obsessed with dogs

NEW! Dog books I’m loving (and your chance to win copies)

Oh, how I love books. I really feel like books are the things that would keep me from ever achieving a fully-uncluttered, minimal home – but they’re so, so worth it. And even better? Beautiful books that feature dogs. I was lucky enough to receive two such books simultaneously, so for today, I’m sharing two dog books I’m loving, and – thanks to the generosity of each of their publishers – you have a chance to win a copy! So, without delay, let’s get to the book!

Dogs Rule Nonchalantly

By Mark Ulriksen

Mark_Ulriksen___Dogs_Rule__Nonchalantly

Several years ago, I clipped off the cover of an issue of The New Yorker that I just adored. It’s been in my office ever since, and every time I look at it, I smile. So, imagine how thrilled I was to receive a review copy of this book – only to find the exact illustration tucked into the work. And, of course, the darling illustration is accompanied by darling text that only enhances it!

Dogs Rule Nonchalantly

I adore that picture! In fact, I had admired his work in my subscription to The New Yorker without ever realizing or acknowledging that all the work I loved was from this one artist!

Each page features a whimsical illustration faced by sweet scrawled sayings. My favorite line in the entire book: “There’s nothing happier than a happy dog.” I enjoy the artist’s style. It’s neither serious nor silly, though he captures the essence of dogs so perfectly.

And, more than that, the relationship between dogs and us. One of my other favorites:

Dogs Rule Nonchalantly

My snapshots don’t do it justice. I truly loved this book, and it’s one I imagine sitting out in our living room so that I can pick it up, flip through, and smile! It comes out in a few days, but you can pre-order on Amazon. Check out the artist’s website. This book is a gem!

(See how you can win a copy of your very own below!)

Lessons in Balance: A Dog’s Reflections on Life

by Scout, star of Stuff on Scout’s Head

Lessons in Balance

Now, this little book is just darn cute. Scout was adopted as a fearful, unsocial fellow. I had heard of the blog Stuff on Scout’s Head and encountered it in anti-BSL circles. Scout, a pit, has an innate ability to balance things on his darling head. The blog chronicled the various objects he balanced, and it’s been turned into the book, Lessons in Balance. (Check out the website to see Scout balancing – what else? – copies of his recently released book!)

Stuff on Scout's Head

This spread really spoke to Emmett. He felt Scout was attempting the impossible here! :)

Scout’s person Jen strives to educate her readers about BSL and the importance of rescue. Scout was mistreated but flourished after he got his second chance. I think all of us can relate to and appreciate that story. Jen’s creativity, though, is what makes Scout’s story so memorable. This dog can seriously balance ANYTHING on his head. Flipping through the text is such a joy, and I guarantee that you will be laughing on nearly every single page. See?

Stuff on Scout's Head

If you want even more peaks into what Scout balances, click on the link to her website above (also, you can order yourself a copy of the book from there). The stack of pancakes?! Chatter teeth!? I mean, COME ON! It’s way too stinking cute.

Combine the “awe” factor with the anti-BSL and pro-rescue messages, and this book hits on all of my favorite things!

I think both of these books will sit perfectly side-by-side in the living room so that we can flip through them regularly to laugh, smile, and be inspired.

I’m seriously feeling so lucky that I got to review both of these at the same time. True gems! Now, YOU have the opportunity to win one of these two phenomenal books. They’re both fantastic additions to any dog-lover’s shelf.

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. The widget should load below in a couple seconds, but if you’re reading via email or a feed reader, you may have to click the link below. Normally, with these Rafflecopter giveaways, I just do a free one-click to enter. But since there are two books, there are two changes: the freebie click and a comment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much to both lovely publishers and authors for allowing me the opportunity to review these wonderful books! And I’m especially grateful to be able to giveaway a copy of each!

On being married to a blogger

John here. Maggie is on her way to Chicago for a pet expo, so I decided to take over her blog for today and tell you my side of the story!

When Maggie first decided to start a blog I was excited because I knew that she really needed a creative outlet. More than that, she needed something that was all her own. We have lots of things in common and enjoy doing many things together, but everyone needs that is just theirs. And so Maggie started this blog.

John and the boys

I’m not in very many pictures because I’m usually the one behind the camera.

What started out as something to do just for fun has blossomed into an amazing career for her. She’s gotten involved in rescue organizations, has built a loyal readership (thanks!), and has found one of the most supportive and fruitful networks one could ask for. She’s now going to conferences, getting pitched products, guest posts, and is being asked for her expert advice. I’ve been so happy to see this blog grow and I hope that I’ve been as supportive to her as I have been in my mind.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself what it’s been like for me. Probably not, but I’ll tell.

Friggin’ awesome.

And stressful. Sometimes weird. But mostly awesome. Since Maggie got this blog going, here are a few things I’ve gotten to do:

– Handed out anti-BSL postcards in Denver (I remember the late nights printing and organizing the HUNDREDS of postcards that came in through that)

– Participated in countless photoshoots with Halloween costumes, Christmas decorations, Mardi Gras beads, grilling equipment

– Tested countless toys, grooming products, dog beds, cat carriers, vitamins, and really cool technology (Newt’s collar cam, the water fountain from PetSafe, etc)

– Talked more about dog allergies, poop consistency, canine oncology and chemotherapy, and all the horrors that are the “what-if” situations

– Listened to Maggie on various radio and internet sites talking about the things she’s passionate about

– Read her amazing work, from posts to e-books, to the hilarious things she says on Facebook

– Watched her travel several thousand miles with Emmett to be in the Pinups for Pitbulls 2015 calendar and associated book (order yours today!)

– Met some of the coolest, nicest, funniest people on the planet (you know who you are, ladies! Rod, too)

John and the boys

My princess. (Sorry, Maggie.)

Bust most of all, I’ve gotten to support Maggie being Maggie, and watch her do exactly what she wants. I look forward to the next photoshoot, the next conference, the next round of free dog and cat stuff (what can I say, I’m cheap like that), and the next anything. If it weren’t for Maggie and this blog, I’m not sure I would have kept Newt, I’m not sure we would have fostered Molly for as long as we did, and I’m not sure we would have been on the email list for the organization that brought Cooper home to us. So, Maggie, keep doing what you’re doing. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Why he won’t sit

Recently, I encountered some goofy dog training “wisdom” that said, basically, if your dog won’t hold a position you ask of him, he’s being stubborn or obstinate. Hm. What if – and, I know, it’s a crazy idea – your dog won’t hold a position because it’s uncomfortable?

Cooper in a sit

Cooper does not sit. Well, he does. If you cue him to sit, he sits. But only for a second. Then he immediately pops back up or, if he knows we’re in “training” mode, he chooses a down instead. But look at this weirdo splay of his back legs:

Cooper's back leg splay

Awkward, right?

When he takes a “down” stance, he nearly always rolls his hips to the side rather than stay on his belly – the exact opposite of Emmett. (Sorry it’s blurry! He was panting after a run on the bayou!)

Cooper down on his side

And if he is down on his belly? His legs can’t tuck under:

So, what’s my point?

I mean, other than to show cute Cooper pics.

Oh, and, other than I can’t ever achieve a Wordless Wednesday, which was today’s goal with these pictures. Ha.

Perhaps if you’re struggling to get your dog to perform a certain behavior, it might be worthwhile to step back and check out his physiology. I don’t know if there’s anything wrong with Cooper’s back legs, but they certainly don’t look like they’re comfortable when he’s sitting! Sit has always been our default training behavior, and it still is for the Big Boys, but for Cooper we’re using down as his default to compensate for this wonkiness.

Have you ever observed anything like this – a physiological challenge that may prevent your pup from performing a certain behavior? How have you trained to compensate for that? 

Lennie

Well, it happened. Newt maimed one of the boys. (OK. OK. Not maimed. Scratched.)

And, of course, it was Lucas.

Lucas, your lip is stuck

We don’t know what happened. Everyone was hanging out, there was a scuffle, then his ear was bleeding. Frankly, I’m astounded that it took this long for it to happen.

But what’s even more astounding about this whole Newt/Lucas situation is that, from the very beginning, his behavior toward Newt has been so uncharacteristic.

Yes, he’s reactive to dogs on leash. But otherwise? Lucas is the Gentle Giant. He’s great with puppies and adores small dogs. Anytime there’s a baby nearby, he immediately steps into Guard Dog mode, pausing only to ensure that the baby’s nose is still cold and wet. He earned the nickname Lennie (remember Of Mice and Men?) because he’s killed a few small animals… but not by actively trying to kill them. Rather, he accidentally killed a vole in my parents’ backyard because he was trying to scoop it with his paws. He sealed the nickname when did the same thing with a wayward baby bunny.

Before we introduced the dogs to Newt, we predicted that Lucas would love her best.

Huh.

Obviously, though, we’re miles beyond where we were with the two of them a few months ago. Periodically, I discover them napping within a couple feet of each other. On rare occasions, Newt tries to chew on Lucas’ tail – which she does with the other two – but he usually gets up and walks away as soon as she tries. And, no one has to be separated when we leave the house. Free reign for all!

I imagine that there’s always some tension when you throw dogs and cats together. They’re just so different! But, she and Cooper are the best of friends, and she and Emmett have come to an “I ignore you, you ignore me” agreement.

Newt and Lucas… it’s still tense and strained, though not all the time. Those good moments… whew! Heart-melting!

Either way, this situation has been an incredible teacher for me. I think because I felt like I “knew” their personalities so well, I could make predictions like, “Lucas will love Newt,” forgetting that Lucas is his own dog. It’s been a solid reminder to take things as they come and not take their idiosyncrasies for granted. (Now, I just need to apply this lesson to Cooper and the new-found terror of the car…)

It’ll never cease to amaze me just how much I learn from my dogs.

What about you? Has your dog taught you anything lately?

September is Happy Cat Month

So, September is Happy Cat Month.

Newt sits on my students' quizzes

Is Newt happy? I’d like to think so. And I do think she is… most of the time. She’s playful and hilarious. And clumsy! I always thought cats were supposed to be graceful, but this little lady crashes into things, falls off furniture, and slips and slides as she runs around. She does not like being picked up or petted at all by anyone except John. She and Cooper are besties, but she’s unsure about some dog things (like, she HATES barking… she flees under the bed when they start up). But, miraculously, she only recently drew blood from one of them – Lucas – but we didn’t see what happened. She sleeps on my stomach, which I adore, even though she doesn’t like me to pet her.

Newt sleeping on my stomach

Anyway, one of the things that I focus on to keep her happy is to ensure she’s healthy! She eats a high-quality wet food twice a day and gets a fancy-pants kibble in her Kong puzzle once a day (away from the boys so they can’t steal her bites). We also give her a kitty vitamin when she gets her wet food.

If you saw the review of Vivamune on yesterday’s post, that supplement – the large dog version – has been working well for Coop. They also sent us the Healthy Chews for Cats for Newt to try. It’s all about fortifying her immune system. Previously, we had her on a cat vitamin that was a small, hard tab. More often than not, she left it in her bowl. These soft chews work so much better. Newt isn’t picky about flavor, so I think it’s the texture that’s working for her.

My big thing with giving her a cat vitamin is all about her coat. Newt will. not. let us brush her. It’s not happening. We’ve tried several types of brushes and even the gloves, but she FLIPS OUT. It just can’t happen. In the early days with Newt, we found hacked up hairballs. Now that she’s on a vitamin, she’s not barfing hairballs because, I think, it’s keeping her coat in better shape. Which I appreciate. Because I don’t think I can ever try brushing her again. Too traumatic for all of us. Supplements are a much easier solution – just what we need for Happy Cat Month!

Newt goes outside on leash

And, thanks to the incredible generosity of the folks at Vivamune, one of you has the chance to win a bag of the Healthy Chews for Cats for your happy cat!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Plus, don’t forget you can try the supplements for free: All you have to do (US fans) is click this link and sign up to receive a free bag of the Vivamune Chews. You just need to pay shipping. The promotion runs until October 15, so you have about a month to place the order!

We’re so grateful to Vivamune for giving us this opportunity to test a supplement with Newt – and for letting us give some away to one of you guys! Hope everyone’s having a great “Caturday” today!

Vivamune Health Chews: Review and giveaway (plus a discount code)

I’m a big believer in vitamins and supplements. Even if you eat a whole foods diet, adding in a little oompf can’t hurt, right? We feed a commercial kibble to the boys but supplement with a whole bunch of goodies. The problem, though, has been (of course) Cooper! So many supplements include chicken or beef derived flavors, which he can’t have.

Enter Vivamune! They are actually an allergy-friendly skin, gut, and joint supplement!

They kindly sent us samples of the large dog version for Coop to try – and the cat version for Newt. Here’s their spiel about the product:

Vivamune Chews are a brand new type of animal wellness supplement that are taking the pet world by storm!  Featuring our proprietary Carotenoid Blend technology, Vivamune Chews harness the power of beta-carotene to support immune health and optimize skin/joint/digestive function – all in a delicious, once-a-day chew. We are proud to say that Vivamune Chews are made in the USA and contain no added wheat products. Unlike other supplements on the market that address individual body systems (i.e., just skin, just joints…etc.), Vivamune targets the underlying health structures responsible for optimal health and works with the body’s own defence mechanisms to help promote a healthy inflammatory response. Vivamune Health Chews are extremely easy to give (one tasty chew, once a day) and can be given to pets as young as 6 weeks of age. Please feel free to check out our website at www.vivamunehealth.com.

He’s been on it for a few weeks now, and I think it’s cutting down on his shedding, for sure. It’s been sort of rough with extreme allergies these past few weeks, and he doesn’t seem to be itching as much. However, an unexpected benefit: The allergies typically make his ears HORRIFIC. Like, cleaning out mounds of gunk (sorry for that image) week after week. I checked this morning, and his ears are clear. No gunk at all. I honestly think that change is chalked up to the Vivamune because it’s the only thing we’ve changed in his diet/routine in the last few weeks. He’s more relieved than I am because he HATES having his ears cleaned.

I’m thrilled to finally have a solid supplement for poor Cooper. Out of everyone, he probably needs it the most, so it’s a relief to find one that doesn’t contribute to his allergies and seems to alleviate some of his symptoms!

And, thanks to the generosity of the folks at Vivamune, you have TWO opportunities to try it! (Actually THREE but you’ll have to come back for tomorrow’s Caturday post ;) )

First up, a giveaway! Woo! There will be two (US only) winners: one small dog winner gets two bags of the small dog chews, and one large dog winner gets two bags of the large dog chews. When you use the widget below, please indicate which you’d prefer, and a random winner will be chosen for each. {{Updated to add: the small dog formula differs from the large dog formula. It contains chicken.}}
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cat fans, click here for a chance to win the cat prize!

And…

Vivamune

For those of you who don’t win the giveaway – or who want to order some ASAP – Vivamune is offering a free trial! All you have to do (US fans) is click this link and sign up to receive a free bag of the Vivamune Chews. You just need to pay shipping. The promotion runs until October 15, so you have about a month to place the order!

Thank you, Vivamune, for giving us this opportunity to test out your chews – and to give some away! We were really happy with it and plan to keep Coop on the chews moving forward!

Simple DIY Kitty Condo Using Tractor Supply Materials #PAW2014

I will admit: I had never been to a Tractor Supply store before! I was amazed at the pet food, treats, collars, bowls, grooming, toys, everything! They carry the specific allergy-friendly food we feed to Cooper, and tons of fun household goods. But! That’s not what this post is about… As part of Tractor Supply’s Pet Appreciation Week, which runs September 17 – 21, we were tasked to use a $25 gift card to buy supplies to create something that could be used by our local shelter! I love a good DIY challenge, so off we go!

Pet Appreciation Week at Tractor Supply

We spent a few days debating on possible DIYs and went to the store with a handful of ideas. Of course, we were thinking all dog, but once we started brainstorming – and chatting about the project with Ernest, the Tractor Supply employee who helped us figure it all out – we ended up with a cat DIY! Ultimately, we made a piece-of-cake DIY kitty condo. It has two tiers and a toy!

Here are our supplies: 3 BPA free, food-grade buckets (they’re 2 for $7!) and a moving blanket ($7). We also bought an assortment of nuts/bolts/washers because we didn’t have them in stock and some Velcro. Oh! And they were collecting donations of chews for the shelter at the same time, so we added a big bone to our list and came in only $0.26 over! Here, Cooper checks out the supplies:

Tractor Supply challenge

 

Beginning to end, this two-tiered kitty condo took about 20ish minutes. So easy!

DIY Kitty Condo #PAW2014

Here’s how to DIY:

  1. Set up the two bottom buckets to see how you want them aligned. On one bucket, use a pen to mark where the screws will connect the two buckets (you’ll need two, one for the front and one for the back, see below). Secure the bucket and drill the two holes. (Hint: If your drill is small enough, clamp the two buckets together and drill through both at the same time.)
    Drilling holes
  2. Align the two buckets. Depending on the size of the holes you may be able to push a pen through the set of holes you drilled in step one to mark the second bucket where you will need to drill. They holes need to line up! Drill holes.
  3. Use screws, washers, and nuts to secure the two bottom buckets together. You want to use the shortest screws possible so that no sharp pieces are sticking out.
    Screw the two buckets together
  4. Set the third bucket on top, eyeball where you want the next four holes to go, and mark the two bottom buckets with your pen (two holes per bucket, one in the front and one in the back). Drill into each hole, set the third bucket on top, and secure together using screws.
    Add the top tier bucket
  5. Drill a hole into the rim of the top bucket for the toy, and drop the rope toy through. If you have a cat, be very careful at this step. Chances are she’ll take it as an invitation to play and attack your workspace!
  6. Next, cut the moving blanket into three equal-sized pieces, and place each one folded into a bucket.
    Cut the blanket into three pieces
  7. Test on a kitty!
    IMG_20140911_075721

One note: I realized that the surface of the tops are too smooth for her to climb up and on, so I’m thinking I’ll exchange the Velcro that I didn’t use for a mat or liner to affix to the top of the buckets so that it’s climbing-friendly. Otherwise, it was a piece of cake with very few tools – just a drill and a screwdriver – required.

What do you think? Does this seem like a DIY you’d tackle? For the time investment and the low cost, I feel like you could knock a few of these out for a shelter or rescue in a weekend!

Also, btw, if you’re as Pinterest obsessed as I am, Tractor Supply has an awesome board!

This post is sponsored by Tractor Supply Company and the Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Tractor Supply Company, but OMD! only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Tractor Supply Company is not responsible for the content of this article.

New Uses for Old Things: Wordless Wednesday (with lots of words)

A long time ago, before Cooper, I wrote a review of the Neater Feeder. At that time, it worked perfectly for us. Eventually, with the arrival of Coop and the need for both Cooper and Emmett to eat from slow-down-feeders, the Neater Feeder became our watering hole. It works well because I can keep two big, stainless bowls full – we go through a lot of water, and it was even faster consumption while Molly was here. But lately I’ve noticed someone else partaking in the Neater Feeder water station.

Look who’s bellying up to the bar…

Newt drinks from the Neater Feeder

 

She has her own little Newt-sized, whisker-friendly dish upstairs behind a gate that the dogs can’t reach, but she seems to prefer this one. It looks awkward, but I wonder if drinking perched precariously on the side is honoring some deep-rooted jaguar DNA that she doesn’t get to express often…

I'm a jaguar! Rawr!

What’s even funnier is that if any one of the dogs is drinking away, the other two won’t hesitate to push, shove, and worm their way in to get sips simultaneously. Often, the three boys all have their faces shoved in there trying to angle for a drink.

When Newt’s up there? They back slowly away…

 

 

How to Start a Pet Blog #PetBloggerMonth

September is International Pet Blogger Month – how cool?! – and the focus is on education. I love that topic, and I realized I had a million things I wanted to write about. Recently, though, I’ve gotten lots of emails asking me how to start a pet blog. So, for International Pet Blogger Month, I combed through my emails to find the most frequently asked questions, and I’m sharing my thoughts.

 

how to start a pet blog

 

Top 5 FAQs: How to Start a Pet Blog!

  1. How do I start a blog?
    This is – by far – the most common question I get. In fact, I had an email at the end of last week from a gentleman who said, “I have a lot of topics I could write about my dogs, but I don’t know where to start.” I feel ya’! This is going to sound crazy, but here’s how you start a blog: You create an account on the platform of your choosing (see Q2), and then… start writing! Or uploading pictures! Or video! If you feel inspired to start a blog, then all you need to do is START! Open that account today (and tell us in the comments when you do!) and publish your first post. I think the “how do I start” paralysis maybe comes from fear of the unknown, not knowing all the technical details, or being afraid of putting yourself out there. Those things come with time and hands-on experience. Letting those slow down your start just keeps you from getting your blog up and running. Seriously. All you have to do to start is create that account! Go! Do it! We’ll wait…
  2. What platform should I use?
    Okay, okay. But on which platform should I create my account? There are two platforms that hold the lion’s share of blogs: Blogger and WordPress. Both have free options. If you want to dip your toes in the blogging waters, definitely go with a free version of one or the other. You can always upgrade to a paid account later. Or, if you know you’re a-million-percent committed to your blog, then my personal opinion is go with a self-hosted WordPress account. If you’re interested in WordPress – free or paid – here’s the signup form. Now, go sign up!
  3. What should I write about?
    If you’re feeling inspired to start a pet blog, I’m assuming you either have pets or are involved somehow in animal welfare. Write about that! With my writing students at the community college, many of them let their fear of the blank screen and blinking cursor keep them from getting started. I totally get that. But you can overcome by putting up your first post: Introduce yourself to all of us (your readers!) and tell us about your pets. Post 2 can be a story that inspired you to start the pet blog. Then you’re off and running! Stories about your pets, things you see in the news, photo posts, and so on… I encourage you to start a notebook, too. Yep, an actual pen-and-paper notebook! Start jotting down ideas for future posts as they come to you. You’ll be amazed at how much inspiration you find out in the world! One final note: I believe in goal setting. To keep yourself motivated when you first start, set micro-goals. For instance, “I will post once a week for six months.” You might not be getting many comments or shares in the beginning (I think for about a year, my hubs and MIL were the only two commenters I had!) so those little goals will keep propelling you forward.
  4. How do I promote my new blog?
    So, once you start your blog and you’re pouring your heart out onto the interwebs, you’re going to want readers! The best way to promote your blog – this is going to sound counter-intuitive, but stick with me – is to read other people’s blogs and post thoughtful comments. Engage in discussions on Facebook, in comment threads, and on Twitter. Blatant self-promotion just isn’t the way of the internet. Meaningful discussion is. People will seek out your blog because they’re blown away by your insightful conversation. That being said, I do suggest setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account (at the minimum… you could also go with Pinterest, Instagram, G+, and so on… but start small!) and post links to your recent blog posts on those accounts. Consider guest posting for other more established blogs. I give that suggestion with this very strong caveat: Before you pitch a guest post to anyone, please (PLEASE) read their guidelines carefully. Pitching a blogger who says in her About page that she doesn’t accept guest posts will annoy her and waste your time. Pitching a blogger a story about dog training when she only writes about cat fashion, same thing. Guest posting is great… if you do it well. Read guidelines then pitch appropriately! (And, obvi, spell check and all that…)
  5. What are some resources for learning about SEO/social media/widgets/etc.?
    Once you’re up and running, you’ll probably start to notice nifty little features on other people’s blogs. Or someone will mention SEO on Twitter, and you’ll scratch your head. There are tons of bells and whistles behind the scenes of blogging. Join a community group on Facebook or G+, attend a conference, type “blogging tips” into the Pinterest search bar, or – here’s a crazy concept – check out books on blogging and internet marketing from the library! Don’t try to do it all at once, though. Pick a single topic and focus on that. Say you want to learn about SEO. Utilize each of those resources until you feel like you have a grasp on SEO, then move onto subscription widgets or Twitter promotion or whatever you’re most curious about. Building a blog is like building a house; stack one brick at a time!
A Final Note
Since this is the longest post ever, you may have just skimmed until here. If you only take away two things, start with these: To start a blog, simply START! And set mini-goals for yourself throughout the process. It can be lonely until you start getting comments, so find a way to keep yourself motivated!

Starting a pet blog? Leave the URL in the comments so we can all become avid readers! A blogging pro? What did I miss? Share your tips in the comments!

This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated to support International Pet Blogger Month with an educational post, but OMD! only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.

Finding my work/dogs/life balance: Life Editing for Beginners Blog Party

This post is going to be a whole lot more about me than you guys are used to reading in a single post (although there is a SUPER cute dog coming up…), but thanks for sticking with me!

As most of you know, the past couple years have been tricky. If you’re new (Hi! Welcome!), here’s Dec 2011 to today in three sentences: I was diagnosed with cancer and had a bunch of surgeries, followed by 12 months of chemo, during which my husband (the health insurance provider!) transferred to a job in Louisiana. I stayed in Indy to go through treatment while he commuted back and forth. As soon as I finished chemo, I went to Louisiana to spend the last year of his project with him before moving back at Indiana this past July, right after the hero of our story, Emmett, received his cancer diagnosis.

As I said: tricky.

Throughout all that, my freelance business suffered. I basically did just enough and not an ounce more, and with all the upheavals, changes, and medical bills (mine and Em’s) we racked up some debt, too. Which is fine. All of that is just part of life – all those curve-balls that keep us on our toes. And we’re positive people, so we just keep trucking.

But back in Indiana, I realized that I was struggling to get back into the swing. I actually had no clue what the “swing” even was anymore. My definition of “normal” needed to be rewritten, and I was procrastinating on everything – and totally beating myself up about it. Then I stumbled across this group coaching class, Life Editing for Beginners with Sage Grayson, that was in beta test mode. I have a few friends who worked with coaches and raved, so I dove in.

OH! And that cute dog? I mean, how could I choose to work with anyone other than Sage when she has this crazy cute pit mix?

Skyla freckle belly

Right?!

Anyway, the group class is focused on taking an editor’s approach to life: identifying what’s working and deleting what isn’t. I’m such a process-driven person that this worked really well for me. You start with the foundation and work through each of the steps. Here’s the official deal:

Life-Editing-Process

In this 5-week group coaching program, you’ll learn the Life Editing Process and how to delete bad influences, add good habits and routines, and rearrange the parts of your life into a perfect flow. You get daily emails, 10 videos, 10 worksheets, 5 weekly interactive webinars, a private Facebook group, weekly challenges, plus other fun surprises! Doors are open now, so click here to sign up today!

Obviously, my strategy of just-keep-putting-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other is not sustainable, so I spent the first couple weeks filling out the worksheets and participating in the closed Facebook group trying to figure out what I could ditch. At the end of the five weeks I have a better idea of what I need to do to move forward and a great group of people to bounce ideas off of. The reality is that while I thought I was “busy” and felt so stressed, I was wasting tons of time and energy. The editing process helped me figure out that I need much clearer goals. There IS time to be a conscientious worker, run my business, keep up with this blog (which, I think, suffered the most these last two years…), walk the dogs every day, and still have time to train and hang out with John. I don’t even want to think about how long it would’ve taken to get me to that realization without Sage’s help.

It’s definitely a “process” and I don’t have it down yet. But I’m trying. And just yesterday I answered an interview question about how Emmett inspires me… It was a lightbulb moment because it totally ties into this. He faces life with such openness and joy. He embodies an in-the-moment spirit, and he’s a champion forgiver. I can only strive to do better and be kinder because of him, and this course placed me back on that path.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Life Editing Process.