Pet Lessons

One of the hardest things for a pet owner to do is to say goodbye. This is something I know intimately. I’ve had to say the final farewell a few times over the years. It’s heartbreaking. Gut wrenching. Agonizing. But also, it is inevitable. And it’s the inevitability that’s the hardest part. It’s the looming specter that haunts our relationship. From adorable new arrival to grey-muzzled senior.

Impossible to let go.

But I do. I must. It’s part of our life together. The closing of the circle. This final honoring of the brief time we shared here on earth, during a particular season in the history of my life, and an integral part of the telling of our full family story. The different stages are marked by the pets that occupied our home, and most importantly, our hearts. For the large part dogs, but there have been a menagerie over the years. Cats, birds, gerbils, fish, hamsters, and all the wild creatures that I’ve loved from afar.

But dogs are my spirit animals. I relate best to them.

Dogs have taught me so much over the years. Unconditional love being the predominant theme but there are all the other virtues as well. Loyalty, faithfulness, devotion, dependability, trustworthiness, dedication, good humor, playfulness, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, perseverance, appreciation, gratitude, being of service, and doggone doggedness.

The most important lesson I learned from a lifetime of loving dogs has been to live in the moment. It’s been a hard lesson and I’m still not entirely certain that I have mastered it. If you’re going to love a creature with a life expectancy between ten and twenty years it’s best to come to terms with the fleeting nature of the relationship. One minute you’re cradling a playful pup with enormous soulful eyes and the next your resting your head beside a tired elder who is on the cusp of drifting away into the great hereafter. It’s that fast. A blink of your eye. A wag of his tail.

Every time I’ve brought a new puppy home I effortlessly slip into those rosy early stages of falling helplessly and hopelessly, head over heels in love. Denial is my default state of mind in the blissful beginning. It’s so easy to tell myself that it will always be like this. Forever best friends. We’ll spend our entire lives together. It’s easy because in the beginning, the end seems so far away.

But even then, deep down I know the truth. We won’t. It won’t last. In some ways, it’s the absolute worst kind of love affair. But it’s also the best. The purest. That’s why I continue to pursue it.

Somewhere in the middle years of your dog’s life you start to see the signs. The little “tells” that their puppy years are long gone. So are their hyper teens and the energetic robust years. Their pace is slowing a bit on your daily walks, their jump is a little closer to the ground, they don’t retrieve the ball as quickly, their back may even take on an arthritic sway. There are lots of little signs that things are starting to change. That’s when I’m sucker-punched with my first dose of reality. My puppy is on his way to being a senior. There is no time to squander. No more basking in the sea of denial. Every second with them must be savored. Cherished. Breathed in and held.

I must live in the moment.

This is the big life lesson each and every dog has whispered in my ear. Be here in “the now.” Appreciate this time. Stay focused. Remain in the present. This is all that truly matters. All we have. All any of us have, truthfully.

Don’t wander off. Don’t head on down the road of sadness before it’s time. Stay put. Stay, girl. Stay.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Mel Baird.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, mobile makeup artist Melanie Baird, a woman of character and the quintessential example of what true beauty is. For over two decades, Mel has brought her unique style to over 1000 weddings; to popular television shows, including Canadian Idol, Canada’s Next Great Chef, and Kool Countdown; the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Closing Ceremonies; countless magazine features, editorial and print ads, music videos, CD covers, movies and commercials; plus, a finalist on Canada’s Next Top Model; BITE Beauty Founder Susanne Langmuir’s Movember Sephora Video; and Lieutenant Governor Judy Guichon’s official photo.  

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

As a female business owner, it’s my ability to connect with women. I love getting to the depths of our Souls with talking and healing. Spreading my light and helping make the world a better place however I can.

We love your Feel Good Campaign. How did that come about?

I have been doing makeup on women for years and helping them feel better. Many clients have gone through cancer treatments and I would teach them how to do makeup to look and feel better. It became my passion. As I did more and more I wanted to make this a staple. I get the most joy helping people, and this merged my two passions. So myself, and Danielle Bennett King, do hair and makeup every month for a woman going through treatment or hard times.

What has been your biggest challenge – personally or professionally? 

Professionally I would say my self-doubt/anxiety! If I don’t know how to do something well I tend to not feel comfortable trying. I can be hard on myself because my personal standards are very high.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

I would say my anxiety and fears; they can hold you back. I loved makeup and taught myself how to be a makeup artist the old fashioned way – through books!

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

This question makes my eyes tear up. I have SO much I would of loved to say! But mainly to not worry and all of your hopes and dreams do come true. Keep being you and have an open heart and beautiful things will happen.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Be true to who you are. Listen to your Soul. Feed your Soul. Work on inner growth because that is the key to happiness and abundance. Everything in your life will get better when you love yourself. You will be a beam of light! I try to teach this to my 18- year old daughter, especially by leading by example.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

I am constantly inspired by strong women who help others. Women are nurturers and are powerful. We teach love. Also, any woman who saves animals or run rescue organizations are my heroes too.

What’s next?  

To continue doing what I love and makes me happy. To keep growing as a person. Doing makeup. Laugh, travel, enjoy life, animals and my family.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 That’s always a funny one for me. For my career I feel I am exactly where I want to be. So then I think of other areas. I am very happy in my marriage and being a mother. So maybe travel more, do more yoga, work a bit less and spend more time with my father who recently moved here.

What message would put on your t-shirt?

There are two I love:

  • “Character is built through adversity” – Unknown
  • “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s Soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France

If you have someone you would like to nominate for Mel’s “Feel Good Campaign” please connect with her. In her words, “We would love to beautify and empower them.”

Connect with Mel on Instagram @mel_baird_makeup; through her Facebook page Melanie Baird Makeup Artist or her website http://www.melaniebaird.ca

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: 20 Things to Love About Yourself.

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At the end of November my beautiful daughter-in-law (DIL) sent an interesting Facebook message to my two daughters and me. This message was actually a challenge. It was something she herself had been challenged to do in her fitness class that week, and one that she found extremely difficult. When I read that, my first thought was that “if this incredible young women finds a “fitness” challenge difficult,” then I’m dead meat. No way Jose. Not going to happen for this Old Broad (OB). Then when I read “the challenge” I was even more convinced that this was something I could not do.

What was so challenging about “the challenge”?

Everything. Why? Because it requires that you take a long hard, uncompromising, honest, candid, truthful and LOVING look at yourself. Both physically and non-physically. And come up with ten things for each that you like about yourself. I’m not even talking love here. Just, like. A little nod to one of your more redeeming attributes, a mere mention of some cute little trait or charming characteristic. You know the thing I’m talking about. That endearing eccentricity that your family mutters under their collective-breath at family gatherings, “There it is.” We all have those, right. But as my DIL said in her note, “It’s amazing how in 2 seconds you can name a million things about family, friends and even people you’ve just met, but to name 20 things about yourself is HARD!”

She’s right. It’s easy-peasy to find 20 things about someone else that are admirable and praiseworthy, both physically and non-physically. But try pointing the lens back at yourself and it is damn near impossible. At least for me.

But this is a new year. And I’ve decided that this is the year that I will challenge myself more. Go out on that fragile limb and do things. Face uncertainty head-on. Take some risks. Do things a little, or a lot, differently than I have in the past. Some of these things I know are going to scare the shit right out of me. And at my age this could seriously happen.

Other things, I’m going to do because they’ll be good for me. Like eating more vegetables and less meat, especially the stuff that causes the unnecessary death of cute animals. This is a dilemma for me because I think all animals, and many plants, are cute. And if you think I’m being facetious, check out Marimos. They are freakin’ adorable. So are Baby Lichens. Then there’s Venus Flytraps. Not all that cute but extremely interesting. Like the dark-haired girl wearing uncool glasses in a roomful of Barbie’s with big boobs. I can relate to the V-Flies.

And then there are those things I’ve been putting off for years, decades even. You know the things, the “I’ll do that someday” stuff. All the stuff you make excuses for, that possibly involve some kind of weird time and space continuum. I have no idea what that is but it sounds like it may apply here, and very likely every aspect of my life to date. But I do plan to make a heroic attempt, and at the very least, confront some of these things that I’ve been putting off and maybe quite conceivably, should all the stars line up just right, get around to it. Perhaps.

As for the 10 physical things and the 10 non-physical things I like about myself? I haven’t a clue. I only know that it will require me to be as kind and loving with myself as I am with others. I will need to be as gentle and gracious, understanding and big-hearted, caring and compassionate, forgiving and magnanimous to me as I am to you and you and you, and the person I’ve just met. For this is all the great big important stuff that is at the very heart of “the challenge.” Maybe, just maybe, that’s why it’s so difficult.

And as my wise, witty and wonderful DIL said, it’s easier to come up with these things about someone else then it is about yourself. So I thought I’d do it for her.

10 Physical things that I LOVE about my DIL (in no particular order and just for starters):

  1. Big beautiful smile
  2. Gorgeous hair
  3. Killer abs
  4. Cute freckles
  5. Dazzling blue eyes
  6. Tiny waist
  7. Artistic hands
  8. Infectious laugh
  9. Melodic voice
  10. Magnificent fit figure

10 Non-Physical things that I LOVE about my DIL (in no particular order and just for starters):

  1. Loving-kindness
  2. Generosity
  3. Compassion
  4. Thoughtfulness
  5. Gentleness
  6. Intelligence
  7. Creativity
  8. Humor
  9. Courage
  10. Warmth and wonder

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