Letting Go of Expectations

From hectic life in the USA to island life as a stay-at-home-wife, this blog follows the musings of an anxious Type-A as she learns to slow down and tune in to the important things in life

 

Pot Hound Love

Meet foster puppy Madison!

three week old pot hound puppy

She is five weeks old, weighed 1.02kg at her last checkup, and is ferociously teething.

She is a pot hound, which is a name for the mutt dogs on the island of Grenada. Many of them are strays, and you’d be hard pressed to walk anywhere without encountering at least one pot hound.

By my guess, most of these island dogs are about 40 pounds and a lot of them are brown, but I have seen pot hounds that are white, black, biggish, littleish, brindle, and everything in between. Sometimes they will follow you as you walk down the street – or beach – and are really sweet and friendly when you offer them a scratch behind the ears.

brindle female dog with floppy ears sitting on grass

This lovely lady greeted us at a bus stop one day. She was quite happy to accept the pop tart that someone there offered her!

Most of the dogs in Grenada that aren’t strays are kept for home protection, not as pets in the way that most people in the States have dogs. They may bark when you pass by their house, though I’ve only ever met one pot hound that harbored any true ill will (I’m talking about you, Sugar the dog!) Sometimes you see them roaming around with sun-bleached collars on, indicating that they have a home to go to, but they are still free to wander most of the time.

Many of the pothounds here, even the ones with owners, are not fixed. Which is how little Miss Madison, and many other puppies and kittens like her, came along.

The beginning of Madison’s story is not a happy one. She was found at about two weeks old alone and covered in maggots. Luckily, she was taken to the Grenada SPCA Animal Shelter, where she got fed and cleaned up and eventually came to us as a bottle baby to foster!

pot hound puppy

Always on the move!

Madison is now healthy, playful, and sassy! She likes to sleep, wrestle with little toys, and has a tiny little bark. I am completely unable to call her by her real name most of the time, and her nicknames to date include Sass, Squeak, Little Miss, and Miss Maddie May, but only if you say it to the tune of the song, “Down by the Bay”.

If you don’t have that song stuck in your head now, I applaud you. If you do have that song stuck in your head…sorry!

Having an adult dog and a bottle baby puppy has been as close to having children as I could imagine in any of my life experiences so far.

blue heeler puppy sleeping

Not to be outdone by adorable pictures of Madison, here is a picture of Tryst as a puppy!

I will be feeding Madison, and our dog Tryst will all of a sudden need to go out, so I will need to juggle both of them to make everyone happy. Or, I will be playing with Madison and Tryst will feel left out and beg for cuddles. We are making sure he gets lots of love so that he doesn’t get jealous, but sometimes cuddling him and playing with Madison feels like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time!

Taking care of such a young puppy is also a really great way to kick start those motherly instincts… but that’s a whole other story!

While we are having a great time fostering Madison, we are hoping not to become a foster fail. She is going to be really, really hard to let go, but our plans for the next few years are tentative, and traveling with one dog is enough of a circus!

pot hound puppy sticking tongue out

Who could say no to this face?

Madison is available for adoption in Grenada, but it would be possible for her to travel to her forever home if someone off the rock wanted to adopt this little ball of fluff! Although it will be really bittersweet when she gets adopted, I plan to volunteer more at the GSPCA and foster again in the future.

You can’t foster if you keep them all, right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Can you have too many dogs though? Well, probably, but we only have one right now…

It sounds like Madison is hungry again, so I guess that’s my cue. I’m off to snuggle some pups!


Want more information about adopting Madison? Head over to the About page to contact me!

Want to see more adorable puppy pictures and pictures of my adventures in Grenada? Follow me on Instagram!

The Grenada SPCA does so much for the animals here. They shelter neglected and abused animals, provide affordable veterinary treatment, and are working hard to get more of the animals on the island spayed and neutered. If you’re interested, check them out and maybe send a donation their way. With all of the animals that they help, I know they could always use it!


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If You Can’t Handle Me at My Worst

You’ve probably heard the saying before.

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

This quote (whose actual author is unknown but which is commonly misattributed to Marilyn Monroe) seems to resonate with a lot of people.

It does with me as well, but a lightbulb moment changed the message of that quote for me. Now, those words speak to me in a much different way.

It started when I was mad at Husband about something or other. We had just uprooted our lives in the States and moved to Grenada. He had just started medical school. We were both maybe a little stressed out. Ok, maybe a lot stressed out.

As I was sitting there, being mad, the quote popped into my head. If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.

Things were hard. And different. And he was really, really busy. Our lives had suddenly changed completely and he wasn’t able to support me as much as I needed or wanted during that major life transition.

I felt like I was at my worst, or close to it. I was at my worst, and in that moment, he wasn’t able to deal with me the way I wanted to be dealt with.

My mind went back to those words. If you can’t handle me at my worst-

But then it occurred to me. What if you turned the phrase around?

If I can’t handle him at his worst, I don’t deserve him at his best.

That changed everything.

I realized that, though he is quite a bit more unflappable than I am, he had just gone through the same move that I did. On top of that, he was starting med school. We were both probably at our worst, or close to it.

Suddenly I began thinking about how I could be more supportive in our relationship, instead of just ruminating over what I needed out of it. I thought about how I could help him so that I deserved him at his best.

It seems really easy, in relationships, to think about what you want out of the other person. We spend time, even as we’re growing up, thinking about what qualities we want our partner to have and how we want them to treat us.

But how often do we think about what the other person wants or needs from us?

That is not to say that one person should bear the brunt of the work in a relationship. It is important that both people contribute equally. But maybe, if you give a little more, you’ll get back at least as much as you gave.

When I started thinking about what I could do for Husband to “handle him at his worst”, we both became happier.

The small steps that I took to help him become less stressed out also reduced my stress level because it gave me actionable things that I could do to improve our relationship. On top of that, when he was less stressed out, tension in our relationship dropped, and he was more able to provide the support that I was looking for from him.

The original quote is all about loving and accepting yourself for who you are, flaws and all, and making sure that the important people in your life do the same. While being treated right is incredibly important, it is also important to step back and make sure that we’re giving what we want to get.

I tend to be very stuck in my own head (hello, Anxiety), so maybe this reminder to step back and think about what you can give to your relationship is more obvious to some people.

But in a world where celebrity marriages end as soon as they begin, where the divorce rate seems to keep climbing, where people are always moving on to the next newer, better thing, maybe I’m not the only one who could use a reminder to think, not just about what you want to get out of a relationship, but what you are willing to put into it.

If you can’t handle them at their worst, you don’t deserve them at their best.

Try it on for size. Think about it. The next time you encounter a situation where you feel like someone isn’t able to “handle you at your worst”, try flipping the tables. When they were at their worst, what did you do for them?

Maybe the answer is that you did a lot for them. In that case, that might be a person who is using up a lot of your energy and maybe that’s not the kind of person you need in your life.

But maybe the answer is that you could have done more. Maybe you could have been more understanding, or taken a little more time out of your day for them, or sent that text message, or checked up on them, or brought them coffee. If that’s the case, and you value that person, maybe you decide to do a little more the next time.

That may just be the best bit of relationship advice that I’ve ever had the good fortune of stumbling upon-

If you value someone, think about what you’re doing for them to deserve them at their best.

Photo by Farrel Nobel on Unsplash


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Easier Said Than Done

Hey!

Long time no see!

I won’t bore you with the usual litany of “oh I’ve been so busy I couldn’t possibly find the time to write!” That would be both slightly untrue and… a total cop out.

The honest reason that I haven’t written in a while may be:

A) It’s scary to talk about your life and thoughts and opinions and have them accessible by anyone in the world with an internet connection.

B) I do not believe that people are inherently interested in what I do every day (like what I had for breakfast or that I walked my dog) so I try to create blog posts that add value, in however small a way, to people’s lives. And that’s hard. Ok, pity party over.

C) I realized that in all my bravado about “letting go of expectations” I had created a ton of expectations about the blog. I wanted to have so many posts a week, I wanted to create a strong social media presence, I hoped to attain a decently sized following eventually, I felt that posts had to be a certain length. All those expectations made it more like a chore and less like a fun thing that I wanted to do. And nobody was making me do it. So I stopped. And then I didn’t start writing again because I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep writing as much as I “felt like I should”.

D) All of the above.

It took me a while to finally answer this question, and even longer to decide what I was going to do about it.

I decided that I am going to try my best to practice what I preach and move forward with the blog without my previously held expectations.

Well…

At least with a mindfulness that the expectations that I have set for myself are completely arbitrary and that I can acknowledge them without giving into them.

And I’m going to start that off by making this post short and sweet!

I won’t try to sell you on the usual, “I have a ton of exciting stuff lined up so come back soon!”

If you like reading, check back now and then. When I think of something to write, I’ll post it.

It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.


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Connect: One Idea on How to Make the World a Better Place

I had the most touching interaction with a stranger the other day. I was walking out of the post office carrying a box and my unnecessarily large purse. I got into my car and was arranging everything on the passenger seat when I heard a voice behind me.

An older man had walked up to my open car door and as soon as I turned around, he said, “I wish to be of assistance. Do not panic.” With that, he gently closed my car door and was on his way.

I was struck by the quiet kindness in the man’s eyes and the kindness of his gesture. As I drove home, I replayed the moment over and over again in my mind, and I began to tear up.

Most of the time, if a strange man followed me to my car and walked up to the open door, it would have made me nervous at the very least. This interaction was different, though. I immediately recognized his demeanor as kind, and his words were honest and comforting.

He wasn’t looking for the thanks that I uttered to my closed car door as he walked away. He just saw that I had my hands full and genuinely wanted to help me out.

Of course, I would have had no trouble closing the car door myself. But had that man walked past my car without taking a moment to interact with me, I would have missed out on a moment of feeling connected to another human being, and feeling that you don’t have to know someone to care about them and making their day a little easier.

Then another thought occurred to me. How is it that we live in a world where shootings and bombings are commonplace, but where a simple act of kindness by a stranger was enough to leave my teary-eyed?

In a world that is so vast, that is populated by so many people, how is it that we still feel such a large void when it comes to feeling a connection to the people around us?

I wish I could say that I had the answers to those questions. Or, better yet, I wish I had solutions. But I don’t.

I do know that we crave a feeling of closeness, connectedness, and honesty with other people. Look at the success of Humans of New York or Post Secret. While it can be much harder to seek a connection with strangers in real life than it is online, that makes those real life connections even more enriching.

The discourse that surrounds having meaningful interactions with strangers tends to focus on helping other people or performing random acts of kindness. While that can be a great place to start, I believe the sentiment could – and should – go much deeper.

In thinking about what we can do to help people, it is easy to think about it in terms of what we are willing to do for other people that will make us feel the best about ourselves. I might feel really good about myself for giving $20 to the homeless man as I walked by him on the street, but it may not have been the most effective way I could have helped him. Maybe a few honestly kind words would have made his day more than the $20. It is easier, though, to put money in his cup and keep walking.

I think that a more effective way to think about “helping people” would be to think about what you could do to show someone that you see them and that you care about them. And I mean really see them. Understand them. Respect them. Empathize with them.

The man who closed my car door the other day knew that I might feel nervous that he approached me. He understood that, respected that, and was able to put my mind at ease before I even had a chance to react negatively. And even though he knew I might react negatively, he put himself out there anyways.

These are the types of actions that can start to make the world a better place to live in. If we could all look at our neighbors or the people we pass as we walk down the street and put just a little bit of effort into seeing them as individuals, absent of any judgment, the world be changed for the better. If we then took that seeing and understanding and – even occasionally – showed those acquaintances and strangers compassion and caring, the world would be a much better place.

I’m not saying that it is going to be easy. I’m not saying that I am good at it. But it is something that I am going to work on. Instead of giving sympathy to strangers, I will work on giving empathy, and making their day a little better through honest interaction.

It is something that can be applied on a much larger scale as well. Think about groups of people who are different from you. Maybe they are different in their age, race, gender, religion, or any other way. Make an effort to see things from their point of view. It may not be comfortable. It will likely challenge a lot of the assumptions that you had about that group. It may be difficult, but it needs to be done.

In a world where we are connected on so many levels, we are divided just as often. We identify ourselves as being part of certain groups, ranging from gender and race to political affiliation and which sports teams we like. If we surround ourselves with only others who are like us, it then becomes easy to see people who don’t fall into the same groups as “others”, but we must resist that urge.

It will not be easy. It will not happen overnight. If you are doing it right, you will be uncomfortable at times and pushed outside of your comfort zone. But start small. Start somewhere.

Start, perhaps, by letting a stranger know that you see them, and show them that in some way – no matter how small – that you care about them.


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7 Things I’ve Learned About Living on an Island

Today marks four months since Husband and I arrived in Grenada. It has been four months of learning and adapting to a life that has been very different from the one we came from. In many ways it is not better or worse, just different.

We went from the US to the Caribbean, Midwest season changes to tropical climate year round, two full-time jobs to being a student and a housewife.

Since I am fortune enough to not be the one who was crazy enough to decide that attending medical school would be fun, I have had lots of time to observe how life on an island is different than life in the US.

Here are 7 things I’ve learned so far:

1. If that ’94 Suzuki Escudo gets you from Point A to Point B, it’ll do.

Never mind that it doesn’t have air conditioning, sometimes it doesn’t start, and when the windows decide to work you have to hold onto them to keep aligned as they roll up. Luxury car features like radio, automatic locks, and a decent paint job can wait. It gets us from one place to the other (most of the time) and that’s all we really need!

2. You can live in the same three outfits of workout clothes – and nobody cares.

Though the locals seem perfectly comfortable wearing long pants all the time, when the heat index is constantly in the upper 90’s, jeans are the last thing I am thinking of wearing. Most of the time I exist in one of the few pairs of yoga pants or shorts that I brought to the island and a tank top. Everyone knows that we are all existing on student loans right now, we all brought what they could fit into a suitcase or two, and the options for shopping on the island are less than exciting.

3. Honking at people while you are driving can have a ton of different meanings.

In the US, if somebody honks their car horn it usually means something along the lines of, “%*$& you, you #!@*ing $&*@.” Imagine my surprise upon realizing that honking here is much closer to a friendly “hello” than a string of expletives. I’ve learned that honking can mean, “I am a bus, do you need a ride?” or “Hello friend that I saw walking on the sidewalk,” or even “I’m coming up on a blind hill where the road is probably not wide enough for two way traffic so if you can hear this please let me through.”

4. You will never again take for granted living in a place where you don’t have to worry about bugs.

I have been very fortunate to not have many encounters with bugs so far *crosses fingers, knocks on wood*. I have, however, heard so many stories about bugs on the island. Everything from huge centipedes falling from the ceiling in campus buildings, to ants that will find any way into your apartment – and your food containers, to relentless mosquitos in apartments without window screens, to huge, flying cockroaches. It makes the droves of mosquitos in Wisconsin seem like nothing.

5. Even though the seasons may not change, you will hear Christmas music everywhere you go as soon as November 1st comes around.

I’ve learned that Grenada does Christmas big, and you will hear Christmas music everywhere from the grocery store to random houses blasting it across the valley that you live in. At least Grenada celebrates their Thanksgiving in October, so once November comes around Christmas is really the next holiday to look forward to! I distinctly remember a Christmas a few years back where I was driving around and the car thermometer put the outside temperature at -30°F. Celebrating this Christmas in a bathing suit will be just as memorable!

6. You can have a different favorite beach for different occasions.

Living in the Midwest, where most bodies of water have cold water, lots of weeds, and an odor of dead fish, it never occurred to me that some Caribbean beaches might be better than others. Anything would be better than those beaches. In Grenada, all of the beaches that I have been to have beautiful, fine sand, a gorgeous green backdrop, and turquois water that you can see all the way to the bottom through. While they are all beautiful, some are better for snorkeling, some are better for partying, and some are better because you can lay out for a long time without someone trying to sell you something.

7. Just like living anywhere else, it is easy to take for granted the unique things around you.

After being here for four months, I sometimes forget that we live within walking distance of two gorgeous beaches. I’m not surprised that there are multiple fresh produce stands around, even though it is December. I can walk down the beach now without gawking at the scenery. We will be here for two years, and though parts of island life are second nature now, I remain committed to experiencing as much of the island as I can in the relatively short time that we are here!


The first four months in Grenada have flown by and I look forward to the new insights that I will have as I continue journeying through life in the Caribbean!


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