A New Leash on Life

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love dogs. It doesn’t matter what breed, size or age – they make me feel blissfully content and never fail to elevate my mood. I’m convinced that those male dating coaches who advise men on how to pick up women by walking cute dogs in the park, had women like me in mind. I’ll approach a complete stranger at a cafe, or on the street, just to engage their canine companions. I’m an equal opportunity animal lover, but if I’m being 100% honest, cats just don’t do it for me like dogs do. Cats always seem so aloof, so emotionally unavailable, that they

Jimmy Chew, my faithful protector and full-time family rejector.
“I like lil’ mutts and I cannot lie….”

represent men that I’d never date or friends that I wouldn’t mind losing. Dogs, on the other hand…well, there’s just something so pure about the raw expression of their needs, that they just seem so…honest to me. They’re often loyal to a fault, and the majority that I’ve come across, just love being loved. Luke Skybarker*, my German Shepard/Lab mix, lives to please and protect my family. He’s a “working dog.” One that’s been bred with a distinct purpose in mind, whether that’s herding animals or protecting its home and family. I cherish him, and, also, Jimmy Chew*, my chihuahua/terrier mix, although, he serves a completely different emotional purpose. His canine footprint is tiny, but his presence is large. I adopted him from a shelter, and lore has it that he was abandoned with his litter mates in a dirty barn somewhere in Modesto, California. I fostered this feral little dog, and he imprinted upon me like a newborn duckling, totally at the expense of loyalty and affection for the rest of my family, and feels no shame in his lack of familial warmth for everyone else. They could move out of the house tomorrow, and he wouldn’t miss a bark or experience the feeling of loss for the very people who keep him alive. Out of all the things that he’s expressed, he’s made one thing quiet clear: he’s a one woman dog. I guess this makes sense: The Maya used to view the ancient predecessor of the Chihuahua as guardians of the afterlife, and would often kill dogs after their owner’s death, and bury them alongside their masters, so that they could accompany them into the next world.  Frankly, I think this ritual wasn’t spiritually based, but, rather, recognition that no one else could command respect from these mercurial, little buggers and deal with them after their owners had passed. It was more of a mob clean up job, than an act of spiritual elevation. If nothing else, the chihuahua is a “ride or die” companion.  If I was bedridden with an illness, or stricken with a life threatening disease, I know that I would never be left alone with little Jimmy Chew in my life. Whichever the dog, or strange peculiarity of the breed, I am so grateful that they play such a selflessly pivotal role in my happiness and well-being. I hope that I do the same for them.

*I’ve changed the names of my dogs in order to protect the guilty.

additional articles on the health benefits of dog ownership:

10 Scientific Benefits of Being a Dog Owner, Mental Floss: http://bit.ly/MentalFlossDoggydog

The Ten Health Benefits of Dogs (And One Health Risk), Huffpost, http://bit.ly/huffpodoggydogs

More Evidence that Owning a Dog is Really Good for You, Time, http://bit.ly/Doggydogs

The Lost Art of Subtle Seduction

dorothy-dandridge

I don’t know where it went…Maybe it’s a generational thing or just a sign of the times, but I’m talking about subtle sensuality and the art of seduction. Make no mistake, there are still many women for whom “skilled” does not seem an apt adjective, and, for whom, masters of the “dark arts” of seduction is more accurate. I’m wondering, though, where it went for the most women? There was a time when women had less freedom in society, yet we managed to wield our power and influence over the men we found desirable in much more subtle, persuasive and effective ways. We couldn’t be too overt in our sexuality, or too aggressive in the workplace, but our power was unmistakable, and we knew how and when to leverage it. What is it, you ask? It is femme fatale in a bottle, that secret sauce, that smelled faintly of sex, but was far more suggestive and entirely more allusive. If Tribe Called Quest’s famous lyric, “Hot Sex on a Platter” applied to women, we were serving it up hot and fresh daily; even in our knee-length A line cocktail dresses. Dorothy Dandridge, Diana Ross, Lena Horne and Sophia Loren (including, contemporary actress, Diane Lane), all exhibited a self-assured, feminine sexiness about them, that many women today seem to lack. I’ll always contemplated Diane Von Furstenburg’s deep set, sultry gaze when she looked unapologetically into a camera to promote her iconic wrap skirt or latest collection. She’s no longer a young woman, be she still has it. It defies age and keeps you hot at 60, 70 and beyond. It’s the sometimes unspeakable appeal that both men and women find sensually appealing. As the world changed, what happened to subtle come hither looks or mildly suggestive body language that could be misconstrued to a man’s embarrassment, unless he sifted through a woman’s mystery, in order to unlock the keys to her heart, mind or body?

Somewhere along the way, we’ve given up our feigned modesty for naked Instagram photos, twerk videos and “belfies”. Oh, I should probably mention, that I could happily live the rest of my life without ever being forced again, to lay my weary eyeballs on someone’s butt selfies as a camera-facing portrait. Whatever happened to the power of suggestion? The mind is the most erotically sensitive place in the human body. Tapping into one’s personal fantasy, is far more alluring and powerful than appealing to one’s immediate carnal desires. Psychologists have supported the notion that men and women would be much more likely to work themselves into a hot lather imagining what someone had hidden under their trench coat; then be titillated by them walking down the street naked with their coat wide open. Today’s women need to embrace the allure of femininity and suggestion; not sex. Anticipation should be #goalsetting, as it’s the direct bi-product of seduction. Will someone please listen to Carly Simon? She wailed in frustration, “Anticipation is making me wait,” over and over again on the radio, for goodness sake, and, she was right! Sorry, JT, we don’t need to bring “sexy back”, we need to bring back the age old tradition of seduction.

Mindfulness & Planting the Seeds of Compassion

woman-yoga
Prayer Position

Spring traditionally represents the season of birth and renewal. Although, this is usually associated with nature, you’ll find that life also operates in similar cycles. It turns out that Spring isn’t just a great time to reorganize and clean, but to also take inventory of one’s spiritual life. No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs, Run Stella Run wanted to share The Five Mindfulness Trainings observed and practiced in Buddhism, which operates on the basic precept that it’s critical that one lives in a state of compassion and self-awareness, given that all life is inextricably “intra-connected” or as expressed in Buddhism, a state of “interbeing.” The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the Buddhist’s vision of spiritual and ethical behavior, and to cultivate a level of self-awareness about oneself and others is believed to help remove the presence of discrimination, fear, anger, intolerance, pain and despair.  Perhaps, you’ll find something in these teachings that resonates with you, your belief system, or religion. Whatever the case, no one has claimed that acting with compassion and love for others has ever hurt anyone. These five principals have been condensed in complexity, but they provide great guidelines for a healthy physical and spiritual life. Upon reading the five teachings, what are some of the ways that you can apply these teachings to your every day life? Perhaps, volunteer with an environmental organization? Behave with greater love, patience and understanding with a spouse or loved one? Refrain from gossipy, demeaning or mean-spirited behavior? Sorry, that means anonymous online trolling, too! Feel free to share practical ways that people can apply these principals in the comments section below, and good luck on your personal, spiritual journey this Spring and beyond.

  1. Reverence for Life –  Acknowledge the suffering caused by the destruction of life and commit to expressing compassion by being a loving and responsible steward and protector of people, animals, plants and living things. Understand that harmful and damaging behavior arises out of  greed, anger, intolerance and fear-based emotions, so try to be open-minded and unattached to ideas in order to live without the cloud of bias and discrimination.
  2. True Happiness – Commit to practicing generosity in thought and deed and understand that true happiness is only possible with understanding and compassion. Suffering is universally shared, and not separate from your own, so reducing other peoples’ pain, also reduces yours. Live in mindfulness that pursuing wealth, fame, power and physical pleasure can lead to negative, unintended consequences and suffering. Also, understand that true happiness is a state of mind and can be achieved in one’s current state of being, and is not dependent on external conditions and material possessions.
  3. Loving Speech and Deep Listening – Listen to others with respect and compassion to help eliminate division, suffering and pain, and to help promote healing and reconciliation. Words can create happiness or suffering, so be conscious of the words that that you use and refrain from speaking in anger, pain and untruth. Words have the ability to spread happiness, joy, encouragement and inclusiveness, and, also create the opposite; so refrain from using words as weapons of individual or mass destruction. If you feel that you’re tempted to speak in anger; breathe, take stock of your emotions and refrain from speaking until you’re in a more positive frame of mind.
  4. Nourishment & Healing – Commit to cultivating good physical and spiritual health for yourself, your family and society; and be conscious of engaging in needless consumption, which can cause pain and suffering. Seek and consume mentally and physically nourishing things and eliminate those things that are toxic to the body, mind or spirit (food, drinks, drugs, websites, electronic games, magazines, etc…). Establishing a greater level of mental and physical peace, happiness and joy, will have a positive impact on oneself, other individuals and society at large.