going, keep striving, and not let anything (including myself) stop me from reaching my mini-goal.  I’m even more determined now that I was before.

As a gift to myself after this realization, I decided to bring some of the gorgeous flowers we have in our garden inside the house.

The freesias were the bulbs I planted in November in flower boxes. The cala lillies are ones that LC planted for me from her old house.

These next three photos come courtesy of the roses in LC’s garden.  She transplanted them from her old house, and after a lot of hard work in December, they are coming in beautifully now.  I am thrilled that we’re going to have roses throughout the spring and summer.  The funny thing is, I never really appreciated roses, thinking they were so trite and overdone.  But seeing how much care and tending LC gives them, I can’t help but appreciate them.

I absolutely adore this photo. Something about the lighting and the contrast of the colors is just so striking to me. The roses look so dainty and beautiful, and they match my bathroom decor perfectly.

These blushing peach-colored roses are called Marilyn Monroe. They are so delicate and delightful, aren't they?

Since today is the 3-week anniversary of Lulu’s accident, I thought it was appropriate to put them on the table in what I now call “Lulu’s corner.”

It feels like it’s been 3 months since Lulu’s been gone, not 3 weeks.  I miss her so much, but the rawness of the pain only hits me once in a while now.  Seeing Minnie & Riley playing yesterday was so good for me.  And thinking about the new puppy I’ll get in June, Sofi, is also a comfort.  Nothing can replace Lulu in my heart, but there is definitely room for another puppy in there.  And I think Lulu would give her wag of approval for sure.

Yesterday I decided that I was going to take photos of all of the things that make me smile this spring.  As a celebration of life, as a way of “living in the moment” that Lulu taught me, and as a way of appreciating the beauty in every day.  I posted an album on my FB page, if you’d like to see.

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Many of you know that ScaleWarfare and I are BFFs in blogland.  We’ve never met in person, but we’ve been friends for a couple of years via our blogs.  About a year ago (more now) SW and I started emailing each other our daily food logs to keep each other accountable, for encouragement, and for support.  Just knowing that someone out there understood my struggles made them easier.  She and I are similar in so many ways.  In fact sometimes we sort of freak each other out with how spookily similar we are.  😉 She and I have been through so much on our weight loss journey, and it’s happily carried over into our personal lives too.

We started giving each other gifts to celebrate all of life’s joys – birthdays, weddings (hers), and just because.  We do it because we want to let the other one know we’re thinking of her, or that we want her to smile through a rough day, or because she deserves it.  You know, all the reasons that friends are there for each other.

I consider SW one of my very best friends, but today that notion was forever solidified when I recieved this:

What an overwhelming surprise!  She took one of the many photos that I have of Lulu and turned it into this amazing keepsake.  It’s printed on a canvas so it’s more like a painting, and she had it personalized with Lulu’s name.  It also has a little poem on it that is beyond sweet:

Dogs come into our lives, leave paw prints on our hearts, and we are forever changed.”

It’s perfect!  Not only does it capture everything that I feel, but it has one of my very favorite photos of Lulu. I’d said I’d wanted to have a photo collage to hang up, but this is even better! Now every time I look at it I’ll remember Lulu as a little puppy, but I’ll also be reminded of what a great friend SW is to me.  And I’ll feel loved for both reasons.

ScaleWarfare, I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to me.  You are the BEST friend anyone could ever ask for.  You are thoughtful, kind, supportive, empathetic and truly special.  I am honored to call you my friend. It’s amazing to me that two people who have never met face to face can become so significant in each others’ lives.  Thank you!

And now you know this means that we need to meet up somewhere halfway in between our two homes even more!  I can’t wait to give you a huge hug and thank you for everything.  You are the embodiment of friendship!!

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I woke up today feeling stronger. I’d cried and cried all day yesterday, and each time I was asked what had happened, and then I had to recount the terrible tale of Lulu’s death, I started crying all over again.  It was awful.  I definitely miscalculated going in to work.  I thought it would do me good to be around other people, to “keep busy” and to get out of the house.  And while it was nice to get some comfort from my colleagues and students, it was a really tough day.

This morning, though, I felt better.  It was still strange not to wake up to Lulu’s paw on my head, encouraging me to get up and go out with her for her early morning potty break.  It was strange not to have to worry about opening the front door to retrieve the paper.  And it was weird seeing all of her toys and things lying about the house, knowing that she’ll never play with them again.  But I felt better.

And then Minnie bolted into the house, as she does every morning, and she went into the living room, searching for Lulu.  When she didn’t find her, she came up to me and gave me a quick hello.  Then she bolted into my bedroom, as excited as ever, hoping to find Lulu there.  And then she came back out looking so confused and I shed a few tears, because it just broke my heart.  I think Minnie is the only other being who can understand how much I loved Lulu, because she loved her just as much.  They were poochy pals who spent all day, every day together since before Christmas.  They were Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley, and on Wednesday they were almost Thelma and Louise. And I realized today that Minnie and I are going to comfort each other and together, we’ll get through this.

There have been so many kind notes, emails, and messages on FB left by my friends.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a very wide circle of friends because we’re all so busy with our lives, but then something terrible and heartbreaking like this happens, and I realize just how many people care about me.  That outpouring of love and support helps to warm my heart and heal my soul.

So many of you left such thoughtful comments on yesterday’s blog post and/or on Twitter.  People who had read this blog for over a year but never, ever left a comment came to the forefront and de-lurked to offer their condolences.  To know that so many of you cared that much made me feel so loved.

Yesterday my mom bought me the stone that you see at the top of this blog post, and I loved it.  I placed it in the yard, underneath a beautiful tree and between two bright pink hydrangea bushes.  So Lulu’s memorial will always be surrounded by beauty and life.

As I was getting dressed today, I decided to wear Lulu’s dog tag on my chain.  Having something that she wore around her neck around my own neck makes me feel close to her.  And it offers some comfort. I plan on wearing it everyday for a while.  Until I don’t need to anymore, I guess.

My dad and I went to see Limitless (which was pretty good, actually).  He wanted me to get out of the house and not dwell on sad thoughts too much.  Being able to escape into the movie was perfect; it took my mind off of everything and let me have a couple of hours of peace.  I came out of there feeling renewed.

And when I got home, I had a call from my uncle, offering me his love and the advice that I should get another doggie soon.  And I agree with him.  No one will ever replace Lulu, because she’s irreplaceable.  But now that I know what it means to love a dog, I know that I need one in my life.  I have so much love to give, and I get so much out of having a dog in my life.  It’s my lifestyle; I’m a dog lover.  I’m going to wait until school gets out in June, but I will be contacting the same breeders that brought Lulu into my life, because they were such nice people and she had an amazing start on life in their home. One of my friends wrote on FB that Lulu was going to find a special friend for me and bring her into my life so that I wasn’t alone. What a nice thought that is: that Lulu would help to select my next puppy.

After listening to his message, the phone rang again and it was LCS, a friend from high school who I haven’t spoken on the phone with in over 15 years.  She and I lost touch for a bit and then recently reconnected on FB about two years ago.  In that time, we’ve stayed in touch via email and FB, but we’ve never actually talked.  She is a huge animal lover, and she was so concerned about me that she said she had to call and find out how I was doing.  It meant so much that she would reach out that way, and I told her that I’m so sorry that it took a tragedy like this for us to talk, but that we’d have to catch up once a month or so from now on, and she agreed.

And Lulu will be buried in Napa Valley, at the Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park.  It’s gorgeous there, from the photos:

So now when my sister and I (and whichever friends can make it) go to Napa for my 40th birthday, we can make a special trip to visit Lulu’s resting place.  It makes me feel good to know she’ll be near so much natural beauty.

I’m still so sad that Lulu isn’t here, but I’m feeling less out of control about it.  I am moving through the grieving process, and while I know I’m going to have some very tough days ahead, I also know that Lulu is always going to be with me.  Tomorrow and Sunday I’m going to select a bunch of photos of her and put them into a special frame that I’ll keep in my dining room, overlooking the yard.  So that I can just look over I’ll be able to see her in her happiest moments.

I’ll love you forever, my sweet girl, Lulu.  You were the best puppy anyone could have ever asked for.  I’ll miss you every single day.  But I am grateful that I had you in my life at all, because you changed me forever for the better.

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Over the Rainbow

I really have no words to say this, but I feel as if I have to. A piece of me is gone today. My sweet Lulu was hit and killed by a car. It doesn’t seem real. I cannot express my sadness and sense of loss. I am really beside myself. She meant everything to me. I do know this – I am glad that I spoiled her rotten, because her life may have been short, but it was amazing. I will always love you, Lulu.

This poem was on the website of the breeder who brought Lulu to me.  It offers some comfort today.

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Happy  Tuesday, everyone!! It’s a thrill to know that I’ve almost (like 0.6 lbs away) earned this new badge.  🙂  My official weigh-in day is tomorrow, so check back then to see exactly how much I’ve lost in 6 weeks.

As I mentioned on Sunday, it’s now officially the spring season, yet the weather forecast for my area is rain, rain, and more rain all week.  And not just a little drizzle, but huge downpours.  It  can be depressing, especially when we’re all ready for the sunny, warmer weather.

But just as “all clouds have a silver lining,” all rainy days eventually lead to sun, and that was true yesterday when I look Lulu on a walk during a break in the weather.  It was actually a really long break, and the sun shone brightly.  It was so nice to feel the warmth after a cold, rainy day that I took a few photos.  Walking along and noticing all the beauty around me made me feel so lucky to be in that moment.  I wasn’t worried about what the weather would be like later, I just wanted to enjoy the sunshine and the walk.

A sure sign of spring if I've ever seen one.

Cala Lillies are one of my favorite flowers, and they're so prolific this time of year.

And sometimes all you need in order to lift your spirits is to simply look up.

Living in the moment and enjoying the here and now has never come easily to me.  I’m a planner, as you may have guessed.  I like having a goal to strive towards, and I’m always looking at how I can improve my life/myself.  The risk in looking too far ahead is that I miss all the joy that I have NOW.  So this has been something I have been working on for a couple of years now.  And I have written before about how much better I’ve become at enjoying today once Lulu came into my life.  Dogs just force you to enjoy the moment, because that’s how they live.  And it’s been great.

Lately I’ve been trying to apply this “live in the moment” philosophy to my weight loss journey.  Of course I have an overall goal – losing over 150 pounds.  And I also have a short term goal – losing the 45 pounds necessary to qualify for surgery (less than 25 lbs to go!).  In between those two, I have all the weight loss milestones that will come my way.

But today, right now, I want to appreciate all that I’ve done up to this point.

  • I’ve lost over 20 lbs in 6 weeks.
  • I’m feeling lighter in my own  skin.
  • I’m on Day 22 of my #30daychip challenge.
  • My clothes are fitting looser.
  • I can notice my face getting thinner.

And because of all of this, I’m taking more time to put outfits together.  I’m having fun exploring my closet and pulling out garments that have been too tight for too long.  It’s fun to figure out each day’s “look” now that I have a little less of me to work with.  😉

Today’s Outfit:

Sorry for the bad lighting, it was early in the morning when I took this.

A closer shot, to show the colors.

This pride in TODAY isn’t going unnoticed by others; many people are commenting on my outfits, happiness, and my overall attitude.  I’m usually positive, but they’re picking up on what I’m feeling – pride in this moment.  Pride that I am accomplishing what I set out to do.  Pride that I can stick to a goal and not become distracted by temptations.

I’m trying not to concern myself with how long it will take to lose the remaining weight.  Or how soon I’ll be able to get the Lap Band surgery.  I’m focusing my efforts on today, Day 22.  And before I know it, I’ll have accomplished each and every goal I intended.  I know this just as assuredly as I know my own name.

I have a clarity that I haven’t felt for so long, and that’s amazing!

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Happy Friday, Everyone!

It’s rainy and cold here (they’re saying we *might* get snow – the first time since 1976), and I thought it was time for a fun, this-and-that post.

Ouidad, Where Have You Been All My Life?!
As you guys may know, I have naturally curly, thick, somewhat-coarse hair, and I definitely have a love-hate relationship with it.  When it looks nice, it’s the best.  But when I’m having a bad hair day, forget about it.  A few weeks ago I was reading Stacey Ballis’ blog (she’s one of my favorite authors, and if you’re looking for a good book, read Good Enough to Eat) and she mentioned that her hair had never been better since she’d tried Ouidad.  (She’s got curly locks, too).

I’d heard of Ouidad for years and seen the advertisements in the magazines.  I just never knew if it really worked, because I’d never known of anyone who used it.  All I can say, is “Stacey, a million thank yous for mentioning this product!”  I went to the site, watched all the videos, and ended up buying some products to give it a try:

Curl Quencher Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner.  They smell great, leave my hair really nourished and healthy.

Climate Control, which has won all sorts of awards.  This stuff is awesome!  It defines my curls but never makes them stiff or untouchable.  It leaves them completely frizz free and shiny.  I’ve tested this stuff in the rain, when my hair usually goes bonkers, and it stood up to the test.

Botanical Boost is another product that I cannot live without (now that I know about it).  Because my hair is curly and thick, I only wash it 2-3 times a week.  It used to look it’s best only on the “shampoo day,” and then I’d have to get creative the other days until the next wash.  Not anymore.  I wake up in the morning and spray on the Botanical Boost and my curls really are revitalized.  It’s like magic.  The other day I’d had my hair back in a low ponytail, the curls all pulled back and smoothed out, then I sprayed some of this on it, and it was as if I had just styled it.  Awesome!!

For those of you with wavy or curly hair, I cannot recommend Ouidad highly enough.  I’ve spent my life on a mission to find THE product that would tame my tresses and make my hair look its best. I can’t even begin to calculate the amount of money I’ve spent on the “next big thing.”  And now I’m so happy to report that my search is over.  Ouidad is my Holy Grail of products for my hair.  And because my hair has been looking so good since I’ve started using it, I’ve decided to let it grow again.  I want to be able to show off my curls more.  (And I also miss being able to put it in a high ponytail now and then).

Cuddly & Cute

As I mentioned, it’s been cold here, and yesterday I was at my computer writing a couple of blog posts (which you really should read, if you haven’t already) when I looked up and saw Minnnie (LC’s dog) and Lulu all cuddled up together in Lulu’s bed.  I gave Minnie Lulu’s extra (pink) bed, but she never seems to want to use it, and now I know why.  It’s so sweet to see them all cozy like this, because most of the time they can be found running around after each other or wrestling like it’s WWE up in this joint.  Plus, who doesn’t love cute shots of Lulu, right?

Ladies’ Night Appetizer Cooking Class
It may seem odd that I’m going out tonight to learn how to make appetizers at this really cute kids’ cooking school near my house, especially since I’m on Medifast.  The cooking school offers adult classes in the evenings sometimes, and tonight they have a Ladies’ Night Appetizer class, which is going to be so much fun.  I planned this event for my alumnae wine club a month ago, before I joined Medifast, and I’m really looking forward to it because these events are a time for me to get together with friends I’ve known since high school.  And the thing is, I’ve learned that moderation is the key to any successful weight loss attempt, and this is no exception.  So, every now and then, probably on a Friday or Saturday, I’m going to allow myself to have a glass of wine or two and some non-Lean and Green food.  (I’m going to make sure to pre-burn calories today with a “new” workout I’m looking forward to trying.  More about that in a future post). The last time I was doing Medifast I became very hermit like, and I don’t want to make that same mistake this time.  I should do fine, because I’ve made a plan and I know how I’m going to fit it all into my food program.

Update 2/26: We had so much fun at the cooking class!  You can view the photos, if you’d like.  I’m so glad that I decided to just enjoy myself and not worry too much about going off the Lean and Green.  I used moderation (except maybe with the wine ;)) and this morning the scale was only slightly up.  Definitely worth it. 

Get Free Stuff, Courtesy of Scale Warfare
Did you know that Scale Warfare is celebrating her 500th post with an awesome giveaway? She’s got some great stuff for you to win, so you should definitely go check her out.  Lots of ways to enter, too.  I think it’s so generous of her to mark her 500th post that way.  I told her that I’ve passed my 750th post some time ago without any fanfare at all.  She inspired me to do a giveaway when I reach 1000 posts, so stay tuned for that later this year.

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That’s about it for me.  I’ve got to squeeze all the fun I can out of this last Friday of my week-long break.  Have a great one!

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