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…

Let Nature Restoreth Your Soul (And Your Home)

Tree changing colors in autumn

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

My David and I were taking an early morning walk in nature this morning.  The moon was spectacular and the breeze gave a slight chill to the air.  Awwwww, the hint of autumn!

I couldn’t help but be excited.  With my senses alive to this feeling of fall I said to myself, fall is the best season of all.  Then I laughed  because I say this at the beginning of each new season.  The truth is that I love each of the four seasons.  Each one carries with it special meaning, fond memories and a renewed sense of anticipation for things to come.

The first day of fall just happens to be tomorrow.  Let us all welcome the beauty that this season brings us by allowing it to restore our souls.

We can do this in many, many ways.  At the same time, we can bring autumnal feelings into our homes.

Letting nature restore you

I believe that nature has the ability to restore each of us time and again, season after season.  In my post, These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things I quote one of my favorite Psalms from Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season.”

Autumn is the time to restore ourselves with feelings of warmth and comfort.  Autumn’s purpose is to ready us for the coming winter.  It gives us the chance to focus inward and prepare for the coming changes winter is sure to bring.

Beautiful tree in autumn

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

With autumn comes a myriad of opportunities to embrace the season.  For many people autumn is all about football.  Others explore the wondrous beauty of the changing leaves by hiking and biking in nature preserves and greenways.  Regardless of the activity, fall is a perfect time to be outdoors.

I have learned the medicinal properties of nature personally.  I call nature the best tonic on the market.  And, it’s free!

When David and I moved to the Chicago area a little over two years ago I found a lot of free time on my hands.  Plus, I didn’t know a soul so I had days to myself to explore.  Who would have guessed that moving to the city would produce so much nature for me to immerse myself in?  I began to walk, hike, bike and even snowshoe (now my favorite hobby for sure) by myself.  Slowly but surely I began to notice a change in my attitude.  (OK, David did first but so what!)  I began to let things go, calm down and relax.  What an amazing transformation!

I even noticed that my music choices I made on my IPod while walking and hiking changed.  For a while I listened daily to all my faves- from the 1950’s to today.  Before long I realized I was only listening to soothing selections that you would normally hear while getting a massage.  Now, more often than not I don’t take my IPod on my walks at all.  The only music I want to hear comes from what nature provides- birds chirping, frogs croaking and the ducks quacking to each other on the water creates an awesome symphony.  Walking in silence brings the music of nature to an incredible volume!

Brilliant red tree in autumn

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

To say that getting back to nature restored me just doesn’t do justice to the truth of it.  Getting back to nature has done so much more.  I am walking, talking proof of its tonic!

So, I challenge you to find ways to give yourself daily doses of the outdoors.  It could be as simple as eating lunch outside while at work, walking your dog, doing your exercising outside (instead of the treadmill) sitting on the porch or taking off to the woods.  A small dose of nature’s elixir will go a long way!

Nature has mental, physical and spiritual benefits just waiting for you!  Give yourself a chance to reap from it all!

Bring the glory of Autumn inside

I have espoused time and again in recent posts such as Two Colors Every Homespace Needs the importance of bringing nature inside.  As I have said before, we humans have distanced ourselves from nature and have created a false reality.  Our homes and offices are full of gadgets and gizmos that have nothing to do with nature.  What a travesty to ourselves!

Loving color

Photo Credit: Susan Muehl

By bringing nature inside we allow ourselves to stay connected to it.  It is that simple.  And, it is simple to do.  My “fall line-up” of posts will give you lots of ways to achieve this.  Look for Becky Balzer’s post on the best indoor plants for the home environment.  Chef Ryan will treat us to his idea of a great tailgating party.  Hector Benetiz will offer you suggestions on outdoor exercises to coincide with the season.  I will be sharing many different ways to infuse nature in your homespace through decorating.  And, that’s just the beginning.  Stay with us and enjoy the season of autumn!

Think color…