Willingness…To Do What?

I got an email from my dear friend, Lori Saylor Milan the other day. We’ve known each other for many years and although she lives in Portland, Oregon and I’m in Chicagoland we have a bond that’s tight. You see we met at a very traumatic time in both of our lives through a Bible Study back around 1996. Since then when we talk or write to each other it’s as if we can both feel the deep connection and by the way, we both know it is a connection made by God and the Universe. No doubt about it.

Anyway, months can go by in between our emails to each other so when she wrote to me the other day it was wonderful to hear from her. Little did she know the incredible inspiration her words were for me. Here’s what she wrote:

“I wanted to tell you Happy New Year and also to see if you are doing all right. I had not seen your blog for a while. I hope David is doing good. I know you have lots of coals in the fire and just might be plain ole busy but I do hope that is all that is going on.

I started a new tradition several years ago. It involves having friends and family pick an angel card from a deck when we meet at Christmas or New Years. I have all my co-workers, children, siblings and friends take one. The angel cards have words on them. During the year each person is supposed to remember their word and meditate and think about it on and off. Look all around you for the meaning. I drew a card for you.

Your word for 2013 is: WILLINGNESS

I’ve reread this email several times that she sent on January 16th. Each and every dang time goose bumps erupt on my arms; tears form in my eyes and incredible warmth heats up my heart. Lori picked the perfect card for me. And just because I am obsessed with defining words, here’s the definition of Willingness:

Willingness: of or relating to the will or power of choosing

What an awesome word for me to have for the year. And, it couldn’t have been timelier. You see, I haven’t been able to write for a good while now. Yeah sure, I’ve been super busy with work. But truth be told, since September my life has been inundated with really tough stuff. I’m talking gut wrenching, heavy stuff – or maybe I’m just too sensitive. (N.O.T.) If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a gazillion times that my life is crazier than a Lifetime movie or daytime Soap. And these last several months have had some doozie sagas!

Hence, the desire to write was gone. Kaput. Besides loss of desire I was afraid. Afraid? Yep. Afraid to accidentally (or worse, on purpose) say something that had to do with one of the several trauma-dramas going on around me. Too risky for sure. Funny thing though – even though I wasn’t writing, my mind was going, going, going. Thoughts, ideas and words were whirling and twirling through my mind all day long. All of it needed to go on paper- well, actually onto my computer. And all the while this nagging voice in my head kept saying, “Write what you are led to write and NOT what you think you should write.” Interesting.

Timing is everything. Lori’s word inspired me to be willing. Willing to open myself up once more, willing to be risky, willing to put myself out there without fear of loosing readers with the direction my posts will take, and willing to share my stories with others NOT to inform but to inspire. Inspire what you say? Peace. Love. Harmony.

So here I am writing again. Lori’s word willed me to get back to my computer. Joy, oh joy! I forgot how much I love it! There is some kind of deep pleasure I get in writing. In fact, for me it’s much like doing a puzzle – it is cathartic and calming all at the same time and I simply loose myself in it. And most importantly, at the risk of being bold, I know that I’m a good storyteller. I believe God and the Universe gifted me in this way. Which leads me back to that nagging voice in my head. But more on that in my next post…

Roadside Flares

Somewhere recently I read something about messages we all receive. The author called them “roadside flares to get our attention”. Thank you Lori for your email message. For sure it was a roadside flare for me. It got my attention. It inspired me to willingly throw caution to the wind and do what I love to do and what I believe God and the Universe had in mind for me all along. Besides that I have also discovered multitudes of ways the word “willingness” can be used in my daily walk. I will forever be indebted to you my dear friend!

I’m paying it forward

Lori honored me with taking the time to choose a word for me. It means a lot to all of us to know someone wants to give us a gift of his or her time in a way such as this. So I’m paying it forward. Dear readers, consider the word “willingness”. How does it speak to you? What could you be willing to do in 2013?

  • Right a wrong?
  • Resolve a conflict?
  • Spend quantity and quality time with your family?
  • Loose a few pounds?
  • Go green?
  • Get back to that hobby you love?
  • Play more?
  • Join a club?
  • Do charity work?
  • Pray more?
  • Stretch yourself?
  • Start each morning with a smile?
  • Sleep more?
  • Laugh more?
  • Feel free to be you?

Have fun with this word and heck, take the time to pay it forward to someone else. And, write to me if you feel led to and let me know what you choose to do with this word!

Just be willing…

Spring-Cleaning Your Way To A “No Clutter Zone”

A few months ago I wrote a post, Clutter In Your Space Clutters Your Mind.  My intention was to alert you to the importance of having what I call a “No Clutter Zone” in your homespace.  It is intriguing to psychoanalyze why we have clutter in our homes, particularly when it appears in very specific areas.

And as I wrote in my recent spring post, Spring: A Season Of New Beginnings, spring is a wonderful time of year for new beginnings both in the structural home you live in and in the personal HOME that is uniquely you.  The tradition of spring-cleaning is one great way to refresh and renew your space while also decluttering it of all the things keeping your space from being truly beautiful.  So with that in mind, I am reprinting parts of my original post on clutter.

Reasons for clutter

I think the reasons people have clutter in their homes are usually for one of the following:

  • Lack of proper storage space
  • Life changes such as a move, a new baby or anything that throws life out of whack
  • Poor time/life management skills
  • Psychological issues such as depression, family dysfunction, low self-esteem, poor personal boundaries and even attention deficit disorder

I call the first three of these reasons “temporary clutter”.  In other words, all three are easy to fix with a little effort and determination.  Still, clutter is clutter, which can be unsettling to your mind.  My recommendation to you if your homespace is cluttered for any of these reasons is to find simple solutions for them.  Your stress will decrease, your feel good vibes will increase and your space will become truly beautiful!  I guarantee it.

Now, the fourth reason – that’s a tough one.  It takes a lot of work to rid your homespace of clutter if there are psychological components to it.  Mind you, I’m not talking about the extreme of hoarding here.  That’s a whole other ball of wax.  I’m talking about routine clutter that detracts and distracts from your sanctuary – the place you call HOME.

The psychology of clutter

Here’s a list of some of the spaces in your home where clutter accumulates and what the clutter there might symbolize:

Kitchen – Difficulty with emotional nourishment for yourself or others

Main Living Space – Feelings of isolation

Hallways – Obstacles in your life

Bedroom – Distancing from partner and/or intimacy with others

Bathroom – Low self-esteem

Closets – Hidden Issues

Basement – Ignored Issues

Garage – Confusion about direction in your life

Exterior and yard – Low self-worth and a sense of giving up

Anyone find the symbolism of clutter in these spaces thought provoking?  I certainly do.

After the first printing of my post on clutter, it was fun to hear from readers and friends about the state of their own homes and what they planned to do about it.  One dear friend, Jolie even decided to tackle her office and do some necessary decluttering there after reading my post.  She told me that it felt wonderful to remove over seven boxes of files and paperwork and send it all to the shredder.  Imagine- she discarded seven boxes of paperwork just cluttering up her space!  As all things go, it propelled her to continue the decluttering in other areas of her space as well.  That domino thing you know…

Every homespace should reflect the best of those that dwell within it.  So, if spaces within your home suffer from constant clutter, look inside (both your inner self and your home) and get to work.  Honor yourself this spring with actively participating in decluttering your space.  It will put you on the road to a whole new you.

To a no clutter zone…

Artfully Celebrating Family Life In Your Home Décor

As a decorator I have my own design and décor philosophy that includes some critical components to creating a beautiful sanctuary for my clients to live in.   Making what I call “positive impact statements” is part of this philosophy.  As I wrote in a recent post, Positive Impact Statements In Your HOME, one way to make a positive impact statement in your home is to artfully display family photographs.  Without a doubt displaying family photos is one of the things on my list that can take a home from ordinary to extraordinary.  Why you ask?  First of all, displaying your family life in this way is unique in that no one else will have the same pictures.  Everyone can have accessories from Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn, but your family photos personalize your space.  Second, displaying family photos gives your space comfy, cozy warmth regardless of your décor style, as these personal glimpses of family life are art from the heart.  Finally, displaying family photographs is what I call “decorating with intention”.  In other words, the family pictures are displayed with the specific intention of artfully enhancing your homespace décor.

Like any other form of decorating you do in your homespace, decorating with family photography needs to be well planned and well thought out.  Look through your homespace.  Pay attention to where you are displaying family photographs and ask yourself these important questions:

  • Do some of the frames look outdated or badly worn? Unless you are intentionally using antique or “repurposed” frames for your pieces, be aware that outdated and damaged frames will absolutely, positively take away from your artful arrangement of family photos.
  • Do the frames fit the photographs they hold properly?  Though this question might sound silly, you would be amazed at how often I go into homes and immediately notice that family pictures have been put in frames willy-nilly without really taking the time to carefully select the appropriate frame.  Remember that decorating (even with family photos) is in the details.
  • Are you displaying family photos in too many places and spaces?  If you truly want your family photos to become a part of your décor, choose very specific places and spaces to display them.  Two areas I specifically like are: a focal place such as a hallway wall and a focal space such as a piano, sofa table or bookcase.  Remember however my decorating mantra, “less is more” and steer clear of becoming over zealous with places and spaces you display your family photos.

A Wall of Family Life

A glimpse of the Balzer-Solganik family life

A glimpse of the Balzer-Solganik family life

My personal favorite way to display family photos is to create what I call a “wall of family life”.  Over the years I have enjoyed creating many of these in the homes of friends and clients. Here are some points to ponder if you embark on your own creation:

  • Consider a theme for your display. My favorite theme is to use all black and white photos with black frames. By keeping to a theme you achieve more than just a way to display family photos.  You also create unique art to accent the beauty of your homespace.
  • Consider arranging the pieces to create a family timeline or story.  By doing this, your display becomes a conversation piece to return to over and over again.  Best of all you can mix and match frames and photo content since the idea is to simply tell the story of your family.  My mother did this in our home growing up and believe me, the frames and the photos were a total hodge-podge.  But it worked!  And with six kids and dozens of grandkids my mother created a look that told a story on the wall of each family as the Balzer Clan grew and grew.  Talk about creating a space for walks down Memory Lane!   Talk about creating a space for interesting conversations!
  • Consider the overall look of your arrangement and what you want to express. Carefully consider what you are trying to achieve with the display.  Be as conscious of the pictures and the frames you choose as you would be when choosing what knick-knacks get placed where in your homespace.  Also, remember your audience that will be seeing your photos and thoughtfully choose which ones you share.  (For example, more intimate family photos such as “pregnant belly shots” make beautiful art in more private areas of your home.)
  • Consider hiring a pro.  If you are planning to display a large collection of family photos I highly recommend that you have your display hung professionally.  The average John or Jane doesn’t have the knowledge to properly hang a large grouping of frames of varying sizes.
  • Consider making a trial run of your display.  I highly recommend this.  Arrange your framed photos on an open space such as the floor so you can visualize what the grouping will look like on the wall.
  • Consider leaving what I call “room to grow” in your collage of photos.  This is particularly important if you have a growing family.

Have fun with this wonderful way to make a positive impact statement in your home.  You, your family and all those that get treated to your display will enjoy celebrating your family life, true art from the heart for years to come!

To celebrating family…

Carroll Family Life with room to grow

Carroll Family Life with room to grow

Decorating 101 – A Lesson For Lilly

I like to think that every moment presents us with a chance to learn something – “a teachable moment” to use a catchy, trendy phrase.

So, when dear friend and client, Jennifer McNally asked B&A Interiors, LLC  to redo her daughter, Lilly’s bedroom, Sammi and I took the project on with one stipulation.  Although this was to be considered a birthday present from Jennifer and Sean, we wanted Lilly to be involved in the decision making process.  Jennifer was in!

In particular, I wanted her to understand the use of color, textures and patterns to create a pleasing atmosphere for her.  As side benefits she ended up learning about budget and patience (which she exemplified as she waited and w.a.i.t.e.d for the job to be finished).  Decorating 101 for Lilly!

Here’s what Lilly learned (at least that was the intention):

Color your world

The project started with a simple question I posed for Lilly.

What are your favorite colors?

In grown-up words, I was asking her what colors spoke to her as I think this is first and foremost the question to know the answer to in any new decorating project.  As I said in my post Color Your World, it is vital to your essence to be true to yourself in how you decorate your space.  Your choice of colors must match who you are in order for your soul to be blissful.  Even a young girl like Lilly needs to feel the color and know it matches who she is.  Learning this so young in life is a tremendous step in the right direction of becoming authentically you.  Furthermore, learning to express who you are in any capacity is a lesson in assertiveness.  Letting Lilly be a part of the decision making process taught her to speak her mind.       

Once Lilly expressed to us what her favorite colors were, Jennifer, Sammi and I hit the design showrooms in search of fabrics. Obviously, we wanted to make sure that Lilly was guided in directions where color, texture and pattern were combined to create a beautiful look for her room.  So, we put together three different sets of choices and then let Lilly make the final decision.  It was a win-win for all of us.  Lilly got to choose the color palette, we gently guided her with fabric selections and then she took ownership in the final decision making.

The colors of nature

Another lesson for Lilly to learn was my firm belief that every space should infuse the two basic colors of nature.  In my post, Two Colors Every Homespace Needs, I explain the importance of this.  The two basic colors of nature (green and blue) when used in interior spaces instantaneously connect you with nature.  And, all of us can benefit from this.

Lilly’s treasured vanity from Aunt Liz

Lilly’s treasured vanity from Aunt Liz

Incorporating these two colors into Lilly’s design was super easy.  We needed to work with a piece of furniture in Lilly’s room that was very special to her that just happened to be a beautiful shade of soft green.  This piece of furniture was a sweet vanity table from her Aunt Liz.  We wanted to make this piece a real focal point of the room in honor of her aunt so, we worked with the vanity’s color by accenting it with a skirted chair using blue for the cushion’s seat.  Lilly can now sit at the vanity primping and preening while remembering Aunt Liz.  It just doesn’t get any better that this!

(You can read more about my love of incorporating family treasures in your home in my post, Creating Beauty In Your Homespace With Family Treasures.)

Even the fabrics we chose for all the custom work had nature’s gifts of color in them along with the bold colors Lilly wanted.  Now that the project is complete, the colors of nature flourish throughout the room.

Make sure your space is peripherally pleasing to the eye

Just as I wrote in a recent post, The Peripheral View Of Your Home, I explained to both Lilly and Jennifer that it was important for the entire space to embrace you in a pleasing way.  So, in the design plan I made sure that regardless of where Lilly was standing in her room, out of the corner of her eye (using her peripheral vision) the colors carried throughout the room.  To highlight these colors, I changed the original soft pink of the walls to a neutral off-white from Benjamin Moore called “Monterey White” as this color is a wonderful backdrop when you are using bold fabrics.  This color (or lack thereof) allowed the bold color scheme to carry throughout the room seamlessly without adding extra busyness.

Lilly’s new memo board

Lilly’s new memo board

The main fabrics infused both green and blue along with the colors Lilly wanted to use in her bedroom.  Window Treatments, Bedding , Lilly’s Custom Memo Board and the Vanity Chair all incorporated these colors.  These colors were even continued into her bathroom where the wall color, a soft green (this was the original color and we left it this way)  was perfect to showcase the bold use of color in the shower curtain and the funky artwork on the walls.

Living in perfect harmony

Lilly’s birthday present of a new look for her bedroom turned out to be so much more than just a present.  I believe that by allowing Lilly to be a part of the decision making for the color choices, she was able to give voice to her essence that she is just beginning to understand and be comfortable with.  This allows Lilly to feel that her personal space reflects who she is and what she is about even at this young age.  She is already learning the joy of living in harmony with herself through how she lives in her space.  Thus, she stands to be better prepared to live in harmony with her family, friends, classmates and anyone she interacts with.  I firmly believe it.

Everything begins in the home

Loving quiet time in my new digs

Loving quiet time in my new digs

Lilly is fortunate to know the importance of home and appreciates what her home gives her – a place of safety and an atmosphere to thrive in.  Her “new do” in her most personal space, her bedroom gives her ownership in how she expresses herself.  I chuckle over how much she loves it.  Jennifer has texted me that Lilly loves showing everyone that comes over to her house, regardless of who it is, her bedroom make over.  She even explains the intricacies of the fabric patterns and how her pillows have two usable sides!

Everything really does begin in the home.  What happens in the home from what we smell, what we eat, what we hear, what we see, what we feel and what we are surrounded with carries over into adulthood and forms us in ways that are incredibly complex.  Starting life in a positive atmosphere full of beauty can make all the difference.

I am deeply grateful to have been part of creating such a wonderful space for Lilly to blossom in. Plus, I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to teach Lilly and not just present Lilly with a finished project.  Several years ago, I decided I could better serve my clients by teaching them “how to fish” instead of “feeding them the fish”.  It might make for less clients overtime but, I think it is important to empower people to embrace their space themselves once they learn some basics.  For me, Lilly was no exception.

I know Lilly loves her new space and will always remember this first lesson in decorating – what I call “Decorating 101”.  Next on the list for this class of instruction is my dear step-granddaughter, Addison.  Watch out Addison!

Decorate your life not just with color but also with love, Lilly…

Always express your true self through your space! To see a full album of Lilly’s decorating project check it out on my Facebook Fanpage, livinginperfectharmony.  By the way, can you guess what colors that Lilly loves?

Creating Homespace Beauty With Family Treasures

Ancestral medicine chest and Papa’s clock

The ancestral medicine chest and Papa’s clock

All of us like to get our decorating ideas from magazines and catalogs.  Not only does this allow us to know what the latest trends are but also, there is a certain amount of security in decorating how companies such as Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn show us to.  If these companies like it, well certainly we should, too.

Now I know that as an Interior Decorator I am supposed to represent the latest and greatest in the industry. I certainly do think that part of my job is to educate my clients with what the latest trends are but I like to think that I do so much more.

First of all, just like I espouse in my recent post, The Power of Color, not everyone likes the latest trendy colors.  More to the point, I believe that we shouldn’t change our color scheme every single time the industry gives us a new “in” color – that makes us far too much like everyone else.  (Reminds me of when I used to strive to be a Stepford Wife but I won’t go there…)

Home furnishing styles should also fit whom you are and how you choose to live – which leads me to my second point.  If we all decorate our homes like everyone else we become B.O.R.I.N.G.  Who wants to be that?!?

Be extraordinary not ordinary

For me, B.O.R.I.N.G. is just another name for ordinary.  Having your home décor be just like the house next door or the one down the street doesn’t show one iota of imagination.  Furnishing your home like you see in the catalogs or latest monthly magazines is oh, so ordinary.  You and your homespace deserve to be extraordinary.

There are a myriad of ways to become extraordinary.  (Remember the word extraordinary as I will be using it a lot in upcoming posts to show you other ways to achieve this level of distinction as well.)

My favorite way to live in an extraordinary environment is to infuse family treasures in it.  Now, notice I didn’t say heirlooms.

Nana’s blue and white pitcher

Nana’s blue and white pitcher

That’s because treasures are much, much more fun and important to us than heirlooms since they bring out emotion in us.  Heirlooms usually have a financial component, treasures need not!

I first learned about family treasures when my mother and her sister, Betavia were dividing up their mother’s estate.   I happened to be there with my mom to help with it.  After my mom and I loaded up all her share of the estate, we took it to our family home to later be divided between the six of us siblings.  That was back in 1976 and to this day, my greatest “treasure” is the blue and white pitcher I got of Nana’s (my grandmother).  Since 1976, it has been given a place of importance in each home I have lived in.  It instantly connects me with the grandmother I loved so dearly.

A military sword, a crystal candy dish and a silver lighter

Flash forward to February, 2011 and my siblings and I began the overwhelming task of dividing up our mother’s estate since she was now living in an Assisted Living Facility (Richfield) that I discussed in my post,  Creating Comfort In An Assisted Living Facility.

We siblings had planned this task as strategically as any business would plan a huge undertaking.  My brother, Tommy even had a written agenda complete with rules and regulations for how items in the estate would be picked by the six of us.  (And yes, we even had two fifteen minute breaks and a designated lunch hour each day of this task!)  Each evening the out-laws greeted us with wonderful meals to decompress from the emotional day we had just had in order to unwind and ready ourselves for the next day.  To say it was tough would be the understatement of the century but, we made it through.  At the end of several days of working through the estate, we celebrated with inviting old friends over to say goodbye to the family home and to celebrate the baby of the family, Tommy’s 50th birthday.  Thanks to our dear friends, we ended this chapter of our lives with fond memories!

Prior to the task  of dividing the estate, each of us siblings had polled our own children as to what they would like from their grandmother’s home.  I was and still am fascinated by what the different nieces and nephews wanted.  Every single item was in some way a memory, a treasure they wanted.  My three kids were no exception.  Ben wanted his grandfather’s military sword from Yale University, Sammi wanted the  crystal candy dish that sat in the living room and Jimmy wanted the silver lighter that always sat on the coffee table in the living room.  So, these three items were my first picks in the draw.  What joy for me to know that my kids not only wanted these things but that they held such wonderful memories of them and that now they would become family treasures in their own homes.  As for all the other grandchildren, each and every one of them now has family treasures from their grandmother’s home.  What might seem like little things such as the green salad bowl that Christy wanted will now become items to help tell family stories and history lessons to their own families and friends in each of their homes!

Beauty in your home need not include conspicuous consumption

Wally’s windows from his childhood bedroom

Wally’s windows from his childhood bedroom

I recently visited three of my nieces’ homes in Richmond, VA.  Each home was as unique as them (and their spouses).  I loved spending time in their homespaces and with my roving eye, took in what they were all about.  My niece, Marli and her husband have the coolest fireplace mantle décor.  Two large window frames that were the windows from Wally’s childhood bedroom are there for all to see.  I still smile over this unique touch of décor.  I bet everyone that visits them remembers what is on their mantle because it is so unique!  Oh, and best thing about this- the windows were sitting in the corner of Wally’s mom’s garage just taking up space.  They were free!  They didn’t go to the dump!  Now, I call this recycling life, living without conspicuous consumption and creating  a clever décor  all wrapped in one!  You go Marli and Wally!

The family crock for making eggnog

The family crock for making eggnog

As for me, I love all the new treasures I now have from my mother’s home.  My great-great grandfather was a doctor and I have his medicine chest he used and guess what?  It is solid wood!  And, you can bet this Christmas season I will be making eggnog in the crock that my parents traditionally made eggnog in year after year when I was a child.  I still can hear the peals of laughter as the night got later each year they hosted their “eggnog making “ party.  I never could understand why as the night got later, the laughter got louder.   Years later I learned that the eggnog was spiked!!!  Everyone was getting smashed!!!  Who knew?!?

Decorating your homespace with family treasures doesn’t involve spending money.  Who doesn’t find that appealing?  Also, decorating with family treasures sets your space apart from anyone else’s.  It makes your space unique.  Again, who doesn’t find that appealing?  Finally, decorating with family treasures makes for carrying on tradition and family legacy while keeping history alive.  THAT’S appealing!

Look in the attic, look in the garage and look through the closets for hidden family treasures that might just take your homespace from ordinary to extraordinary.  I guarantee that your home will become unique!

Here’s to life and for me, memories in the family home of 50 years!  5242 Shelby Drive we will miss you!

Our home and Tommy are 50

Our home and Tommy are 50

To life…

“I hope this article encourages searching for family treasures and storytelling in your family.  Feel free to share snapshots of your own family treasures on my Facebook Fanpage, livinginperfectharmony.”

Learning About Life Through Your Pet

I grew up in a household that included three brothers and two sisters.  From the earliest that I can remember, we had pets.  Usually, we had several!

You name the type of animal and while growing up, the Balzer family had it one time or another.  Dogs, cats, rats, mice, snakes and yep, a squirrel.  I will never forget the day I got off the school bus and came home to a baby squirrel.  We named him Peanuts.

Now, I know this is hard to believe – often when I tell people about Peanuts they figure I am confused with where he lived.  Surely he lived outside, or surely he lived in a cage is what people say.  Nope, Peanuts lived in our house and had the run of it.  Of course, he did have a cage – but most of the time he ran freely and went where he wanted to.  I remember often sitting in the den watching TV and in Peanuts would scamper.  He would jump onto the sofa and then jump onto my shoulder to nap nestled there snug as could be enjoying the warm sunshine coming through the window.  It is hard to imagine it all now but he was treated like any other family pet!

Cathy and Colby

Cathy and Colby

We even had chickens once.  My youngest brother, Tommy was quite persuasive when he wanted something.  (Maybe he should have gone into politics!)  He convinced our mom to get chickens so we could have fresh eggs everyday – I guess he saw this as a great value kind of thing. (Of course, he is also the brother that once charged admission to neighborhood kids and moms to watch him walk the telephone wires!)  I don’t remember getting many eggs but we sure got tons of complaints from the neighbors from their noise!

The chickens didn’t last long…

Life with pets

Randy and Miso

Randy and Miso

Having a family pet livens up your homespace.  I will never forget George.  He was my cousins’, the Purvis family’s pet duck.  My cousins, Shell, Tony and Andy lived at the beach (Sandbridge, VA).  I loved our visits with them and it was great fun to watch George running around.  He was nonstop entertainment!

My Step-grandson, Austin has a pet turtle named “Spike”. For months and months he had begged for a turtle.  His dad, Brent and my daughter, Sammi told him that once he began to show responsibility enough to have one, they would try to get him one.  Austin set about doing anything and everything to prove his responsible side.  That made Sammi start to fret over how they would get a turtle as they aren’t the easiest pets to find.  One day Austin’s dream came true and what joy for me to get to witness it.

Austin and Spike

Austin and Spike

I happened to be visiting them in Charlotte and  Sammi and I took a nature walk on the greenway.  Out of the corner of her eye Sammi spied a baby turtle.  I just happened to have a small box handy in my purse (don’t ask why, my lips are sealed) so Sammi reached into the water and scooped the turtle up.  When Austin got home from school that day he got a surprise!  Since then Spike has gotten bigger and bigger and Austin has been able to learn more about life as he has cared for him each day!

Pets teach life lessons

Without a doubt I believe that having pets in your homespace broadens your education and impacts you in a multitude of ways.  I know it did for my siblings and me. I feel for kids that grow up in homes that don’t have pets.  I think they are missing out on learning valuable life lessons.  Here are a few life lessons I know having pets teach us:

Sonya and Natasha

Sonya and Natasha

  • Pets give you someone to constantly love and nurture.  They never get enough and love in return unconditionally.
  • Having a pet gives you companionship and can make you feel less lonely as you always have someone to talk to, to touch and be touched in return.
  • Pets encourage and create times of laughter in us.  We find humor in playing with them and love watching them for entertainment.
  • Pets teach children about responsibility.  Helping to take care of the family pet is often a child’s first chore and responsibility as part of the family.
  • Pets teach us to love and also how to accept loss.  The loss of a pet is sometimes a child’s first experience with death.  Though extremely difficult, coping skills and the process of grieving are learned.
  • Pets teach young adults how to “parent”.  Young adults and young couples often bond with their pets in a way that plants the seeds for later parenting.  (I believe that it is no coincidence that many pet names these days are what are normally human names such as Maggie, Hazel, Gretchen and Duncan.)
  • Pets often help get us exercising more, particularly dogs.  Pets needing exercise give us a chance to do the same.
  • Pets can lead you to more social contact.  People very often interact with other pet owners through their pets.  How often have you known someone as Moe’s Mom (or whatever the pet’s name is)?
  • Pets relax us and can help reduce stress.
  • Pets become part of our families.

Spread the love

Lucy

Lucy

Interacting with animals impacts us all in many positive ways.  I say spread the love in every direction you can with your pet.   Share your pet with others that aren’t fortunate enough to be able to have one.  One way to do this is to visit folks that live in Assisted Living Facilities.  As often as we can we Balzer siblings take our pets to visit our mom at Richfield where she now lives as I discussed in a recent post, Creating Comfort In An Assisted Living Facility.  She loves interacting with them and so do the other residents.  Another way to spread the love is to visit shut-ins with your pet.  More often than not elderly folks and those that are confined to their homes love playing  and visiting with pets.

Pure and simple, pets open our hearts and open our minds with their unconditional love.

Enjoy the love…